That NEW Adage

A pressure-relief valve about God, and just about everything else.

Speak now, AND Forever Hold Your Peace!

I really don’t care about beauty pageants. I used to care about the swimsuit portion, but I’m somebody’s husband now. I know that they integral to the lives of many, but I don’t care about them any more than beauty pageant lovers care about the current NBA playoffs.

I DO, however, care about issues of religious freedom and theological accuracy.

And this past weekend crystallized the problem I have with the — existent — gay lobby. A judge in the Miss USA pageant, Perez Hilton, openly gay, asked the contestant from California a loaded political/religious question about her view of gay marriage, and she responded gingerly in the negative.

All involved say that her answer cost her the crown since she was in the lead at the time. Since that moment, she has been the pig at the luau. The judge — whom I never knew till now — went on-line and excoriated her, calling her a dumb bit&h, as well as, I’m sure, other spicy epithets.

How dare she?!? he exclaimed. This was a non-political show, and she should have just given a non-political answer! (Ignoring the fact that HE WAS THE ONE WHO ASKED THE DOGGONE QUESTION IN THE FIRST PLACE!!)

 I know that some who read this will write me off as hating gay people and being pervertedly concerned with what people do in their bedrooms (and in nightclub bathrooms and airport stalls and at rest-stops and in Overton Park here at home), but I insist that I cannot be a Christian and hate ANYbody!

I am concerned that my faith is being challenged and attacked in attempts to change it as people change. I am concerned that I am not forced to sell God out and endorse any behavior that He forbids. God invented marriage. HE invented the parameters, and regardless of the concrete fact that heterosexuals make a mockery of it, I — and Miss California — should not be forced to give approval to people like the militant Hilton.

You can do what you want to do, but you can’t make me like it. Any more than I can make YOU like the Christian faith practiced in full strength. Why do you even care if some Christian doesn’t think that you doing that stuff is proper? You will still do it, won’t you? I have friends who do drugs, and they know that I think drugs are stupid, but they don’t ask my opinion. I’ve got friends who have babies out of wedlock, who have one-night stands, who drink and drive, and who talk like women. They don’t ask my opinion or permission. So, don’t you, Hilton, Rosie, and the rest of you militants, ask me whether I think it is cool that you do what you do. Just do it!

I don’t look at a gay person any differently than I look at anyone else in terms of behavior. Sin is sin, and it is sin. You sin, I sin, all God’s chillun got sin!

But this is what they do… they call people “bigots” — a joke— and call them gay-bashers, and phobes for simply disagreeing, which is a basic. human. right.

If gays are so much more caring than other people, as a group, why is it that the gay powers that be move so swiftly to destroy those who disagree with them? Just let a straight actor or musician say that homosexuality is sin! Watch what happens! You’ll find their careers next to Amelia Earhart’s luggage!

Why are they who shout “tolerance”ironically so INtolerant? What they mean is, “approval!” What is that word for those who would force one to think the way THEY think…?

We Christians are expected to not waffle on tough matters. We should not be mean or harsh or disrespectful, but steady and firm. We can be caring and sensitive to those in alternative lifestyles of whatever type without okaying the behavior.

We have been — historically — burned, eaten, and relentlessly assaulted for taking strong positions, and God didn’t relax His Standard. Miss California did just that.

No, God doesn’t NEED me to defend Him, He EXPECTS me to!

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April 23, 2009 Posted by | Christian Life, Christianity, Culture, Current Events, Gay Rights, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy, In The News, Marriage, Miss USA, Perez Hilton | 9 Comments

A Wolf Calling a Pit Bull Canine!

Phil, at Theology Today, put up this post. I am reminded of him predicting that Jesus Himself would be appearing on the platform with him, that by a certain year all homosexuals would be destroyed with fire, and that the dead would be raised by placing them in front of televisions on which he was preaching.

