Archive for February 12, 2009

In Christendom, there are several arguments… er, healthy debates that will last until the rapture:

  1. If God wants his children to prosper while on earth, why is there so much ado about prosperity?
  2. Does being a real Christian mean living in poverty, or at least driving a hooptie?
  3. Glossolalia: Praying under divine influence or speaking under the influence?
  4. If Jesus healed people by faith, and we have Jesus’ power inside of us, then logic says… ah, you get it.
  5. AND, this one, as noted in the story from the Houston Business Journal:

Critics claim ‘big box’ churches are more focused on entertainment than religion, but today’s religious facilities are using technology and savvy marketing to transform themselves into community hubs.

It's the new Hollywood Squares. God help us.

It's the new Hollywood Squares. God help us.

So, are they? Many critics, pundits and Christians say a resounding, “AMEN!”

“The goal is to reach the ‘unchurched,’” says Pete Ed Garrett, Studio Red Architects partner. “The business side of that is to find out who your customers are and find a way to reach them. They want the exterior to inspire curiosity and draw people inside. This means the religious iconography is purposely left off. There are usually no big steeples, crosses or stained glass.”

Working in and with the media pays the bills for the HiScrivener clan, so this is a issue close to my heart. There is always a place in this world for the old rugged cross at the old dilapidated church.

Those picturesque houses of worship are the backbone of Christianity, but these days, some of the people leading those houses make up the wishbone… and honestly, it ain’t helping the whole Great Commission thingy.

And regretfully, as it appears in this riveting article, the wishbone is for plasma TVs over platforms for the Gospel; stained-walled frescos instead of stained-glass windows; and a good con game over righteous conviction. So, where did the design for the house of the Lord go anyway? What attributes are inside these “big box” churches – and the people inside them?

Coffee bars, book stores and even a bowling alley — leaders of large churches want their church to be an integral part of the community surrounding it, and they are willing to invest in it. Even smaller to midsized churches draw in outsiders through “fellowship” facilities. Megachurches take this to a new level with video games, concerts and food courts.

Question: Is the big box craze currently seen on TBNer, a neighborhood street near you truly a quest to become involved in the community, or is it a modern-day voyage upward in the Tower of Babel?

It seems we are more concerned about being “seeker-sensitive”  than being seekers of the will of God. There are several blogs dedicated the reality of Christ (note “Another Brick on the Wall” – just pick one), and many, many more readers of said blogs who carry the “Acts 28” message wherever they go (let it stew, you’ll get it).

Yeah, I thought so.

Yeah, I thought so.

What this article made me ponder is the very premise for “The Writing on the Wall”: God is desperately trying to get our attention despite the lukewarm pablum of some of those preaching his word.

We need truth. We need real messages that will empower us and make us agents of change. Do we get that when preachers would rather talk about married couples should have seven straight days of sex, convince their members to join multi-level marketing scams or even better, lie to the world about having cancer and then, uh really just have a hankering for porn?

Not so much. And it probably breaks his heart.

People, those big boxes full of fluff, pomp and circumstance are not the churches God envisioned when the Holy Spirit descended and the praise of the Lord ascended in Acts 2. Rather, WE ARE!

I’m sorry to still be steppin’ on my proverbial soap box, but we are supposed to be living epistles, not pseudo apostles. There is no problem with big boxes, if God is directing tens of thousands of people to be in one building at one time, sweet. Let’s just ensure through demanding more of Jesus, of his ministers and his people what is being shared inside that box isn’t just “jack”.

If you know what I mean. And I think you do. But if not, unfortunately, the “show” will go on.

A couple of weeks ago, we ruminated about some fresh paint on the Wall surrounding a possibility of Arkansas law makers permitting pastors and parishioners to pack heat in church. Well, what was just a story has now been upgraded to DEFCON 4 and placed on “Apocalypse Watch.”

Why? The law actually passed the Arkansas House. Good times in Redneck Nation!

House Bill 1237, the church-guns bill, won approval on a 57-42 vote. The bill by Rep. Beverly Pyle, R-Cedarville, would amend state law to remove churches and other places of worship from the list of places where people with permits are not allowed to carry guns. “Due to many shootings that have happened in our churches across our nation, it is time we changed our concealed handgun law to allow law-abiding citizens of the state of Arkansas the right to defend themselves and others should a situation happen in one of our churches,” Pyle told House members.

