Thursday, October 29, 2009

#87-Plastic Bracelets and Headbands: aka when can we declare someone has the spirit of Jezebel?

This post is recommended by one Kyle Brown (complete with pictures he suggested):

So if you want to know what is at the heart of Apostolic trending in female fashion, see the headware above...

No, really....

I'm being serious...



......Now let's talk about it...

Kyle pointed out that at first these headbands popped up as very mild, in the form of kind of a throwback to the days of the hippy:

Which was weird in and of itself, and of course there have been the coward version to pop up to make you think these headbands are serving some kind of weird function to bind up hair:


but as every slippery slope expert knows, such rebel rousing will lead to hell in a hand basket, and in this case the hand basket was a headband...

And now we are seeing bits and pieces of this out there amongst our females (no joke):

First of all, let me be the first on record to say these things are hideous.

The only good headband in the history of headbands has been the following:

And because none of the previously pictured headbands make the blind see, then we really have no function other than vanity...

But who is going to speak up? Who is going to call foul? Must we let this debacle persist?

And to you I say only you can prevent the headband wearing in your church and beyond (a simple letter to your pastor complaining about the deteriorating condition of standards through the lower generations represented through the materialism of these headbands should do the trick).....

But seriously, the moment we catch wind of the mascara or the blush, we can very quickly identify the spirit of Jezebel at work, but with articles of dress such as the headband, the point of Jezebel presence is a bit more murky.....

But I would argue that once again, our old friend, the Slippery Slope can paint the way toward the cause of the allowance of headbands, and diamond headbands in Apostolics circles:

It happened when Lance Armstrong released those Livestrong Bracelets all in the name of cancer....

And who can say no to curing cancer?

It was the perfect excuse for compromising Apostolics everywhere:

You don't wear them for vain reasons, but rather in the name of saving lives...which meant that if you were against the bracelets, You were for killing people....

I can specifically remember the day I saw an Apostolic wearing one of the bracelets, and my mind was in a paradox with no answer...All I could do was whisper to myself, "Was this okay?"

So we bit our tongues....and we allowed our friend to flaunt their cancer curing vanity without saying a word...

The bad guys were winning....

So basically Lance Armstrong was the one who let the Spirit of Jezebel into our churches...

Because the moment you start allowing people to wear bracelets for cancer, you can't tell them no when they try wearing Livestrong bracelets for their foundation/charity of choice to support (of course they kept it safe by never wearing outright jewelry and settling for the more modest plastic bracelets...)

and it was these plastic bracelets that had our tongues tied that allowed those girls wearing their headbands to strut their stuff without us being able to tattle tale....

There is no winning this one folks.....

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Welcome new readers!

To all past readers, I am happy to announce a new merger of sorts: StuffApostolicsLike is joining the family! The site and it's staff have meant the world to me the past year. A few of you may have seen some of the writers on this site (Chantell Smith and myself, Joel Riley) write articles either on ninetyandnine or as a contributor of another blog through ninetyandnine called collideoscope.

To all the new visitors from ninetyandnine, welcome to a blog that will hopefully change your life. And be forewarned, this is not your average blog ranting against the death of holiness in our churches or at the same token ranting against the rise of legalism in our churches.

Let me explain as briefly as possible who we are, what the blog is, and some basic rules...

Who We Are:
The actual contributors right now to the site are Chantell Smith, Glen McGee,  and myself. I think every one of us is in college to some capacity including 2/3 of us being in grad school which is simply more of an indicator that we don't want to grow up yet....

What This is:
As short as possible: To remember to laugh at ourselves as apostolics and also in the process to locate our unique space in this universe through the culture we have created.

I strongly encourage and advise each of you to read the "About this blog section" that is on the right side of the screen. PLEASE DO THIS! It will stop the storm before it starts....

Also many of the topics are suggested by you the if you have a good idea that you think is good enough to hold it's weight on the site, send your suggestions to Please do not get offended however if your idea does not make on here or if your idea takes a long time to end up on the site. There have been a bunch of recommendations (most of them postworthy), but that said, there is basically a long waiting line to get the topics posted.

This blog started in the waning weeks of August of 2009 as simply a rip-off (or a tribute) of the Stuff White People Like. Somehow in these brief two months, 86 posts and counting have been made, and I can say it's been not only fun but a great stress reliever.

Despite several people around me suggesting that I disable comments on this site, I have elected to allow them for the time being....

 As you read the posts you will see these topics can from time to time offend people. While this is not the purpose of the blog, given the content, it is an inevitable result. That said, if you don't agree with the posts, I welcome your criticisms to my email: However should you choose to comment, please keep your comments mild, and if you choose to insult or degrade the authors (or other commenters) your comment will most likely be deleted without explanation. The slippery slope post has the perfect example of comments that I will allow in spite of the fact that some people disagreed (they did so with a respecting tone).

So without further ado, here are some of my favorite posts in the short while this site has been up:

#86-Praying Through

"Praying through" is one of many Apostolic terms that makes zero sense outside of the Apostolic world. Imagine chatting with one of your unchurched colleagues about it on a Monday afternoon during your lunch break:

Colleague: So, how was your weekend? Susan and I went to a friend's house on the lake. It was lovely.

You: Let me tell you, this weekend was awesome. My old buddy Bill hadn't darkened the church doors for years now. Well, last night --

Colleague: (interrupting, with a quizzical expression) You have church on Sunday night?

You: (laughing sheepishly) Yeah, we do. (attempting a bit of humor) We do things the old school way, you know, keep the Sabbath day holy! Hee, hee.

Colleague: (narrowing eyes suspiciously) I thought the Sabbath was actually on Saturday. I know a guy, Abraham ben Judah, he's a Jew you know, and he goes to his synagogue --

You: (getting annoyed) Okay, but we're getting off the subject. I was just going to tell you how great my weekend was since my old buddy Bill prayed through at the altar last night. Boy, it was a humdinger of a service. The power of God moved like you'd never seen--

Colleague: (interrupting again) Wait a minute, did you just say he "prayed through"?

You: (taking a bite of your sandwich, answering hesitantly) Yeah . . .

Colleague: (confused) But what the heck does that mean? He prayed. Okay, I get that. But "prayed through"? Prayed through what? Dude, you're not making any sense.

You: Well, the Holy Ghost . . . see . . . okay. Like, speaking in tongues (observing your colleague's eyes grow wide) . . . ummm. All right, it's like after you haven't prayed in a while, and then you go up to the altar and get really emotional . . . you know what I mean?

Colleague: I'm not getting it.

This is, of course, an imaginary example, but nevertheless one that illustrates the conundrum we as Apostolics face when attempting to use an Apostolic term in mainstream, secular conversation.

Praying Through, In a Nutshell
Apostolics like praying through. The most commonly held definition is the following:

to pray through v. -- To go up to the altar and speak in tongues after not having made any public displays of doing so in the amount of time sufficiently deemed such to "grow cold in the Lord."

If you're an observer to one praying through, it gives you a warm and fuzzy assurance that someone you felt was wayward or "growing cold in the Lord" (another one of our terms) is back on the straight and narrow. If you're the praythroughee, it gives you the warm and fuzzy assurance that not only are you back on the straight and narrow and sufficiently warmed up in the Lord, but that everyone else who would walk up to you and mysteriously say "We're praying for you" is now assured as well and can stop praying for you with such concern.