In response to criticisms, he said the following: (watch the video)

(It was right after this clip ended that Hinn said that he wished God would give him a “Holy Ghost machine gun” with which to shoot ’em all down. Hence the picture on Phil’s site…)

This dude, the PRIMARY source of skulduggery on Reverend television (I won’t call it “Christian”), has the raisins to say of Todd Bentley and others, that “signs and wonders do not prove what is being preached is truth.” !!! He is the ringleader of a fake circus of false healings and slayings in the Spirit,

and he is telling his entranced followers to watch for false moves of God, calling those who fall for this stuff, “simple-minded!” Wow. Can’t believe it!  What follows is part two of a six-part YouTube clip that I found at the aforementioned Theology Today. The hypocrisy and gangster-, pimp-type boldness just floored me…

Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and whether you translate that “fear” to be supreme reverence or outright dread, Benny Hinn — on the strength of his own actions — has neither version!

December 3, 2008 Posted by | Benny Hinn, Charlatans, Christ, Christianity, Faith Healer, False Prophets, False Teachers, God, Hypocrisy, Pulpit Pimps, Rant, Religion, Televangelists, Todd Bentley, Word of Faith | 18 Comments

If I ever get caught in a hurricane, my name is Freddie A.I.G. Mac! Bail me OUT!

  

“Are you poor, helpless or destitute? Are you of  dubious descent? Are you in trouble as a result of bad choices or fate? Bail yourself out. The government is not for that kind of thing.”

 

“We are for small government. Help yourself. Get a job, quit being so lazy! If you are sick and can’t pay, TOO BAD!! Only the Strong (read: Privileged) survive. It is not our job to help you and throw hard earned taxpayers’ money at you.

“But, as sure as Freddie is a Mack, Fanny may! If you have lobbied to have less government oversight and subsequently taken advantage of the ignorance of the weak… If you have thereby caused the biggest financial crisis in eighty years…  If you have bet the farm and lost billions for investors while enriching yourselves… Well, have we got a DEEEEAL for YOU!!! 

 “Are you in the wonderfully crooked Insurance Industry, taking the monthly payments of millions, STILL charging them unattainable deductibles and raising the rates, and trying every dirty trick imaginable to get out of paying up? Here’s what we’ll do for YOU and ONLY you: We will get seven hundred, yes, seven HUNDRED billion with a “B” dollars and BAIL YOU OUT!!

“Hold on… China is on the other line…”

  

   

OHHHH. Now, I get it. I was wondering which “government programs” were cool. Yeah, it is vital that we save the valuable companies. Were they to fail, we would face untold calamity.

But we can let poor, lazy, inherently violent, drug addicted, ghetto minorities go under. We can just build more jails and cemeteries (separate ones!) and house them rather than improve public education, even though that is far cheaper and more Christian. We can let them all kill each other in their own communities. That won’t affect us. We bail out companies, but those rotting in flood waters have to bail themSELVES out. With rusty buckets.

We just should not have to have our taxes go to helping people we don’t even like. NO. Let’s take a TRILLION DOLLARS(!) and help our own kind. God Bless America.

Pay now, or pay later, but we ALL pay. 
 What follows is what is increasingly becoming one of the VALUES by which I vote: 

Matthew 25:31 “When32 the Son of Man comes in his glory and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 25:32 All33 the nations will be assembled before him, and he will separate people one from another like a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 25:33 He34 will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 25:34 Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 25:35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 25:36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ 25:37 Then the righteous will answer him,35 ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 25:38 When36 did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or naked and clothe you? 25:39 When37 did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 25:40 And the king will answer them,38 ‘I tell you the truth,39 just as you did it for one of the least of these brothers or sisters40 of mine, you did it for me.’

25:41 “Then he will say41 to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire that has been prepared for the devil and his angels! 25:42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink. 25:43 I was a stranger and you did not receive me as a guest, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 25:44 Then they too will answer,42 ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not give you whatever you needed?’ 25:45 Then he will answer them,43 ‘I tell you the truth,44 just as you did not do it for one of the least of these, you did not do it for me.’ 25:46 And these will depart into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Strong stuff!

September 24, 2008 Posted by | AIG, Bailouts, Bible, Christian Life, Christianity, Conservatism, Conservatives, Fanny Mae, Freddie Mac, Hurricane Katrina, Hypocrisy, Mortgage Crisis | 19 Comments

Supersized Jesus

Can somebody please explain to me what is up with the whole “One church in three locations” thing?? Is it just a black mega-church phenomenon? There are a number of these in my city.

