The “Accident”

Written October 6, 1993 concerning the events in July 1970.

My mother was lying on the wooden board and the car was no longer making that screaming noise it did when I ran for help. The smell of burning rubber was still in the air. All around me was the commotion of ambulance drivers and state troopers checking out the scene. The paramedics were attending two of my brothers, but I could tell they would be all right. It was my mother who looked the worst. I went over to my mother and tried to clear the tears from my eyes.

“Mom, can you get up?” She just laid there and for a moment and I thought she didn’t hear me.

“Mom? Are you ok?” I asked.

“No” was her reply. That really scared me because I had never heard my mother say things were not OK. That was not like her at all. All my short life she always tried to be positive, but not now.

I tried to heal her like we had been taught in church. I though very clearly “Mommy is created in God’s image and likeness. She is not hurt, she is OK.” I said it over and over, but my mother just lay there on the stretcher.

“Mommy you are made in God’s image and likeness and you are OK,” I told her.

She said thanks, but kept on lying there. I didn’t know why. In church they told us that when we were sick or hurt that if we held to the truth we would be OK. But my mother wasn’t OK. Why did she not get up? It must have been some sort of failure on my part, because she continued to lie there on the side of the road.

I tried not to cry but I couldn’t help it. Tears welled up in my eyes and I knew I wasn’t supposed to cry. But my mother was still hurt. I wanted to hug her but they told me not to touch her.

Another ambulance came down the road and hit the breaks when the driver realized she was passing the accident. She tried to pull over and when she did, the ambulance flipped upside down, just as our own car had done.

We were traveling up to see Granny get married and on the way we took the wrong road. As was the habit of our family, whenever we got lost or took the wrong road, Dad or Mom would say “we’re taking a short cut. It’s longer, but bumpier.” This always seemed to make things better.

So on our “short cut” we were trying to make it to Highway 59. We had gone through Trinity, Texas, and as we did, I remember pointing out the hospital. Why I would do such a thing was beyond me. We didn’t believe there was a need for hospitals. After all, we were Christian Scientist and Christian Scientists know the truth. Hospitals are merely recognitions of error, and since we had the truth, we never acknowledged error.

I was sitting in the front seat in between my mother, who was driving and my father. David was in the back seat and Scooter and John were in the back, back seat of our 1969 Pontiac Station Wagon.

As we drove down the highway, I was playing copilot for Mom. Every speed limit sign we would pass, I would announce the speed so my mother would not drive too fast or slow. I had just told her the speed limit was 70 mph.

The hot Texas sun had melted the tar that was holding down the road. When we hit the freshly paved road, it was similar to driving on marbles and the rocks began pounding the bottom of the car. It was loud.

“Velda, pull over,” my father yelled.

As she began to pull over, the front wheels dropped off the road. There was no shoulder to the road leaving an 18-inch drop. The car slid sideways and began to roll. I remember seeing a white fence just before I shut my eyes. The white fence turned on its side and we began pounding down the road. I thought it would never stop.

I could hear glass breaking and the sound of metal slamming against the pavement.

When I opened my eyes, the windshield was folded in and was only inches from my chest. One look at my mother and I knew she was hurt and that I should not touch her.

The car was screaming. The speedometer read 120 mph, but we were not moving. The car had landed in a ditch and the tires weren’t touching the ground. I didn’t know what to do. Mom was not moving, and neither was Dad. Why? Dad was supposed to take care of things, but he wasn’t doing anything at all.

I tried to move, but couldn’t. David was already out of the car. He seemed to be the only one awake other than myself. I released my seatbelt and climbed over my father.

“Dad, help,” we said. “We’ve got to get dad out.” We both grabbed a hold of his arm and pulled. Our hope was that if we could get him out of the car, he would wake up and tell us what to do. That had always been Dad’s role. He was the commander, the captain of our family. Yet, he wouldn’t wake up and because of his seatbelt, we couldn’t pull him free.

The seatbelts had been my idea. Mom had taught me that it was the rules to wear the seatbelts. That being the case, I made sure everyone had on their seatbelts when we got in the car. Now it seemed the seatbelt was working against us.

“We need to go for help,” David said. After looking at Scooter and John, who were both laying in a ditch. I knew that it was up to David and me. I didn’t know what to do. Providentially there were two houses right there where the car came to a stop. David ran for one, and I ran for the other. By now, I was in tears. I was scared like I had never been before. For some reason, David was cool and calm and at this point, he was calling the shots. David took the house on the right and I took the one on the left.