Don't get me wrong. Praying through is fantastic. I've been both the observer and the praythroughee. Assurance is good for you and all concerned parties. But let's only use the term amongst ourselves to avoid bewildering those unfamiliar with our lingo.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Okay, so it's getting late and I really didn't have time to do a complete post this evening, but I figured I would give a half-hearted attempt anyways.....

Inferno is one of those annual "mega-church" events (future post) centered around youth that every church strives for, but only a few precious churches can muster the financial muscle, venue size, and sweet lighting effects to actually roll with the big boys of charismatic churches....Inferno is basically a Because of the Times except on a slightly smaller scale and a bunch of over-dressed youths looking to get as much God as possible in an evening without ruining their chances of getting future wives/husbands instead of the BOTT being filled with a bunch of ministers looking to tell each other just how much growth they had over the year and some brilliant new marketing strategy they invented....

That said, I think Inferno is spanish for "In ferno." And it really doesn't have anything to do with Dante's Inferno (pictured) regretfully. And it happens up here at the Apostolic Church in Auburn Hills (a church full of great people who have meant the world to me)....Anyways, I will be there, and if you happen to be in the mid-west and think you will be heading out this way, give me a heads up and maybe we can brainstorm more ways to jab and poke fun of ourselves....There is a 20 somethings lounge at the "Afterburn" (the way better version of a lock-in) and I will probably be settled in there most of the time....

But to the point at hand....

Every year (for a whole two years running) I do a stream of conscious blog of will find those blogs below...some of the jokes will be too inside of a reference to get and I have simply chose to rid a few other points which make no sense, but I think you guys will be able to pick up and understand most of it.....(many of the references make sense even with Youth Congress for instance)....Now initially I had actual names at points but I will change some to protect the innocent here (I left Wayne Francis' name in because yea....he's Wayne)....and lastly, last year's inferno (2008) did contain what I believe to be the funniest moment in church history for me (read below)...

Come One come all, Enjoy the luxury of luxuries...the event of events...

This is Inferno 2008, themed Going of consciousness style

8:20- I arrive at Inferno and a giant inflatable Reptar from Rugrats is greeting the crowd as they enter...

8:26-Ah, inferno…the one place where kids can be shielded from the chaos in the real world and the financial recession, and have a good ole' playtime where everyone dresses up and plays church and meets everyone else and we all put on a smile and have a good Go of life!

8:27-We are handed ropes to put around our wrists upon admittance…but what does it mean?!? I personally saw the rope bracelet as a symbolic representation as a return to a primitive state of consciousness before man had evolved in his current, selfish, self-aggrandizing industrial state of being. In this primitive state, where wood, rope, and wool were the customary materials of survival, life was much more simplified and less terrifying, and thusly, more God-centered. In the world of plastics that we now live in (as most bracelets are composed of plastic and such-like materials), life does not make since and we are running ourselves tired trying to chase things that are as useless as a plastic wristband. Henceforth, the rope bracelets signify naturalism and thusly, the concept of "Going Green." If you do not agree, then we have no frame of reference and I thusly have no reason to understand why you are even reading this blog.

8:30-Here's what I can tell you about the fashion of 2008's inferno: I thought I would look like a silly clown dressed in a silly vest with a silly bow-tie that does not match and consequently bring a little smile to everyone who would be dressing way too seriously. But then upon entrance, every dude there was dressed like a silly clown! There were so many bowties PeeWee Herman would have felt that he was in style. And don't even get me started on the cardigans…everyone was wearing their cardigan as if it was their investment to not lose money in this time of financial crisis….There was so much cardigan wearing that the only uncool thing to do at this years Holiday Youth Convention would be to wear a cardigan.
The point is for the men, the only truly silly clowns were the ones who did not dress like silly clowns….What once was black now is white, what once was a square now is a circle….
As for the style of the ladies, all I can say is life has become one great "wear whatever in the world you want and hope that no one wears the same thing." Girls should Dress unique enough that no one will be able to imitate, but don't dress too unique as to wear something attention-grabbing as to cause people to whisper to each other, "that dress looks horrendous on her" when deep inside the person is saying "I wish I had the guts to wear that but I don't so I will secretly loathe you in the meantime." Anyways, life is so much easier being a male in this time of high fashion.

8:33-"Freedom" is this year's version of "Say so" that will be played in every youth choir at least three times a month and every convention from here until a new terrible Pop/choir song is introduced at next year's Youth Congress. Seriously this song may be even more annoying than "Say So." We yell freedom a few times, then we clap louder and shout louder than then dance quite awkwardly. It puts the listener in such an awkward spot, "Should I listen or should I jump?" And if we are being truthful about this song, and we really do jump higher every moment we claim we are jumping higher, and shout louder every time we claim that we are about to shout louder with a gradual rate of increase each time, after singing this song ten times over, we should be the highest jumping, loudest shouting, loudest clapping demographic on the planet in two months… Freedom, Freedom, Freedom, Freedom

8:36-There are some people raising their hands at Inferno again! What is this?!? Don't they know that it puts me in such a terrible state of thinking? When I see someone raise their hands at inferno, I am thinking to myself, "Right, I should do that too…these are songs to God, so it only makes since and I wont feel like a heathen watching a show" but then there is the other half of me that says "But there is FLASHING LIGHTS AND SILLY PEOPLE DANCING ON STAGE and it's INFERNO and everything that is going on is like a giant snow globe full of awe-inspiring CIRCUS GOODNESS"….
To you praying people out there during inferno, I ask that next year during the worship service you keep your hands down from worshiping so I don't feel guilty while I am enjoying the presentation of Lights before my eyes. If you feel the need to pray, pray in silence with your hands down please….

8:40-For the 14th consecutive year, the Asian demographic is noticeably absent from Inferno this year…

8:45-Finally figure out that the people who sit on the highest elevated pews in the back are the 12-15 year old crowd who are all sitting next to their crush trying to work up the courage to gently make contact with the hand of the person who they have a crush on….

9:36- How do I describe how the next hour and a half transpired? I really don't think words could do what happened next justice…I will try my best, but if you were not at Inferno this year, you missed out….and with that said,
Tim Rutledge takes the mic…Now over the past year, Tim as grown to become one of my favorite speakers in the UPC just because he says it how it is w/o fear of repercussions…plus he is almost a little bit of a shock preacher whose messages seem to hinge on the ability to shock people…
With Tim preaching at Inferno, I thought we were in for one kind of bloodbath:
Tim Rutledge vs. The Sermon Expectations of the Inferno Crowd
The flashiness of inferno and all it's pretenses of the service being a shouting sermon where we can cry at the alter and get on with flirting and group conversation vs. A raw preacher who holds no punches, no matter the occasion, and if anything tries to act opposite of what is expected (Tim Rutledge)

Round One-Tim makes statement that he is going to make four simple points, let us come to the alter and then go on having our Inferno fun. Everyone in the crowd relaxes as he is playing into the crowd's desires and expectations
Round One Winner: Inferno Crowd

Round Two: Tim gives money to boy who has not taken girl out to a restaurant that serves bread before the meal. While this excites every female in the audience, it most importantly gives every girl who is single one more reason to justify why it's not worth her while to not have a boyfriend, when in reality she probably would take the first offer that would come her way of a guy who would ask her out. On the flip side, every guy immediately plots ways to perform a legal hanging of Tim Rutledge within the next 24 hours for being a traitor to his own gender.
Round Two Winner: Tim Rutledge

