Calvinist Curmudgeon

Am I a Calvinist Curmudgeon?

I know that Alan is the proclaimed “Calvinist Gadfly” (now multi-authored by other gadflies). I personally don’t find him/them irritating at all; I rather enjoy their pieces.

But I’ve been wondering lately, if I’m not becoming a Calvinistic Curmudgeon (maybe I’ll need to change the name of my blog). Here’s what a curmudgeon is:

1 An ill-tempered (and frequently old) person full of stubborn ideas or opinions.
There’s an old curmudgeon living next door who knocks every time he hears any noise

Here’s an example: Saturday evening Ann & I were invited to a dinner at a downtown hotel, featuring a “clean” comedian (they’re afraid to use the moniker “Christian” because that doesn’t get them gigs… there, see what I mean?). This event was sponsored by a local church and that’s all I knew with the invitation.

Now first, let me say, as a pastor, I’m not wild about Saturday evening events. I need a good night’s sleep in order to be ready for the Lord’s Day. And I want my congregation to not have to come dragging themselves in on Sunday mornings because some church-related event kept them out late the night before. So, strike one.

Our youngest daughter, Elizabeth, came down with a severe case of strep throat early Saturday morning; cancel Ann’s plans for the day and evening. She told me to just go on my own, I’d be with friends, I could have a good dinner and a laugh or two. So, off I trek, all alone, a single guy… who shows up at this other church’s sponsored “Sweetheart’s Banquet”! A guy, all alone, at a Sweetheart’s Banquet! Talk about your sore thumbs, ingrown toenails, festering boil on the bottom… well, you get the picture. I can’t tell you how awkward I felt, but if it hadn’t have been these friends waiting for my arrival, I would have immediately turned around and walked out. I really dislike these kinds of things when sponsored by Christians/churches. I have yet to attend one where they don’t mock the marital relationship as it should be in Scripture by some silly little skit (they did this Saturday night). They promote their separate men’s and women’s ministry functions (about 12 of them for the men in this church and at least that many for the women, none of them ever together). And they’ll have a speaker who does one of two things:

1) give a stirring, motivating message that has barely any connection to anything in Scripture (well, okay, they’ll read Ephesians 5 just to get things started), with glowing illustrations of how wonderful their marriage has become by following the 12 step program they just come through, or disastrous examples of couples who failed to follow their 23 steps to a successful marriage, and generally make you feel like you and your wife are schleps because you’re not in their program;

2) or have very little to say about marriage and real, biblical love, but they’re well-known throughout the broader Christian community and they’d sure be a good drawing card, so let’s invite him/her and let them talk about anything they’d like to discuss.

Strike two.

The featured guest for the evening was a “clean” comedian (see above comments for the curmudgeon report). He did have some funny bits. There were several times I laughed out loud. There were also some very uncomfortable moments (Jesus is only going to meet His people in the air when He returns because we treated Him so badly the last time He actually came all the way down to earth; this got many laughs from the audience, but a pastoral friend sitting next to me looked mighty uncomfortable and I know I wasn’t laughing). This put my mind into “curmudgeon” mode even more. I wondered, “Why am I here on a Saturday evening when I could be reviewing my teaching note, my sermon notes, getting myself better prepared for the Lord’s Day to come? And why are all these people here doing the same thing, when they too could have been better prepared for better relationships/marriages by better preparing for the Lord’s Day?” Harumph. Harumph. Hey, I didn’t get a “harumph” outta you!

Strike three.

I’d like to say that this was an isolated incident that sparked the curmudgeon in me, but it wasn’t. But since my return from the Bethlehem Conference for Pastors last week, it seems this curmudgeon wants to operate more and more in me: at least the part of me that says, “Why are you all laughing and taking Christ so lightly, when He’s just asked you to be like a kernel of wheat, falling & dying in the ground in order for a harvest to be produced?” Am I becoming a curmudgeon? Am I a person with stubborn opinions? If a “stubborn opinion” is that Christ has called me to take up my cross and follow Him, even laying down my life for His sake, then yeah, I guess that might be considered a “stubborn opinion” and therefore, a curmudgeon.

For now, this will be my prayer (taken from “The Pastor in Prayer: A collection of the Sunday Morning Prayers of C.H. Spurgeon, Banner of Truth Trust, Carlisle, PA, 1893/2004, pg. 118-119):

Our Father, blessed be Thy name for ever and ever. Oh, that we praised Thee more! We must confess we never bless Thee as we ought, and our life is far too full of murmuring, or at the best too full of self-seeking, for even in prayer we may do this; and there is too little of lauding, and adoring, and praising, and magnifying, and singing the high praises of Jehovah.

O God, wilt Thou teach us to begin the music of heaven! Grant us grace to have many rehearsals of the eternal Hallelujah. “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless His holy name.” Grant us grace that we may not bring Thee blessings merely because Thou dost feed us, and clothe us, and because we receive so many mercies at Thy hand; but may we learn to praise Thee even when Thou dost put us under the rod, and when the heart is heavy, and when mercies seem but scant. Oh, that when the flocks are cut off from the stall, and there is no harvest, we may nevertheless rejoice in God.

O Lord, teach us this very morning the art of praise. Let our soul take fire, and like a censer full of frankincense, may our whole nature send forth a delicious perfume of praiseful gratitude unto the ever blessed One, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.


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