Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Stained Crystal

A report came out in the Los Angles Times yesterday that said Dr. Robert Schuller had been ousted from the board of the famous Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove California (a suburb of Anaheim). Robert H. Schuller is 84 years old.

Let me give you a little history lesson here... Dr. Schuller came to Garden Grove in 1955 to start a church for the Reformed Church Denomination. The problem was that he couldn't find a building to suit so he decided to rent a drive-in theater and preach from the roof of the snack stand. The church grew year after year until he was finally able to build his first building in 1961. The Crystal Cathedral was not finished until 1980. Dr. Schuller stepped down from the pulpit in 2006 and turned it over to his son, Robert A. Schuller. But that lasted less than three years. He fired his son over differences of opinion on the direction of the church. The Crystal Cathedral filed for bankruptcy in late 2010 being almost 45 million dollars in debt. Ouch!

I have to say I like Dr. Schuller's vision. To start a church at a drive-in was really "outside the box" for the 1950's. He started the first 24-hour suicide hotlines. And was a pioneer for the televangelist program. At one point it was estimated that over 30 million people tuned in to his TV broadcast, and that was almost 25 years ago. I have to say I do admire him for his visioneering of the ministry.

However... (you knew this was coming, right?) I have always had issues with some of the positions on bible doctrines and teachings. And oddly enough, that is what got him into some hot water with his own board and his family.

A couple of years ago one of Dr. Schuller's daughters took over the ministry and became he Senior Pastor. Her name is Sheila (Schuller) Coleman. Now, I could comment on my concerns surrounding women pastors here but I'm fearful it would hijack the story. But suffice it to say... I'm not a huge fan. My opinion... I own it. Please direct all opposing and hateful comments to Tony C. Today.

However, I have to applaud Rev. Sheila for a couple of things. Things that Dr. Schuller opposes and eventually led to his ouster from the board. Rev. Sheila actually made the folks in the church choir sign a covenant stating that they had accepted Jesus Christ as their savior and that they firmly believed the Bibles teaching that marriage should be between a man and a woman! Groundbreaking stuff!!!! Especially given the fact that she is in California and is a part of one of the most liberal churches in America. And her father, Dr. Robert H. Schuller opposed it!!!

Dr. Schuller argument reportedly was that he wanted people to know that everyone was welcome at the Crystal Cathedral. I agree. I want everyone to know they are welcome at the church I pastor, but the choir members are a part of the ministry. Is it too much to ask them to be a Christian before serving in a ministry like leading worship? Is it too much to ask them to adhere to some basic tenets of scripture? I would hope not. I think this goes to show how Dr. Schuller has let his standards slip over the years.

Which begs the question... Have we done the same thing? When is the last time you took a look within to see if you have changed in ways that aren't very becoming a Christian? Are you more than just a believer in the Book? Are you a follower of the Book? The whole Bible?


Monday, June 20, 2011

"Just One More Time"

Hey folks,
It's time for my yearly blog. I can hear some of you now... "ah man, that time again?" It is, so sit back and enjoy! OK, at least sit back.

Today I would like to talk to parents about how they discipline their children. Really its more about the lack of discipline. I think it would be good to start this confab with a quote from the Holy Bible. Proverbs 23:13, 14 reads, "Do not withhold correction from a child, for if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with a rod, and deliver his soul from hell."

Just the other day I was in Lowes Home Improvement studying the finer qualities of the "nail" and "screw" aisle. I must say the variety of fasteners found in that 44' 7-3/8" section is hypnotizing! And I'm not even talking about the anchor bolts... oh, please don't get me started on them! Anyway, I was snatched from my trance-like state by a screaming little girl. She was still a good five aisles away but that high pitched piercing wail of discontent could have easily been heard in the lawn & gardening section outside.

I noticed it was getting louder! I quickly tried to immerse myself in the instructions on a box of 2-3/8" deck screws, but it was too late! Before I knew it they were at the end of my aisle and the mother was looking as though she was going to turn in! NOOOOOO! I screamed in my head! What could she possible want on the nail and screw aisle? My heart began to pound in my chest as my ears started to ring with the sound of that precious little spawn of satan. It's really a good thing they weren't near the lightning section, all the lamp would have shattered into a million pieces due to the decibels emanating from a little girl I guessed to be 5 to 6 years old.