Round Three-Tim gives away dozens and dozens of cupcakes, ding dongs, and honey buns to a restless crowd of 12-16 year old boys who will look for anything of an excuse to distract themselves from a church service which in this case, are hostess snacks provided by the preacher himself. The style of the service increases exponentially in it's laid back fashion as no one in the crowd knows how to take such a strange occurrence of events such as a rash of snack thrown across the sanctuary, so everyone just lightens up. No one has any clue what this has to do with Jesus except some odd verse mention of bread.
Round Three Winner: Inferno Crowd (bonus points for the rapid boys who acted as if the chocolate was as valuable as Barack Obama's cheap unproven rhetoric was to win the presidency).
Sidenote: It was at this point in the sermon that one individual between the ages of 40-60 had caught one of the dings dongs and decided for some unknown reason to chuck the ding dongs as hard as he could to the back of the head of a girl standing forty feet in front of him. It was incredible

Round Four-Tim gives out a giant loaf of bread to someone in the crowd (with at least two dozen more loaves sitting on a bread cart on the platform) …but alas, where Tim thought he could give peacefully, he had underestimated the brilliance and courage of the 12-16 year old male crowd to show off to their female counterparts everywhere by breaking one of the ten commandments and rushing onto the platform when Tim was not looking and proceeded to steal every loaf of bread off the platform. Hilarity ensued as Tim was realizing tonight may very well be a challenge to claim victory.
Round four winner: Inferno Crowd

Round Five-
At this point, I cannot overemphasize the emotions of the crowd…it appeared to everyone, in their flesh, thought this was the one service that they could count on to leave with out a mandatory prayer or feeling convicted. The times were joyous and worries were few. There were giggles and at worst confusion, but even the commentators like myself were disappointed at the lack of challenge Tim was putting up in this Inferno.
After the thievery and face stuffing, Tim tried getting serious, and I think everyone was like, "DUDE, don't play me like that!"
But Tim did play us like that!

In one of the greatest set-up/come-backs in Pentecostal sermon history, Tim Rutledge set up the crowd for a butchering! He ripped the crowd a new one that will leave us feeling guilty for weeks at least. Now I don't want to get into message detail because there is no way it could be put into words, but I will simply say it was the most convicting witnessing message I have ever heard (and we probably here 5-7 on average annually)..

After an hour of making the crowd feel like dirt and have them silenced…everyone was ready to start handing themselves into God's prison for not doing as the bible had orchestrated….He pounded the crowd senseless and the message was by the far the best I heard at Inferno. Tim was so confident that he could take the Inferno crowd he even gave the crowd a head start in the first few rounds to let the crowd feel even more laid back! This was the hare letting the turtle getting a five hour long head start, but then the hare doesn't even struggle to make a comeback…
The Inferno Crowd was sitting there waiting for the knock out blow, but the bell sounded leaving the crowd waiting for the knockout punch at the alter call..

Round Five Winner: Tim R. by a landslide

Round Six
saw one last attempt by the crowd to take Tim out and what an attempt it was. Perhaps the greatest single moment in Inferno history, and definitely this year's inferno by far…. Tim threw out bibles instead of bread making a point that teenage boys are more excited about chocolate and food than they are about the bible when no one got and ran to catch a bible. Bravo…good point…
But alas the good Lord shined his merciful light on the weak crowd with one last attempt at a comeback. This individual's name shall remain nameless, but his bravery will live in the hearts of men for a longtime…instead of giving into Tim's insults of us not being hungry enough for bibles to use to witness, this nameless young man sitting in the their row stood up and screamed "I need one!" (referring to the bible in Tim's hand)… awkwardness filled the room and Tim quickly ranted back that it was too late to act like a good boy and want a bible (since of course Tim had made his point that we don't want the bibles as much as the food)…The young man, (who may have not been in clear consciousness), slowly, but diligently and powerfully (still standing), yelled back at Tim, "BUT I NEED A BIBLE!"
Tim was caught off guard and was now in the defensive (I was worried that there actually may end up being a physical attack). Not knowing that the invigorated sermon intruder was not of a logical human consciousness, Tim shouts back that he can get his bible after service which transpires in a staredown between the two for about 8 of the most awkward but enjoyable seconds of my life. And then Tim turns around and continues preaching as the young man slowly sits down.
In the next ten minutes, Tim puts the nail in the coffin as he proves champion over the Inferno crowd and everyone's soul rips in conviction and repentance.

Round Six Winner: Tim Rutledge by TKO

That's it and that's the show everyone….I have already wasted too much of your time so I will keep my comments about afterburn brief: It was every early pubescent teenage boy's dream: Unlimited pizza, unlimited soda (from bartender), and unlimited video games…As for the rest of us, I think it was quite enjoyable as it was much more laid back than the intense smells an drama of the afterburn's at OU.

In departure, I would like to thank the entire Impact Student Ministry crew and everyone else who made Inferno what it is…You are truly a testament to the human race. Inferno is one of the few church events that I look forward to every year in anticipation of what is to come. If you the reader have a problem with the way inferno is run and think things are getting "too secular" then do us all a favor and stop coming. No one is begging you to come and if you're too interested in tearing down an event that brings out half saved and wondering and lost souls more than your church ever could dream of, then we probably have no place for your judgementalism in our fellowship. Like I always say, Inferno is not church, nor should we treat it as such…we should treat it as something completely unique from what we are used to and if anything, it brings the church bodies from all across the country together to enjoy each other's fellowship for a couple of days.

And if I offended you the reader at all in this review, please forgive me. Everything I wrote was in jest, so please don't take it seriously.

A Confederacy of Pedestrians: A sketch of Inferno 2007

Dateline: October 26, 2007. Auburn Hills, MI.

7:40-I arrive intentionally late (40 minutes according to the scorecard) only to find I am still twenty minutes early. When will I learn?

7:41-Upon my entrance and a quick gaze at my surroundings, I realize that I have not escaped high school after all...I am at prom complete with disco balls and darkened romantic light bulbs the size of William Howard Taft. The dim lighting combined with a little make up and some last minute tanning creates a great setting for ugly girls to appear to be "not so bad." And have desperate guys asking "has she lost weight?"

7:44-Already three minutes in I hear slight, but predictable murmurs that 15 dollars is way too expensive for a church service... And that this is not church at all and a disgrace to the UPC

The point is this honey, no one asked you to come. You knew full well the cost but you still prettied yourself up for it. Every year we have this same group of rebels complaining in envy and every year they still show. And second, It's not church, it's something way more brilliant in it's design reaching ends to the semi-lost and the culturally confused that most churches of mediocrity and seclusion could never dream of. Stop whining.

7:46- Holy Surrogate Mother! The Apostolic Church really used their liberties with the new pro-TV amendment passed at General Conference. 6 HDTV's and two ocean sized screens lining the stage. I don't know if this is Inferno, or the resurrection of TGIF TV lineup on ABC.

7:55-Once again the biggest controversy of the year was "what to wear?" Should I dress myself for my own wedding, funeral, or funday? Of course Glen snaps back that the whispers of casual service are a dirty yearly rumor started by the conservative churches across Michigan. I remind him that those rumors came from the very own confines of his own staff team. And with this, two out of every ten have dressed in jeans or something like it. Of course, I'm sure many more would dress this way (including yours truly) except for the nagging thought "how are we gonna stand out for our future wives/husbands?" So we all fall back on formal apparel anyway. Plus this gives Glen the best avenue to express his unique taste for metrosexuality which died in 2005.

