Archive for September, 2010

TV is changing the world, but is it changing the Church?

If you’re a football fan, you may have seen the megalopolis Jerry Jones erected in Arlington, Texas (outside of Dallas).

Some say it’s because God deserves a sanctuary that large to watch his favorite team. Others believe it’s some sort of obfuscated version of overcompensation. And then there’s that amazing video screen. Lord have mercy, it’s huge. And unfortunate.

Imagine sitting anywhere facing the sideline. Of course, you pay $400 for a glorified nosebleed seat and you are faced with two choices – watch a bunch of guys who look like ants on the field of green below or gaze upon the wonderment of a 159′ x 71′ TV screen. In HD, no less.

You bet you are watching the TV screen. Who wouldn’t?

You get back to your car and feel like you have lost five pounds. Your pants fit the same. You still look a little bloated in the cheek. And those $18 nachos you threw down your gullet didn’t help your GI tract. Then it dawns on you, with parking, eating and the seat costs, you are out close to $600… for watching TV. Think you’re going back after that epiphany? Me neither.

Considering that realization, I was reading the greatness of CNN Belief’s blog and found a nice opinion piece on a horse of a different color; yet, with the same flashy saddle – TV watching in church.

People listening to their pastor preach on Sunday morning may now ask a question that no one has ever asked before: Is this live or is this on tape delay? They are pastors like Rev. Ed Young, senior pastor of Fellowship Church in Dallas, Texas. Young broadcast videos of his sermons from his “mother” church to other congregations in Texas and even one in Florida.

Beam me up, Scotty. With the rapid growth of churches these days, the need for TV screens is a must because there is always that one seat in the back behind a structure beam. Well that, or some oblivious woman with her “crown of glory.”

However the issue is with the satellite congregation. Ostensibly, they are watching church on TV. Sure, there’s a live worship team and the occasional assistant pastor edifying folk and making announcements but when the senior chieftain takes the stage, it’s showtime. The lights dim, the crowd quiets and on goes… the TV?

Has this become the pseudo-church? We all experience fellowship of a different ilk watching a game and grubbing down on BBQ fresh off the grill at a friend’s house. So why can’t this be the same? Simple – it’s not.

That power you experience from above is not the satellite

Church is not meant to be entertainment. It’s a hospital for the hurting, a refuge for those reduced to tears. Church can be a fun, a blast even, but when the saints go into screensaver mode instead of the monitor they are watching, we have an issue.

Geoff Surratt, author of “The Multi-site Church Revolution,” said at least 3,000 churches nationwide use some variation of high-def video to spread their pastor’s Sunday morning sermons. Some broadcast hologram images of pastors that float suspended in the air behind the pulpit, while others project images of ministers on large video screens. Some sermons are broadcast live, while others are pre-recorded.

Even worse, “pre-recorded” church. What’s stopping people from mailing it in from Netflix or peeping TBN and DayStar for church? Who needs a church building anyway when you have DVDs and iSermons, right?

The Bible clearly shows that if we have fellowship with God, then we should have fellowship with his people. “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

Facebook is fun but a little disengaging with all that poking going on. Twitter is great to follow other people’s conversations (even though most well-known Christ followers don’t follow back). However, what is so social about social media is that it has limits in its socialism.

Can’t the same be said about satellite churches? You are together in the company of believers, but then again, not so much. Everyone is watching the TV, separate from any attachment and once the TV turns off, they all go home. Just as if they hit the remote control.

And if you don’t believe me… didn’t the Word become flesh and dwell among us? It wasn’t transmitted in HD. You know, like a football game.

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The P.C. Express continues in an concentrated effort to rid the world of a God that spoke his mind back in the day, had any sort of opinion of social issues or you know… could have a gender.

Forget the family. Make it one room fits all.

And to save space, the Scottish Church now has one bathroom

First, there was the “Genderless Bible,” which started the debate that Jesus died for all kind – not mankind, just all kind. Ridiculous. And now, we have the deranged actions of the Scottish Episcopal Church in which the slew of female priests are getting miffed about all the personal pronoun usage going one-sided when discussing God as a “he”.

The Telegraph (UK) discusses this new – and mildly defective – form of worship, which removes words such as “Lord, he, his, him” and “mankind” from services, has been written by the church in an attempt to acknowledge that God is “beyond human gender”.

The controversial changes were discussed at the church’s General Synod recently. The minutes of the synod reveal that female priests had asked why God was still referred to as a man. The altered version of the 1982 Liturgy sees masculine pronouns removed when they refer to God and the new approach has even been extended to humans. For example, the word “mankind” has been taken out and replaced with “world”.

Man. Woman. Pat from SNL?

I suppose Pat moonlights in Scotland as a priest.

Seriously?! This milquetoasting of the Scriptures is allowed to exist. I get a slew of politicians doing their best not to upset their constituents, but to have this bastardization of deity to exist within the walls of the Church is appalling. It’s heresy.

And guess what female priests of Scotland? This is going to put quite an increase in his testosterone. There’s more…

Direct quotations from the Bible have been spared change, because of a reluctance to interfere with the word of God. However, the blessing at the end of services has been changed by some ministers from “Father, Son and Holy Spirit” to “Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier”.You know, I once heard that if someone performs a task, they liked to be thanked for it. Tsk. Tsk.

