Posts Tagged ‘gospel’

As those of us who grew up in the black church know full well, things are done a little differently at times.

The Spirit needs to flow more heavily through a family member of the pastor. The big girl is kept in the choir to make it look bigger in some places. And every Sunday is a fashion show that would put ‘Operation Runway’ to shame.

New Birth pastor gets just that on the cover of Gospel Today magazineBut never have I seen something the likes of what Bishop Eddie Long has allegedly been doing in order to save face amidst some much needed PR.

Any Gospel Today subscribers in the house or on the Wall? Before you answer that proudly, check the latest cover story:

Bishop Eddie Long at the center of the scandal that rocked the church world.

According to the story I read in CNN’s Belief Blog, many subscribers were feeling like throwing this publication into the fiery furnace upon seeing – and reading – this article.

Some Gospel Today readers thought the magazine was downplaying  Long’s allegations, and others thought they shouldn’t have featured him at all. The biggest problem readers had was Long’s relationship with “Gospel Today” – he’s the chair of the magazine’s board.

Listen, I realize this phrase may not be in the Bible, but I believe the publication’s CEO “Dr.” Teresa Hairston needs to hear it anyway: “Conflict of interest.”

I’m sure that may have come up in journalism class. If not, then perhaps, “PAYOLA!”

How about that one?

Evidently, it didn’t and Ms. Hairston is popping her neck about this ballyhoo:

Hairston told readers that her magazine did not explore the legalities of the Long scandal, and chose instead to present a “biblical perspective.” Yeah, that’s quaint, namely when you pen this blast from your ivory towers:

Whether Bishop Long is guilty or not; whether the young men are guilty or not, the BODY OF CHRIST must handle this situation according to the Word of God! The mainstream press has painted a hideous picture; some have even called for Bishop Long’s resignation! They’re not even members!!

Sorry. I’ll save that memo for the police and the lawyers of the alleged victims who are seeking justice on their behalf. Because if Long did half of what they accuse him of doing, a resignation is going to be the last thing they ask handed to them on a silver platter.

Write that. Pen that. Quote that.

Mess like this in the hallowed pulpits across America needs to cease immediately. We should demand more of our leaders and not become inundated with a feeling of “Yes man” and “People pleaser.” Our job is to worship the Lord and respect the elders of the Church… not the other way around.

Of course, the light’s on but no one is home unless this is “handled according to the Word of God.” I’m no Bishop, but here we go:

It’s crucial that we keep a firm grip on what we’ve heard so that we don’t drift off. If the old message delivered by the angels was valid and nobody got away with anything, do you think we can risk neglecting this latest message, this magnificent salvation? First of all, it was delivered in person by the Master, then accurately passed on to us by those who heard it from him. All the while God was validating it with gifts through the Holy Spirit, all sorts of signs and miracles, as he saw fit. (Hebrews 2:1-4 MSG)

Yes, indeed. A MEMO to Eddie Long and Teresa Hairston: “Get a grip!” Don’t look at me. It’s in the Word of God.

In Hollywood, where doth my help come from?

“Christian Movie.” It’s a phrase that has plagued both Hollywood and the Church for decades because the two sides don’t really talk, even if there was the awkward Thanksgiving dinner.

Separate: The two don’t have an inkling enough knowledge of the other to understand what the market demands. Together: Former “celebs” who get real with Christ are considered sellouts because the first that happens is TBN fawns all over them and gets them preaching.

So, what does it mean to be a “Christian Movie”? Is it focus on the “Greatest Story Ever Told,” because honestly, if you have seen the movie (aside from the meaning, people), it really is not the greatest. Not even Top 10.

The one that changed Christian film making was not “The Omega Code,” which looked like the IRS came and repossessed the movie set halfway into the film. No, it was “The Passion of the Christ.

Real. Violent. Authentic. Visceral.

And an A-list celeb created it, without the aforementioned megalomaniac drool from Paul and Jan. Then, of course, that A-list celeb went off the deep end and offending every Jew, black person and woman on the face of God’s planet. So much for his clout. Next?

Sure, Kirk Cameron made a nice swim through a resurrection (of his career) but that was short-lived, and short-marketed. “Fireproof” was nice, really nice, but it lacked the big Hollywood backing.