I ran as hard as my 9-year-old legs could and fell upon the door. I pounded hard as I could, but no one would answer. “Please help,” I cried. “Somebody please help.” But there was no one home. I began to panic. What if there was no one to help? What then? That fear was monstrous.

David had more success than I did. His house held a family. The father ran out and was heading towards our car. I couldn’t look. The man’s son came and took my hand and asked if I needed anything. He took me inside their home and gave me some water. I cried, even though I knew I should not, the tears came uncontrollably. I didn’t understand. I knew that I was supposed to be a little man but I couldn’t help it. The boy held my hand and said everything would be all right. But somehow, I knew it wouldn’t be.

His brother came in and told me my father wanted me outside.

I went back to the car. It was rumpled. The hood was smashed and the roof was pointed. The engine was no longer running and I could here my little brother, John, crying as he lay in the ditch. It was OK for him to cry, but I was older and wasn’t supposed to cry. I tried to be like Dad. Scooter was next to him holding a bandage to his ear. There was blood everywhere.

My father was now awake.

“Timmy, where is Stokely?” my father yelled at me.

“He’s not with us.”

“Timmy, where is he?” he shouted.

“He didn’t come with us. We left him with the Stouts.”

“Are you sure?” Why didn’t he believe me? Didn’t he remember that just a few hours ago, we dropped Stokely off with the Stouts? Stokely was the baby. Less than a year old, and my parents felt it would be better if he was left at home for the wedding.

“Are you sure?” my father yelled again. I told him I was sure and that he didn’t come with us.

Then I saw Mom.

Her body was lifeless as she lay on a board that the ambulance men had placed her on. I knew she was hurt. That is when I began to pray. In Sunday school, they taught us how to pray and how to heal and I knew God would listen to me if I prayed. But she just lay there and wouldn’t get up.

They finally loaded Mom, John and Scooter into an ambulance. I wanted to ride with them, but they wouldn’t let me. They closed the door and I felt like my family was leaving me behind.

John thought his back was hurt and Scooter almost lost an ear. Both of them had been thrown out the back window when the car rolled. Only David, Dad and I were uninjured.

A stranger took us to the hospital we had passed not 30 minutes before and left us in the waiting room. Dad immediately headed for the emergency room, leaving David and I alone.

I felt very scared and alone so I prayed some more that mommy and Scooter and John would all be OK. I asked David if he was scared and he said yes. But he didn’t feel like talking much. He never did. He was the quiet one and now he was even quieter than usual. I tried to get him to say something encouraging, but he wouldn’t. I wanted someone to just hold me and tell me everything would be all right. But no one did.

It seemed like I was in that waiting room for hours. Dad was with Mom, and Scooter was having his ears sewn up. John had to be X-rayed; because they thought his back might be injured. And Mom was undergoing all kinds of things I didn’t understand.

Dad finally came out to use the phone. I asked him how Mom was doing, but he didn’t know and had to call Granny and tell her we wouldn’t be there in time for the wedding.

I can remember him telling Uncle Bill that Granny should go on with the wedding, we wouldn’t be there, because he didn’t know how serious mother’s injuries were.

Then Dad left and went back to be with Mom, leaving David and me alone in the waiting room. Why did he have to leave us alone there? Why couldn’t we be with Mommy too? Why did he have to leave? I had all these questions, but there was no one who could answer them and no one to try.

There was a fish tank in the waiting room and I liked fish tanks. But this one didn’t seem to have the magic effects that most fish tanks do. So I just sat next to David and waited. It was an eternity.

After what seemed like an eternity and then some, my Uncle Bill came up from Houston to help. He was one of my favorite uncles and I was hoping that he would offer some encouraging words as well. But he didn’t.

We drove back out to the site of the wreck and I asked him if we could look for my glasses. They were a brand new pair. I had only had glasses for a couple of months and I thought they made me special, because not everyone got to wear glasses and I did. Now they were gone.

We stopped where we had the wreck and Uncle Bill began walking the site. He found that a construction sign that was intended to warn us had been knocked over. He pulled out his camera and began taking pictures. We walked the site again. All the while, I was trying to find my glasses.

