Archive for the ‘Conviction’ Category

Guts and Butts

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

FSATAT is looking beyond the present and investing in the future. We desire to fight the good fight, finish the race, keep the faith.

I belong to a weight reduction, health accountability group at my YMCA called Guts and Butts (G&B). (I am not making this up!) I am the youngest member (58). Our group is the main competitor of the YMCA perennial favorites, Silver Sneakers (SSs) who are fortunate enough to have Medicare and Blue Cross and Blue Shield Insurance with no deductible. We G&B have hybrid high deductible insurance plans of dubious quality.  We have periodic contests with the Silver Sneakers. So far they have beat us every time. Last Christmas we had a contest to see how many pounds each group could lose between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The SS champs lost 150 pounds. We gained a net 9 pounds. They received gift certificates for Subway. We gave ourselves a party.

Last Easter we competed in the swim-the-most miles contest. Each person was on an honor code and wrote his daily mileage on a poster board behind the life guard, who very carefully scrutinized both pool performance and log in totals. Once I logged a mile. The life guard scowled at me. Well, if you consider the back strokes, it was a mile,” I sheepishly offered. Of course it took me about half the life span of the teenage life guard sitting on his exalted lifeguard throne, to accomplish it, but I did it. Really.  The G&Bs logged 150 miles. The SSs soared at 350. They got free coupons to the local Subway. We had a party.

Well, another contest is in the works this year. We are led by a fairly aggressive 75-year-old Amazon, Margaret. “This is our year,” she prophesies. The SSs all have little red roses embroidered on their swimming suits. Wheezing B&G High Pockets — we call him that because that is how he breaths after even the most moderate exercise and he wears his pants up too high above his ample stomach — has a USMC symbol on his left forearm. That is the best swimming motif we can sport.

The SSs have the newest rental lockers sporting top-of-the-line master combination locks. The G&Bs can’t be sure we can remember or combinations, so we try another approach. We put our stuff in the broken lockers hoping that potential brigands will ignore our depositories.

I am an inveterate G&B. I like to swim my laps and pray and take my time. I have no destination, no pressure to perform. I love my swimming and I love my God. And in that pool, with other G&Bs, I find my way again to the sublime perpendicular line that tells me again, for one more Christmas, good and faithful servant, you have reached the end and need to turn around. I don’t know how to flip over like the SSs, but I know how to turn around and go back in the other direction when I meet the wall. And that is enough.

Not that I will win any coupons to Wendy’s this Christmas. But this I know

I will enjoy my time with brothers and sisters, old and infirm, faithful and unpretentious, who, if we can’t win a contest, still have fun along the way. And sometimes, when I am in that surreal pool lap “life,” I just enjoy my God so much. I can feel His presence. I can feel His pleasure. And that, is enough winning for me.

And I know, no matter what happens, at the end of the great swim I am going to party with my brothers and sisters — and no doubt a few SSs too — at the end of the long swim. The God of history is faithful and true.“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” ~ 2 Timothy 4:7

It is Time!

Thursday, March 10th, 2011


“Who knows, you may have been placed in this place for such a time as this?”

–Esther 4:14

The Book of Esther is a story of how a marginalized people overcame imminent destruction and, as a result, encouraged a whole hostile nation.

Babylonian Queen Esther=s Jewish community stands at the brink of annihilation, genocide.  They are the victims of the vitriolic and uncontrolled hatred of one man, Haman, and the whimsical irresponsibility of the foolish king, Ahasuerus.

Today America is facing a crisis. While we no doubt have political and military hegemony, we have lost the high ground.  That is for sure!  And our world as we know it is ending. The once sacred cultural icons of this nation are forgotten, and the paltry offerings contemporary politicians and sociologists offer no longer satisfy the needs of our people.  What is God speaking to us, brothers and sisters?

In the past God used Revivals to bring renewal.  I think it is time we had another.  Could the home school movement, even in a small way, be a forerunner of that revival?

I believe it is!  For such a time as this, God has called His people, a small but significant part of which is the home schooled community, to be salt and light to a nation that has lost its flavor and lost its light.