No one was really 'running' from the Church to catch this one

Recently, Disney saw a glimmer of hope in this once forgotten Christian market, and put out a movie that had all the makings of the next great “Christian Movie.” To use the introduction from a riveting BrandWeek article:

On the face of it, Disney’s feel-good drama Secretariat seemed to have all the makings of a hit with the God-fearing crowd: Its writer and director are devout Christians, it opens with a lengthy Bible quote, it uses an earnest spiritual tune at a key emotional moment and it’s uplifting. Then there was a specific marketing campaign to the faith-based audience, spearheaded by filmmaker Randall Wallace, who has legitimate street cred in those circles.

Quick show of hands for all the Christ followers who saw this flick? Yeah, me neither.

This is a movie that supposed to be the feel-good hit of the summer and Hollywood was counting on the Church. Only, it wasn’t marketed to the Church, so who knew?

Therein lies the rub.

The Church either goes one way or the other when it comes to movie selections:

  1. We are either incognito at Rated-R flicks – Groucho Marx glasses and all – and only be seen watching Pixar movies with the kids.
  2. Or, we go see any horror or drama made with a staunch “So what” to anyone in the Church that has an issue with your film-viewing pleasures.

Then there are those in-between who really want to see God show up in films outside of anything dealing with the crucifixion, resurrection or anything starring Charlton Heston.

Why? According to this story, Christians aren’t as naive and sheepish as Hollywood thinks:

Any movie that has a happy ending or a hopeful message gets peddled to Christian leaders and faith-based media. That crowd may be conservative, but they’re not dumb, said entertainment industry veteran and marketing consultant Mark Joseph.

“The traditionalist audience is far more savvy, post-’Passion,’ and is tired of being told that ‘Polar Express’ or ‘Rocky VI’ are actually allegories about Christ,” said Joseph, also a film producer who’s worked on The Passion of the Christ and other marketing campaigns. “This group is suspicious of Hollywood.”

Not only is this group “suspicious” of Hollywood; they are also lazy to demand otherwise from it.

Yes, I paid good money to see “Inception”, “Iron Man 2″ and “Robin Hood” this summer. And why? Because I am a child of God that can see a movie that doesn’t exalt Christ and still find pleasure in it. Sure, I wish it mentioned, alluded to or flat-out praised him, but if it doesn’t, I’ll go for a gripping storyline and stimulating writing any day.

And no, I didn’t pay a dime to see anything else from TBN studios, the “Veggie Tales” movie or “The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry.” Why? Just because the American Family Association gives it two crosses up doesn’t mean it’s good; it just means it’s sanctified.

Jesus made the ministrel of music. We should own it.

Amen!

It’s the same old problem that has plagued Christian music and fashion. We demand quality too.

When the world had old-school hip hop, the Church had D.C. Talk. (Sure, later came DII, SFC, PID and Freedom of Soul… but toby Mac and the guys pretty screwed that up for the rest of them). When the world had friendship pins, Swatch watches and Coca-Cola shirts, we had cheaply made Garanimals with an icthtus emblazoned on the crest.

Sigh.

In short, just because you have a fish on your business card, doesn’t guarantee me doing business with you. It only means I am leery of you because you expect a hand-out or a hand-up. We need to earn our keep in Hollywood, and not be afraid of the backlash just because we admit we love Jesus in public circles.

It’s happened with music (e.g. Hillsong, Mercy Me, David Crowder, anything alternative that has made the crossover, and on and on and on). Now, it’s time to stop trying to remake the Passion and just get passionate about evangelism with a great movie.

We need to vote with our dollars, in addition to our prayers. (And please, we do NOT do that).

So my definition of “Christian Movie”? It’s a great movie that happens to talk about Christ and sticks to the meaning of his message.

You know, rather than a lukewarm message of love and hate, right and wrong with a crappy script, a couple of has-been actors and something that goes straight to DVD cloaked as a movie.

Think about it people. When we demand more, we will get more. Peace.

It all began with “The Passion of the Christ,” I suppose. And thank God it did.

Then, from the ashes of cutting floors everywhere sprouted wonderful films “Facing the Giants” and “Fireproof” that did something most Christian movies didn’t – made Hollywood stand up and take notice.

Typically, and unfortunately, the term is “Christian movie” and not “movies that are Christian”. There is a difference because perception is reality and people determine that reality with their movie ticket. (Tell that to the makers of “The Omega Code“… woof!)

