Category Archives: Relevant Ministries

The Church Speaks on SEX



Okay, I bet that headline got your attention!  This blog is actually a Book Review.  The book is entitled, “REAL MARRIAGE” ‘The Truth about Sex, Friendship & Life Together by Mark and Grace Driscoll.

In preparing for this post, I read a couple of other bloggers review on this book.  Where I truly believe everyone is entitled to their own opinions concerning their likes and dislikes, it infuriates me for someone to render stark opinions about a book having not even cracked it open.

Let’s face it Pastor Mark Driscoll is known for being a loud mouth, pompous, crude, somewhat bully and an opinionated tyrant when it comes to addressing certain topics of discussion.  On the surface it appears nothing is off limits. He has earned the title of One of the 25 Most Influential Pastors some have called him the “Most Controversial preacher of the 21st Century.”

Although I don’t always agree with everything he says and I believe that he can be a loose cannon with his mouth, I do applaud him as being, at least , one of the ‘brave pastors’ who is willing to take certain subjects  dead on while other pastors promise to take them on but never really deliver.

I also believe that Driscoll is an effective teacher, evidenced by his 7000 member church (Mars  Hill Church). I must admit I was intrigued by all the fuss about his controversial book a on marriage and made a point to order it and was glad I did.

Here are a few reasons that I did like the book.

1)      Like Captain Kirk, he dared go where no other preacher would go addressing real issues frank and explicit – no coded terms in here.

2)      Driscoll shares the historical perspective of priest abstinence, sex for procreation only, birth control violations, etc. without drowning us in endless details.

3)      He addresses facts that Christians really want to know about but can’t get frank answers from the church because of fear.  Chapter 10 which is called, “Can We ______?” leaves no subject uncovered.

4)      His book does reference scripture, but does not waste the readers time filtering through scriptural rewrites with the exception of his interpretation of the Song of Solomon which he breaks down.

5)      Book size is manageable.  I like reading books that I can get through in a couple of days.

The first part of the book talks about friendship and marriage as well as a transparent view of  personal hang-ups and baggage both Mark and Grace brought into their marriage.  They offer practical suggestions how to communicate better with each other especially in the chapter called, “Friends with Benefits.”

The second part of the book deals with the subject of SEX. The chapter causing the most fireworks is chapter 10 which is called, “Can We _____?”  This addressed just about every issue from masturbation, oral sex to the use of toys, role playing and even cosmetic surgery.  I did like how they addressed each topic in this chapter addressing each topic According to God and According to Government laws by these three measurements:

1)      Is it Lawful?
2)      Is it Helpful?
3)      Is it Enslaving?

I must admit some things were a little hard to wrap your mind around, and some things I outright disagreed with, however,  I must say I am grateful that someone really decided to take this subject on in more of a direct way instead of beating around the bush using coded worded leaving their readers to guess what they are talking about.

Mark’s passion was that this book was designed to enrich marriages, get couples talking to one another again, to answer questions of what is permissible and to create greater intimacy.  He further added that if the church doesn’t address the questions because of fear, then members will attempt to get answers from unhealthy places.

What do you think about the video clip?  Have you read the book?  What sayeth you?

Book Review: The Necessity of an Enemy


“Enemies often seem to get in the way of our plans, leaving us discouraged and disoriented.  But what if these obstacles are a part of God’s plans for us?

Our enemies – whether our weaknesses, circumstances, deep-seated sins, other people, or any other challenge—can become our stepping stool to new breakthroughs in life, if we leverage the opportunity.  Just as David’s encounter with Goliath transformed him from a delivery boy to a national hero, our enemies can be a blessing in disguise – if only we recognize and face them head-on.

Human nature tells us to flee our enemies, but Ron Carpenter will challenge you to embrace them.”

ON A PERSONAL NOTE…
GPS Bible Study.  I teach a Grow.Pray & Study Bible Class each week and we used this book  over the last eight weeks and my classes are loving it. Of course as a Bible teacher I always read over the chapters and decide what material we will review and which ones we will skip.

Weekly, the class  reads certain section of the book.  The chapters were short and easy, but powerful reads.  Each chapter/sub-chapter was as few as one page to as many as ONLY threehow great is that?

I  prepare questions, highlight scripture readings, ask for reflections and or assign group tasks.

Because we only had 8 weeks to read the book, I must admit that there were certain sub-chapters I combined while skipping others. Why skip? Because there was a lot other meat I thought we needed to spend more time on.

We have thoroughly enjoyed this book. I rate this entire book including the study guide in the back of the book 4 1/2 out of 5 stars. The study guide was a bit limited in my opinion. The author could have done so much more, but that was minimal compared to all the other meat we were chewing on.

