June 18, 2008

Come On Down To the Barn


WHAT? Did I really just see that? Is this a joke?

Unfortunately, no. It's real.

A pastor friend of mine sent this to me saying that someone in his church requested that he show this in their morning services. (And, no, he is not the pastor of the "Hell No, Heaven Yes, Full Gospel Pentecostal Holiness Temple"...don't steal my name...I plan on using it one day.)

This is the "comedy" styling of Lewis and Lewis. For those too lazy to click the link, they are a geriatric comedy troupe that tours the nation singing "three minute-messages" to congregations "all over the Bible belt." (They're in Lucedale on June 29th at Temple Baptist Church, for all my peeps in Mississippi!) You, I'm sure, recognize them from such hits as "Sorry, This Heart is Taken" and "I Won't Trade the Old Rugged Cross (To Sing Your Cheatin' Heart)". It's kind of like Ray Stevens, but a little more angry and not quite as funny. Browse their site if you like...

So, here's the quandary. Let's say you're a hip, trendy, and theologically conservative Christ-follower. You take the Bible seriously, but you're not mad about it. You love people genuinely. You hate the sin and love the sinner. You're not perfect, but you're humble, thoughtful and seeking to know and love the Lord. Because of that, you realize the Bible's teaching on homosexuality, and you agree it's a sin. You don't picket interstate rest areas or hand out tracts at the NCAA Women's Final Four, or anything like that...you even have some friends who are gay...but they know where you stand, and appreciate your willingness to love them, while holding to your morals and convictions.

Then, one of your friends (the one who you always seem to get into this discussion with) sends you a link from www.humanivy.com saying, "See! I told you that you're all like this!"

"What do I say now?" you wonder as you pull your horned-rim-clear-glass eyeglasses off of your head to rub your eyes while you're sitting in Starbucks reading John Piper and listening to The Shins on your iPod. "How does this help?"

Allow me to go metaphorical...let's just say that you are very much for Child Literacy. You support it, you campaign for it. You find yourself at a child literacy rally, standing up and saying loudly, "I'm for Child Literacy!" All of a sudden, from the back of the room, a man stands up and says, "We're here from the 'Let's Eat Babies Society', and we like to eat babies. But, we're also for child literacy, so you can count us in to join your campaign!" You're thought would probably be, "Thanks! But, no thanks!" Being FOR child literacy does not balance out the fact that you are also FOR eating babies. Am I being too vague?

If you saw this video and the line "a million happy ganders never gonna make a single goose" made you forsake your lifestyle, please email me and I will eat this post for dinner.

June 14, 2008

Who Says Baptists Don't Dance?

This year at First Baptist Church Hattiesburg's annual Vacation Bible School, the kids were challenged to raise over $1500 for missions. If they did, they were promised a hula dance by our pastor, Dr. Jeff Clark. (Click here for more thoughts on pastors and VBS).

Having raised just over that mark, the dance was on. Let me tell you this: there is nothing like seeing Mission Man (famed VBS superhero), your pastor (in shorts), the children's minster's son, and a guy in a monkey suit with a Chewbacca mask (long story short, they couldn't find the gorilla mask...when the Chewrilla came running down the aisle, the first thing I thought was, "that gorilla has highlights in his hair"...also, I've never pondered what it would look like if Chewbacca and King Kong ever got together, had a little too much to drink, and consummated their love, thus producing a love child...but now I don't have to ever ask that question) doing the MC Hammer side-step.

I love my church...a lot. If you look carefully around the 1:13 mark of that video, you will NOT see me in the background, because I am laying on the pew and crying since I'm laughing so hard. To quote Jeff Clark, "I've got about 20 seconds of hula in me, but then we've got to play something I know how to do."

This is not your grandma's VBS.

June 09, 2008

Proper Use of a Pulpit

On the Sunday before Memorial Day, I preached at my church in our three morning services. (Click here for some hilarious insights into church services on the Sunday preceding Memorial Day...spot on!) I'd post the video, but apparently "the man" is trying to keep from being heard, what with my controversial sermon on parenting, choices and values. (I am pro-all of them.) Anyways, somewhere in the middle of my sermon, I got a bit off track and started ranting and raving (and cussing) about how Hillary Clinton was crying because she was being beaten by Barak Obama, a black man, and about how she was entitled to win, because she was white.

Oh, wait...that wasn't me. That was Father Michael Pfleger at Trinity United Church of Christ!

Ok, so this is in the "that's so 2 weeks ago" category...but, I'm a busy man. Several years ago, I served at a church with a past-history like many churches in the South. Three blocks down and four blocks over was an African-American church that had been church for the slaves of my church's members before and during the Civil War. There were great strides made to create a strong relationship between our churches, including us gathering at each others' churches for worship on occasion and having pastors swap pulpits on occasion. It was a beautiful picture to watch as a young minister.

I got word that another reverend, Jesse Jackson was coming to town to protest the fact that the local university had hired a white football coach instead of a black football coach, and that he was going to use the pulpit of our sister church to do so. I relayed the information to my pastor, who remarked to me, "maybe I need to call my friend over there and remind him what a pulpit is for."

In that spirit, and since I am a reverend, here are my thoughts on the proper use of the pulpit:

1) No politics. None. Could we really see Jesus, Peter, or Paul standing up and deriding a member of Caesar's political party who was looking to be put into office? Would we see Peter doing an impression of that person wailing on like Pfleger did? Guys like Pfleger and Chan Chandler (a.k.a., Pastor "Vote for Bush or just like Rayon Shirts and M.C. Hammer Pants, You Are Out!") have no business bringing politics into the pulpit. I seems like Paul said something about "preaching Christ crucified..." It's one thing to get up and say, "hey we've got some brothers and sisters who are being treated badly, and it's time for us to stand up and take care of them." It's another thing to act like Jesus established his church so that we could have guys using it to spread lies about your government or attack political opponents.

2) No pandering to the crowd. Making fun of Hillary Clinton at Barak Obama's church? Tough crowd, Father. Tough crowd. That's like standing up at any church in the South and going on about the merits of sweet tea and Krispy Kreme donuts. Anyone's going to "Amen" that. Jesus always seemed to challenge the crowd. Usually, they tried to kill him for it.

3) No cussing. I know that it's become cool in Christian circles to cuss and show how much liberty we have, but not from the pulpit. Not from the pulpit. Once again, Paul and his whole "let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouth" and no "obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking" thing. Darn you Paul, you ol' Melon Farmer. OK, so Peter did cuss once...but that was right before he denied Christ.

4) Preach the Bible. If you want to talk about issues, then talk about them in light of Scripture. Isn't Father Pfleger's inherent message that if you love Jesus (whichever Jesus that might be...) you'll vote for Obama? Standing in the pulpit saying what he said...isn't that the logical leap? How about showing people what Jesus cares about, which is what we should care about, and then challenging people to vote their conscience?

5) Don't be intentionally divisive. The gospel is divisive enough as it is. Call out sin (I wouldn't name names), point out what is right and what is wrong. But, intentionally setting people up against each other (especially for personal gain) is just twisted...whether it's over politics or carpet colors.

I'd also like to point out that there are some godly African American preachers out there, whom I have tremendous respect for. Voddie Bachum (who I swear once intimidated an entire diner staff in Bee Cave, Texas to sing happy birthday to me...which they did...halfheartedly), Tony Evans, and Fred Luter just to name a few. It's a shame that stereotypes are set by those on the fringe.

P.S. My pastor that I referred to earlier once told a group of men, "I don't know how you can be a Christian and not watch Fox News." I like Fox News, but that probably shouldn't be said from the pulpit either...