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Time was, church hopping was deemed a bad thing. Reflective of much else in our American culture, it represents a consumeristic approach to church. The idea being that if the service at church A was too long, church B was right down the street. And if that didn’t work out, well there’s always the tried-and-true-blue Methodists.

Or no church at all.

In fact (sorry, I’m not going to back this up with statistics. If you want stats, read Kinnaman, or Barna), more are indeed leaving the church now than ever before. It’s deemed boring,  irrelevant, or folks are just too busy to bother. FOOTBALL!

Three guys from North  Carolina aim to put a stop to that by flipping the script on what church hopping is. In fact, that’s what they call themselves, the Church Hoppers. Because that’s what they do: hop from struggling church to struggling church to help them reach souls for Christ by shoring up their foundations.

Who are the Church Hoppers? Kevin “Rev Kev” Annas, Larry “Doc” Bentley, and Anthony “Gladamere” Lockhart. Between the three of them, these gentleman bring decades of both ministerial, and business, experience to the table. Their focus is three-fold:

Systems

Business

Sales/Marketing

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Can you guess which is Rev Kev, Doc, or Gladamere?

In other words, in Star Wars terms, they bring balance to the force. Because it’s their contention that a church out of balance in any of these key areas is like a two-legged stool: bound to fall. In this way, they’re like the A-Team. If yours is a struggling church, if no one else can help, and if you can find them… I kid. All a church has to do is call. (But seriously, don’t you think “Hannibal,” “Murdock,”and “Faceman” would be better nicknames than “Rev Kev,” “Doc,” and “Gladamere?” To me, Rev Kev sounds like a moniker that either a DJ, or longhaul trucker, would use. And Doc? He was Snow White’s dwarf buddy. Don’t get me started on Gladamere. Is this a concatenation of “Vladimir” and “glad?” If so, Maxwell Smart says, “Missed it by that much.” Gladamere… It just kind of prances off the tongue).

I of course kid, but as marketing experts, one would think that they could come up with better nicknames. All of that aside, and in consideration of the age old question:

Does the world really need another reality show?

The answer is a resounding no. The world doesn’t need another reality show. It never needed any in the first place. That said, does Church Rescue deliver the goods? The answer, my friends, is a resounding “Yes!” These dudes, despite their problem nicknames, put the real in reality! How do I mean? Let me put it this way: have you ever seen a headstrong, take-no-prisoners, my-way-or-the-highway pastor own up to his junk baggage on national T.V.? If you watch this show, you will. You’ll see that, and more.

What you’ll see is three guys who help a church become more relevant without compromising the message. And that, Regis, is my final answer.

So tune at 10 PM EST/PST tomorrow night, Monday, November 11th to the National Geographic channel and see for yourself.

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Hymns are beautiful. Beautiful expressions of faith, truth, doctrine.

Hymns are also usually only heard in church.

Yet there are other places, unexpected places, where hymns have been heard.

Abide With Me is great. But hearing it in a graveyard. Not so much.

Breathe On Me is wonderful at church. But when your dentist is bent over your face extracting a tooth? Whew! (“Dirty mouth? Get Orbit).

And He Touched Me takes on an entirely new meaning when overheard at the proctologist’s office!

Where are some weird places you’ve heard hymns?

Straight Pride

randomlychad  —  November 5, 2013 — 12 Comments

(If you wish, you may skip the first part of this post, as it deals mainly with my personal convictions and interpretation of the Scriptures. The story I wish to relate begins with “Earlier this year”).

Just to be clear: whether one believes homosexual practice to be sinful, or not, God loves everyone, and sent His Son to die for each and every person who has, or will, ever live.

We are all alike in our need for Him.

My personal understanding of the Scriptures is that while homosexual temptation (as with any temptation) is no sin, its practice is. I think of it being akin to fornication–sex outside of marriage.

That said, I’m not here to debate the Scriptures, or the variety of interpretations surrounding it. God knows I have enough trouble with my own sin. Who am I to tell another how to live?