He then drove us to where the car was kept.

“Maybe we can find my glasses here,” I said optimistically.

“Boy, give it up,” he said with the tone of disgust. “We’re not going to find your glasses. They’re not important.”

Maybe not, but they were to me.

We drove back to the hospital in silence. And then back to Houston where we spent the night in Pops’ house. Pops was a Christian Scientist as well and I really like Pops. But he wasn’t there. We were left to their dark house alone, with Grandma. I didn’t sleep very well and the next day they finally told us that my mother would probably never walk again. That was difficult to take, especially in view of our belief system. She should be healed by now, but she wasn’t. I didn’t know it at the time, but from that moment on, I don’t think I really believed in Christian Science anymore.

And then came the silence. Since the accident was an event full of error, and we were to deny error, we denied the existence of that error even though so many things in our lives screamed of its existence. That day became known as “the accident.” And it was never openly acknowledge.

Yet with every treatment that Mom underwent, with every new setback, the reality of that accident shouted its reality. It would not go away, no matter how many prayers, how many times we tried to “correct” our thinking, the accident lived with us.

That hot-summer day in June, God did hear my prayers. But I believe the answer was “no.” His very character would not let Him answer my request positively. To do so, would have allowed me to believe the very lie I had been taught in Sunday school. That being the case, and out of His love for me, He said “no.”

So I praise God that the answer to my prayer that day was no, even though my mother lived in a wheel chair for the second 35 years of her life. I don’t mean that in a spiteful way. I did pray that Jesus would heal my mother, I just didn’t want Christian Science to heal my mother. I wanted her to see Christian Science as it really is and see their leader as she truly was, a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Christian Science is not of God, it is of Satan.

That day was a dark day in my life and still haunts me from time to time. I truly believe that God was in control on that day, and the He is still sovereign. What seemed like a tragic event so long ago, amidst the smell of burning rubber, broken glass, and a crumpled car, was God’s sovereign plan being unfolded in my life. And today, I am a Christian because of His sovereign plan, not a Christian Scientist. Amen and amen.

UPDATE: Just an explanatory note for those who don’t understand Christian Science. In Christian Science something is bad or sinful only as long as the “thought” of something bad and sinful continues to exist. Therefore the idea was to quit thinking about the “accident” and healing would quickly follow. This is why we never spoke of the “accident” and did our best to make it not real by not thinking about it. But the realness of it, lived with us every day and it was quite obvious that the truths of Christian Science, were lies.

From the Spambox

Anyone who blogs knows that with allowing people to post comments, there will also be those who post comments so that you will check out their website where they are selling such wonderful items as male-enhancement drugs, to… well… male-enhancement drugs from overseas. They say things like, “great blog!” in the hopes that you will allow their comment to be posted along with 17 web links to more male-enhancement drugs.

For instance, someone actually wrote this:

Usually I don’t learn article on blogs, but I would like to say that this write-up very pressured me to check out and do so! Your writing taste has been amazed me. Thanks, quite great article.

Obviously, someone from overseas. I hope he learned simple sentence construction while he was here. Keep it simple, subject, verb, object. Try that for a while and see how it works outs. I didn’t follow up on  the web link he provided.

Then there is this gem:

the language you use in your posts are not so popular nor too difficult

Obviously it was too difficult for this guy to respond coherently.

He also posted this one as well:

this subject is a lot interesting, it would help me so much.

Oh that you would actually learn English. But I imagine these guys are stuck in some basement overseas and told to post these responses in every blog they can find, in the hope that we might actually follow one of their links. Thank goodness for spam filters.

Tom Cruise’s Carbonara

I got a real hunger for carbonara a few days ago and went searching on the internet for a good recipe. I came across the a recipe put out by Tom Cruise via the Oprah conglomerate It seemed liked a great recipe by reading it and one that I could put together without the aid of the real cook in the family. I was so excited to give it a shot.

I learned about carbonara when I was living in Italy back in the early 1980s. Carbonara to southern Italians is like chili to Texans, every family has their own recipe and every family believes theirs is the best. I got to try lots of recipes while I was there and really developed a love for it. However, it’s been years since I had any that I liked. Olive Garden offered it on their menu years ago, but it wasn’t anything like I remember from Italy.

This brings me to Cruise’s recipe. It looked like it might be right, so I tried it.