Esther’s cousin Mordecai comes to warn Esther than she must give up her anonymity and take a stand or they will all perish.  All Esther wants to do is slip back into the safety of her role.  Who can blame her?  But for the sake of the nation, Esther will risk everything to do what is necessary.  Though her knees must be shaking, she determines to stare death in the face and stand up for her people.  Which is what she does.  Unless summoned by her husband, Esther faces certain death by approaching him,for one never approaches an Oriental monarch unsummoned.  Especially if one is a lowly woman–even a wife.

In 2011, home schoolers, are we called to give up our anonymity and to risk everything for the promise of revival?

It is time!

The theologian writer Fred Buehner writes in his book Now and Then, “When you find something in a human face that calls out to you, not just for help but in some sense for yourself, how far do you go in answering that call, how far can you go, seeing that you have your own life to get on with . . .”  You go as far as necessary.  You go as far as you can.  You go as far as Christ went. . .

Home schoolers, how much do you love America?  Are you willing to die for them?  Are you willing to put your children in a place of risk for this nation?

Perhaps we are called to this place for such a time as this . . .

Home schoolers we have come again to that sacred moment when God meets us in Jesus Christ.  We are loved into becoming agents of transformation. We now need to take Him to the world.  He empowers us to withstand whatever obstacles we may face. 

Martin Luther wrote, “There is no greater love than God and no more desperate scoundrel than the world. . . His love is greater than the fire seen by Moses and greater even than the fire of hell.”

 We stand today basking in the glow of the love of God in Jesus Christ.

My question to you  is this: How much do you love God? The USA?  The World?  Enough to prepare your children to be world changers for Christ?  To prepare them to die for the Gospel if necessary so that others may know Him?

Esther had no status, very little influence really, she had no obligations to anyone but herself.  But she obeyed God and saved a nation.  In Ch. 4 when she turns the corner and faces her husband unsummoned she is facing death . . . or eternal victory.  In the courts, in the business world, in higher education our children are doing the same.  Will we prepare them to do this?

We stand with those facing death.  We stand against systems that tyrannize, abuse, demean, and destroy.  We stand for life–all life, everywhere.  We stand because we know that we are loved . . .  That He died for our sins so that we might live, and love others too.  We daily dare to search our hearts, minds, and behavior and risk new ways of thinking, speaking, living, for the sake of our suffering neighbors, sisters, brothers, mother, fathers, sons, and daughters.  We will not necessarily succeed . . . but we will try.  The German theologian Karl Barth urges every church to ask constantly this question, “Is it time?”  Could we be God’s instrument?  Is this our time?  Could we be called for just such a time as this?

Finally, I end with a prayer written by the theologian, humanitarian, and writer Thomas Merton wrote this prayer shortly before his death: “If I have any choices to make, it is to lie here and perhaps to die here.  But, in any case, it is not the living or the dying that matter, but speaking your name with confidence in this light, in this unvisited place.  To speak your name . . . and the light you have given.”

It is time.

Moral Man and Immoral Society (Part I)

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

Moral Man and Immoral Society, by Reinhold Neibhur, was written during the period of the Great Depression. In this book, Reinhold insists on the necessity of politics in the struggle for social justice because of the sinfulness of human nature, that is, the egotism of individuals and groups. He sees the limitations of reason to solve social injustice by moral and rational means, “since reason is always the servant of interest in a social situation” (xiv-xv). This is his critique of liberal Christian theology, which strongly believes in the rational capacity of humans to make themselves be moral, and he accepts this vulnerability as our reality. In other words, Neibhur correctly saw the immorality of systems in society (e.g., social welfare) and its futile attempts to ameliorate individuals and their needs.

Neibhur cautions us about embracing “herd mentalities.” According to him, individuals are morally capable of considering the interests of others and acting. That is, individuals can be unselfish. Societies, however, find it virtually impossible to handle rationally the competing interests of subgroups. Societies, he argues, effectively gather up only individuals’ selfish impulses, not their capacities for unselfish consideration toward others. According to Niebuhr, this collective egoism of individuals-in-groups is overridingly powerful. “In every human group there is less reason to guide and to check impulse, less capacity for self-transcendence, less ability to comprehend the needs of others, therefore more unrestrained egoism than the individuals, who compose the group, reveal in their personal relationships” (xi-xii).

My point is, some politicians may be sincere in their understanding about several issues.  In fact, they may be right about some issues.  Buy when that group gains political hegemony, it can lose focus and direction.