I wanted to run, but my lower extremities were going numb. And wouldn't you know it... they stop right behind me! Curses, it was the glue section that brought them there! It was then that I heard mom speak...

Mom... "If you don't hush I'm going to wear you out right here in this store. Do you want me to do that?"

Lucy-fer... (screaming to the top of her lungs)

Mom... "I'm going to count to three! One... Two..."

Lucy-fer... (stomping her feet as she continues to scream... and spew pea soup)

Mom... "Now I mean it! I'm going to spank you right here! One... Two..."

Lucy-fer... (Head begins to spin, boxes of nails and washers start quivering, and more screaming and crying)

Me... THREE THREE THREE! (not out loud,but in my head)

Mom, never got to THREE! Why? My only guess would be that she missed that episode of "Sesame Street".? By the time they moved on down the aisle and eventually around the corner, I was ready to wear somebody out! And it wasn't little Lucy-fer! It was mom.

Now please understand, I'm not for brutality. Just "good ole fashion" discipline. If I understand god's word correctly, discipline is good for a child. The verse I shared says it will deliver their souls from hell.

The problem with children today is not ADD or ADHD. The real problem is LAZY PARENTS. Sure I know ADD and ADHD are issues with some children. Yet, I wonder how many of them have been misdiagnosed? Instead they suffer from LP (lazy parents). Parents, we have to step up to the God-given responsibility of discipline. It isn't pleasant, but neither is changing dirty diapers or cleaning up puke, but its our job. And if you set the tone early in your little bundle of joy's life, you will find that you don't have to spank nearly as much when they get older.

Oh, and "Time-out" is not the answer. All that teaches a child is to sit in a confined space until they are allowed to come out. If you think about it, we do the same thing with adults... its called JAIL. The percentage is astronomical that those who have been in jail will likely be a repeat offender. They don't learn their lesson just because you take them out of society for a period of time. Just the same, the fear of time-out won't keep your child on the straight and narrow.

Proverbs 29:15 says, "The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother."

So when we fail to discipline our children we not only hurt the child, we disobey God. Both prospects should be repulsive... especially to the christian.

Until next year... I mean next time...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Bring back Bela... not Bella

Can I just break in here and just vent about something that has me just a little worried? Now I don't mean to get all "old school" on you here and sound like some old "kill-joy"... but... I'm just a little worried about this fascination over vampires and the whole undead thing.

Remember the old vampire movies? Remember when the vampire was the villain and it seemed to resonate with the whole "good vs. evil" concept. Remember when Abbott and Costello faced off against Dracula? Those where the good ole days! I can remember when Bela Lugosi was thought of as evil personified, but you knew that it was all just Hollywood. It wasn't real. We could all differentiate between reality and fantasy. I'm not so sure that's the case today.

Everywhere you look there is some new book or movie out or some new television show out about vampires. And these media's glorify them. This worries me. Now bare with me for just a moment while I get into my preacher tights and cape.

You do understand that vampire-ism is completely satanic in nature don't you? It involves everything from murder to demon possession. And portraying these characters as hero's "with a dark side" speaks volumes to people today. Folks began to think it's okay to have a "dark side" and subconsciously, people become desensatised to the conviction of the Holy Spirit and unable to emphatically see the slippery slope they are on. I know it makes for a great love story and good drama, but isn't that just how satan works. Our decline as a society didn't just happen over night. Satan slowly, methodically, and gently pushes us away from God until we one day wake up and can't see Him at all. Sure, you may be able to remain in reality. But what about those who don't have the spiritual foundation some of you have been blessed with?

This flirtation with occultism is going to bite us in the rear end one day. The twilight series of books and movies, now coupled with a TV show called "Vampire Diaries" are rising quickly in popularity. And it's not just the world that is getting swept up into it. It's church people too. I wonder how many have read the entire Twilight Series but never pick up the bible between the Sunday's? Just food for thought... Now let me get out of these tights... man I need to slow down on the fried foods and cake.

Whew... that's better. Oh, and one more little rant! Why do you never see a fat vampire? I mean... do all vampires have these washboard abs and strikingly good looks? Not bloody likely!!! (said in my best Seinfeld voice) Just one more reason to wish Bela was back.