7:59-There is a youth group from Brooklyn in one section (presumably of the Crossroads fan club) worshipping to the songs playing through the P.A. System. I guess they didn't get the memo….

8:01-It's Dark! And there's screams! And there's glowsticks that will be consumed by many! And there's Jesus…o wait… no, he will be late to the show tonight…And the two dudes next to me are jumping and chirping in gleeful excitement similar to those chicks screaming in 1964 when the Beatles landed in America….I wonder if some of the people here think that Inferno wasn't made for God, but rather God created just for Inferno.

8:03-The first song begins with solos abound. No descending drummer this time. No orchestra…but by golly, the drum kit is shaking quite violently, and judging from the "Here it comes!" comments from the lust buckets next to me, the drummer is gonna do something even sweeter than last year….Could he disappear in a haze of smoke and appear in the crowd? Could the drummer just fly? What is it gonna be?!? HERE IT COMES…..the kit is moving now towards the crowd! What is gonna happen?!? AND… tilts. What? All the hype, and the big climax is a tilting drummer? I quickly bark at the person seated next to me whose name may or may not rhyme with Blen, asking why he was so excited for a tilting drum cage and he asks me what I expected? I really didn't expect much but it was simply the fact that by the people's pre-emptive reaction next to me, I really thought we were about to finally see the "new and improved and saved" Britney Spears or something…

8:10-The praise team deceptively tries to act like they are really trying to worship…and then they remember…it's just not the time for that…How can you even think about praying when there's LIGHTS? AND SMOKE? AND a FREE iPHONE ?

8:50-9:40 My mind really draws a blank. I'm pretty sure my brain thought I was on drugs…I do remember walking out to go to the bathroom more than once and seriously all the best looking girls were out there (I think their mindset is "I can't be noticed in there, so better to just pay 15 bucks to get in and stand out here to get noticed and remind people that I have a myspace where they can find over 100 pics of myself taking pictures of myself")….Also Coldplay was there.

9:50-Wayne Francis finally gets on stage…Woodstock 2007 was a semi-success, way too many bands though. By the time the last band was playing, I think everyone had checked out wondering what they were going to be for their annual Halloween Rip-off Harvest Party. And why did the lights stop after the WLA 5? It's like those legendary childhood games of "hide and seek" when your parents come down to the basement and turn on the lights telling you it's twenty minutes until all your friends have to go home.

10:15-Wayne Francis is preaching out of more than one scripture? He's preaching a whole chapter? Jesus has arrived. Tongues are spoken throughout the preaching... Interpretation still pending.

Afterburn-Done in hyper-stream of consciousness-The girls lose their glow…guys realizing certain rejection from the girls they like proudly declare "the hot girls here are lacking."…Yes, it is true, there were after parties to Inferno and Afterburn (playing R. Kelly's Ignition Remix in their hotel rooms), Pentecost has reached a new low…WHAT IS THAT SMELL IN THE MUSIC ROOM?!?....and why am I sweating so profusely? Am I that nervous around my future wives? ….All pre-pubescent, non-deodorant wearing boys have been thankfully quarantined into the gymnasium forced to play basketball… Apparentely they oversold Afterburn tickets and they were going to have to turn people away this year, A great marketing ploy indeed…SERIOUSLY…what is that God-Awful smell?....The music room, once thought to be the best venue to hit on girls is quickly realized to be the most awkward as even screaming will not suffice for proper communication leaving all rejected boys having to turn from their lady of their fancy and just watch the band acting like they really care about the music. …

Conclusion: I consider overall, Inferno 2007 a smashing success and like always the Apostolic Church were great hosts…The Youth Group there is really a testament to all humankind.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

#84-Massages being our excuse for girls and guys to touch each other

And don't act like you don't know what I am talking about....

There is nothing worse than seeing a girl ask a guy friend (not a boyfriend) for a massage right in front of a group of people knowing that all they are thinking about is if we were not Apostolics this massage would equate to a flirtatious make out with no added emotional attachment....

Oh it just creeps me out....

Such events are most common during conventions when the legalism of "no touching" at camps is no longer in they dudes and chicks just massage their little hearts out thinking it's okay all in the name of getting a tight knot out in the small of one's back.....

Of course, all is fair when massaging is confined to one's gender, (girls seem to always be taking part in massaging madness with each other which seems fine to me.) However, to you dudes who take part in Apostolic massaging with females and say there is nothing sexual about such massages, I ask you one question...would you be okay if next time you ask for a message that I got up as a male and ran my fingers up and down your back?

Didn't think so....

Forget about attacking "Sexting" in youth sermons everywhere, let's start attacking those flirtatious cross-gender massages amongst members of the same youth group....

The Massage Train

This is the holy grail of Apostolic weirdness that comes together once in a blue moon and it's just beyond true understanding unless you have witnessed one yourself. This is the massage train where boys and girls alike line up in mutual weirdness to feel and tickle and rub each others back, shoulders, and hair without guilt of nearly implied fornication.....

And the worse part is, we are all just too weirded out to call foul...

That Guy
When I was in high school a few of my friends and I had a hypothesis...that some effeminate guys acted that way (complete with "Is he or isn't he?" behavior) just to be close to girls because girls think him one of their own....and yet this guy is getting to hang out with hot chicks more than any of us other guys ever could....We were secretly envious of him, but hated him because we hated our envy.

The hypothesis pertains to this post, because I think we are finding some guys within our denomination who are like the effeminate guys, but in relation to massages. These guys go around giving and asking for massages as if they were pennies found on the ground.....And of course no guy gets as much physical contact with the female gender as this guy.....

The "Massage guy" is also the one most likely to be going around giving and offering hugs to every female he gets near....complete with the extra second longer than most male/female hugs should ever come close to.......Pervert!!!!

O it's just soooo weird......Goodness...someone calm the hormones or get your own massage room....I don't need to see that stuff....

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

#83--Pulling people from the audience during a sermon to use them as a prop but never actually really having a purpose other than awkwardness

(Okay, so the google image market for "Sermon Participation" or similar searches is almost non-existent. Since awkwardness is the secondary theme of this post, I hope the above picture will suffice)

I think we have all seen this at least once in our lives...The preacher is preaching towards a climax complete with marching half way down the aisles, and at some point without clear organizational precision, the preacher glances down at a particular person sitting near the front, usually in the youth section...

And just as quick as you can think "I hope the guy sitting down was paying attention," the preacher picks the young man up via the preacher's arm slipping through the half open arm slot of the folded arms of the young man, and POOF, we're in....

And by "we're in" what I really mean is we will find ourselves in concerned admiration and worry for the next 15-90 seconds as we enter the Awkward Zone.....

The awkward zone during sermons is most notably entered when someone is called out for talking or passing notes during the sermon by the preacher himself....But the Awkward Zone can also be entered by the preacher picking up a random individual from the crowd and making the individual a participant in the sermon through having that individual walk step by step with the preacher as he sermonizes....usually this incorporation of individual has some reference in the sermon itself (such as needing the support of the brother in weakness) or something similar. However, the exact reasoning for the audience pull is unclear at best or abstract at worst.

Now the awkwardness is not so much in the preacher but in the reaction of the participant himself. What is he supposed to do?

