Archive for August, 2010

So, I’m reading WOW News’ CNN Belief Blog and I find a story that seems appealing. One sentence into the thing, I’m incensed and feel like dog cussing some folk… but for the grace of God.

Your child is following a “mutant” form of Christianity, and you may be responsible.

This is a must-read for any real Christ follower

To some, that sentence may not mean a thing and you’re thinking, “Grow up, HiScrivener.” To others, you are reading beyond the text and seeing the pandemic upon us – lukewarm pablum, uncommitted Christ followers and milquetoast preachers who the last time they experienced any “fire and brimstone” was slipping while placing a Duraflame in the fireplace.

[Author Kenda Creasy] Dean says more American teenagers are embracing what she calls “moralistic therapeutic deism.” Translation: It’s a watered-down faith that portrays God as a “divine therapist” whose chief goal is to boost people’s self-esteem.

Now that’ll preach!

And the girl is legit too. Dean, a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary and author of “Almost Christian”, is testifying about something many of us have been exclaiming for year. The Church has become a social club, not a hospital for the hurting. Why else do they call these big box churches “Evangelical Lite“?! Because there is nothing heavy being taught in these places.

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with megachurches providing the pastors in charge are serious about teaching the Word of God the way it needs to be taught. However, if some of the altruistic benefactors of no condemnation and bumping up the church numbers to one-up the next toolbox are only interested in the weekly offering, then Houston, we have a friggin’ problem.

“If this is the God they’re seeing in church, they are right to leave us in the dust,” Dean says. “Churches don’t give them enough to be passionate about.”

Some do, but visit any “The Largest Megachurches” lists on the Internet and most of them are pioneered by guys who are very successful for rehashing and requoting Zig Ziglar, Sun Tzu and their grandmama. Their needs to be more passion about Christ, more conviction about living for Christ and honestly, if some folk warming a pew can’t take it – split!

The Church is a house of love, but we live in a world of hate. And if you aren’t getting some tough love and challenges on Sundays, what good is it?I would continue, but quoting her is too much fun:

Some adults don’t expect much from youth pastors. They simply want them to keep their children off drugs and away from premarital sex. Others practice a “gospel of niceness,” where faith is simply doing good and not ruffling feathers. The Christian call to take risks, witness and sacrifice for others is muted, she says. “If teenagers lack an articulate faith, it may be because the faith we show them is too spineless to merit much in the way of conversation.”

MEMO to Pastors everywhere: Get this woman to teach in your church the first Sunday possible!

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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.

Ramadan speeches. Clandestine trips to the Middle East. Fighting for Islamic equality.

Is it any secret that according to a recent Pew Research poll, 1 out of 5 Americans think Barack Obama is a Muslim? And if so, consider his middle name is Hussein and people in the country tend to be a skosh on the narrow-minded side of things.

What’s probably even more concerning is the amount of people in this country that can’t tell:

Alan Cooperman, associate director of research for the Pew Forum, says, “I think overall the picture that we see is of uncertainty and confusion about the president and religion.” Cooperman also says, “When we simply ask people, ‘Do you happen to know what is Barack Obama’s religion?’ it is only one-third of Americans who say he is a Christian. The largest single percentage, almost half of Americans, don’t know what religion he is.

The Graying of America

Being president can’t be easy, as seen by the rapid need for ‘Just for Men’ products on that cropped hair of his. Sure his teeth have gotten mysteriously whiter, but that head is becoming silver like the lining he keeps searching for on the clouds looming overhead.

But I digress… everyone wants to put him in a box. What side of the fence are you, Mr. President? What color are you, Mr. President? Where were you born, Mr. President? If you love the planet, you’ll get a hybrid… an American one, right Mr. President?

However, the one that has probably caused the most gray hairs high atop his afro is “What religion are you, Mr. President?”

This is a man whose trek to find a church became national headlines. As was his inability to find one. Sure, he says he is a Christian and many preachers vouch for the guy, but wouldn’t you fall in line with that one rudimentary principle in the Bible:

Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them. (Matthew 7:19-20 NKJV)

If you take this gig, you do so at your own peril. Everything you do will be under the microscope of American perception. So far, what has been perceived is the only fruits President Obama attracts are the ones who… ah, that’s too easy. Never mind, but you get the idea.