It is just about the most irritating thing to see preachers like Michael Freeman , Bishop Paul Morton, and Brandon Porter (here in my town) advertise all their locations like they are opening Wal-Marts or McDonalds’. What, the Lord can’t call another preacher? Is the force of your personality so strong, are you just so popular that people won’t come unless YOU are there preaching? Can God not Get His Word preached unless YOU are the one doing it? We let these dudes get away with anything!

I have friends who play at these franchises, and they tell me how the pastor has to preach the nine o’clock service at one church, leave before the benediction to make the ten thirty at site two just in time to preach the sermon, and rush back to the first for a noon service, and finally preach a six o’clock at the third! Morton said that he takes a helicopter or a plane from one place in Georgia to New Orleans every Sunday.

How can you be any good to any flock at that rate? Let somebody else preach! Christianity looks like just another business when it is done like this. It looks like you are just collecting three paychecks.

One church here has one location that is in the middle of a community that is falling apart and rife with crime. Isn’t there enough work to do there without having to make a giant triangle across the county to “help” those in the outlying areas?

One might think that it is because you have to maintain your nearly million-dollar estate, with your five figure home theater and sound system, and I wouldn’t want anyone to think you were pimping the Gospel. I wouldn’t want anyone to think that because you are going so far as to suggest that people pawn their jewelry and such, you are struggling to maintain a lifestyle and that this is why you keep opening up new franchises. (You know who you are. I know, because I know the guys who installed your system, and I know what they think of Christ as a result of seeing how you live versus how your church communities live.)

Memphis, where I live, is a town with nearly one church per person! It makes me sick to see churches, often of the same denomination, within a rock’s throw of each other. Some of these preachers could shut down and work at one of the franchises. But nooooo! Everybody has got to be the HPIC! Just greed masquerading as shepherding. Even Jesus delegated! My goodness!

Why do we put up with stuff in God’s name that we wouldn’t let a cop or a congressman do if he were in our own family?!?

September 16, 2008 Posted by | Bishop Paul S. Morton, Brandon B. Porter, Christ, Christianity, Church Life, False Doctrine, False Teachers, God, Hypocrisy, Michael Freeman, Prosperity Gospel, Pulpit Pimps, Rant, Word Network, Word of Faith | 11 Comments

I’ll Just Stay on the Couch.

My pop called me yesterday and told me that NBC (msnbc) had demoted Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann for, I guess, inordinately biased commentary during coverage of the Republican National Convention. They did this at the urging of the GOP. Wow.

So, Republican officials are so bothered by partisan coverage that they go to the trouble to (and have the power to) have the two top msnbc anchors publically embarrassed in this fashion?

I don’t deny that they are, in many cases over there, in the tank for the Democrats — and Obama in particular. The aforementioned, as well as Rachel Maddow, David Gregory, and many of the guest pundits, don’t hide their leanings.

But my point is this:

FOX News does the same thing! Hannity, O’Reilly, Brit Hume, FOX and Friends, and practically all their guests don’t just lean TO  the right, they lean ON it. Heavily. In fact, Hannity has basically said that it was his job to make sure McCain gets elected. In order to get a real picture of how the race is really going, you have to do your own homework and look at all of it.

I have a point of view. YOU have one, too. Being on teevee doesn’t excuse one from being human, it seems.

For me to join a party — either one — means that I have to swallow a lot of stuff I wouldn’t eat at gunpoint. To call myself a Democrat, I would have to be cool with folk like Maddow and Maher ridiculing me for my hard and fast stances on Creationism, God, gay marriage, and abortion. I would have to deny the very existence of “sin” and play ball on a team populated by atheists, anarchists, feminists, and folk who have no moral compass whatsoever.

To call myself a Republican, I would have to be at ease riding on a bandwagon alongside people like this. And with people who live on my very own street who drive by me while I work in my own yard and stare at me as though I am made of the stuff I am spreading on the grass! To call myself a Republican, I would have to align myself with many people who would claim to serve God while harboring hatred in their hearts for anyone of a culture or ethnicity different than theirs. I would, generally speaking, have to be like the Jesse Lee Petersons, Ken Hamblins, and Larry Elders of the world and act as though racism is either non-existent, or entirely black folks’ fault. I would have to look the other way when they do things to people that I find heartless and un-Jesuslike.