-Smile awkwardly at the preacher?
-Smile awkwardly at the audience
-Wonder if the girl who likes him in the crowd thinks he is cool or think he is a loser for being picked out?
-Start praying with arms lifted looking towards heaven?
-Start praying with eyes opened but lips moving
-Start laughing?
-Does he dance if the preacher starts dancing?

Now of course all of this happens under the close watch of curious eyes....but the most awkward moment in the whole series of rapid events is when the preacher lets go of the individual while maintaining preaching without giving instruction on what the participant is supposed to do....Does he wait there at the altar? Does he still follow the speaker? Does he creepily lurch back to his seat hoping the preacher doesn't notice? Or most common is the fast-paced plunge back to the seat

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

#82-Not Interracial Relationships....

Okay, some days I do wake up and feel that I need to be somewhat political....and today is one of those days....While this topic is certainly not accurate for all of Apostolics, it is still prevalent in many circles and I will address it now....Bon Apetit

For some reason, the civil rights movement didn't find the UPC until the 1990's....So much so that most church planting was reserved for rural and suburban culture, and urban environments were left untouched by the UPC up until very recently. It's incredible that in the suburbs of my area (Detroit) there is almost a UPC church per city (with a few patches untouched), but up until a few years ago there was only 2 UPC church in the entire city of Detroit.....Thank God for the church planters in my area who have decided to cut the denominational segregation out in recent years (I think there are now 5 UPC churches in Detroit which is still not enough, but it's progress)...

The point is we as Apostolics are worried about gays getting married when there are none in our church when we have a bigger elephant in the room: Subtle Racism....Of course we would never go as far to call ourselves racist (Because that's just backwards) and we may all point to the number of black friends we have to prove that we aren't racist, but the number of white to black ministers in the UPC is sickening....We have seen a recent upshot in recent years, but it's just sad that this is upshot is coming at the dawn of the new millennium when Martin Luther King made his speech back when Lyndon Johnson was president (or was it Nixon in his first year?).

But the point of this post is simply the fact that there are some (many?) who frown upon interracial relationships in the name of "how confusing it can be for the children growing up in two different cultures." In other words, "I like and welcome black people in my church as sons and daughters of God in equality, but I don't want them in my family."

Or to put it another way, if you were mixed, your childhood was really screwed up because both cultures ostracized you in your abnormal pigmentation. And yet, if you ask my friends of some kind of hybrid of two different races in church if they grew up torn and depressed because they simply didn't know what race they were growing up, they'll just laugh. It's not a big deal....but yet it's our denominations signpost to all other denominations that while we are not racist, we are more than a few decades behind the times, and are still not completely comfortable with truly seeing some of our brothers and sisters in Christ have the same rights within the kingdom as other brothers and sisters in Christ (not being able to date across racial boundaries)


Monday, October 19, 2009

#81-The Slippery Slope Argument

Usually it starts off as a discussion....something about hearing that some other church dropped such and such a standard, or started doing something in church differently such as cutting down church from two services to one. Then a person chimes in that such a move is so representative of the compromising times....No more holiness, no more following of the scripture, nor more God.....

Perhaps someone rebuttals with a scripture or two and how they don't see the issue as necessarily scriptural.

But then comes the sage in the group...the voice of infinite wisdom as if he could have written Proverbs himself....This sage talks about how he does not know if the issue in and of itself isolated is a sin issue (or perhaps he chimes in with the brilliant observation to show how impartial he is by stating the issue is not necessarily a heaven/hell issue).

But as the sage sets the stage of how he really has no stance but to please God, he adds that he does think the issue up for discussion is part of a grander scheme....A satanic ploy possibly....A SLIPPERY SLOPE....

This slope is purely an allegorical location because none of us have ever really discovered the true "slippery slope" nor have we ever met someone who openly tells you they rolled down the slippery slope, but we know it's there...somewhere....

And when one compromises on some biblical issue, the people who do such comprises are immediately transported (metaphorically of course) to this steep slope to which the only belief that people who fall down this slope stand on is not to have any beliefs at all. And here is the Apostolic slippery slope (a rough draft of course):

If playing cards are allowed then it will not be long until bowling alleys are allowed, and once bowling is allowed we mind as well allow sporting events, and if that is so, it will not be long until movie theaters are allowed and if movie theaters are allowed making out will be allowed and if making out is allowed electric guitars in church will be allowed and if electric guitars are allowed jeans on the platform are allowed and if jeans on the platform are allowed, facial hair on the platform will be allowed, and if facial hair on the platform is allowed, shorts will soon follow, and if shorts follow, holiness will collapse and if holiness collapses hair will be allowed to be let down at church and if hair is allowed to be let down at church it will not be long until perms of hair are allowed which will then allow for mild hair dying which will allow for shorter alter calls which will allow for gambling, which will of course allow for us to gamble on sporting events that we were once banned from. Of course TV's will have to be watched to see how the bets place.

Consider it a lock then that cover-up will follow, and once cover-up comes, consider Harry Potter sitting in your pews, and once Harry comes witchcraft will be in the air, and once witchcraft comes, church services will be limited to two times per week, which will allow for a secular church to rent out the halls of our church in off hours which will compromise Jesus name baptism which will compromise oneness which will compromise the Bible which will compromise tongues which will compromise skirts which will then allow for bathing suits on the platform. After bathing suits, we should give up because evolution is next, which leads to the Holocaust which will probably result in cannibalism. Cannibalism is the natural precursor to mascara, mascara to jewelry, and jewelry to Jezebel. Once Jezebel is resurrected from the grave, anything goes including 666 on foreheads....Somewhere in there we know what's next: Social Drinking. And Social Drinking means Socialism Which means Atheism. Which means abortion. Did I miss something?

PLEASE NOTE that by listing things in here it does not therefore mean I think them permissible. I am simply pointing toward a line of argument that is prevalent in our movement, and does indeed have some merit.

Addendum: I completely forgot about the thing that started it all...that Youth Congress message about Moses having to draw the line where the mountain starts. And further the realization that a line has to be drawn somewhere so we mind as well be safe where we draw the line instead of being sorry....Obvious, but it is oh so crucial to our line of thinking.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

#80-Harvest Parties as the church's generic-brand competition of Halloween

Preclude: I am an avowed Trick or Treater and will be until the day that the good Lord calls me home. This stance will inform the rest of this post. Think this might get you mad? Don't read....

Chapter 1: Those Nasty Rumors about Halloween (and the geniuses who started them) aka "Where we were"
Let me take you back to the late 80's and early 90's.... When I was in elementary school, and while the momentum of Halloween was at it's participatory height historically, there was a growing sense of paranoia in the air...

Amidst all the rumors of just how evil Devil's Night was complete with imaginary gangs bringing hell on earth, and the joy in the chaos of costume, threats of trickery with demands for glucose infested dietary suplements, and downright excitement as more and more television shows were airing their Halloween episodes, were news reports to watch out for drugs, poison, or razor blades inserted in candy....

And these news reports were no small matter....Parents ate this stuff up really thinking that their creepy dude down the street was unwrapping tootsie rolls and soaking them in cyanide and then re-wrapping the tootsie rolls again....If someone gave out unwrapped food for the treats at Halloween us children were warned adamantly to dispose of such items because within that unwrapped food lay your death....

Of course these fears were complete urban myths (complete with someone knowing someone who found a razor blade in their caramel corn from the witch in the old house on the other side of town) and these myths and the subsequent health precautions that were taken were essentially a symbolic foreshadowing of the intense paranoia of the parents a decade later who would go to extreme precautions to protect their children's health and safety (complete with mandatory bike-riding helmets and booster seats for toddlers) which ultimately robbed the fun out of childhood a for a good 70% of children everywhere.....