Jesus and President Obama - the odd couple?

Jesus is always looming over Obama's shoulder

Where is his prayer life taking him besides Martha’s Vineyard for some much needed R&R? Why does American media types only seem to catch him knee-deep in Arabic shawls and bowing to leaders of Middle Eastern nations? Other than Rick Warren at the inauguration, what relationship has this president had with the Christian population he so desperately tried to court in the election?

Ever since the kerfuffle about the Islamic activity center mosque place being suggested to be built around Ground Zero, this country has become the compass of the Church and demanding to see his “I got saved and baptized in the 80s” card.

Why? Or better yet, why now?

They lost interest years ago in his faith, but now that he seems to advocate an Imam with a death wish, inquiring (and narrow) minds want to know.

Of course, where the media is going for answers is rather obvious. No one is going to clown the president during a presser about the economy, so let’s ask someone who should know [cue CNN]:

Asked by CNN Chief National Correspondent John King if Franklin Graham had any doubts about Obama’s Christian faith, Graham, who has made controversial comments about Islam in the past, said the president’s background is fueling the false perception that he is a Muslim.

“I think the president’s problem is that he was born a Muslim, his father was a Muslim. The seed of Islam is passed through the father like the seed of Judaism is passed through the mother. He was born a Muslim, his father gave him an Islamic name,” Graham said. “Now it’s obvious that the president has renounced the prophet Mohammed and he has renounced Islam and he has accepted Jesus Christ. That is what he says he has done, I cannot say that he hasn’t. So I just have to believe that the president is what he has said,” Graham continued.

Again with the “Perception is reality” card, Mr. President. Where is your fruit? Sitting in a bowl on the Resolute Desk? Somewhere in your chambers? Or are they seemingly like your Bible, resting comfortably in the rear windshield of your Suburban collecting dust?

The Christian Science Monitor recently wrote a great article about this very conundrum entitled “Why doesn’t Obama wear his religion on his sleeve?” In the article, it asks a question I dare you to answer objectively:

What will it take for President Obama to convince the world that he’s a Christian … or at least not a Muslim?

Is that his job? Really?

Isn’t he supposed to be about creating jobs for the 17 percent of Americans who either do not have a job or are egregiously underemployed? Isn’t the office of the President supposed to be about protecting our soldiers who fight for us to have this inane debate?

Then if that is so, does he really have to convince us of anything concerning faith? Sure, if it is determined that he is not saved and all he was doing was playing politics, then he’s a tool for lying to so many in the Body of Christ. However, that doesn’t affect his ability (or lack thereof) to govern. That rests in his resume post-election.

And if I was President Obama, I would be looking at that dimly scuttled portfolio and praying for results. See there? Fruit after all.

It’s that time of the month again when we scour the Wall for some delusional stigmata enthusiast and post another “God Sighting of the Month.”

Only, it’s been hot this summer and everyone’s hallucinogens are causing different moments of grandeur, like the water tower melting and the refreshing tidal wave is coming toward your house. Anyone? Just me?

And who says bread isn't good for you?

Lord Jesus! That's some good toast.

So we had to find a concocted vision, but this took some daft skill as seen in the UK’s Grimsy Telegraph:

Give us this day our daily bread” – so says the Lord’s Prayer – but in Great Limber, it’s toasted! This stunning depiction of Christ’s Crucifixion may look like it has been painted on tiles, but is in fact made up of 153 pieces of carefully charred toast.

This “artist” is a 33-year-old bloke named Adam Sheldon who felt his calling was to make a sacred illumination of the most hallowed event in history out of something we place sandwich spread upon. And probably with the crusts cut off.

How in the world do you manipulate your toaster to do this with such precision?!

I mean, I put two slices in mine, walk away to go to the bathroom and you would think I put them in the microwave. They eject with the velocity of the space shuttle, completely burnt to a crisp.

And this guy comes off like Da Vinci with the same apparatus? Man, I need to go back to school.