Therefore, “All social co-operation on a larger scale than the most intimate social group requires a measure of coercion” (3). “Every group, as every individual, has expansive desires which are rooted in the instinct of survival and soon extend beyond it. The will-to-live becomes the will-to-power” (18). “Thus society is in a perpetual state of war.”

Individuals can be moral in purpose and in actions.  But, combine a bunch of individuals into a coercive group can cause the group to become immoral.  For example, Adolf Hitler’s rise to power was initially a good thing for Germany.  He brought jobs and prosperity to his people.  However, as he gained power, the moral imperative became the despotic immoral coercion.

The answer to this apparent contradiction is, of course the Gospel Neibhur stresses the role of the Holy Spirit (what he calls the “religious imagination”).   In a sense groups, political parties, remain moral because the individuals answer to a “higher power,” not to the coercion of the group or to the agenda of the group.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer, for example, was perhaps the most patriotic of Germans because he loved his God and his country enough to obey God and His Word above all persons.  This was the only way, Bonhoeffer understood, that his nation could be moral and right before the God he served.

You should see what is under my bed. (Part I)

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

You should see what is under our bed (don’t tell Karen I shared this).

Stashed in disheveled piles are my World War II history books and other treasures.

Inevitably Karen (my wife) will spend eons of time preparing for bed.  While she is brushing her teeth, washing her face, and other necessary hygienic things, I grab a book from my history library and I read about the German U Boat campaign in the North Atlantic.

I have several libraries.  There is the academic library—full of literary criticism books.  That one is stashed in the basement next to my desktop computer.  The one with Windows 98—the last Microsoft software I fully comprehended.  Next, there is the classical library in the family room.  This is the library that is full of “pretty books.”  No one touches that library; it is there for show.  But across the room is the “grandchildren library” full of children’s classics that Karen reads to the grandchildren.

But my favorite library is the library under my bed.  It really is a good idea—you should try it.  Under my bed, safe and clear, are my treasured reading books.  I have perennial classics—Run Silent, Run Deep. Occasionally other favorites sneak in—Milton’s Paradise Lost—which I re-read bi-annually—is propped up next to Operation Barbarossa.  John Keegan’s World War II is a great read and can keep me awake through Karen’s most extensive post-day, pre-sleep preparations.

I hope you have things you treasure and that you keep them close at hand.

The Emperor Jones

Monday, March 1st, 2010

O’Neill is by far the most famous and most people think the best American playwright. His combination of character analysis, emotional power, and artistic versatility commend themselves to the reader.

The Emperor Jones is a powerful story about the consequences of unforgiveness. The expatriate African American, Emperor Jones is escaping from his rebellious West Indian subjects. Jones’ heart is full of guile, evil, and, most of all, unforgiveness. As his pursuers draw closer Jones nervously imagines that he is still a slave. “What you all doin’, white folks? What’s all dis? What you all lookin’ at me fo’? What you doin’ wid me, anyhow?” Jones suddenly convulsed with raging fear and hatred. “Is dis a auction? Is you sellin’ me like dey uster befo’ de war?” Jones drew his revolver and fired at the imaginary white person. “I shows you I’se a free nigger, damn yo’ souls!” As the play progresses, O’Neill shows the Emperor Jones self-destructing.

Meet Peter Stobaugh – Part 2

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

Guys, we all begin the same way. This decision to marry is a silent stirring, not quite palpable, but very present and very pleasant. Excitement and nervousness comes hand in hand with treading this unknown land. Select moments we embrace it with written notes and time wasted just talking. At times we want to repudiate it. Proclamations of “no way” or “maybe someday” are tranquilizers to coup de grace the beast within that is about to shred our singularity with a four letter word: Love. When it’s out, well, as they say, it’s out. The beast then begins to pull you.

Being pulled in some unknown direction is the origin of where humans begin to dig their heals in and decide to take the ride or leave. Like a child in line for the fantastic roller coaster, the three-hour wait has seemed to take half a lifetime, but now it is time to get aboard. Anticipation has fully blossomed after narrowly clearing the height requirement by illicitly rocking up onto his toes. Standing, watching as person after person sits in the mouth of this steel monster and is spewed out minutes later. Some excited, some green, some wrought in pure terror, all stumble for the exit. But, now reaching the end of the wait, lies before him a cold seat with a smooth bar overhead that is about to about to clamp down on his reflectively frail life.