But for the purpose of this blog....we must ask, who were the ultimate perpetrators of spreading these urban myths of danger lying underneath every bite of sugary goodness? And to you I propose that it was none other than the Pro-Harvest Party lobbyists who were paving the way for harvest parties to ruin Halloween for children everywhere a good 10 years later....

Chapter 2: The revolution, the results, and the rip-offs ...aka "Where we are"

I remember having many conversations growing up (some of which I am sure will be replicated in a very similar form in the comment section here) in discussions with friends from church who were not allowed to participate in Halloween. I would listen to their rhetoric but I couldn't mind was on one thing: "Free Candy"......

they would say something about vampires and evil spirits and the general attitude of the holiday, and I'm thinking in my head "Have you seen the free candy?"....

They would try explaining the history of the holiday (which is really based in Christian lore more than pagan myth ironically) and how if Jesus gets Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost Sunday, it's only seems fair that Satan gets his own holiday, and since Halloween is that holiday, we need to stay as far away from it as possible....and loudly I would blurt back "We're talking about enough free candy to last you through Christmas without even rationing, and should you properly execute good trick or treat strategy in the right neighborhood, you could be possibly looking at free candy to last through the entire winter (there is a careful balance between distance of households apart from each other (as little as possible) with average income of household in neighborhood (as high as possible without damaging the run-time between houses).

Basically it became a giant argument every year between my friend's parents feeding their kids the proper rhetoric of why they don't do Halloween and my insistence upon how awesome free candy is in addition to the added value experience of dressing up however you wanted, which would most likely end with my friend running home to his parents in near tears wondering why they can't go trick or treating....

However, the storm was brewing......

And it was not too long after my childhood at reached near completion when the Harvest Party was introduced at my church....WHAT?!?

And it was on Halloween...(or a very near date to Halloween)...And of course the policy at my house was that all secular events went to naught if they competed with Church or a Church event (which was already a problem when Halloween fell on Wednesday/Sunday nights)...

So this meant Harvest Party over Halloween...

And while I am not a man of curse words to any extent, I am fairly certain that the one time I even thought of a swear word in my head was the moment I realized I was going to have to attend this dreaded Harvest Party in my youth group.....

And that Harvest Party was everything one could expect from Christian alternative to Halloween: A Youth Fun-Night except there are fake leaves and bobbing for apples. Oh and you can dress up! Except you have to dress up as something biblical (which meant basically like 10 costume choices unless a kid had a very creative mom who have their kid dress up like an abstract reference to a bible verse (my brilliant Sister is one of those who I commend highly for such creativity))....

The worst part: They would send you home with candy to compensate the children for their lost memories of all that free candy that could have been....except all the candy that one took home never amounted more than half-filling a paper lunch bag full of candy corn and bible bookmarks....

Costumes and candy, candy and costumes...what is more central to Halloween than these two items?

And all of this amounted to the conclusion: All harvest parties are is Halloween made boring. It's not a seasonal Christian youth event on it's own, since it is purely reactionary to the highest degree. Harvest parties are Halloween's little brother that you have to walk to school everyday to make sure the school bully doesn't beat little brother up....They're made of the same genetic material...they all stem from the same point of reference: October 31st

Here's the worst part about Harvest Parties (an alleged celebration of the harvest): We already celebrate the harvest as Christians annually at a far greater reverence than a harvest party could ever dream of: It's called Thanksgiving.....

Thanksgiving is really the true celebration of the Harvest, so really Harvest Parties have no celebratory value. He is also my arch-rival.

Chapter 3: The Genetic Mutation of Harvest Parties....AkA "Where we are Going"

It is with all the above observations and everyone realizing these observations en masse, that I do believe we are witnessing the dying of the Harvest Party within the church sphere....In recent years though I have heard of a possible replacement in forthcoming years...It's called "Trunk or Treat" where people "dress up" the trunks of their cars and pass out candy or items or something...With such a title as "Trunk or Treat," two-things must be noted: Firstly, the Christian alternative to "Trick or Treat" is now simply removing the threat of possible prank on a house who chooses not to give candy (the trick in trick or treat).....Secondly with such a name change and atmosphere change from Harvest Party to Trunk or Treat, the Christian alternative to Halloween goes from generic rip-off to downright and open plagiarism of Halloween...Not only has the event moved outside, and the event is mobile, but we are even directly referencing the cornerstone activity of Halloween itself...

The only thing missing is the threat of the poisoned candy and razor blades...

And I'm all for it....

Addendum: So I just found out there is a wikipedia article all about the fear of poison in Halloween candy. It is definitely a must read for paranoid parents everywhere....However my belief that the threat of candy poisoning started in the 80's was off by a good decade or two (apologies for historical ignorance):

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

#79-Thinking Songs Are Original to IBC

Admit it. You've done it before. The newest release from the hottest Bible college group hits PPH and you've scooped it up. There's one particular song, though, that spreads like wildfire, and before you know it, your home church choir is learning it and it's basically on eternal replay at every rally and convention known to Apostolic mankind until the song has long since worn out its welcome.

All of this is fantastic, but there's just one teeny problem. Everybody thinks the song is original to the Bible college of the version they heard. Little do they know that the Bible college group nabbed it from someone else (legally, of course), Pentecostalized the style, and then released it before it went PPH Platinum.

There have been many past examples of this curious phenomenon, but none so egregious as with the song known as "Shackles." Don't act like you ain't heard it. Take the shackles off my feet so I can dance / I just wanna praise Him / I just wanna praise Him/ He broke my chains now I can lift my hands/ and I'm gonna praise Him/ I'm gonna praise Him.

I used to be a part of a praise singing group (more or less) and I cannot tell you how many times we were asked to sing "that song by IBC. You know, 'Take the shackles off my feet so I can dance'?" The times I've heard, "I love that IBC song, 'Shackles!'" are innumerable.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not downing Bible colleges doing versions of other people's songs. At all. I'm not downing their talent, and I'm not hating on Pentecostalizing songs to make them more palatable to Apostolic tastes. All I'm saying is let's get it right. Thinking "Shackles" is original to IBC is akin to thinking "Smooth Criminal" is original to Alien Ant Farm. Okay, maybe not that bad, but you get the idea. The origin of "Shackles" is not IBC Praise as ye suppose. It is the gospel duo Mary Mary.

Monday, October 12, 2009

#78-Puppet Shows

When I think of the great mysteries of our Apostolic identity, one of the first things that comes to mind are bird nest hairdo's. The second thing that comes to mind are church puppet shows...

Seriously, what in the world happened? Where was our head at? And if your church still actively utilizes this form of children's ministry, Godspeed my friend, Godspeed and a buxom blessing to you....

And the reason I write this post as if puppet shows (ministry) were past history, from my limited experiential framework, I have not ran into an actual live running puppet show in several years. It seems to me that once Pixar started making full CGI movies, the Sunday School teachers knew their puppet technology was long past it's expiration date....

That's not to say that the Puppet Show ministry was worthless. On the contrary, some of my most detailed memories of my childhood were observing puppet shows....they were entirely effective for people my age and older (who were not raised in such a technology dependent society)...the mystery is simply how in the world the puppet show ministry was sooooo effective?

