Archive for August 15, 2008

This is truly an age-old question: Would Jesus use money that was gained from gambling?

(YES, I want to hear from you Wall Watchers).

It was a question that ironically I read from time-to-time at a cyberdome called, “Jesus the Radical Pastor”, a couple of days ago. My comment was:

OK, we could go ’round and ’round theologically about the wiles of gambling and how they abstain man from using his faith in times of financial stress.

That said, if some saint won the lottery and decided to tithe to his or her local church, God couldn’t use that money to build a life center, send kids to a mission field or pay a light bill? I would say with gritted teeth, the answer is yes.

Should Christians gamble? Probably not. DO they gamble? You beter, I mean, sure they do. So, imagine my amusement when I fell upon this lovely story about First Baptist Church in Orange Park (Florida) and their bold decision to not take the ubiquitous, “You know, if I won the lotto, I would tithe first” donation.

One of its faithful, Robert Powell, had his number hit and he scored $6 meeeeelllliooonnnn dollars (Can’t you see Dr. Evil there with pinky erect and mouth tweaking?) Church, each of you have a friend that have said it, but who would really do it? This cat did… and was given the Heisman:

And he offered to drop his tithe, around $600,000, in the collection plate of First Baptist Orange Park. But the church and Pastor David Tarkington politely declined and told Powell they will not accept the lottery winnings.

WOW! Again, theologians could hold a classic apologist debate on the dogmatic ethics of gambling and how it negatively affects one’s faith. However, give a pastor of a 300-member church that kind of scratch and let’s see if he doesn’t itch!

Now, this is not advocating what gambling does to some of those poor souls who cash in a child’s future for a horse named after his mama. I’m talking the average dude, paying another $119 for gas and grabs some chips, gum, and… oh yeah, hand me the Quick 6.

What happens when that guy wins the lotto, cuts that three-foot by one-foot ceremonial check for the church and wants to see the pastor send the entire youth group to Africa for a missions trip. Most have no clue WWJD, so I ask you, “W-W-Y-D”?

“Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.”

Although Sir Walter Scott (Ivanhoe, Rob Roy) wrote that line in the 19th century, probably about an ex-wife that got on his last nerve.

However, that brilliant line of poetry is all too applicable today as good times ensued in a Houston courtroom. Maybe you heard about it?

The loud applause off Highway 10 occurred when Joel and Victoria Osteen were vindicated and Sharon Brown’s (snake in question) frivolous law suit was thrown out of the courtroom… almost as quickly as she was.

Over the past few days, we have thrown the entire Victoria Osteen saga against the wall to see what sticks.

Some of those poo-flinging Items were like:

  1. Vicky throwing an alleged beatdown on a flight attendant (Brown) who wouldn’t clean up a water stain on her seat
  2. Vicky causing such a kerfuffle she was escorted off the plane by TSA
  3. Sharon Brown getting off the plane in such a tizzy she had a severe case of PTSD (allegedly)
  4. Flight school has some major loans so Sharon sues Victoria Osteen for 10 percent of her assets (about $405,000)
  5. Joel jamming on his iPod to Tammy Wynette and “Stood by his maner, woman in this case.” So he denies wrongdoing in court and in church
  6. Cyndi Lauper begins playing “True Colors” next on that iPod as Victoria appears to be not so happy to be in a pulpit (and on camera)
  7. Three people in first-class throw a big monkey wrench in Sharon’s plans following her throwing the big race card

And now we have this [timpani drum roll sounding off at the moment]: “These allegations are a waste of time,” said the jury foreman.

Sharon Brown, you hear that? Those are your 15 minutes running out. I hope you had fun making a farce out of the justice system because when Rusty Hardin brought to the court’s attention you pulled this crap before in 1995, your credibility flew out the window at 20,000 feet. As did your job, most likely.

But you still have one folded ace up your wrinkled, polyester sleeve:

The flight attendant, Sharon Brown, smiled after the verdict was read and embraced her sister. She left the courtroom, still smiling, but declined to comment. Brown’s attorney, Reginald McKamie, declared it was too early to decide whether he will appeal the verdict. He read a statement he attributed to his client. “We gave the truth to the jury,” he said. “We thank the jury. We know they had a difficult decision to make, and we’re glad we put the decision to a jury.”

This is the same chic that called you a [COUGH] “hero”, right? Well, fly away in your invisible jet Wonder Woman because your soothsaying magic lasso isn’t necessary. Everyone knows you lied… for the most part. You see, if she lied completely it would have been equivalent to me walking up to some dude in a store, handing him a subpoena because I felt like it. In short, Victoria Osteen did something for Sharon the Swindler to think, “You know, if I embellish here and act the fool there, I could get paid.”