Marriage is a roller coaster. We see our parents, grandparents, and peers reach the end with many different feelings. Some still in love, some broken, some with everything, some left wasted with nothing. Analogous to my engagement, making rings conspicuous, making commitment-laden decisions has accentuated Rutherford’s, Wilson’s, and my different lenses to view this decision. This is a story of what I’ve witnessed. (Peter Stobaugh)

Meet Peter Stobaugh

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

As some of you know, I am recovering from an operation and I asked my son Peter to share his journey with you on my blog! Enjoy! Jim Stobaugh

In March 2009, Peter Stobaugh, Karen and James’ youngest of four children, joined full-time in the ministry. Peter graduated from Grove City College in May of 2008 with a degree in Entrepreneurship. He immediately moved overseas to South Africa to work with the Xhosa tribes. Upon returning to the states, Peter felt God leading him to take a larger role in running For Such A Time As This, enabling Dr. Stobaugh to focus on writing and teaching his distance learning students.

Recently, I’ve made one of the most impacting choices of my life. I asked a cute redhead to marry me. And in case you’re wondering if she fulfills every sort of stereotype for redheads, well, possibly. I’m thinking of integrating t-shirts into our wardrobes that say “Mr. Right” and “Mrs. Always Right”. Just kidding!

What’s funny about being engaged is how I can’t walk by people without glancing to see if they are wearing a ring or not. Playing into such girly tendencies is not my normal protocol. It’s compulsive for things of myself to glare so brilliantly in the lives of others, the good and bad. “Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me remove the speck from your eye; and look, a plank is in your own eye?” – Jesus Christ

Similar to the ring, I’ve begun to observe my peers around me and discover how difficult it is for my culture to make any decision encumbered with even a minimal level of commitment—much less a commitment to be married!

Two of my closest friends, Rutherford and Wilson, and I, are all in similar stages in life: graduates of college, establishing ourselves in a workforce, and all have that special someone we are considering for marriage. Each of our upbringings and life experiences all are rather common relative to each other and to our culture.

We three grew up in middle class homes spending our summers in the woods and winters plummeting down treacherous hills on flimsy sleds. High school made each of us stars in our own realms on the varsity soccer field. It was then that things began to change. We each began developing our own sets of beliefs and lenses to view the world. Going to separate colleges we began growing more unique from one another but still, all three of us were struck deep and hard by special ladies.

“At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet.”- Plato

Worn Path

Friday, January 1st, 2010

In Eudora Welty’s short story “Worn Path,” the elderly and slightly senile grandmother protagonist, Phoenix, has come to the doctor to obtain medicine for her grandson. But, she cannot remember why she came!

The nurse tries to tease out of Phoenix her reason for coming.

“You mustn’t take up our time this way, Aunt Phoenix,” the nurse said. “Tell us quickly about your grandson, and get it over. He isn’t dead, is he?’

At last there came a flicker and then a flame of comprehension across her face, and she spoke. “My grandson. It was my memory had left me. There I sat and forgot why I made my long trip.”

“Forgot?” The nurse frowned. “After you came so far?”

After coming so far, after working so hard, have we home schoolers forgotten why we came? Are we at the place where we can get the solution to our problems, but have we forgotten why we came? The challenge for us in 2010 is to sit down together and talk. Look around at all that God has done, and give thanks. And then go forth, Elijahs, and challenge the gods of this age—at Harvard, at the Supreme Court, in Hollywood. Give no quarter and ask for none. The God we serve deserves nothing less, accepts nothing less!

Crossing the Rubicon

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

I don’t know, home schoolers, when we crossed the Rubicon. Perhaps it was when we turned off the television or refused to buy the latest entertainment center. Maybe it was when we drove our old cars another year so we could buy the best curricula for our kids. Or was it when we decided to read classics together in our homes? Somewhere, sometime, we crossed the Rubicon and there is no going back.

To push my metaphor farther, we were first “Obadiahs.” Obadiah, like Daniel, was a very influential in a very evil regime. King Ahab and Jezebel are very capable, and in many ways, successful monarchs. From their perspective, they are the ‘true’ leadership. Elijah, and the prophets, were radical, unreasonable, uncompromising troublers of Israel. They were not team players. No doubt Ahab and Jezebel could not understand why Elijah could not carry on a civil discussion about what they saw as tangential, civil issues.