Like nothing could shut the kids up from their rowdy behavior more than blaring a cassette from some cheesy kids Christian song that sounded terrible through the audio system, and having a strange shaped puppet dance obnoxiously around the puppet stage falling into other puppets trying to lip-synch the song. Seriously nothing touched the effectiveness of the puppets for calming kids down....

So as I write this post, let me just go kind of stream of consciousness of some of the most impacting memories of these puppet shows and their imprint in all of our lives as children....feel free to leave some of your fond recollections in the comment section....

  • As far as my recollection goes, puppet shows in church were the only acceptable venue whereby one could mock holy ghost dancing openly and without fear of repercussion. Of course this luxury was only afforded to the puppeteers themselves wherein they would have the puppets literally spasm, lift hands, dance and shout as if this were actual church all in the name of a good laugh....
  • How jealous were you of the people who could go behind "the curtain?" (by curtain I mean the entire puppet structure which was enclosed usually by a blanket of some sort)... I can remember wanting to kill to get back behind the curtain of deception that hid all the puppeteers during the performances. You were always left wondering what went on back behind the curtain when you knew there were more people back there than there were puppets being used.....Which I now firmly believe we can reasonably deduce that there was a puppet party going on behind the curtain where the puppeteers themselves would drink the grape juice left over from communion and entertain each other with their strange puppet performances....Weird rituals like this keep my mind spinning.....
  • And what about the one Sunday school teacher who took the puppet ministry far too seriously? He/She was the one to have a puppet ministry seminar for a WHOLE Saturday that spent hours trying to demonstrate how much more realistic puppets appeared when they lip-synched songs with their top of their mouth still, and their bottom lip the only part in motion (I learned this trick from an inside source years ago who would probably be immediately ravaged by a pack of hungry wolves sent by the secret puppeteer society should his name actually get out). This same teacher was the one who saw the puppet on his/her arm as a true extension of self and thus would get really mad whenever a kid would go up and smack the puppet. The serious teacher would usually scold kid asking how the kid would like it if the puppet did that to him?
  • The art of puppet voices: Did anyone have a real puppet voice? To me all the puppeteers could muster to disguise their voice was implementing this tip: If you are using a female, gather the most annoying and high pitched voice you can muster. If you are a male, gather the most annoying and and low-pitched voice you can muster...And if you have the main character/funny character of the skit, try to do your most mediocre job imitating a voice from the Muppets/Sesame Street...which brings me to....
  • Why did Jim Henson never sue the UPC for copyright infringement? Seriously, i can specifically remember a Kermit the frog and a ugly version of Ernie being utilized at several puppet performances in church....

Thursday, October 8, 2009

#77-Giving up Secular Music only to start listening to it again 2 months later.

(Aside: While I do listen to some secular music this blog is not meant as an attack against people who do not listen to secular music out of personal conviction. I really respect such convictions and really believe God honors such commitments.)

A history
Somewhere between the hip gyrations of Elvis, the marriage of Jerry Lee Lewis to his 13 year old cousin, and John Lennon claiming the Beatles were bigger than Jesus, the relationship between Christianity and Rock music started to go sour.

Then songs like "Sympathy for the Devil" came out and wacko's like Jim Morrison started playing with the occult. And the divorce papers were written up.

The divorce settlement went something along the lines of: Church music would consist of country music, gospel music, or choir music. If church music were to have anything to do with rock music, the band would have to play absolutely terrible rock music. Also church music could have Creed and MC Hammer.

Rock & Roll was left to it's own free to sound really sweet at times tempting Christians for all times to come to the dark side. Also they would get Amy Grant on loan once she started hating Christianity.
The Conviction
So every once in a while, the youth pastor will realize why his youth group is in such a lull: It must be the music they listen to...

Which leads to a message about how damaging secular music is complete with overbearing sexuality, cursing, and promotion of violence.

this line of thought is usually followed up by some weird idea that Satan invented music from a poorly interpreted verse from Ezekiel and then preach that Satan uses music as his main mechanism to attack Christians.

Then some of us show videos about the history of Satan and rock & roll that just scare the living daylights out of you complete with corny 80's graphics.

Most of the time this rhetoric is enough as the youth are gripped with conviction and repent of how much evil they have subjected their ears to.

Dear Devil Music, Get thee behind me!

Then of course a more popular escape from secular music is when one goes to a retreat or camp of some sort and one of the messages has to do with getting the sin out of our lives. The message is probably intended for teenage drinkers and sexual fornicators. But then there is 40-70% of the audience whose lifestyles stay clear of such hi-jinks, but are left still gripped by the conviction of the speaker....So what sin is in these relatively innocent creature's lives that must be done away with in the flood of tears at the alter? Most likely these youth will resolve to either stop secretly going to the movies or their mind goes to all their time of listening to the latest Lady Gaga and Beyonce songs on the radio, and those Justin Timberlake songs on their computer. They repent as if it was the blood of Abel calling out their guilt from the ground....

We come home rocking the HG like no other at our church complete with an extra dance in our step and a little more enthusiasm in our screaming of "Freedom." The devil has been finally put in the back seat of our lives complete with relistening to the Michael W. Smith cds that were previously sitting on our shelves gathering dust....

But give it a few weeks....if we are strong we may go a whole season...but at some point....when we get sick of hearing the same Christian music over and over again, and hating that if we are completely honest the Christian music is not nearly as catchy and fun to listen to as Rihanna.......we sit on the edge....

and eventually it comes....the temptation has grown too strong...the boy/girl of our dreams that we had been talking with on the phone has either stepped up their pursuit of you and we start blaring every love song in the book or the opposite mate has suddenly cut things off and we start blaring "Single Ladies" by Beyonce, completely forgetful of our prior commitment towards not listening to secular music. Most likely though it happens with getting into a church friend's car on a Friday, and this is the friend who has always led you astray from being 100% in church because they make the world seem so much fun and they are so cool so who are you to ever have the guts to tell that friend off? So you get into the car and the night is just right for some serious happy laughs and texting and eating at Chili's....and before you know it, that demon of a friend is blaring that really annoyingly catchy Pit Bull song and you wrestle with yourself and think about repenting secretly, but quickly succumb to the hypnotic beat of "1, 2, 3, 4...." and your moving your shoulders right in line with the song....and alas the commitment is delayed another 9 months until the next message that convicts you comes along

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

#76-Turning to a neigbor to repeat a line from the sermon at the Preacher's request....

The one of the main purposes of the lesson is to get the audience to grow in understanding. There are many ways to go about this method:
  • A power point slide presentation
  • A handout broken down by lists
  • An object lesson for adults (not too much different from the Sunday School Version)
  • Telling the same tales over again but adjusting them slightly to fit with the sermon topic

One other classic homiletic device that seeks the same purpose is
for the pastor to say a brief sentence (or a larger sentence broken down by fragments) which either closely corresponds to the message itself or has a bit of side wit and wisdom about it.

After the reading of the sentence, the preacher will then instruct the audience to look at their neighbor and recount the same line.

Some variations of this method exist, most notable of which is the "tap your neighbor on the shoulder (or leg) if it's appropriate and tell them ________________."

If the preacher is witty and wants some audience laughter, he will mention the above action is necessary to wake their neighbor up if they are sleeping....