Nope! If you like fried onions and garlic on noodles then you will love this recipe. But that is not carbonara like I remember it or like the Italians cook it. Given that, I think Cruise’s recipe is like everything else he does, mediocre. I would give you the link to it, but alas, just don’t care to go looking for it again. It’s not worth it.

Now, if I can just get Nunzia or Antonella, my friends from Italy, could just send me a couple of stellar recipes!

Possible next recipe.

The Semi-Pelagian Narrower Catechism

Sometimes the best way to learn is to read what we don’t believe the Bible is saying. The following is a parody of what a Semi-Pelagian would state in their catechism if they believed in using a catechism at all. It’s meant to be humorous, so please take it with a grain of salt.

Hattip: Kenneth

1. Q: What is the chief end of each individual Christian?
A: Each individual Christian’s chief end is to get saved. This is the first and great commandment.

2. Q: And what is the second great commandment?
A: The second, which is like unto it, is to get as many others saved as he can.

3. Q: What one work is required of thee for thy salvation?
A: It is required of me for my salvation that I make a Decision for Christ, which meaneth to accept Him into my heart to be my personal lord and saviour

4. Q: At what time must thou perform this work?
A: I must perform this work at such time as I have reached the Age of Accountability.

5. Q: At what time wilt thou have reached this Age?
A: That is a trick question. In order to determine this time, my mind must needs be sharper than any two-edged sword, able to pierce even to the division of bone and marrow; for, alas, the Age of Accountability is different for each individual, and is thus unknowable.

6. Q: By what means is a Decision for Christ made?
A: A Decision for Christ is made, not according to His own purpose and grace which was given to me in Christ Jesus before the world began, but according to the exercise of my own Free Will in saying the Sinner’s Prayer in my own words.

7. Q: If it be true then that man is responsible for this Decision, how then can God be sovereign?
A: He cannot be. God sovereignly chose not to be sovereign, and is therefore dependent upon me to come to Him for salvation. He standeth outside the door of my heart, forlornly knocking, until such time as I Decide to let Him in.

8. Q: How then can we make such a Decision, seeing that the Scripture saith, we are dead in our trespasses and sins?
A: By this the Scripture meaneth, not that we are dead, but only that we are sick or injured in them.

9. Q: What is the assurance of thy salvation?
A: The assurance of thy salvation is, that I know the date on which I prayed the Sinner’s Prayer, and have duly written this date on an official Decision card.

10. Q: What is thy story? What is thy song?
A: Praising my Savior all the day long.

11. Q: You ask me how I know he lives?
A: He lives within my heart.

12. Q: And what else hast thou got in thine heart?
A: I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.

13. Q: Where??
A: Down in my heart!

14. Q: Where???
A: Down in my heart!!

15. Q: What witness aid hath been given us as a technique by which we may win souls?
A: The tract known commonly as the Four Spiritual Laws, is the chief aid whereby we may win souls.

16. Q: What doth this tract principally teach?
A: The Four Spiritual Laws principally teach, that God’s entire plan for history and the universe centereth on me, and that I am powerful enough to thwart His divine purpose if I refuse to let Him pursue His Wonderful Plan for my life.

17. Q: What supplementary technique is given by which we may win souls?
A: The technique of giving our own Personal Testimony, in the which we must always be ready to give an answer concerning the years we spent in vanity and pride, and the wretched vices in which we wallowed all our lives until the day we got saved.

18. Q: I’m so happy, what’s the reason why?
A: Jesus took my burden all away!

19. Q: What are the means given whereby we may large crowds of souls in a spectacular manner?
A: Such a spectacle is accomplished by means of well-publicized Crusades and Revivals which (in order that none may be loath to attend) are best conducted anywhere else but in a Church.

20. Q: Am I a soldier of the Cross?
A: I am a soldier of the Cross if I join Campus Crusade, Boys’ Brigade, the Salvation Army, or the Wheaton Crusaders; of if I put on the helmet of Dispensationalism, the breastplate of Pietism, the shield of Tribulationism, and the sword of Zionism, having my feet shod with the gospel of Arminianism.

21. Q: Who is your boss?
A: My boss is a Jewish carpenter.

22. Q: Hath God predestined vessels of wrath to Hell?
A: God hath never performed such an omnipotent act, for any such thing would not reflect His primary attribute, which is Niceness.