Heavy D

Friday, August 6, 2010

Letting Go

One of the coolest things that ever happened to me was becoming a "dad". I remember it just like it was yesterday... well, maybe a week ago yesterday. My wife and I were just 22 years old, married less than two years, and we were in the delivery room watching this monitor as the contractions became more frequent. I remember how nervous I was... was I ready to be a daddy?

I also remember it was on a Saturday, which meant college football was on and that birthing room was equipped with a really nice recliner and at least a 37 inch TV. I no more sat down and turned on the game, hoping it would take my mind off the fact that my life was about to change in ways I couldn't imagine, when the nurse announced, "She's ready!!" She may have been... I wasn't.

I fell in love with a little girl that day. She was perfect... and beautiful! But that goes without saying.

I thought, "This is awesome! I wonder how soon we can have another one!" Well, apparently the answer to that was almost eight years. That's when the "littleman" came along.

But now, almost 21 years later, I'm nervous again. The older she gets the harder it is to let her go. I firmly believe that she needs to have the latitude to make her own decisions. It's just not easy for me to accept that some of those decisions will turn into mistakes. I've made enough of those in my life. I don't want my kids to have to go through what I did.

She still lives at home and goes to college, but now home is just the place where she sleeps and occasionally eats. I miss the days when I would come home from the office and she would greet me at the door with open arms yelling "daddy, daddy"! Now if she happens to be home when I come in I'm lucky to get a "hey". And then it's, "Dad! Tell me you didn't wear that to the office." Yep, that's my girl!

I say all this because I know some of you have children or will have children one day. Whatever you do, don't get tired of them wanting to sit in your lap. Don't overlook the butterfly kisses. Don't despise the times you have to lay down with them while they go to sleep. Man do I miss those times.

Heavy D

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

When Words Just Aren't Enough

Being a pastor is a privilege that is hard to put into words. I get to see the best of people... and the worst of people. I get to be there when new life is brought into this world... and when mourning the loss of life. To say pastoring has it's "ups" and "downs" would be one of many ways to describe it.

Recently we have had several families in and around our church that have had family members pass away. I have to say that this is one of the things I struggle with the most in my ministry because I'm just not sure how to respond in a way that would actually bring comfort. Sometimes I wonder if the family I'm trying to minister to can look into my eyes and actually see the inner battle I'm go through as I'm scanning my limited vocabulary to find the perfect words that would bring the most comfort. I feel like a failure most times.

We say things like...
They're in a better place now... - or -
Our loss is heavens gain... - or -
God will heal the pain...

Though all these things may well be true, it just doesn't take the pain away. I've come to realize there are no words that are comforting enough to remove the pain and make it all better.

But let me tell you what I have found works best. I minister to families like this best when I don't say anything. Most times I just find myself welling up inside (which turns on the water works on the outside) and just sitting with them as they mourn. The bible speaks of this. Remember Job, after he had lost everything, his friends came and found him sitting wearing torn garments, and ashes on his head. So they did the same thing and just sat there for days with Job. This was probably the greatest sign of support they could have shown for their friend. Where they messed up was when they opened their mouth. That's when stupidity began to flow.

Now I understand some of the guys that read this will poo-poo this idea because they feel it may be a bit less than manly to actually shed a tear in front of others. But the manliest man I have ever met is Jesus Christ, and He certainly wasn't afraid to show emotion.

Understanding this has really helped me overcome my feelings of complete inadequacy. Now I just feel somewhat inept! Quite the improvement.

Hope this helps you.

Heavy D

Monday, July 26, 2010

Like a fresh of breath air...

I just want to give some encouragement today. I was certainly encouraged. Are you ready for it?

Today I had the privilege of going to a very plush golf course and watching one of the young men in our church play in a Junior Tournament. Now I love golf... I play golf... well... I have clubs. Let's just leave it at that. All in all it was a great day (with the exception of the HEAT). And though the young man I went to watch didn't play particularly well, there was a guy playing in his group that was.

I have never met this young man but I found out his name is Zack. Zack is a sophomore in a High School not far from my home town. I have never seen a young man who had such control of his game. His driving was spot on. I don't think he missed but two fairways all day long. His approach shots were crisp. Unafraid to go for the green, even on the par 5's. His putting was tremendous, able to read the greens with the best of them.

