Archive for July 29, 2008

A man considered to be “Everyone’s evangelist,” Pastor Greg Laurie, recently experienced every parent’s worst nightmare – he lost his son.

Horror probably overwhelmed him. Heartache certainly overtook him. Yet heaven overshadowed him.

And to every one’s amazement, Laurie didn’t take one Sunday off for bereavement. Instead, according to this story from the Christian Post, he boldly takes his pulpit with heart in hand and says:

“I still believe.”

Could you do that? Few in the Church could be honest – even if rigged to a lie detector – and say that with truth and conviction. He then continued to share a brief testimony to the 1000s of people in his church and the tens of 1000s who have posted heartfelt condolences on his blog:

“Last Thursday was the most, I’ll be honest with you, the most devastating day of my life and I felt like time just stood still and I couldn’t imagine this happened,” Pastor Greg Laurie told church attendees as he fought back tears. “But I knew he was in Heaven.”

That saving grace is what rescues us all in times of crisis. That peace surpassing all understanding can only come from a God who is alive and can be touched with our feelings. That feeling of security enabled Pastor Laurie to say this:

“I couldn’t think of any place I’d rather be today than at church, worshipping the Lord,” Laurie said during one of Harvest Christian Fellowship’s Sunday services in Riverside, Calif.

You know, I don’t care what anyone has gone through or endured. When you experience that kind of tragedy in front of the entire world and can still stand proud with Jesus by your side, that action alone is enough to make all Christians going through a problem to reconsider the pain, count the cost and shout, “Lord, I still believe too.”

Greg Laurie, thank you for being a living epistle and clear reminder of the faithfulness of God.

This ongoing drama that began in Murfreesboro, Tenn. on a nautical quest for Bible Park USA has moved down the road to Lebanon, Tenn. in search for port of call. Yet, the high seas continues to rage against the ecumenical entertainment complex.

According to this story in the Murfreesboro Post, Bible Park USA seems to really have a hankering for this little town. Now they are suing for reconsideration of the zoning restrictions they were denied:

The Shelton family, which owns the 240 acres optioned by SafeHarbor, LLC for the development of Bible Park USA, filed suit against Rutherford County last month challenging the county’s denial of the park’s rezoning request. The lawsuit requests the landowner petition be corrected, the zoning application approved and attorney’s fees be paid by the county. No specific damages were requested.

OK, so Murfreesboro didn’t want you. And? WWJD, dude? He would go somewhere where he was needed (not necessarily wanted). Why not focus on Lebanon? Not pretentious enough?

It turns out, Lebanon folk love you and not mind you building “Six Flags over Jesus” there, according to this story from the Nashville Business Journal:

“Being able to attract a $200 million attraction right here to add to our tax base and build our tourism market is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Lebanon Mayor Don Fox says in the statement. “We want to do everything we can to be the chosen site for the Bible Park USA project.”

“Tourism market”? In Lebanon, Tennessee? This really is Moby Dick, isn’t it? This big ol’ thing and you want to harpoon him with a toothpick. Weirder things have happened, but this search for a Bible-themed park sure can get a preacher hot under the collar.

Consider Captain Ahab, “From hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee. Ye damned whale.” Well, let’s pray it’s not that bad.

Put down the bean pies and scream to the eastern sky! Here comes the mega-mosque! Thanks to this story from the Pew Forum, we learn that more of religion – be it Christian or any other – is solely about the bottom line.

Many of these “mosque chains” brand themselves as progressive, and sometimes feature gymnasiums and mixed-gender prayer areas for men and women. Some groups even host weekly services at churches or synagogues with the expressed goal of fostering interfaith goodwill.

“If they weren’t Muslim, they’d look like one of the biggest Catholic churches you’d ever seen, from an organizational standpoint,” said Marshall Medaf, president of the Beth Chaverim Reform Congregation in Ashburn, Va., which last month agreed to rent prayer space to the All-Dulles Area Muslim Society.

Don’t hate on Imams for doing to their religion what the “seeker-sensitive” movement has seemed to do to Christianity. Muslims gotta eat too, you know?

This doesn’t take a MBA sophisticate to understand what is going on here – the ubiquitous bottom line. The answer to some prayers are regretfully not “A-men” but rather “Ka-ching.” It seems that is a universal absolute now as well.

The high level of organization reflects a shift among U.S. Muslims from the “immigrant uncles” who once held sway in American mosques to younger native-born Muslims, said Muqtedar Khan, associate professor of political science and international relations at the University of Delaware. “A certain kind of sophisticated thinking is now beginning to emerge because people who were born in the U.S. are taking over,” said Khan. “There are lawyers in the Muslim community — they weren’t there before. The management is learning how to work things out.”

Now if that doesn’t sound like the introductory proposal to a comprehensive business plan, I don’t know what does. But, can you blame them? It’s a trend like Starbucks coffee in the oughts, Hammer pants in the 90s, glam metal bands in the 80s and uh, hot-tubbing in the 70s. And like most trends, this too shall pass.

There are many… MANY… armchair religious pundits that believe what Ed Young, Bill Hybels and Rick Warren are tools of the enemy liquidizing the Gospel in a self-aggrandizing  effort to populate their own city on a hill.

Consider Acts 2:41-47, specifically verse 42:

“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine, and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.”

THIS is the Church, and if any of the aforementioned churches are falsifying the Bible, fellowship, communion and advocating prayers, then they are truly unbiblical. If these mollycoddled sanctuaries are less than faithful to these adherent sacraments, then they got larger issues than having you calling them out.

However, if you truly have an issue with them, consider this: the reason they are “in business” is because they understand other so-called sanctimonious churches put them “out of business”.

By leaving the light on, propping a door open and removing all notions of “business as usual,” people that were scorched by hypocrites, sycophants, parvenus and backbiters in the pews are giving God one more chance.

Oh sure, the pablum is like God-lite, but dare to ask yourself what’s worse? The homogenization of God’s word to remove all conviction, sin and judgment from the ears of those in attendance almost assuring decisions for Jesus but no real walks with Jesus? Or the fact they are there because of so-called Bible-totin’, Jesus-lovin’, God-fearin’ folk – some they considered their “brothers and sisters” – whose sore mouths and bad attitudes put them in that pew in the first place.

Either way, folks… the Church needs to wake up, stand up and speak up. Jesus is alive and well and known for having a good time. We should notify our faces about that… or shut up at the very least.