“The changing of God language is a little tricky,” admitted Rev Darren McFarland, convener of the church’s liturgy committee. “We are not saying God is not masculine. God is also feminine. The problem is trying to use human language to describe the indescribable.

What’s interesting is he could be right… but I am fairly certain they are not that smart to be this mischievous. The Hebrew and Christian scriptures have  traces of maternal imagery that have not been overridden by the patriarchs. This includes breast and nursing imagery, of which even the title of God used in Exodus 6:2-3.

Did you know (because I know these old sods didn’t) that El Shaddai is traditionally interpreted as the Almighty, but may be interpreted as the Many Breasted One from the Hebrew word shad, meaning breast, instead of using the Akkadian word shadu meaning mountain.

See, how can God send his son here to be touched with all of our feelings, if men and women feel differently?

Maybe, because HIS characteristics are to fully understand both men and women. We are made in HIS image, after all… or should we redefine that one as well?

Today is September 11, Patriot Day, a moment in time that will also live in infamy.

On that day nine years ago, religion didn’t matter, race wasn’t an issue and your political party was a moot point. What was important was birthright – we were all Americans, united by God.

Captain Dale Goetz

Capt. Dale Goetz (1967 - 2010)

This week, a tragedy happened during war that has not happened since the Vietnam War and brought back the concept of this being “God’s Country” – a Chaplain died in the line of duty, for his country and for Christ.

U.S. Army chaplain Capt. Dale Goetz, 43, was killed in the Arghandab River Valley in Afghanistan, when the convoy he was traveling in was struck by an improvised explosive device, according to the Department of Defense. Four other soldiers also were killed in the attack. Goetz was serving as the battalion chaplain for the 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment.

What was once a unifying issue has now become a political one. Dead soldiers are no longer symbols of bravery and honor; they are unwilling pawns in a slothful, apathetic game of Congressional chess. Case in point – this story.

Did you catch it? Anywhere?

It was news because of its calamitous significance, but hardly made a ripple in the sea of polluted water known as “breaking news.” And why? There was no political leverage to be made. He was a Chaplain.

In the Christian media, that was a different story (take this blog, for example). Christian Post and Christianity Today both did a nice job covering statements and testimony of the Army chaplain:

“He had a great burden for the soldiers,” recalled Jason Parker, pastor of High Country Baptist Church of Colorado Springs. “His specific prayer request was to see 300 soldiers come to Christ. He was also praying for God to call ten of those soldiers into the ministry. That was one of his specific prayer requests.”

Get that. The man was more than a Chaplain to our stalwarts overseas; he was their pastor encouraging God’s calling to manifest in – and through – their lives. Now that’s news.

Goetz joined the Army one year before the disastrous events and today, his life serves as a stark reminder to the Body of Christ that there is a lot more to this drama in Afghanistan than some nappy bearded, extremist recluse that no one can find. Well, except for every TV camera working for Al Jazeera.

There is a dire need for prayer. We need to pray for our country, our troops and our government. That’s a trinity that needs to be held in the highest regard, saints. What is going on over there has nothing to do with politics; it’s all about purpose. We should be mindful of our troops more than on Veterans Day, Memorial Day and 9/11. They need prayer. They need God’s people.

Pray for our troops for protection and peace

I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD watches over you— the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The LORD will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore. (Psalm 121 NIV)

May God bless all the men and women who serve our country with valor… and the men and women who serve them for Christ. Never forget… remember?

There is a very important day coming at the end of this week, so I plan on rocking the light-hearted stuff now. And although the topic may be light, the calorie count probably is not.

In France, there is a rash of Islamophobia. And no, not for the reasons you may think. A while back, the country went all Arizona on Muslims and decided to ban the burqa – the face, body, ninja mask thing worn by only a few hundred women in the country. Relations have been tense since because of a dimwitted country president and now we have the fast food universe telling Muslims, “You can’t have it your way.”

The next step in racial profiling - Halal onlyIn an interesting article found in the Washington Times, we see a fast food empire in Europe called Quick that has rapidly found itself in the ire of non-Muslims across the continent for the food it serves, in particular, a Halal burger.

The No. 2 burger chain behind Mickey D’s has decided to market its product to more than just an aged demographic, but a religious one when it removed bacon burgers from its menu and replaced them with a version that is permissible under Islamic law – or Halal – using proper beef and a slice of smoked turkey.

Nice, right? Eh, depends on who you ask.