 Yesterday’s move crystallizes the problem I have with those in power on the Right. They spent months decrying Obama’s lack of experience, and in a purely — transparently — political move, selected a very nice lady with five children and conservative views who had presidential qualifications slightly better than my high school guidance counselor! And just as they tried to make me think that stuff running down my back was rain (Iraq being part of the search for 9/11 justice), they tried — with astonishing, dismaying success — to tell us that Mrs. Palin was the absolute best choice to very possibly be President. I like her. I really do. But I like my mama, too, and she ain’t qualified to run this country!

The thing is, when black folk down the line have been up for high-profile positions, the first and last thing brought into question was their qualification. We have had to jump through a million hoops (even to the point of having to take tests in order to vote!), to become coaches, general managers, business owners, college students, and doctors.

You can say whatever you want about whether Obama has the right political positions as far as taxes, abortion, homeland security, or health care, but you can’t argue (convincingly) that the man isn’t qualified through his education and public service history to be President.

No one was talking about “Executive Experience” until Palin got selected.  Republicans say it so much that they forget that McCain himself  has none. By that reasoning, Palin should be running for the head job!

Another thing: I am 6′ 3″ tall, and over 240 lbs. All my adult life, I have had to play the role of “Mr. Nice Guy” in order to put white folks at ease. Black folk are generally not intimidated by size. When I go into a store, or into a business situation, unless I am in a hostile environment, I make an effort, mostly unconsciously, to not be mean-looking. I don’t want to perpetuate any stereotypes.

Obama has had to run as well as he has without resorting to the same tactics Hillary and McCain used against him. He has the added burden of being tagged with the “Angry Man” label. Michelle, his wife, has likewise been hit with the “Sassy Black Woman” tag. While both sides use ads that exaggerate the position of the other, there has been that extra little bit of spice in the GOP spots.

And the convention was filled with the kind of divisive rhetoric that makes a lot of people like me not really feel welcome at the party. I know this was just fine with some on the convention floor…

I’m sorry. When I close my eyes and think, “Republican,” (not “conservative”) I see “Sean Hannity” with his “Great Americans” and his leading questions designed only to corner and squash his opponent. I see Karl Rove — who should be in jail — Ollie North — who should be in jail — and that racist Mark Fuhrman — who shou — you know what I mean. How do they always end up as guests on FOX?

The Democrats had their share of ad hominem stuff, too, but as objectively as I tried to be, it seemed that the Republicans shoved the knife in deeper. I want people to deal with the issues, not see who can make the snidest, cleverest remark. Especially when one side cries “foul” and has people on the other side fired for trying to play by the same crooked rules! And they call the Democrat thin-skinned.

The extreme jingoism, masked as patriotism, was unsettling to me. “DRILL, BABY, DRILL!!!!” “USA! USA! USA” “GOD BLESS AMERICA!!!” (and NOplace else) They claimed Obama had a Messiah complex, but it suuure looked like there was some flag-worship/monument-idolatry going on in Minnesota. And what was up with the 9/11 video in the background?  Would a Democrat have been able to use that footage as a badge of honor in that fashion? Rhetorical. Don’t answer.

It was all “win at any cost.”Why else would the party of traditionalists and evangelicals who think that a woman’s place is best in the home raising her kids choose a woman with a whole slew of young-uns and the busiest job in her state? For the first time in history? When the other side had millions of angry, disenfranchised women with nowhere to go? That was a brilliant, slick move. And it is working. I don’t fault you for supporting her. But if Obama had a degree in journalism and mayored a town of five thousand, he wouldn’t have made it past Iowa! Can you say “flip-flop?”  Maybe if he pronounced his name, “O-Bamma” like Alabama…

It is as though there are two separate countries at war with one another to decide who will get to exercise power. It really saddens me.

Yes, Olbermann makes me cringe. But Hannity makes me want to fight!

The point is that to get into bed with either party means compromising certain of my “Essential Issues.”

So, rather than do that, I’ll just stay on the couch.

September 10, 2008 Posted by | Abortion, Barack Obama, Christian Life, Christianity, Conservatives, Democrats, FOX News, Hillary Clinton, Hypocrisy, Jesse Lee Peterson, John McCain, Larry Elder, Liberals, McCain, Obama, Politicians, Politics, Pro-Choice, Pro-Life, Race, Racism, Rant, Religion, Republican Convention, Republicans, RNC, Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity | 5 Comments

O’Reilly and Darwin — of Like Mind*

The conservative ideal of self-reliance is, oddly, out of line with the Christian idea of helping those less fortunate and IN line with the evolutionary tenet of the survival of the fittest!