The Potter's House in Dallas, Bishop T. D. Jakes

If Jakes can fill this house weekly, a box office is far from unlikely

And now, comes the prolific Bishop T.D. Jakes – from preaching to writing to screenplays. Now, his movies are giving Hollywood pause, as seen in a recent article from the Christian Post:

Bishop T.D. Jakes is attempting to change the “Hollywood machine” – what has at times been considered a “tool of the devil” by Christians – into a platform to potentially reach millions of unchurched with Christian messages.

Jakes just completed shooting of his third film, “Jumping the Broom” described as “an upcoming faith and family movie that follows the clashing of two families from different backgrounds during a weekend wedding.”

Pastor of the more than 30,000-member church The Potter’s House, Jakes told The Christian Post that he was drawn to this film when he looked at the script and saw the many ways it speaks about bringing together people from different backgrounds.

The story about a husband and a wife from fictional Taylor and Watson families with divergent socioeconomic backgrounds is also a step – in the bishop’s mind – to de-alienate Christians from Hollywood. It’s a chance for Christians to get their message out through Hollywood’s “megaphone.”

Mel Gibson. Kirk Cameron. And Bishop T.D. Jakes?!

There’s a troika you wouldn’t expect, but it seems they have done the unthinkable – given Hollywood a little faith.

As a megachurch pastor, however, Jakes is looking for that “sweet spot” where he can find harmony between Hollywood’s definition of entertainment – where blood, gore and sex often overrule moral concern – and Christian, family values. “We are trying to find balance. I find that people, as a rule, don’t go to see films that are overtly medicinal. They really want to be entertained, so we are trying to find our sweet spot between entertainment and humor and message.”

A school of Christian fish. Classy.

WARNING: Certainly a bad driver

This is something so close to who I am in that an ichthus needs to stand for something more than shady business people, dolts looking for short cuts and manners that would Emily Post dog cuss your mama. Say what you will about the man, but his methods to bring awareness and glory for God is working.

“Christian movies” are largely considered to be cheap, poorly written, terribly acted and carries those three familiar words that most Christ followers have become accustomed, “Straight to DVD.”

Apparently, that’s the not the case any more. “Jumping the Broom” (which is slated for a Mother’s Day 2011 release) has an all-star cast featuring the incomparable Angela Bassett… and uh, a bunch of other folks whose name I don’t remember. (I’m so partial. Sue me.) Certainly, the script has dynamic possibilities. More importantly, there’s a cryptic message to be learned as well.

The term “Jumping the Broom” comes from slave wedding ceremonies that would offer both the husband and wife a chance for “Decision Making honors” in the home with a test of jumping height. Whoever wins, wins.

Such is life for what Bishop Jakes is trying to accomplish – let’s see if a “Christian movie” can jump high enough to capture box office supremacy for at least a week. It will create a buzz in Hollywood and could make the elite question what they do and how they do it.

Oh sure, the blood-gore-sex recipe will never fade, but possibly productions with a purpose can still make a profit. And let’s be honest, in that town, that’s the Gospel truth. Preach on, brother. Preach on.

It was only a matter of time… and that lasted all of a few hours before both Benny Hinn and Paula White denounced the National Enquirer story about those two practicing confidentiality in a confessional and brushing it off as “We just friends.”

Benny Hinn and faith healing

Would be cool if these were outside a Benny Hinn crusade though?

First, let’s take Brother Benny from his website. Wait… I’m sorry? You say he took the response down from his site? Oh, that’s a shame! It’s almost as if he wants us to forget how he dropped the monogrammed Nehru for an open-collared, silk button down freshly exposing his tuft of love and gold chains.

Come on, man! It’s the Internet:

The publication, which is known for its bias against religious figures, misleads readers regarding the ministerial friendship I have had with Paula White for over 20 years… Although I had not seen her for years, she was an encouragement to me and shared helpful advice out of her own painful experience. As a result, I will not deny that the friendship has strengthened, and, while it has remained morally pure at all times, I have enjoyed the company of someone who has also gone through the trauma of a painful and public divorce.

Let’s break this down the preacher-speak for the kids scoring at home:

  1. “The ministerial friendship.” So, let me just tell you that had it not been for TBN, I wouldn’t have dropped two bits of government cheese on her plate. Since she is in my ilk, I’ll let her hang with me.
  2. “While it has remained morally pure at all times.” She’s not my type. I likes my women chubby and really dumb (Exhibit A here). And Paula is nowhere close to being chubby (Exhibit B here).
  3. “The trauma of a painful and public divorce.” Let’s not let the smooth taste fool you, brother. Public, yes. She wanted it that way. Painful, not so much. She dumped Randy’s behind for life coaching. And while he was sick.

