Good morning, America...

This morning on Good Morning America, Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins were interviewed about the strife in Lebanon, Israel and the Middle East in general, and asked to comment about how the current situations connected with their own religious worldview.

LaHaye did most of the talking, assuring us that the day of judgment is upon us and that through Jesus Christ we can be saved.

Jenkins seemed to try to "soften" his partner's words, elaborating: "This is what we believe is true. And not everyone will agree with us, and that's ok. We love them and accept their opinion."

Indecent Exposure...

I've been preaching at a little community church (they call it a "SoulCafe") for the last few weeks - filling in for a pastor friend.

Last Sunday, I was preaching about "The Church on the Other Side" and how God's people need to be free of fear.

I hadn't gotten very far into my discussion when a woman in back blurted out: "I have a story about fear!"

I nodded to her to continue.

"Well," she began, "this was back in the 60s, in California. I was kidnapped. But I chose not to be afraid of this man, because I KNEW that if I played the scared victim card, I was going to die that day. So this man took me back to his hotel room and told me to lay down. I asked him: do I have a choice. He said: you have the choice to die..."

At this point everyone in the room is sweating a little, wondering (a) what is going to happen next and (b) what the hell is happening to this church service. But it gets better...

She continues, "I decided, Dear Lord, I'm not going to lose my life for a piece of ass!" I'm not kidding here, she really said all this, "I'd been with men before when I didn't want to, and this was gonna be no different - I told myself. So he had me - twice - and then asked why I tried to argue with him about it. I said, Oh, I'm so sorry, but my husband died years ago and I haven't been with a man since then, which was a lie, cause I'd been with men since then. But I didn't show that man I was afraid, and I survived that night because of it. And when I got home I called the police and they showed me mugshots and he was a serial killer who had been killing prostititutes that summer."

I tried to pick up my message after that, but it was tough. Everyone in that room had sweaty palms and was feeling a mix of shock and awe at this woman's story.

One of the men leaned to his 13-year-old son and said loud enough for everyone to hear: "See Matt, this is the real world here."

I was proud to be amidst a group of people so willing to face the grittiness of the real world without feining "offense." Sure, we were all a little wide-eyed, but there are plenty of churches I've been in where the ushers would have escorted her out mid-story for her language and graphic imagery.

God bless the church that is UNAFRAID of reality. "Wise as serpents, harmlessa as doves." (Matt 10:26)



read more about my thoughts on Christianity in the real world at www.essenceproject.blogspot.com...

I am the new host of ChurchRater.com

I am really excited that Jim Henderson of Off The Map recently asked me to join OTM as the online director of one of his websites: ChurchRater.com!

The site itself is a blog of sorts with a very heavy emphasis on discussion surrounding the "rating" of churches. It sounds a little offensive, but it's truly lighthearted and even self-depricating in tone.

A name like ChurchRater could be used for a number of different purposes. Here is what I envision ChurchRater becoming: A dynamic, thinktank sort of environment, where any thinkers, pastors or various kinds of leaders and teachers can come together and dialogue about the Church...


  • how the church functions
  • how it perceives itself
  • how it is perceived externally
  • what Christians see in it
  • what non-Christians see in it
  • what is good/bad/ugly/hilarious

I don't want to steal any thunder or come across as a hack, but ChurchMarketingSucks.com is a great example of a weblog format being used to sharpen, develop and brainstorm in progressive and beneficial ways.

If that site (CMS) is all about marketing and advertising, ChurchRater is about the Body of Christ itself (for better AND for worse). It's about everything from ecclesiology (how we do church) to pneumatology (how the spirit works) and everything in between.

...Then we rate ourselves and each other!


How do you feel about this approach? How can we make it better? How can I get people to take time to fill out a rating survey? I'm open to suggestions.

Am I really coming across this way?

I could use a little advice. I received an e-mail today and am not quite sure what to make of it. Any thoughts?

These are some excerpts...

================================

“A dedicated youth worker, a post-Evangelical, postmodern, ex-fundamentalist, emergent Christian.”

Was this a parody of you? Do you really believe that? Why not add gay basher, intellectual midget, and pompous youth who “knows it all,” to your list?

I honestly could not tell if your blog was a joke, or if you were for real. Please don’t take offense to my comments to add to your bio. I took no offense to your suggestions that the world is flat and that the Bible is the inerrant word of God. Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one.
...
Seminary schools should be educating thinkers, not robots, who don’t really believe “that the reason the world is flat is because the Bible says it. Just like it say [sic] dancing is evil, Jesus drank grape juice, and God hates people who struggle with particular sins...

I was surprised not to see something on your blog that suggested that God wishes us to prosper so that we can kill the evildoers of the tri-axis of evil.
...
Perhaps you could start on a journey out of Maui that is inclusive rather than “preaching” you alone possess the innate spark of divinity as you dive through the waves? Sorry to write to you what you may perceive as being hate mail, but it is truly meant in compassion.
...
Open your heart and mind to God, as you understand him through the Man Jesus, and maybe listen a bit before you pontificate so much. The Man Jesus professed radical inclusion, so I guess maybe his inclusive nature and my constructive criticism may do you some good...Maybe you can rejuvenate institutionalized religion in your lifetime? Or maybe you can help to destroy it? The choice is yours, young man.

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