YEP, I RECOMMEND IT! It is a must have in my opinion for  Bible Studies or Small Groups as it accomplished what it sets out to do (5 stars on content) and that was to help us gain a different perspective on how enemies play a part in our lives particularly the direction and paths we find ourselves on.

Put this book on your reading list and let me know your favorite parts!

Why I Hate Religion



This video is really profound.  It was all over the Christian Network, Christian News, Christian blogs and now I can see why.  Take a look.  It has received well over 15 million views.  I noticed that the author disabled the ‘comment’ feature. Although over 15 million people viewed this video, 260,000 liked it and 39,000 disliked it.  I wondered how many of the 39,000 people are religious…. hmmmm….

Your thoughts???  If Jesus walked the earth in human form what would he really be saying about the church? Would He be proud or disappointed?

Creative Worship – How Far is too Far?


I had an opportunity to hear a pastor’s panel and debate the other day.  The topic dealt with ‘Creative Worship;’ just how far is too far?”  With the use of video, props, illustrations, secular music and the like, how do we know when we have pushed that envelope right off the table?  Beds on the stage, people in beds on the stage, cars on the stage, secular R-rated video clips shown –all to bring a relevant word – but have we gone too far?  hmmm…..

As I ponder, I think about the basics of our faith.  Jesus told us to go out, make disciples, baptize people in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and told us to teach… Invite Jesus into your heart as your Lord and Savior.

It really gets me when I see pastors who have brought five people into profession of faith in a calendar year, but complain about the ‘movers and shakers’ who are bringing in hundreds per year. 

 Their charge: 

  • They are entertainment based.  It’s like going to a concert every week.
  • Lights, camera, ACTION. 
  • They do not revere the Lord.
  • Nothing’s sacred. 
  • They have a ‘feel good ministry.’ 
  • They don’t talk about SIN. 
  • They are showy and want to be seen. 
  • They exploit their congregations.
  • They are sending their followers to hell.
  •  

    One pastor responded this way. “It seems to me that the real issue is to complain about those pastors who seem to have it going on.  At least these pastors are doing SOMETHING.  Shouldn’t we be hearing some complaints about the pastors who are doing NOTHING?”  To make matters worse these pastors are boasting in their NOTHINGNESS.

    Good point.  I personally believe we pastors respond this way because of two motivations:

    1. We are jealous that we are not seeing the results that these other pastors are seeing.
    2. We make these charges to justify us playing it safe, not raising the bar and to maintain our own comfortable way of doing things.

    "Some times to win souls, we need to push the envelope a little"

    Although I do think that there are pastors that may take things too far – especially in their sermons dealing with sexuality, I think a greater charge is to those pastors who are not going far enough.

    Surveys report that ninety (90%) of people learn better by visuals.  So pastors I implore you – Show them something!  Allow your lay ministers (deacons or staff) to help you flush out an idea or two especially if you are suffering from a sort of spiritual constipation. You have got to ‘STEP UP YOUR METAPHORICAL GAME!’

    Challenge: The next time you’re talking about Adam and Eve at least show your congregation a piece of fruit!

    The next time you are tempted to complain about a mover and shaker that seems to be producing results ask yourself first. . .

    “Could I be doing more?”

    Not Everyone Does ‘Church’ the Same


    Go Ahead and Bring it in the Sanctuary!

    Come on… tell the truth and shame the devil.  How many times have you gone to church hungry when your stomach started to growl? My stomach sometimes has  its own ‘built in microphone.’  And yes, I have been laughed at.  Those who felt sorry for me often times will go searching in their Bible bags or purses and hand me a much needed mint or a piece of chewing gum. 

    On occasion, I have been known to duck out of my own church service and I visit other churches.  One day I visited a church a few miles away from where I lived.  It was a mixed congregation.  The people seemed genuinely happy to be at church.  The atmosphere was casual and so was the dress – mostly jeans and   t-shirts.  In fact, even the pastor wore jeans with a plaid collard shirt.  He appeared to be in his 50’s and taught sitting on a stool with no pulpit really. We were handed a program with that day’s lesson highlighting bullet points he would cover along with lines for us to fill in the blanks.  He taught and the scriptures were displayed upon a screen. 