And for more from Brother Benny:

And so I am writing to tell you today that I forcefully, categorically, and absolutely renounce the lies that have been spread about me and want to set the record straight with you. There is nothing inappropriate or morally improper about my friendship with Paula White… Paula and I also recognize that being seen in such settings is unwise, and we have independently determined that we will have no further social relationship until such time as my divorce has concluded and only if we feel direction from the Lord to do so.

  1. “Forcefully, categorically and absolutely.” I love it when people put strong superlatives in a written statement, as if the oafs like me who read will put any different tense on the poppycock we are reading. “Oh, he said categorically. I guess I need to grit my teeth.”
  2. “Being seen in such settings is unwise.” You mean, in public, holding hands? Then yes, you’re right. That spirit of discernment is strong.
  3. “We have independently determined that we will have no further social relationship.” Don’t let the scrupulous masses who want more out of their preachers than shady Roman getaways get in your way. You are your own people as you can ‘independently determine’ to do anything. You know, like post statements of apoplexy on the same day, around the same hour. Tell me, do you make a sound when you back up that fast? BEEP. BEEP. BEEP.
See Paula White's defintion of marriage

I always tell women, "Till death do us... oh, nevermind!"

Now that we have discussed slapping someone’s weave, Sister Paula, what say you?

The National Enquirer released the misguided and untruthful article, which falsely characterized my friendship with Pastor Benny as being something that is morally and spiritually inappropriate. The article goes on to suggest that we were having an improper intimate relationship, which is categorically false… As someone who also endured a painful and public divorce, I was able to offer him insight and spiritual encouragement.

  1. “My friendship… intimate relationship.” If they ‘falsely characterized’ your friendship, then saying they ‘suggested an intimate relationship’ goes without saying. But hey, thanks for saying it anyway.
  2. “Painful and public divorce”. Hmmm… where have I have ‘independently determined’ that I heard that before?!

Next?

I publicly profess and forcefully renounce assertions that the recent trip to Italy to meet with Vatican officials suggests that the friendship is in any way improper or morally impure. We traveled independently to the region for respective ministry duties and, while there, spent time together along with others. We were never alone and were in the constant company of staff and other associates.

  1. “Publicly profess and forcefully renounce.” Seriously? Speak simple. You want to sound smart? How about “Brevity is the soul of wit”? A guy named Shakespeare said that. Just sayin’.
  2. “To meet with Vatican officials.” Um, Benny Hinn? I can believe that. In fact, I have no problem believing that. The dude holds global crusades everywhere! Paula White on the other hand? The lady who has a hard time debating a theologian about real biblical issues goes to the Vatican at the Pope’s behest?! Pat, I’d like to buy a clue please.

Anyone can lie about the Word of God. Anyone. To most who don’t read their Bible faithfully (and regretfully), the Scriptures become subjective. In fact, people have become so detached from the Bible that they live vicariously through faith… and through their pastor.

For them, anyone saying “Touch not mine anointed” will cause people to scurry. However, if you read the second part of that verse, “or cause my prophets any harm.”

Here’s the thing: We – the bloggers and journalists that expect way too much out of those manning a pulpit – are not causing them any harm. Their actions do it. Their mouths do it. Their “independent determinations” do it.

This blog was birthed on the premise of the Church needing to read the “writing on the wall.” And if you want more voices to echo that sentiment, may I introduce you to the “Another Brick in the Wall,” “The Acme Arena” and “WOW News” contributors.

There would not be sentinels screaming in the darkness if there were not shady people doing shady things in the name of God. May the ones full of light shine bright, dear Lord Jesus. And may the ones who are just shady stay in the dark. Too many people are hurting because of clandestine preachers who think they can get away with anything.

Those times need to stop. And if you don’t believe me, ask the cracked crew at the National Enquirer. Believe me, there are more of us than you think. How’s that for categorical weave slapping?

BREAKING NEWS 07/27: Benny and Paula respond via website to this story.

BREAKING NEWS 08/15: Benny Hinn admits to an elicit “friendship”?! Enjoy.