Vicky’s attitude was that thing. Yes, if I saw some water splotch in my seat, I would ask the flight attendant for a rag hoping he or she would get the hint and clean it. Yes, if you are a flight attendant, your job is customer service. But no, I do not act as if I am entitled to your indentured servitude and would probably ask nicely. Why? Other than the fact I serve a majestic leader who preferred to be a SERVANT, I am probably wearing a “Pierced” or “NOTW” shirt because I try to witness casually as a “living epistle.” Then again, if I was… oh say… ON TV KNOWN FOR BEING MARRIED TO A PREACHER, I would probably be a little more aware of my tone.

That was Sharon’s in to Victoria Osteen’s pocketbook. Sharon should be fired and blacklisted in the aviation industry for this mess. As for Victoria? All I ask is you think.

Whenever you are alone in that cold, dank place, consider the cost. Not the almost 400 large, but to your reputations. Albeit this will be a temporary setback, it’s one nonetheless – and one you could have avoided if there was no sense of entitlement in your carry-on baggage.

Everywhere you go and everything you do (in public), you are a witness of God’s grace and love. You can’t afford to have an “off day” in public. Is it unfair? It’s terribly unfair but the world doesn’t care to see a preacher these days deal with sin. They actually want to see them wallow in it, drown in it and perish in it. You wake up on the wrong side of the bed and everyone around will notice how raggedy your hair looks. You feel me? The jurors do:

Juror Mark Bowden agreed. “I don’t think (Brown) lied,” he said. “I think she exaggerated what happened. I think it was verbal, but no assault.”

See? You did do something and regardless of how minuscule you thought your outburst was, when a wealthy preacher’s wife does it, that will be construed as elitist and egoist. Every time, missy. We are servants of God, not rock stars of righteousness. Do I think this legal debacle will spark a thought of humility in you? For a while, but if it’s not you, it will be another pastor of a large church, a leader of a Bible study or just some self-absorbed Christian during a Sunday lunch.

The Body of Christ should wake up, stand up and speak up about living like Jesus, rather than just “Becoming a Better You.”

If we spend every day “becoming a better us”, then we risk becoming self-absorbed and end up treating everyone else like the gum on the bottom of our shoe because no one is as good as we are, Amen! If only the Body of Christ – namely its leaders – could figure that out. Oh, what a wonderful – and not so litigious – web… WORLD, world this would be. Ain’t that right, Sharon? Sharon?

At least according to the Christian Post (by way of those equipped minds at Barna), how can he be if those who are the most vociferous about the Messiah don’t really smell what the Ba-rack is cooking. (WOOOOO! Can you feel me?)

Out of 19 faith communities polled by The Barna Group, all of them with the exception of evangelicals currently favor Democratic presidential hopeful Obama over Republican John McCain, The Barna Group survey, released on Monday, revealed.

19! Seriously? OK, look. We are getting into some shallow, warm waters with faith during this election. And you know what happens then, right? Well, it’s appropriate because folk get bitten by the faith bug – thanks to the media – all the time. All you have to say is, “Yes, I have faith” and instantly you are a statistic called “Christian” or “Of faith”. Here’s more:

But Obama is significantly more popular among other faith communities, including notional Christians (44 percent vs. 28 percent for McCain); people aligned with faiths other than Christianity (56 percent vs. 24 percent); atheists and agnostics (55 percent vs. 17 percent); Catholics (39 percent vs. 29 percent); and Protestants (43 percent vs. 32 percent).

Perhaps most notable is that even non-evangelical born-again Christians favor Obama over McCain. If their support is maintained until November, it will be the first time in more than two decades that the born-again vote has swung toward the Democratic candidate.

Nice. Why not throw in the Shriners, those dimwits who wear all white suits with peculiar unmarked cans at traffic stops, preachers who have the fraudulent “Doctor” title, others who aren’t necessarily Christian because they side with Muslims on the whole “don’t eat swine” thingy and those that believe God really does have a last name and Jesus’ middle initial really is “H”.

Oh, oh… you must include those bandwagoneering Christians that only shout “Oh God” during times of medical emergency, in flagrante delicto or whenever hugging the porcelain white god after a hard nights out.

I mean really. Do you want to be sure to include everyone? Well, don’t ya’? With these numbers, it seems McCain needs all the help he can get.