Pastor, get the parking lot mini-skree. We have a problem.

Pastor, get the parking lot mini-skree. We have a problem.

Not to mention, the other non-law-abiding citizens who think crashing a praise party while smoking caps everywhere is a good idea.

I said it once, but I suppose my larynx hasn’t been abused enough for the Arkansas State Congress to hear me, so here goes: “Is this ever a good idea?” Believe me, whatever side of the political fence you are on, having a carry and conceal license is always a good idea… but in a church?!

Let’s see what some flag-waving, eagle-flying-overhead representative from the home of Wal-Mart has to pontificate:

“Having guns in church will not stop some lunatic from coming into your building and shooting somebody,” Breedlove said. “Ronald Reagan was completely surrounded by armed guards, but he was still shot. That is why we must put our faith in God and not in something else.

Well, not that some scorned ex-boyfriend will need a sniper scope to pop his former squeeze sitting in the choir loft, but thanks for the patriotic analogy nonetheless.

I get it, “Faith without works is dead.” You can’t just sit on your blessed assurance if you are unemployed and expect God’s provision to drop a six-figure gig in your lap. Ed McMahon doesn’t travel house-to-house with that sweepstakes any more. You have put your faith in action.

Similarly, you can’t walk into a gun fight with a set of nunchakus because you think you got Bruce Lee’s game. It’s not a fair fight. BAM! You’re pushing up daisies. But how will this law help anything?

Can you imagine a revival service and the Holy Spirit shows up? [Cue harp music]

Folk start running the aisles, pastor gets an anointing for the people. Suddenly, one of the catchers trips leaving the pastor with the bad back to catch “Big Mama.” He tries, breaks a hip and off goes his 9 MM resting in the bosom of his pocket, without the safety.

Puh-lease. You don’t think this will be an episode on TBN? Wait until a live church service and see what happens.

WOW News and the UK’s Times Online Madame Bess Twiston Davies pens routine enshrined epiphanies on the Bible and sanctimonious satire that often makes you think and smirk all at the same time.

But this one inspired from the BarackStar’s inaugural oath made my history pants go crazy. This is grandiose, and quite useless, information.

So, if you are half the antiquity dork that I am, enjoy these facts to be heard extolled from the great Alex Trebek on a TV near you soon. Thanks for this transcript, Bess. Who knew?

1. The Bible used by George Washington was printed in London in 1767, bound in maroon Morrocan leather and finished with silver clasps. It was later used by Warren G Harding (Baptist), in 1921, Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953 and in 1989 by George W. Bush (an Episcopalian).

2. Lyndon Baines Johnson took the oath of office on November 22, 1963 on board an Air Force One airplane using the Catholic missal found in the desk of the just-assassinated John F. Kennedy. At his 1965 inauguration Johnson’s wife held the Bible as her husband took the oath, the first time a first lady had done so.

3. Two-handers: Some presidents have used two Bibles to take the oath of Office: Richard Nixon (in office 1969-1974); Dwight G. Eisenhower (1953-1961) George Bush Snr (1989-1993).

4. Harry Truman (1945 – 1953) was the last president to kiss the Bible after taking the oath of office.

5. Family affair: Ronald Reagan (1981-1989) used his mother Nelle’s Bible. Bill Clinton (1993-2001) used the Bible which had belonged to Edith Cassidy, his maternal grandmother.

6. John Quincy Adams (1825-9) refused to use a Bible to take the oath of office in 1825. He thought it too sacred for use in politics, so instead swore the oath with his hand upon a law book containing America’s Constitution. Theodore Roosevelt, a member of the Dutch Reformed Church, also shunned the Bible when taking in 1901 his first Oath of Office. But he did use it on starting his second term as president in 1905.

7. William McKinley (1897-1901) used a Bible given him by the congregation at his Methodist Church to take his oath in 1897.

8. Franklin Pierce (1853-57) an Episcopalian did use a Bible to take office in 1853, but rather than swearing an oath he made a statement of affirmation.

9. Closed book: Presidents Truman, Kennedy, and Bush Jnr kept the Bible firmly shut during their swearing in to office. It is customary for the incoming president to select a favourite verse, usually a psalm of proverb.