Once upon a time, there were two well-known preachers found anywhere on Christian TV.

The first, a rococo guy from out of town who had a flair for the garish and flamboyant in terms of preaching and healing. The second, a confused, opprobrious white girl twice-removed from a trailer park who perfected a panache for ministering to those she considered ‘like-minded’.

Both were married and enjoying making a living on the backs of Christians in need. Life was good. A lot of television. A skosh of megalomania. And egos the size of Solomon’s Temple.

They couldn’t be touched… until their reality check bounced and both were divorced.

He was stunned that this woman that he had grown to adore and tolerate would ever leave him and his Nehru suits. He was internationally regaled, the TBN poster boy and was constantly in the headlines thanks to swindling the IRS out of its cash. What’s not to love?

In fact, he was so perturbed that his betrothed of 30 years would hit the bricks that he made a public plea for understanding, which is so unlike him anyway.

Her story is a little different in that while she was plying her craft to women with “weaves, government cheese and jheri curls” (three words you can hear in any message she delivers), her Camelot was crumbling as the church was very much in debt, her son was following in mom’s footsteps offending intelligent black folk and her husband just didn’t get her act anymore.

Then, word comes out that she is gallivanting around the chitlin’ circuit with a man who truly understands her – Rick Hawkins.  This self-appointed ‘Bishop’ from San Antonio, Texas whoops and hollers just like her and just to a crowd that they are so not like.

They get each other. They find rest in each other. They dig each other… until … (the video is great):

Both preachers were wandering on TBN and Daystar aimlessly in need of a connection. Not the one they daftly exploit with Jesus Christ. No, I mean one of a worldly sense.

And now, reports are they found one… in each other’s arms. Yeech!

Thanks to the (are you ready) the National Enquirer, we find Benny Hinn and Paula White are rumored to be dating! What the what?!

Benny Hinn and Paula White having a love affair?

(Courtesy: National Enquirer)

Hurting. Jaded. And alone. These two dolts find a way to seek God while traipsing off to Rome and playing ‘laying on of hands ministry’?! Seriously? So says the gossip rag:

In a shocking revelation sure to rock millions in the Christian community Hinn,57, recently sneaked off to a romantic Roman holiday in the Eternal City – with another beautiful blonde evangelist!

Well, tap the brakes on the “beautiful” but I get the point.

It’s a proven fact that people in similar industries discover love only there. Be it police officers, lawyers or media types, the intermingling there goes well beyond the water cooler. And now, add to the mix fraudulent preachers?

Let’s keep it classy, gang. America is watching okay?

Now before you go off and tell your pastor of the smut I am extolling, I understand this is the same publication that prides itself on pictures of celeb bumps and stretch marks. However, it is also the sleazy publication that broke a few things you may regard as “news”.

The National Enquirer discovered that Rev. Jesse Jackson had an illegitimate child, that Rush Limbaugh had a painkiller addiction, and most recently that Tiger Woods was having an affair or two. And oh yeah, John Edwards and his love child? Yeah, they broke that too.

So, spare your world the drama of “Oooooo, God’s gonna get him” and stop to consider what if this is legitimate?

Is it so difficult to imagine that two ignominious messengers of God would feel that they are like a castoff from Survivor, banished from the island of all things televangelical, and have no one to preach at that would understand?

Surely, they would call each other and discuss how they are both being investigated for IRS fraud by the government and both have been dumped by their spouse. There’s a common bond there, no?

One thing leads to another and Paula places her “life coaching” on hold to fly around the world with Benny and his sexy coifed hairdo. She needs his attention being twice-scorned herself (and still recuperating from Pastor Handsy noted in the aforementioned video). Benny is an agape wound and Paula’s presence is the Hello Kitty band-aid he so desperately needs.

I’m getting misty just thinking about it.

And before you cast this off without a respected source, The Toronto Star is covering it as well.

Neither Hinn nor White could be reached for comment Friday.

That’s an attempt to uncover a source. As Another Brick on the Wall, Get Religion notes: “There’s a big difference in most people’s minds over ‘reports suggest’ and ‘the National Enquirer reports.’”

Yes, there is. So as many of my beloved colleaguessuggest” better than most, I’ll keep watching the Enquirer’s report until a more respected source follows suit.

Odds are they will be reporting to Benny and Paula “This Ain’t Your Day” again.