23. Q: What is sanctification?
A: Sanctification is the work of my free Will, whereby I am renewed by having my Daily Quiet Time.

24. Q: What rule hath God for our direction in prayer?
A: The rule that we must bow our hands, close our heads, and fold our eyes.

25. Q: What doth the Lord’s Prayer teach us?
A: The Lord’s Prayer teacheth us that we must never memorize a prayer, or use one that hath been written down.

26. Q: What’s the book for thee?
A: The B-I-B-L-E.

27. Q: Which are among the first books which a Christian should read to his soul’s health?
A: Among the first books which a Christian should read are the books of Daniel and Revelation, and The Late Great Planet Earth.

28. Q: Who is on the Lord’s side?
A: He who doth support whatsoever is done by the nation of Israel, and who doth renounce the world, the flesh, and the Catholic Church.

29. Q: What are the seven deadly sins?
A: The seven deadly sins are smoking, drinking, dancing, card-playing, movie-going, baptizing babies, and having any creed but Christ.

30. Q: What is a sacrament?
A: A sacrament is an insidious invention devised by the Catholic Church whereby men are drawn into idolatry.

31. Q: What is the Lord’s Supper?
A: The Lord’s Supper is a dispensing of saltines and grape juice, in the which we remember Christ’s command to pretend that they are His body and
blood.

32. Q: What is baptism?
A: Baptism is the act whereby, by the performance of something that seems quite silly in front of everyone, I prove that I really, really mean it.

33. Q: What is the Church?
A: The Church is the tiny minority of individuals living at this time who have Jesus in their hearts, and who come together once a week for a sermon, fellowship and donuts.

34. Q: What is the office of the keys?
A: The office of the keys is that office held by the custodian.

35. Q: What meaneth “The Priesthood Of All Believers”?
A: The Priesthood Of All Believers meaneth that there exists no authority in the Church, as that falsely thought to be held by elders, presbyters, deacons, and bishops, but that each individual Christian acts as his own authority in all matters pertaining to the faith.

36. Q: Who is the Holy Spirit?
A: The Holy Spirit is a gentleman Who would never barge in.

37. Q: How long hath the Holy Spirit been at work?
A: The Holy Spirit hath been at work for more than a century: expressly, since the nineteenth-century Revitalization brought about by traveling Evangelists carrying tents across America.

38. Q: When will be the “Last Days” of which the Bible speaketh?
A: The “Last Days” are these days in which we are now living, in which the Antichrist, the Beast, and the Thief in the Night shall most certainly appear.

39. Q: What is the name of the event by which Christians will escape these dreadful entities?
A: The event commonly known as the Rapture, in the which it is our Blessed Hope that all cars driven by Christians will suddenly have no drivers.

40. Q: When is Jesus coming again?
A: Maybe morning, maybe noon, maybe evening, and maybe soon.

41. Q: When the roll, roll, roll, is called up yonder, where will you be?
A: There.

42. Q: Hallelu, hallelu, hallelu, hallelujah!
A: Praise ye the Lord!

43. Q: Praise ye the Lord!
A: Hallelujah!

44. Q: Where will we meet again?
A: Here, there, or in the air.

45. Q: What can a pastor say while all heads are bowed?
A. Yes, I see that hand.

46. Q. How is a person saved?
A. If you walk this aisle…”

47. Q. And what requirement is there if you should fall into sin?
A. You just need to rededicate your life to God.

48. Q: Can I hear an Ay-men?
A: Ay-men.

John Wayne — A True Conservative

I was reading up on John Wayne, the Duke, over at Wikipedia last night and noted that he was a conservative and outspoke Republican. John Wayne died in 1979, shortly before I became interested in politics, so know whether or not he was a conservative was not on my radar at the time.

The article there quoted his response when asked about Medicare and Welfare. This is what he said:

I know all about that. In the late Twenties, when I was a sophomore at USC, I was a socialist myself — but not when I left. The average college kid idealistically wishes everybody could have ice cream and cake for every meal. But as he gets older and gives more thought to his and his fellow man’s responsibilities, he finds that it can’t work out that way — that some people just won’t carry their load … I believe in welfare — a welfare work program. I don’t think a fella should be able to sit on his backside and receive welfare. I’d like to know why well-educated idiots keep apologizing for lazy and complaining people who think the world owes them a living. I’d like to know why they make excuses for cowards who spit in the faces of the police and then run behind the judicial sob sisters. I can’t understand these people who carry placards to save the life of some criminal, yet have no thought for the innocent victim.