Bill O’Reilly himself said, with derision, that being a liberal means using government programs to “level the playing field.” WHAT’S WRONG WITH THAT?!?  Who doesn’t want a level playing field? And why not?

This is the definition of a paradox.

God said for us to cast our cares on HIM. He said that HE would make straight that which was crooked.

The Israelites out of Egypt received the ultimate affirmative action! They were allowed to pillage the government and take whatever they wanted! For 400 years of oppression and horror they got more than a level playing field. God Himself was their constant defense and provision. He had to MAKE Pharaoh do what he had consistently shown he would never do on his own.

How about this; Jesus, the King of Kings, (Isaiah, 9:6) embodied affirmative action for us all! We who were lost at the starting gate (Adam), and losing the race from that day till Zero A.D. were allowed to catch up because of a Supernatural quota system that took a “Chosen People” and moved them to the front of the line of eternity.

We elect, who are just as wretched as anyone else, will be separated from those who have ephemerally reveled in the wealth of excess and given that which we did not toil to get. All based on the recognition that without a Hand UP  we could never, ever get what we should have had because sin would never of its own will give up its advantage.

This is the thing that makes me part ways with the conservative movement. The other stuff is cool, but a person who claims to be “Evangelical” yet ignores the obvious fact that some people have had the path swept clear for them while other people don’t even have a butter knife to clear the jungle obscuring theirs leaves me skeptical.

Hey, I’m just saying… Since the Religious Right, Evangelicals, seem to be in a three-legged race with the Republican Party… It looks like there is a whole half of the Christian message that has been overlooked.

And don’t blast me with a bunch of racist stuff! I just noticed the fact because I saw it in the actual BIBLE!

 

*No, I am not a liberal.

July 28, 2008 Posted by | Affirmative Action, Bill O'Reilly, Christian Life, Christianity, Civil Rights, Conservatives, God, Hypocrisy, Jesus, Justification, Racism, Republicans, Sean Hannity | 17 Comments

“In the Money-Green Corner… Juanitaaaaa Byyyyyynummmm!”

 Watch the video, and come back and read my comments.

Now, didn’t this sound like the intro to a champeenship fight?

I saw this while watching her show on tv, and it is my understanding that it is on her own website as well. Where is any semblance, any modicum, any crumb of humility? As we say around the way: She is a mess wit’ herself! There should be no further question as to her true character and motives now.

I mean, I understand that in business, there is a need for some self-promotion, but even in non-Christian related ventures, this would come across as arrogant! I think the word “God” was mentioned twice. This wasn’t just a little bit over the line, this was two minutes and fifty-four seconds of supercilious pride and haughtiness that would make Terrell Owens turn the channel.

Donald Trump was like, “C’mon. Juanita. That’s a bit much.”

Some Quotes;

She “cries loud” all right! All that yellin’ scared me and flashed me back to my childhood! I thought somebody was gittin’ a whuppin’ in the back room and I was next! Spare me!

“A tangible anointing.” Will someone pleeeze tell me what that is?

“The prophetess to the nations!” Says who? She profits from the nations! Yellin’ loud don’t make you a prophet!

“She’s an awful — Oh. Did he say ‘awesome’? — teacher who delivers God’s Word with ‘boldness and authority!’ “ Yeah, but how about accuracy?!?

Her ministry has been MARRED, not “marked with signs and wonders.” I remember seeing her once say to a vast, gullible throng something like, “Man! I wish y’all could see what I see! There’s angels and spirits flyin’ all around here! They ate that stuff up like it was Bluebell Homemade Vanilla!

“Bestselling author…, popular television personality (who) causes ratings to soar…, humanitarian…, a national ‘recarding’ artist (sorry, I don’t get that singing thing. SouljaBoy went platinum, too. The emperor has no clothes on, folks.)…, executive producer…, playwright, and powerful actress(!!!).” Okay, I was going to protest the “powerful actress” part, but as I think about it, that is pretty much all she does, based on comparing her demeanor and content to the actual Bible.