My only theological question about this artistic rendition (and make no mistake, that’s art) hanging in his local church is this: Does this create an entirely new definition for the term “Burnt Offerings“?

This is Freedom Tower, but whose freedom are we talking here?

This is holy ground, and we are free to say that.

In case you live in an Amish colony, don’t have electricity by lacking of paying a bill or are on the Kardashians, odds are you are well-versed in the “Mosque-erade” ballyhoo involving with President Barack Obama and an Islamic activity center that has a bead on some choice real estate near Ground Zero of all places.

Around 9/11, this country was unified on all fronts. No one could screw with us. Nowadays, meh? Not so much.

How soon we have forgotten… until recently, when this moderate Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf decides to get his Donald Trump on and purchase some prime real estate in Uptown NYC.

You know the area. There were these two way tall buildings there once, and their sudden and tragic demise cause people like everyone to hate people like him. Including me for a time (who lost many friends in law enforcement, some frat brothers and almost a member of my family).

Is he a terrorist? I doubt it. Is he like those hellbound agents? Probably not. Does he worship the same god and is therefore painted with the same crimson-stained brush? Definitely.

Anywhoo, this country is in a tissy over this fool who thinks it is a swell idea to build an Islamic activity center two blocks away from the hallowed grounds of 9/11.

Fast forward to last week where we find America’s leader at a breakfast with a bunch of fasting Muslims and he says this:

Muslims “have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country,” Obama said at an Iftar meal at the White House for Muslims breaking their Ramadan fast late Friday. That includes “the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances.”

This country flipped its lid. Well, 50 percent of it. You would think he gave the silo codes to Osama, with a lipstick stain on the envelope. Chaos. Concern. And a whole lot of cussing.

What the what? This is not the sound bite you need to offer at this point in your career sir.

Now, his reputation is taking a beating. His approval ratings are taking a bath. And some seedy people with very little in terms of dental hygiene want to take him for a long ride. We’re talking vitriol of the highest order. In fact, a recent Washington Post poll shows 1 of 5 Americans are convinced Obama is a Muslim.

Immediately, he makes that loud, annoying beeping sound when he backs up that fast and says:

The proposed location has touched raw nerves — and on Saturday Obama clarified that he was not addressing the appropriateness of the mosque’s particular location. “I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there,” Obama said on a visit to Florida. “I was commenting very specifically on the right people have that dates back to our founding. That’s what our country is about,” he said.

This is a view of 1600 Pennsylvania through America's View Master

He’s right. I don’t like it, but he’s right.

If I am so grateful for those men and women who fight the Taliban and all other foreign scourges so I can stay at home and worship Jesus Christ until I am blue in the face and bruising my knees… then, I have be as equally grateful that other people can do the same with whatever deity they worship, no matter how much I disagree with it on a theological level.

But… and this is where our fearless leader missed it… there is freedom of religion and a freedom to stop stupid business decisions. This “activity center” would become target practice for many people, and shame on the dimwitted NYC board to not figure that out. Shame on the government for sticking their nose in a city issue. And shame on most folk who called Obama into treason for his statement.

Shoot, I understand what he said and I lost people at 9/11. He did talk about the “right” to do it, not whether they were “right” to do it. And that’s the rub.

As long as President Obama continues to vociferously support Muslims despite things like this, people will continue to look at the White House vehemently like that (note picture). Sad but true.

Next time, have a little patriotism and understand just what you are saying Mr. President. Our country is not fodder for a speech. This stuff is real, and albeit unfortunate and incorrect to hurl all Muslims in the short Taliban bus, that’s how they are viewed as long as idiots like the aforementioned Imam are not throttled for bringing up an idea like that. And then your cronies think it’s a heckuva idea.

Politicians screw it up all the time because they leave their subjectivity at the door and are too busy glad handing for the next vote.

MEMO to Obama: the American people do not care to see you talk about this and trying to make inroads with disenchanted religious groups. They want jobs, money, jobs… and oh yeah, money.

Jesus was awesome that way because he cared less about being P.C. and more about being J.C. (Yeah, I’ve been saving that one.) There’s something to be said about that because he was about his Father’s business, not sticking his nose in everyone else’s.