To bad there are not more conservatives like John Wayne in Hollywood today. The more I read about John Wayne, the more I like him and the more I see why he was such an American icon.

Joel Osteen Exposed

I haven’t done a post on Joel Osteen in a while. I do this so that you will not be deceived by Mr. Osteen. He is a false teacher and there is no way around that. He does not preach the gospel, and openly admits as much. He doesn’t even preach from the Bible. As John MacArthur points out on the video that Osteen is preaching paganism. There is nothing in Osteen’s messages about humility, repentance, piety, holiness, sacrificial living. His sermons are all focused on the “here and the now.” As he said, and I’ve said as well, that if THIS is your best life now, then you are in serious trouble.

The other great quote is from Paul Washer, see my previous post, when he points out that men like Joel Osteen are actually God’s judgment upon the people who listen to him. In other words, they are not the ones who are innocent in these matters. They are the ones that look for such men to follow, since they do not seek to follow the living and true savior.

Here, watch the video. It’s only 15 minutes long, which is really long in the world of the internet, but well worth it.

An Open Letter to Praise Bands

I love this open letter to praise bands by James K.A. Smith (Hattip: Lance). He says what we all feel about the praise band in a way that truly resonates with those of us who are seeking to worship in spirit and truth. I know, the praise band leaders say they are seeking to worship Christ in spirit and truth too, but for some reason, their spirit and truth seems more focused on their emotional experience before a crowd, than actually humbly worshipping our Savior for who He is and what He has done.

Mr. Smith points out part of the problem is that we, the church, have encouraged the leaders of praise bands to bring their worship into the church itself. He writes:

I sometimes worry that we’ve unwittingly encouraged you to import certain forms of performance that are, in effect, “secular liturgies” and not just neutral “methods.” Without us realizing it, the dominant practices of performance train us to relate to music (and musicians) in a certain way: as something for our pleasure, as entertainment, as a largely passive experience. The function and goal of music in these “secular liturgies” is quite different from the function and goal of music in Christian worship.

In other words, we know you have talent, and  want you to use that talent, but it’s not truly fitting for true worship of God’s people. He gives three reasons for this:

1. If we, the congregation, can’t hear ourselves, it’s not worship. Christian worship is not a concert. In a concert (a particular “form of performance”), we often expect to be overwhelmed by sound, particularly in certain styles of music. In a concert, we come to expect that weird sort of sensory deprivation that happens from sensory overload, when the pounding of the bass on our chest and the wash of music over the crowd leaves us with the rush of a certain aural vertigo. And there’s nothing wrong with concerts! It’s just that Christian worship is not a concert. Christian worship is a collective, communal, congregational practice–and the gathered sound and harmony of a congregation singing as one is integral to the practice of worship. It is a way of “performing” the reality that, in Christ, we are one body. But that requires that we actually be able to hear ourselves, and hear our sisters and brothers singing alongside us. When the amped sound of the praise band overwhelms congregational voices, we can’t hear ourselves sing–so we lose that communal aspect of the congregation and are encouraged to effectively become “private,” passive worshipers.
2. If we, the congregation, can’t sing along, it’s not worship. In other forms of musical performance, musicians and bands will want to improvise and “be creative,” offering new renditions and exhibiting their virtuosity with all sorts of different trills and pauses and improvisations on the received tune. Again, that can be a delightful aspect of a concert, but in Christian worship it just means that we, the congregation, can’t sing along. And so your virtuosity gives rise to our passivity; your creativity simply encourages our silence. And while you may be worshiping with your creativity, the same creativity actually shuts down congregational song.
3. If you, the praise band, are the center of attention, it’s not worship. I know it’s generally not your fault that we’ve put you at the front of the church. And I know you want to modelworship for us to imitate. But because we’ve encouraged you to basically import forms of performance from the concert venue into the sanctuary, we might not realize that we’ve also unwittingly encouraged a sense that you are the center of attention. And when your performance becomes a display of your virtuosity–even with the best of intentions–it’s difficult to counter the temptation to make the praise band the focus of our attention. When the praise band goes into long riffs that you might intend as “offerings to God,” we the congregation become utterly passive, and because we’ve adopted habits of relating to music from the Grammys and the concert venue, we unwittingly make you the center of attention. I wonder if there might be some intentional reflection on placement (to the side? leading from behind?) and performance that might help us counter these habits we bring with us to worship.