    Take 5. The interesting thing about this church was during the service the

    Coffee Break - "Be Back in 5"

     pastor said, “Why don’t we take a five minute break.  Go on out and refresh yourselves, get a cup of coffee or something else to drink; the women have prepared some tarts and other lite refreshments.  I’ll see you back here in five minutes.”  I couldn’t believe it.  I had never heard of such, but I saw some people get up and exit the back doors so I followed suit.  I got me a cup of coffee and one of those delicious tarts.  I ate the tart really fast and attempted to drink the coffee in the five minutes we were given before having to go back in service, but it was so hot.  A man spotted me and said, “You can take the coffee inside the sanctuary.”  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  I mean wasn’t their some 11th commandment that says, “Thou shall not drink coffee in the sanctuary”?  I did as I was told.  On top of everything else there were cup holders right next to where the Bible and hymnals were located How great was this?

    The Service.  I enjoyed the service.  It was great, full of life and energy.  We looked a two minute film, saw a five minute skit and just like everyone else, as the pastor spoke I filled in my empty lines with the right answers on the program. 

    If I could say there was one thing that my church exceeded in it was in the singing.  We just got it going on in that area.  But the point is – this worked for them — and the truth is it worked for me too for I have been back several times. 

    By the way, did I fail to mention that my first visit resulted in their church hand delivering me a dozen freshly baked – still warm chocolate chip cookies? They had one message, “Thank you for visiting us today, feel free to come back and visit us anytime. God Bless You.  Good bye.”  Is it any wonder that I have been back?  I am on their mailing list and am alerted to all their happenings.

    What do you think about bringing in drinks like bottle water or coffee into the sanctuary during service?  Would you be tarred and feathered?

    Everybody Needs to Laugh – Even Those Behind Bars


    I have to admit that I was touched by this video.  Sometimes we tend to not think about those who have been incarcerated.  I guess to some degree, me and probably countless others are guilty of even dehumanizing those who stand behind bars.  I must admit I am ashamed to say this.  But this video convicted and reminded me of what Jesus said in Matthew 25,  “Then He will also say… for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; . . . when I was sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’  “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You … hungry or thirsty …. sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’  Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 

    It’s good to lay your eyes upon a video to see the human side of people who got off track, but are still valuable in the eyes of God.  God’s arms are long enough to reach down to all of us. Okay you may say, “Michael Jr. isn’t imparting a Word,” but he is working his gift. If a person is hungry, don’t say “Allow me to pray for you.” For Heavensakes, give them a slice a bread at least! Remember this, some PLANT, some WATER, but God makes them GROW! Somebody has got to till the ground before the seed is dropped.

    Enjoy the video as Michael JR. takes us on part of his journey on “The Road Less Traveled” as he brings comedy that lifts the spirits of those behind bars, the homeless and the disadvantaged.

    Pastors, could you imagine showing this video in your congregations?  It brings the human level and addresses the “Felt” need.

    Atheist Ads: Don’t Need God – Can Still Live Good


     

    Can you believe this?  Metropolitan buses with the message you don’t need God.  I must admit I did hear about this in Europe some time ago. I found it disturbing but the truth is I dismissed it – probably because it was over there.  Then a guest pastor who recently came to our church brought the subject up again .  He told us that he had seen an advertisement on one of the MTA buses that highly offended him. He began to set it up. This ad had no reference to sex, no reference to drugs or even alcohol; there also was no profanity or violence. We sat and listened, then what offended you so? Then he let the cat out of the bag and said he saw a photograph of a woman hugging on her child with a caption that read, “You don’t need God – to hope, to care, to love, to live.”  The sentiments of the congregation was utter DISBELIEF. 

    The pastor began to tell us that there is a humanist group  that has launched an ad campaign, declaring that atheists and the nonreligious can live good, meaningful lives without God. 

    The campaign is sponsored by the Center for Inquiry, an Amherst, N.Y.-based organization whose mission is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values.  I went online only to find out that they are also targeting African Americans and ex-Muslims particularly – GO FIGURE! 

    Their Motivation:  The president Ronald A. Lindsay said the ads are aimed at dispelling some myths about the nonreligious. “One common myth is that the nonreligious lead empty, meaningless, selfish, self-centered lives. This is not only false, it’s ridiculous,” he said in a statement. “Unfortunately, all too many people accept this myth because that’s what they hear about nonbelievers.”  He further asserts that  people can find meaning in a life that is human-centered, and that reliance on the supernatural is unnecessary.

    Another myth that the group is looking to dispel – that the nonreligious are immoral, or at least that they can’t be relied upon to be as good as those with religious beliefs.

    Washington D.C. currently has 15 of their Metro buses promoting these ads.  Indianapolis and Houston are also publicizing these ads.

    Okay so here is the question –

    What does this tell you about the TIMES we are in?  What is the responsibility of the church?  What role should we be playing in saving the lost?   Any other comments?