That said, we must all live with a clear conscience before God. And I want to, if I can in anyway, point with my life to Jesus Christ. He is the way the truth, and the life.

The preliminaries out of the way, my cards metaphorically laid upon the table, I would like to now relate a story which in its particulars is distressing to me. It goes like this:

Earlier this year, my family and I were enjoying a much-needed rest in the cool pines of Flagstaff, Arizona. At an elevation of 7,000 feet, it’s much cooler, and provides a welcome respite from our home in the Valley of the Sun. It seems that our time there coincided with the annual Pride in the Pines festival.

This in and of itself isn’t surprising, right? Gay pride is the cause celebre, the cause du jour, in our society these days. People are tired of hiding who they are; so more and more are coming out of the closet. God bless them for their honesty, I say. Because all of us are only as sick as our secrets.

That said, and I’m not here suggesting that anyone should hop back into the closet, if I had my druthers gay pride would not be so loud, brash, and in-your-face. Consider Ghandi, for instance. Or the late Dr. Martin Luther King, jr. Both brought to the light the plight of the peoples they represented through nonviolence–through passive protest.

In so doing it was like heaping coals of fire on the heads of their oppressors.

I don’t see that in the gay rights movement. Instead, I see pride. I see brash, and even crass, displays. Such as:

During our time in Flagstaff, in walking the streets of its downtown area, we (my family and I) saw something we won’t soon forget: a man carrying what appeared to be a large, thick-veined phallus in his hand. Where he was going we don’t know; what happened next, we’ll never forget:

At first glance, what appeared to be a (let’s call it what it is) dildo turned out to be a water bottle. How do we know? The man took a sip from a straw which protruded form the urethral opening of his (very) anatomically correct water bottle. (This image is, unfortunately, indelibly burned into our memories. And how does one even begin to explain this to one’s children?)

I ask you: is that gay pride? Or rather something to be ashamed of? Whichever, and again I’m not asking anyone to go hide in their closets, it certainly displays a lack of discretion.

It’s vulgar. And the only thing I can surmise is that it was intended to shock. Why else would someone do that? Let’s look at this way: you wouldn’t see me, or any straight person I know, walking down the street anywhere with a, I don’t know, vulva-shaped drinking vessels. Or titty-shaped coffee mugs.

Likely, anyone doing so would be reproached, or possibly arrested. It would be labeled a crass, vulgar display of straight pride at best, and objectification at worst. The point being that, no matter which camp from which it arises, lewdness is lewdness. Whether you’re straight, gay, or otherwise.

That being the case, why do those in the gay rights movement get a free pass with such things? No one (that I saw) approached that man, asked him to put away his penis. Why is that? Because we’re afraid.

We’re afraid of the backlash. We’re afraid of coming under attack in this politically correct culture in which we live. The fact is that if we spoke up in support of “Straight Pride,” we would be laughed to scorn, derided, or compared to white supremacists.

Which is not a fair comparison at all. Gay rights activists, and those who support them, want to be treated with dignity and respect? Start acting like it. Stop carrying dildo drinking cups out in public. Respect is a two-way street: one has to give it to get it.

Hear me well: I believe everyone deserves, as the pinnacle of God’s creation, to be treated with dignity and decency. This does not mean that we have to agree; rather, that we afford one another respect. That we listen.

I hope that you, no matter which side you come down on, realize there really isn’t any us and them: it’s all us. There is one human family. And we, as I said above, all need Jesus.

I’ll do my level-headed best to not get in your way, okay? Can I expect the same of you?

Spiritual Warfare

randomlychad  —  November 4, 2013 — Leave a comment

The following is dialogue from The Exorcist:

“Father Damien Karras: Why her? Why this girl?
Father Merrin: I think the point is to make us despair. To see ourselves as… animal and ugly. To make us reject the possibility that God could love us.”

We have only to turn on the evening news to see that evil is a real thing, a palpable force to be reckoned with. Murders, disasters, calamities, accidents, bullyings, school shootings. Each and every one an assault upon our sensibilities.

Make no mistake: the people to which these things happen pay a terrible price. They are victims in the truest sense of the word.