It’s discrimination” against non-Muslim customers, [Mayor of Roubaix, Rene] Vandierendonck said. The mayor has filed charges with justice authorities against Quick for what he says is prejudicial religious catering. He has also lodged a complaint with France’s main antidiscrimination authority on the matter. “Yes to diversity, no to exclusion,” Vandierendonck told Le Monde‘s website last week. “I congratulate Quick for adapting its offer to consumers by providing halal, but it goes too far when they propose only that.” (Taken from a similiar Time article).
Was this a savvy business decision or religious kowtowing? Whatever the reason, folk in France are looking to pork up anything they can in spite. It is a little of the opposite of pushing for equality, isn’t it? This is more of a case if the country is segregated, then we will give them a reason to stay that way.
I don’t know, kind of like creating highways for horse-drawn carriages in Amish country, sans the fears of extreme terrorism. Evidently, the company’s marketing strategy has a second strike against itself:
Perhaps a bit strangely, the chain launched its halal-only burger restaurants in the middle of Ramadan, a month when devout Muslims fast from dawn to dusk. Quick says the date was purely a coincidence.
I believe Muhammad said it best, “Doh!”
The reason for the outrage over this burger ballyhoo is nothing more than fear – people are afraid this exclusive meal will force all other customers to leave the restaurant and only Muslims to visit it. And if I am a countryman in a country that apparently wants nothing to do with a Muslim man, I don’t think I would be too crazy about that scenario. Would you?

Stephane Gatignon, the mayor of the Paris suburb of Sevran and a member of the environmentalist party Europe Ecologie, says he is worried the Quick in his town will become a Muslims-only hangout, preventing ethnic groups from mingling. On top of that, “It’s stigmatizing,” he told the Associated Press. Quick is saying, “in these towns, there are only Muslims, but in a town like Sevran, there are not only Muslims, there are a lot of other religions here, too. Everyone has to find their place.”

Nice. By the looks of things, that place will be resting comfortably under the golden arches, or whatever geometric shape Quick has. Happy Kwanzaa everyone. Get your gift cards soon.

Any time a quote is attributed to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., it demands attention and possibly the breaking out of a handy Moleskin because memorization may help you become a better person.

He once was quoted discussing the issues associated with the Church when he said, “11 a.m. Sunday is the most segregated hour in America.” For years, pastors among diverse congregations have either combated or contributed to this axiom for decades.

Although some may have no clue this aphorism was ever uttered, it seems one man in Florida with quite the ecumenical legacy not only knows about it, but also is heaven-bent on doing something about it. Tullian Tchividjian is a man with both an incredible anointing on his life, and one huge pair of feet. Why? The shoes this cat has been placed in some massive shoes to fill.

Dr. Martin Luther King and Dr. Billy Graham

Who knew a guy named Tullian could connect these dots?

His first pair of wing tips belong to his granddaddy, a gent named Billy Graham? Maybe you have heard of him? I was told he was a big deal. Moreover, Dr. Graham has met the aforementioned Dr. King, so he would know a lot about the hour of segregation.

The second pair of Hush Puppies belonged the highly esteemed Dr. D. James Kennedy. A couple of years ago, Dr. Kennedy went home to be with Jesus and left the pulpit of the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church (CRPC) vacant. After what seemed like American Pastor Idol was complete, the Elder Board called upon young Tullian to pastor the historical church.

It wasn’t without creating some cantankerous hullabaloo that needed to happen, but once cooler minds prevailed, the church lowered their old-man pants from midriff and got a little more progressive.

And now, thanks to this article in the Christian Post, we see things are even more progressive – and somewhat inspired by Dr. King.

CRPC in Fort Lauderdale now offers only one service at 10:15 a.m. with, essentially, blended worship – that means no more separation based on age, likes and comfort. The aim by church leaders, including Senior Pastor Tullian Tchividjian, was to unite the congregation and demonstrate the power of the Gospel.

Praising God should be without face, but all voice

How old is this person? Does it matter?

Naturally, there will some compromise between the “Old Rugged Cross” and “For the Cross,” but despite the whimsical guitar riffs and slow melodious chords on the pipe organ, the object is getting everyone to the Cross.

Yes, Dr. King was clearly discussing race, but Pastor Tullian took another demographic clearly segregated more seriously and decided that wall needed to come tumbling down.

The best way a church can demonstrate unifying power of the Gospel before our very segregated world is to maintain a community that transcends cultural barriers,” Tchividjian said in a sermon earlier this month. “The church should be the one institution, the one community – this countercultural community – in our world that breaks barriers down.”

Man, preach that. Saints, we need to learn because this decision – as bold as it was – reflects the microcosm that exists inside the entire Church, not just his. Go to any church or watch TBN for any period of time and you will easily see we are not a “Catholic” church. There is nothing universal inside of it.

Country clubs have strict rules about keeping out the riff raff. Why? Because they can. The only difference with churches is that there are no printed signs in the parking lot. This may seem like a stretch to make an ideological statement out of removing the Gomer worship service, but there is validity in it.

Churches should dig internally and discover ways to unify their congregations in every way possible. And if that means worship leaders can mix in a classic hymn with an upbeat twist versus some random David Crowder tune no one outside of folk with the CD has heard, then so be it. If you don’t believe, check out the guy who sounds like he is channeling Grandpa.

Explaining the significance of removing barriers, Tchividjian told the congregation, “The only way to know God deeply is to have many different types of Christian people in your life since each person will reveal a part of God that you cannot see by yourself. That means this: that the great tragedy of segregation is not so much that we see less of each other but that in seeing less of each other, we see less of God.”

Yeah, the next time I am in Fort Lauderdale, I am so checking out this worship service. I’m sure the pastor isn’t that shabby either.