I really like reason number 3. He says what needs to be said. So many who lead praise teams seem to think that the worship is about them and their performance. I know that praise leaders will say that it isn’t. If that is the case, why not move the praise team to the back of the church where no one can see them? That is a quick way to determine just how important the praise team and song leaders think they are.

What I have found in most churches that have praise leaders/teams is that for them, worship is the music itself. It’s not what is prescribed in worship according to Scripture. The means of worship according to Scripture are… and get this, reading God’s word, the declaration of God’s word (known as preaching), prayer and the sacraments. No where are we given praise teams/leaders.

In fact, up until about 200 years ago, the use of instruments in worship was quite limited to those of the Lutheran and Catholic persuasions. Protestants didn’t use instruments for the most part and sang only from the psalter which is the actual worship book of the church, i.e., the Psalms. Now it is hard to even find anyone sing the psalms at all. There are hymns that reference the psalms, but that isn’t singing a psalm.

The other problem with praise-band churches is that they tend to punt the other elements of worship. For instance, preaching God’s word has fallen on hard times and has been substituted for mass-counseling sessions on everything to from better marriages, to better  sex in marriage, to better dating before sex and marriages, etc. The messages are attempts to become more “relevant” to the needs of the congregation and shows the complete lack of faith those who preach such sermons have in God’s word.

Preaching God’s word faithfully means preaching the text of God’s word, saying what it says, not saying what it doesn’t say. It means declaring the truth of what God has said regardless of how uncomfortable or unwelcome it may be. Far too many preachers are too busy wanting to be liked, as opposed to doing what God has called them to do. See the Paul Washer video below.

The other element of worship that has fallen on hard times is true biblical prayer. We do get prayer in the praise-band churches, but it’s usually the praise-team leader emoting about “just” wanting to see Jesus and “just” wanting to be in His presence, and “just” wanting to praise Him, and just just just just just just many other things.  And by golly, the praise-team leader was so emotional, that it must have been a good prayer. That’s not true prayer.

True prayer is speaking God’s truth back to Him and praising Him (real praise) for who He is. That requires that the one saying the prayer to the One receiving it must know some actual truth about the One being prayed too. In other word, if you are going to lead in prayer, you should probably have a deeper knowledge of who Christ, the Father and the Spirit are, than your typical eighth grader.

And then.. there are the sacraments. I was visiting a mega-church back in July that actually had it’s baptismal in the lobby of the church. They didn’t bother putting it in the sanctuary where they “worshipped,” even though baptism is a center-piece for worship. By baptizing our converts, we are worshipping in the truest sense.

Never mind communion. It’s pointless to even bring up that the early church had communion every Lord’s day. It was central to the worship service. Most mega-churches cannot conceive of the fact that the Lord’s supper is actually an element of the worship service given to us by our Lord. After all, there is no room in the “worship” service for communion. It takes too long and cuts into the “singing/emoting/concert” time.

And we wonder why the broader church is having trouble standing for righteousness’ sake.

Update: Found this parody via Daniel. It’ fits well with the theme of this post…

“I Don’t Believe in Your God!”

I guess from the sheltered world I live in as a pastor, I should not be surprised at how surprised I am by the number of people I come across on Facebook who openly claim that they believe in a god, but not in My God! The latest round of evidence over this came about from my earlier post about being anti-gay and pro Chick-fil-A.

That post has given me a lot to think about because of the amount of criticism I received over it on Facebook, even being called a “bigot” by one man, who has since de-friended me. I do listen to the criticism because I want to make sure that I don’t fall into the trap of being blindsided by my own sin. I’ve since re-read the article I posted, and I don’t see anything in it that would cause me to want to remove the post. I stand by it.