“Businesswoman, entrepreneur, blah blah blahblahblahblah…”

Y’all catch how they showed the one White woman in the crowd when the “promoter” mentioned “crossing denominational lines?!?” Now, THAT was some slick, subtle editing, there!!

She’s going to have a show (200 seats!), a radio show, a reality show, a magazine, a spa, some candles, some tea, and some make-up! She’s doin’ it BIG!

Let me axyou something, Miss Profitess: What about Jesus? What you gone do for Jesus? What big thangs is HE doing? Where is He in all of this, since you have folk thinking that He is your primary focus? All I see is you strutting and preening like a peacock back and forth across the stage. I only see pictures of your beautifully reconstructed face, not a picture of Christ in your carriage. All I see are your products. Your tea, and your make-up, and your magazine. All I see is YOU. Yet, you claim to be doing strictly the Lord’s work.

David boasted. But he boasted on the LORD! Because of him and those like him, we know of how great GOD is, how strong and mighty HE is, how matchless HE is, how wonderful, loving, just, merciful, beautiful, HE is. (Although, I would say that it is acts like yours that show us how long-suffering and patient he is!)

What about Jesus? Can we see Him doing this? Even though He has a right to?

Can we picture Peter saying on Good Friday,

“Ladeeees annnd gennnnelmen… Arrrre yooooou redddy for STAR time?!? Git up on yo’ feet an’ giveitup! He was rich, an’ gaveitup for YOU! From the town of Nazareth, by way of On Hiiiiigh… Commmin’ to you straight from the right hand of The Father HisSelf… He healed the sick, He raised tha DEAD!… Cured lep-ra-see! He fixed crooked legs an’ blinded eyes, He fed tha multitudes wit’ five loaves a’ lightbread an’ two cans a’ Jack Mack!… He ran off demons… He’s performed in Galilee, Jerusalem, an’ is comin’ to a hillside near YOU!… Some know Him as the Firstborn, the Bright an Mownin’ Star, The Son o’ Mannnnn, THE Angel of the LORD, E-Man-U-EL, YOU call ‘Im Saavyuh, I call ‘Im Friend, Howbouta grett big handclap ‘a’ praise… ridin’ on a thurrabred Arabian stallion, wearin’ the purple linen robes of pride an’ exaltation… Y’all giveitup… for Jeeeeesus!!!!!

(Sorry, Lord. I’m just trying to make a point…)

I don’t think so, yet you, Bynum, are bold enough to sell yourself in such a brazen, arrogant fashion while riding on the Lord’s back as though He were your pack mule, your opening act!

 I’m glad you let us see your real mission!

You must’ve sent one of your armor-bearers out to get your sheep outfit cleaned when they cut this promo… Would that Creflo, Paula, T.D., Copeland and the rest do the same.

I guess we have to learn the Bible to peep their game. I wish we all would. That is all I am saying. “No More Sheeps”, people.

January 18, 2008 Posted by | Charlatans, Christianity, Creflo Dollar, Eddie Long, False Prophets, False Teachers, Humor, Hypocrisy, Juanita Bynum, Paula White, Prophetess Juanita Bynum, T.D. Jakes, TBN, Uncategorized | 32 Comments

“See How They Love One Another!”

This post is lonnnng overdue.

I want to — need to — tell you about my church.

I grew up in a Black Baptist church. I began going there when I was a pre-teen. I got baptized at fourteen years old. My church experience was the typical one: get up early,  go, listen to many songs, some shouting and crying, many announcements, stand for the entrance of the pastor, give tithes and or offerings, turn to my neighbor and say, “naaybuh…”, listen to some more songs (an “A” and a “B” selection), listen to a sermon, more shouting and crying, some falling out, watch the “urshers” attend the fallen, watch as “the doors of the church are opened,” listen to testimonies, sit through still MORE announcements, hear the benediction, wake my baby sister up, go home.

The service was replete with emotional outpourings. I, being a complete introvert, often felt uncomfortable with the displays, and was usually made to feel that I somehow did not love the Lord enough because I did not jump, shout, dance, and fall out like some of the others did.

Even though I knew that the Lord made me that way, this way, it took a long time for me to understand that there was more than one way to worship God, and that they are acceptable. I never thought the dancers were wrong (except for those I “discerned” were doing it for show), and I never once gave in to the crushing pressure to be untrue to my own character and worship Him in an insincere fashion.