But the Devil is an opportunist. He is a master strategist with one agenda: to make us doubt the fundamental goodness of God. Not being God himself, he must use the tools at his disposal. Secondary to his delight in all the ways we harm one another, is his desire to cause as much collateral damage as possible.

There are the primary victims of crime, of tragedy, and then there’s the rest of us–the observers, the bystanders. Left in the wake of evil’s passing, we wonder “Why?”

Why him?

Why her?

Why them?

Why me?

Why this?

Why now?

The Devil’s methods may have multiplied over the millennia, but his fundamental agenda is the same:

He wants us to despair.

To despair of living, to give up hope, to despair of the goodness of God, and thus reject His love.

How could He love us? How could He love me? When all that goes on around us is evil and tragedy?

That is the abyss which is laid before our feet each and every day. Make no mistake: the enemy knows you, knows your story–knows from whence you come. And he will exploit all such knowledge to the hilt.

The devil is a pragmatist.

The first rule of warfare is: know your enemy. Know his strategies, know his schemes. Know that he hasn’t changed.
Where does the fight against despair begin? On your knees.

“Submit God, resist the devil, and he must flee.”

Fight the good fight, my friends!

Today begins the time of year known as Hallowmas. It is a time of remembering the faithful departed who have gone before us. According to Wikipedia, Hallowmas is:

“Hallowmas, also known as the Triduum of All Hallows (Triduum of All Saints), is the triduum encompassing the Western Christian observances of All Hallows’ Eve (Hallowe’en), All Saints’ Day (All Hallows’) and All Souls’ Day, which last from October 31 to November 2 annually. Hallowmas is a time to remember the dead, including martyrs, saints, and all faithful departed Christians.The dates of Hallowmas were established in the 8th century AD.”

Further, the word Halloween is itself a contraction of the phrase “All Hallow’s Eve.” Wikipedia states that word itself is of Christian origin:

“The word Halloween or Hallowe’en dates to about 1745 and is of Christian origin. The word “Halloween” means “hallowed evening” or “holy evening”. It comes from a Scottish term for All Hallows’ Eve (the evening before All Hallows’ Day). In Scots, the word “eve” is even, and this is contracted to e’en or een. Over time, (All) Hallow(s) E(v)en evolved into Halloween. Although the phrase “All Hallows'” is found in Old English (ealra hālgena mæssedæg, mass-day of all saints), “All Hallows’ Eve” is itself not seen until 1556.”

Be that as it may, it seems that the holiday may in fact be Christianization of an older, pagan celebration. But so what? So are Christmas and Easter. (We’ve been in the business of chrisrianizing things for a long, long time). Yet we have no problem celebrating those holidays. Furthermore, we (as Christians, and as Americans) seem have no problem celebrating holidays created by our government:

Independence Day
Memorial Day
Veteran’s Day
Labor Day
MLK Day (well, some of us have a problem with this one. But we’re not going there)

Getting dressed up, and going door to door, for candy is no more pagan than getting up and getting dressed for work. And I frankly don’t understand what it is that we as Christians are supposed to be fearful of this time of year? Doesn’t the Bible say “Greater is He Who is in Me than he who is in the world?” Thus it doesn’t matter what the pagans, the non-Christians, or satanists intend for this day, right?

As it also says in Scripture, “This is the day that the Lord has made. Rejoice and be glad in it.”

Every. Day. Is. The. Lord’s. Day folks. We would do well to not forget that. And it would do us all a bit of good to be Bereans, and investigate the faith we claim to hold.

Instead of looking down our noses at our brothers and sisters who choose to celebrate today differently than we do. The fact of the matter is that shaming, or berating, someone with our convictions is just about the fastest way to get them to run the other way.

The truth is that neither keeping, or not keeping, Halloween is even the thing. The thing is Jesus, and what we do, or don’t do, with Him. But let’s not put people off of Him by acting as the gatekeepers of orthodoxy for everyone, okay?

They has folks like that in Jesus’s day; they were called Pharisees.

Don’t be a halloweenie this Halloween, okay?