What really bothers me are the number of people who would say, in the midst of dialog, that they don’t believe in “my God.” They have beliefs in a god, but not the God that I proclaim from Scripture. This really strikes me as sad and odd. Why would you go to the trouble of believing in a god at all if that god is not the living and true God revealed to us in His word? It is utter foolishness, given that the God of Scripture has declared to us, mankind in general, that we are to worship Him alone and no other gods (Exodus 20:3). He has also declared to us that He is the Creator of heaven and earth and all things in the earth belong to Him (Psalm 24:1). He has declared to us that only by coming to Him through Jesus Christ do we have access to Him (John 14:6). We also know that Jesus Christ is the final judge of all mankind (John 5:27). The living and true God has gone to great pains to make sure that we know whom to worship and how to worship Him, even telling us that those who do not come to Him through Christ are destined for eternal damnation.

It doesn’t make sense to me to sit back and believe in any less than the living and true God that has gone to such pains, even pain and death on the cross, and say, “I don’t believe in You. I prefer a god that is far more palatable.”

But then again, Jesus warned us about those who would reject the message, noting that they cannot come to Him UNLESS the Father draws them (John 6:44). So all the explanations in the world will not do UNLESS the Father draws them. He may indeed do so in the future and we can pray and share with them in the hopes that He does just that. Until that moment that they convert, we can only trust that they remain as Stephen accused the Jews of being: “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears!” 

That is what we deal with until God moves. The world hates Jesus and His righteousness as He told us it would (John 7:7). That is why you get responses like this:

I agree with you that not everyone has extremist views. However, Mr. Hammons is the perfect example of the type of bigot that CFA supports by donating millions in profits to groups like the Family Research Council. Mr. Hammons is welcome to his opinion, but I will not sit idly by while Mr. Hammons and those of his ilk work so hard to persecute gay people and to criminalize their behavior. Mr. Hammons states that he is being “condemned” for not standing with gays when in the same breath he condemns gays and declares that they are on the “road to eternal damnation.” Ironic, isn’t it? No one is asking Mr. Hammons to “stand with gays.” All gays and gay supporters (like me) ask is for people like Mr. Hammons to respect their desire to be treated equally. Doesn’t seem like too much to ask, does it?

Can you feel the love? He accuses me of trying to pass laws to criminalize gay behavior. If you remember, gay behavior was already criminalized long before we were born. But alas, that is lost on this man. He thinks that by standing against gay unions mislabeled as marriage, I’m criminalizing their behavior. It’s sad that this man de-friended me. But after listening to my Savior’s words, not surprising. They rejected Christ, they will reject us who stand against the homosexual community as well.

Matthew 5:11-12 Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

1967?

Taken from 1967 or 1968… based on my brother’s appearance of age. I think John was about 3 at the time this was taken so that would be 1967. We were at Six Flags, or Astroworld, or something like that. I’m the second boy from the left, win the blue and white shirt. I can see how Joey looks a lot like me from this shot.

The Camp Movie — Shooting a Scene in Our Church

I just found out about 30 minutes ago that the filmakers of the movie Camp, are filming a scene for the movie in our church, Redeemer Christian Fellowship. Jacob Roebuck, the director and writer for the movie, is the son in-law of one of my elders. They needed to shoot a scene in the waiting area of a jail… and… well, seems like one of our classrooms fits the bill. I’m not sure if I’m excited about that, but I will get over it.

I hope to go down and take some pictures of them while they are filming. I just got to meet Teresa and Kate who are responsible for turning the classroom into the jail holding area.  It will be interesting to see how that takes place.

Watch this video for the some back ground to the movie. It is a Christian movie about summer camps that take in troubled children for two weeks at a time and the difference they make in the lives of those children.

One more point: I got to see a screening of part of the movie several weeks ago, and it looks like it’s going to be a great movie.

Also, if you want to help support the movie, go to their website. They are taking donations to help produce it and finish it out. Also, it will be a great movie for churches to rally around when it comes out in February or March. Here is the link to their web site.

Glad I’m a Pastor

These pictures are of a friend’s son. I have to say, I’m glad I’m a pastor when I look at the pictures, given that I’m afraid fo heights. Regardless, I wanted to share them with you since they are such interesting shots. I’m glad there are men like my friend’s son, who is willing to climb these bridges to make sure they are safe. I’m told the man loves this sort of thing. He also inspects the bridges from under the water well, so his job is full of adventure. I rate what he does up there with the men who inspect high-power lines from a helicopter. Those jobs have to be some of the most dangerous in the world.

Not sure which bridge he is on, but I’m told he was over the Hudson River in New York. Let’s pray he stays safe.