If you appreciate the game like me (I actually watch golf on TV), then you understand the honor that was mine to watch this kid masterful manage a rather difficult course.

But that wasn't the blessing.

When the round was over the golfers, who are charged with keeping up with the score of one of the other players playing in their group, exchanged cards. Once each golf checks their own card they then sign it and turn it in. Zack had the lowest score by 4 or 5 strokes, if memory serves me correctly. As the official was posting young Zack's score he noticed that something was wrong. The official wrote a 70 on the bracket, but Zack knew he had shot a 71.

Zack then checked the score card again and realized the young man keeping Zack's score had written down a wrong score on one of the holes. Now that young man should have written the right score down, but ultimately it is Zack's responsibility to carefully check each his card before signing it. Once it's signed it cannot be changed.

Here's the blessing...

This 15 year old young man walked up to the official and admitted that his card was wrong... penalized himself... which resulted in a disqualification. When I saw what had happened I was crushed that the best player on this particular day was disqualified. I felt terrible for him. But my admiration for this young man went through the roof. Zack's display of honesty may have cost him the tournament, but it gained my respect and the respect of all who were there.

So the moral of this little story is... don't give up on our younger generation too quickly. There are fine, upstanding young people out there who understand the value of honesty.

Oh, and yes, I know the title is worded differently... it's called a "hook".

Heavy D

Monday, March 15, 2010

This one made my top five...

Have you ever had something happen to you and you didn't know whether to laugh or cry? Let me tell you about one of the weirdest things that has happened in a while.

The other day I was sitting in my office minding my own business... I'm sure doing something spiritual. When in walked a man that lives in fairly close proximity to the church. I've met this fellow before and even invited him to church a few years ago right after they moved to town. Town... our town is the typical little rural community you would find all over the south. I affectionately call it "Mayberry"... but I digress.

My secretary met him at the door and I knew who it was as soon as I heard his voice.

Me: Hey, come in. Good to see you!

Him: Hello Pastor, I hope I'm not bothering you?

Me: Don't be silly, have a seat and tell me how I can help you.

It was at this point that he explained to me that he had joined a "civic" organization about six months ago and recently they had elected him as "chaplain". I have to admit to you here that I'm not sure this man has a relationship with Christ. He claims to be Catholic... but hasn't been to the church in several years. Funny how we align ourselves with whatever church our parents or grandparents attended even though we may never darken the door.

Me: Chaplain! Wow. That's quite an honor.

Him: Well, uhh, yeah... but I have a little problem.

Me: Oh? (hoping God has had a chance to speak to his heart and he realized his need for Christ)

Him: Yeah, one of my duties is to say an "invocation prayer" to open every meeting of this "civic" organization.

Me: Okay great, how can I help?

Him: Well, I was wondering if you had a book of prayers that I could borrow and i would just copy one out of there?

This is when I explained to him that I didn't have a "book" of set prayers, but that prayer was really nothing more than a conversation with God. I told him that when I pray I talk to God just like I was talking to him. My purpose was to get around to the "relationship with God thing". But he didn't let me finish...

Him: Do you think you could write one for me? It's been a while since I've prayed.

Me: Well, I could write you one but it wouldn't have near the meaning as it would if it came from you. But you really need to get something straight fir...

Him: Well, could you at least write some talking points down for me?

Me: I can, but it would help to know what kind of organization we are talking about. If its the VFW then I would begin by thanking God for all that have served our country and pray for protection for those currently serving.

Him: No... its nothing like that.

Me: Well why don't you tell me what kind of club we are talking about?

It was at this point that the conversation took on an even more serious tone. He looked me square in the eye and said...

Him: Well preacher, I'm going to be very honest with you... its "THE KLAN".

Me: (a flush feeling running straight through me at this point) THE KLAN! Seriously!

It was at this point that I wanted to tell him we were done and it was time for him to leave! I was furious at this point. After all, this guy wants me to write him a prayer to a Savior he doesn't even know and if Jesus were still walking this earth today He wouldn't be allowed to join the club.

But God had a different idea. God spoke to my heart and said, " This is an opportunity". I guess opportunities can come in many forms?

So yeah, I wrote the prayer. I don't think he will use it though. Its filled with things like "help us to love our fellow man" and "help us to understand your love". But maybe God can use it to speak to someones heart?