This generation is the Elijah generation. To Elijah, the behavior of Ahab and Jezebel is absolutely appalling. While claiming to worship the Hebrew God they also fill the land with syncretism, with apostate worship of the BAALS. The crowning blow, to Elijah, was when these scoundrels placed the Asherah poles (places where believers could have sexual relations with temple prostitutes) on the hill next to the Temple. Enough was enough and Elijah was ordered home to confront these evil powers on Mt. Carmel.

And Elijah was not accommodating nor was he running away – don’t you just wish Ahab and Jezebel!—he is coming home to challenge the gods of this age.

Ahab and Jezebel are Post-Modernists. They celebrate the subjective. They are committed to compromise – it is their religion. Live and let live! What is the big deal?

Well, you see, Elijah cannot compromise with the stuff they are doing. There is no wriggle room in Judah and there is getting to be precious little wriggle room in the U. S. A. too.

The world of the Baals, folks, is falling apart. And quickly. As sociologist Peter Berger explains, “American mainline culture can no longer offer plausibility structures for the common man. It no longer sustains Americans.” Or, as my old friend Professor Harvey Cox, at Harvard, coyly observed, “Once Americans had dreams and no technology to fulfill those dreams. Now Americans have tons of technology, but they have no dreams left.”

In short order the Ahabs and Jezebels are going to find out that Elijah is not in a compromising mood either. Folks, there are some things one cannot compromise. Elijah and Jezebel are going to meet a man of God who speaks with concrete clarity, who carries the weight of truth.

Elijah is coming in 2010, Christian brothers and sisters. The days of Obadiah are over. Elijah is coming to town.

Are you ready? Can you give up your anonymity? Will you risk everything this year to do what God tells you to do? Will you go the extra mile in your home schooling to make sure that this generation will stand on Mt. Carmel and proclaim the sovereignty and goodness of our God? So they can bring the Kingdom on this earth as it is in heaven? The stakes are high; the potential rewards astounding. We have a chance, perhaps in our lifetime, to experience an unprecedented revival. This is the generation of Elijah. The generation that will have to walk the long, arduous walk up Mt. Carmel and they will challenge the gods of this age. Bring it on! We are ready! Every knee shall bow, every tongue shall profess, that Jesus Christ is Lord. Bring on the fire of Elijah, again, on this nation! God is calling forth our children–Elijahs who will go to the high places of our nation to challenge the prophets of Baal—in the courts, in the university, in the shop, in the home, in churches.


Friday, December 18th, 2009

America needs the church to reclaim its systemic importance. Early in its history, the church was the major conduit of social welfare. Several historians have emphasized how critical the church was to the social welfare of the city. In circa 1830 Utica, New York, after a Charles Finney Revival, the women’s welfare society at the local downtown church was the strongest social welfare system extent in the city. And it was extremely effective! Its budget surpassed the city’s social welfare budget–an impressive $3000. With no cost to the city and in the name of Jesus Christ, before the New Deal the downtown church was taking care of the poor and the needy in churches all over the country.

With the collapse of the positive liberal state, and the abandonment by state and federal governments, the city needs its churches again. We who seek to serve God in the city must do social work without being social workers. We must remain the Body of Jesus Christ but we must not flinch in the face of social problems.

William Julius Wilson in The Truly Disadvantaged: The Inner City, the Underclass, and Public Policy argues that Roosevelt’s New Deal, and Johnson’s The Great Society failed because they ignored the most fundamental need of all disadvantaged people: employment. The downtown church is in a strategic place to affect this problem. With our often under-utilized church bureaucracy–secretaries, office managers, and their equipment–we are able to stimulate and to create many small businesses. For example, in my former church, we started a small business that employed forty seasonal employees. Furthermore, we were able to do this business/ministry with no cost to the local Church. It is through these creative ventures/ministries that the Church will reclaim its proper place in the community.