But as I grew and learned, and visited, or played in, many other churches, I discovered two disturbing things.

1. While the adoration for God was ever on display, there simultaneously existed a frustrating absence of intellectual balance in the congregation.

2. The Church in America is painfully segregated.

People at my church, and others that I attended were sorely lacking in the knowledge necessary to love God “with our minds” as well as with the heart and soul as we are told to do. False doctrine was rampant, especially the prosperity teaching. Folk would break out in “tongues” with the impunity of knowing that no one had the information to challenge them for interpretations, stuff was being named and claimed, blabbed and grabbed, and legalism not unlike that of the Pharisees ran throughout. People were easily misled, and spouted the many disjointed Scripture verses they knew woefully out of context. No one seemed to be learning anything at all except how to shout like sister Davis, and “hoop” like the pastor.

And I rarely saw any White people. Unless some judge or prospective city councilman stopped by to ask for a vote.

I had always thought that if one were a true Christian, prejudice could not exist. I foolishly thought that racism was hatred and that one could not enter Heaven if he hated anyone. Stupid me! I live in, what I understand is, the second most segregated city in this country, next to DEtroit. That fact plays itself out in no more vivid way than on Sunday. I pass Methodist and Presbyterian and Southern Baptist churches and see NO Black people! There are churches here that I remember being White years ago that are now Black, not because they were outgrown, but because the neighborhood went Black and the Whites went away. Far, far away.

It always broke my heart that it appeared that the Christian life wasn’t being lived out because we could not open our hearts and truly allow God to reallychange us. The same people who denied me jobs, clutched purses when I walked by, ignored me when standing in line, pulled me over for no good reason, called me “nigrah”, and moved out when I moved in went to — go to — these churches. I am not fooled. Heck, the Klan burn CROSSES! Crosses, not pentagrams or some other symbol of racism, but the very emblem of suffering and shame by which God saved His people! Some of the people in my all-White-but-for-us neighborhood who never speak to us go to church, too!

Even the music is segregated! Go to a Christian music store and notice the “Christian” category versus the “Gospel” category.

After years of frustration over these two issues, I left my church (not the Lord, though) in the hopes of eventually finding a place where God was both worshipped AND known, and where people of all races felt welcome.

By the time I got married five years ago, I wasn’t even going to church. I was sick of all the empty, clanging emotionalism that was void of even the basic hermeneutical understanding necessary to avoid falling into the trap of materialism and cult worship. My wife grew up in the Church of God in Christ (Which is the Baptist church on Red Bull and amphetamines!I certainly wasn’t going there!), and I didn’t want to take her to my old church and expose her to the status quo. Many Christians today, yes many Black people, get caught up in false teaching because of the charisma and style of the speaker. They can’t see why Oprah is not a Christian. I am speaking in general, of course, but I have spent most of my life being Black. I have seen these things first hand. The “Black Church” is largely driven by emotion, and the congregants often don’t know God the way they need to. This grieves me.

While in Lifeway Christian Bookstore one day a few years ago, my wife and I ran into one of her co-workers. Their conversation eventually led to the church, and after hearing Kathy’s friend talk about hers, I told Kathy in the car afterward that that was our church! It was doctrinally sound and it was run by people who had moved here (Memphis) from all over the country to specifically reconcile the races here! Sold!!

We have been members of Fellowship Bible Church, Memphis since July of 2005, and for the first time in my life, I love church. It is not all of one thing or the other. There are those who are (politically) liberal, and those who are conservative. There are those who throw up hands and sing, and there are those who don’t. There are doctors and there are African refugees. There are Blacks, Whites, Latinos, Asians, and just about any other race you can think of. And there is this…

They LOVE!  Hard! All the way! They break open their lives like biscuits and share them freely without pretense or prejudice. I have never in my whole life experienced the openness and acceptance evident there. From all sides. It is Christian life in HD, 1080i, one billion megapixels, on a two mile screen. Believe me!

There are three teaching pastors, (Bryan Loritts, John Bryson, and Ben Parkinson) the lead teacher being Black. We don’t shy away from issues of race as many do in diverse environments, and they don’t give lip service to injustice. The idea is to take people from the comfort of the common ways of thinking and force them to live as Christ demands: loving thy neighbors as thyself, even the ones who look funny, dance off beat, or laugh loudly in theaters!

Growing up in Memphis has afforded me the opportunity to experience racism on a first-hand basis. I know what it looks like, which is why I hate and confront it here. I know what it feels like to be left out, unwanted. I know what the stares and the codewords mean. I have spent time away from Memphis, and have interacted with those of other races. But I have never had the wonderful fellowship I have now. We love each other like family! We spend time together, in each others’ homes. We use each others’ bathrooms!

I have stories of selfless acts of love that made Kathy cry (I don’t cry!) and that amaze us. I can’t recount them all. This church has shown me what I suspected but never witnessed; that God has true Christians of various hues who love each other unconditionally. And be sure that this love extends like climbing vines beyond the church and into the community in a tangible way. We give money and time to schools, and certain members have sought to live in rough neighborhoods in order to be change agents.

Maybe you have seen this but I, and those I know, never have. When Kathy gave birth to Max, we were amazed to find that every day women were coming to bring food until she was well enough to get around. Just the other day, one of the members, Megan, brought her son to the house and spent hoursputting our sunroom together. (Kathy is eight months pregnant, and we have never cleaned that room out) Wendy, (these ain’t Black names, you see…) came to the house last week to measure the windows in the kids’ room in order to hand make some curtains. Much, much more could be said. Much more.

Some of them read my New Year’s Eve post and chided me for not letting them keep Max when I was in a tight spot. These people take actual time and serve one another. Without seeking anything in return. I have never met so many affluent-yet-unpretentious people, White OR Black, in my life! (It was a whole year before I knew that “Eddie” was a freekin’ doctor! He was just Eddie to us)
These folks love us to death! And not as pets, which used to be the case back in the day. We are all equals. I don’t have to dilute my “Brotherness” in order to be seen as viable. And we love them! I would not trade this church for any other. And I tell my Black friends about it all the time.

We Black folk have a comfort zone, too. We like our food seasoned a certain way, our chitlins cleaned just so, our Gospel music sung a certain style, and our preachin’ hooped at a particular point in the service. I wish that we all could open ourselves up to the fact that God is not an American, that He made us all, and that we all find our reflection in Him. But we have been burned. Rejected and relegated. It is hard to break old habits. Not ALL White folks hate you.

Lest you think I am unwittingly in some CULT, understand that this church is populated by those who seek a full-orbed relationship with God. They know why they know what they know. And if they don’t, they are being taught by those who do. Our leaders are schooled, educated, and qualified. And they are humble. There are no titles, and we do not rise at their entrance. They stress servant leadership, not forced exaltation. They expect us to check their biblical work and are not offended by being questioned.

Of course there are differences in non-essential issues. No human-run organization is perfect. There are dispensationalists, amillenialists, charismatics, cessationists, Calvinists, and Arminians. But we all agree on the essential points of the Faith. And the spiritually sick are ministered to.

We are not taught the Bible in bullet-points, but by books. In context! We just got through with Ecclesiastes.

There is no Word of Faith doctrine or Prosperity pimpin’ going on here. No focus on the accruement of stuff. Rich and poor, sick and well alike, all enjoy the true prosperity of real life and Heavenly hope. Money is a tool and not a goal.

We worship individually and collectively in the way that God designed us to, and there is no peer-pressure. Some answer with “amen” and some nod quietly. Some stand and sing, and some simply stand.

Of course, there are problems that arise, but they are handled in a measured, Godly fashion. I truly feel that I have, in Fellowship, a small glimpse of what Heaven will be like in terms of our interaction with each other.

I know that some of you feel the same way about your place of worship. I hope you do. I know that some feel that if you are not of their particular denomination (CoC?) you are lost. This is in no way my assertion. It is just that in the course of writing my blog, the impression may be that there is a level of displeasure and despair, and that I don’t experience true Christian fellowship. Not true.

I just wanted to introduce you to my Family. The people I love.

January 15, 2008 Posted by | Christian Life, Christianity, Church Life, Culture, Diversity, False Doctrine, False Teachers, Hypocrisy, Love, Prosperity Gospel, Pulpit Pimps, Race, Racial Reconciliation, Racism | 24 Comments