I am not naive. I know that the women association, as laudatory and important their work may be, will not end homelessness in the South Bronx. But working with government, the church can help. Or tongue in cheek–dare I suggest–working in spite of the government, perhaps the church can do the job. Illegitimacy is only one of the many social ills undermining American society. It the government is really serious in its drive against illegitimacy, it perhaps should abolish the welfare system rather than reform it! This is suggested by authors like Charles Murray and Charles Krauthammer. Essentially, personal accountabliity and social responsibility simply cannot be passed on to the state.

Two public policies, according to Charles Murray and William McGowan (a journalist)–welfare for unwed mothers and racial and ethnic quotas–are moving us toward dystopia, a condition in which the quality of life are dreadful.”

As a point in fact, a church in the poorest part of the country, New Horizon, Mississippi, has started a vigorous and successful social welfare intervention in its congregation. Ronnie Crudup, pastor of New Horizon Baptist Church, has shown that churches had make a greater impact than government with less cost to the taxpayer. Clearly, though, to Crudup, spiritual nurturing is a vital part of welfare reform. His church has “adopted” 10 welfare families. New Horizon helped with monthly grocery money, finding employment, caring for the children’s Christmas needs via the church’s Angel Tree project, and meting any back-to-school expenses. In return, the church asks permission to counsel families with drug habits and requires them to attend church. It is working.

Most people agree, that, in the foreseeable future, single family numbers will increase. And most are female led. But, instead of enabling problems–as the government seems to do–the church should encourage families to grow stronger. A mom may be the key.

Most family therapists agree that a mother is critical to the success of a family system. In fact, family counselors are taught that if they can shore up the mother they can probably help the whole family.

Israel needed a mother in the time of Deborah. The city needs mothers. In fact, as we urban pastors know all too well, it is the mothers in our innnercity neighborhoods who hold together the very fabric of our society. The Cotton Patch Gospel interprets Judges 5:7 as “Things were bad until a woman arose . . . we needed a mother!” In 1995 we need a lot of good mothers!

A woman in Deborah’s day had no property or value herself without her husband. If she was infertile she could be divorced. And, in any event, most women died before age thirty. They were married about age 13 and delivered an average of sixteen children (but only five survived). In fact, most women died in childbirth. This was a terrible time to be a woman.

But God again chose the most unlikely candidate to do His work and I am convinced that He could do the same again. A person with no status, with no honor. He knew that she would be flexible in His hand. He knew that Deborah would be easier to use than some self-reliant person who was self-important. No, Deborah was willing to follow the Lord no matter what the cost. Afterall, what did she have to lose? She was unimpressed with the Canaanites because she was impressed by who God is. The Church needs to create moms who are not afraid to take on the whole world. Or, as Dobson is fond of saying, moms who “do not lose their nerve in the face of evil.”

In general Deborah’s community was prehistoric–writing was not yet developed. Traditions, history, and morality was maintained through legends, myths, stories, and songs. In early England these traditions and history were maintained by traveling minstrels, story tellers called Scops. Early English poems were memorized rather than written and were recited by scops, wandering poets who chanted their poems. These minstrels maintained English culture for several generations.

Communities–like churches–need minstrels, men and women of God who tell our story over and over again. When I came to my downtown church, I immediately looked for these minstrels, these preservers of history. I found them. A mother arose among them . . .

Deborah was a singer, a culture creator. But she also was a woman who understood power. Understanding that true power arises from God, not humankind, she led her anemic nation to victory. She was not to be deterred. We need to create these kind of moms in our society.

Today, we need Moms who will not be thwarted from raising their children in Godly ways. Who will not be impressed by the power in the world. Not overwhelmed by the obstacles that exist in our society, real though they may be. But will take control in the name of Christ of their children’s future. And teach them to be impressed and to respect power–but not power and rulers of this world–but God’s authority and His word.

Deborah encouraged her community to defy Baal. To stand against the forces of darkness and to win . . .”Souls are like athletes,” Thomas Merton writes. “And they need opponents worthy of them.” Deborah challenged her community to reach beyond themselves and to find the strength to be and to do all that God wanted them to do and to be.

In summary, as Robert Linthicum writes in his seminal work on the city, God deeply loves the city. Many scriptures evidence this fact (e.g., Ezekiel 16:1-14, Psalm 48). Linthicum, and other Christian writers, remind us that our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities. In that sense, the church is an important system, or organization, in the city and it needs to act like it. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer urges the church in his last book, “I wish to see the city church return to the center of the city.”