There are some nuances about this audience engagement device however:
  • Can we have a formal definition of which kind of contact/relationship is "appropriate?" I know it's assumed, but sometimes a 15 year old may use the occasion to touch their current crush on the knee ever so slightly under the guise that the preacher told him to....This definition would also work closely with holding the hand of your neighbor in prayer "if it's appropriate" where once again, which relationships and what age does one need to be where the hand holding of opposite genders is appropriate?
  • This turning to a neighbor is also a great way to make it appear like you were paying attention through the entire sermon because who is to say that you weren't paying attention when you were able to recount a line the preacher asked us to recount to our neighbor?
  • What happens to the awkward ones who are left without someone to speak the line to? This happens numerous time and it's kind of sad to see when the lonely guy/girl looks to her left and see's her one friend recounting the line to her neighbor on the other side, and then the lonely individual looks right only to come up empty as well....Are they supposed to recant the line to themselves? Of course there is always the possibility for the lonely person to look around and find another lonely person in a nearby pew/seat, but this too is very awkward once eye contact is made because it's mutually understood loneliness as they recount the line to each other....each person knowing full well that if given the opportunity they would never be restating the line they are to that person should one of their friend not be preoccupied with their other neighbor.
  • Does this turning to your neighbor and repeating a line that is usually cliche really help the listener that much? Who knows, but the intricacies are many as a result.

Special thanks to a friend, Rachel Tatum for this post suggestion.

#75-Feeling Led

If there's one thing that Apostolics of every stripe could feel collectively, it would be feeling "led." When we feel led, it's more than a mere normal mortal temporal human emotion. Feeling led has a touch of the divine.

Feeling Led Basics
The fundamentals of feeling led are made up of what can best be described as a spiritual traffic light which contains its own more rudimentary spiritual feelings, "quickenings" and "checks." If you feel a "quickening" in your spirit, that's the equivalent of a spiritual green light. In other words, you're feeling led to go or to move ahead with something. For example: "There was a quickening in my spirit, and I felt led to pray for Sister Betty." If you feel a "check" in your spirit, that's a spiritual red light. In other words, you're feeling led to hit the metaphorical brakes. For example: "John had been praying about his relationship with Jane. He was about to call her when he felt a check in his spirit and decided he may need to break things off to get closer to God."

It's Not You, It's Me . . . Feeling Led
However, as with so many things in life, feeling "led" often becomes a smoke screen for things that are quite removed from that original touch of the divine. Curiously, more often than not, feeling led is tied to a verbal statement. As in, "I feel led to tell you x y and z." And more often than not, some of these kinds of I-feel-led-to-tell-yous causes me to question whether one felt led or whether one wanted to have something to say but didn't have the intestinal fortitude to own up to it as being purely from themselves so added a touch of the divine to justify it.

Many of my messages received from the leading has to do with my being over 25 and single. (Click here for more insight.) "I feel led to tell you that God's gonna send you the perfect mate. Don't you worry, hun." Er, why thanks. But did you really feel led to tell me that, or was it birthed out of your own assumptions about me?

Just wondering . . .

#74-Goodwill/Salvation Army

Businesses like Goodwill and Salvation Army exist to provide an under resourced and disadvantaged community with affordable goods needed to clothe their families and provide resources for their children.
But ask any Pentecostal what their local Salvation Army is there for and by golly they’ll tell ya “To make me fabulous, for CHEAP!”
The Pentecostal romance with the musty racks of the local “Sally’s” and “The Will” go back for decades. In the late 80’s and early 90's there was a resurgence of the “vintage” look and Goodwill’s became the go-to place for affordable retro looking clothes.
Never mind the fact that the Goodwill’s are there for people who can’t afford the off-the-rack prices most of us can, we need our throwback tee’s and we need them for thirty-six cents (plus tax)!
Of course I was guilty of this, but who wasn’t? The coolest tie I’ve ever owned was a vintage Dior tie from the Goodwill by our district camp ground I bought for $1.25. My favorite tee in high school was a Hard Rock San Francisco tee I purchased from a local Sally’s, and doggone it I wore that thing like it was hand designed by Domenico Dolce himself!
The humor isn’t in the obsession, it’s in the irony. Our religious subculture is more saturated with fashion crazed vanity than any religious subculture this side of The UK, yet we have no problem putting on the attire of someone’s dead  grandmother that when we purchased we actually uttered the phrase “oh the cleaners will get that out.”
Pentecostal convocations are the only place in the world where you can find a girl wearing $200 Isaac Mizrahi stiletto’s, $35 fishnets, a $300 Elie Tahari skirt and a $4.50 button down from St. Vincent De Pauls.
Ironic? Yes. Tasteless? Absolutely. Fabulous? UBER Fabulous!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

#73-Not Joel Osteen

This one is pretty straightforward...If the entire UPC (liberal and conservative alike) had a facebook, and if facebook had a "dislike" button, the first thing the UPC would collectively dislike would be Joel Osteen's facebook. And then they would probably make a facebook status about how there is more to religion than happiness....

But in reality such a fantasy world does not exist, so we settle on 3-5 minute mini-sermons (or full sermon) in church on how there is sacrifice and trial in Christianity, and happiness here on earth is not God's end goal for us (Heaven is). Therefore church should not be made to make us feel good about ourselves, but should make us better Christians and better witnesses. This will then be followed by a rant against "soft Christianity" (or some other similar term will be used), and then Joel Osteen, MegaChurch Pastor extraordinaire will be referenced as an author of this "soft Christianity."

Most of the time this mini-sermon will have some title spun off of Osteen's book, Your Best Life Now which most likely the pastor nor members of the congregation have actually read, but all assume that it's content is near heretical complete with vague hints of the prosperity gospel, salvation outside of Christ, and mentions of how erratic his wife's behavior can be on airplanes as she beats the snot out of airplane stewardesses.

Monday, October 5, 2009

# 72-The zoot suit: The nineties version of the bowtie.

The topic of prom like clothing at youth functions has already been addressed once in this blog, but the topic I wish to address is an entire entity all its own.

Yes the zoot suit, we’re all ashamed to admit it, men, but amid the late nineties, during the swing music revival, led by such bands as Squirrel Nut Zipper and The Brian Setzer Orchestra, we all donned our double pleated pants, knee length 24 button jacket and sometimes even the two tone wing tips.

But wait! Those days never left us! At least not the weird kid who still tries to pull off royal blue mobster chic at every camp/conference/convention. There’s always one, and he’s never hard to spot. He’s usually by himself (go figure), walking full swagger (I swore I’d never use that word) through a throng of people, carrying with him a bible and an undeserved sense of accomplishment.

It’s hard to tell why he has such a hard time letting go of a style that died with Princess Diana. Does he really think it still looks good? Is it the only thing he could dig out of his brothers closet? Did he lose a bet? Heaven only knows what’s going through this handsome devils head, but at the next student function I hope to courage up the guts to ask.

(Side note - when I did the google image search for zoot suits 90% of the results were halloween costumes. I'm just sayin...)

#71-Invading gas stations via road trips and startling station attendants everywhere

Whether it be a trip to congress/camp/convention/creationist museum/choir tour/amusement park or any other destination, the church/youth group trip is sure to be a catalyst of many above average memories of awkward courtships, hotel shenanigans, and stern "talking tos" for years to come....

Of course half the fun of church trips are the road trips themselves. Be it through a fleet of cars or through the decade-old, sometimes reliable, environment hating Church van, the road trip defines the mood of the rest of the trips once at the destination. The conversation borders on the edge of inappropriate, but usually can be accounted on the fact that puberty can be a very confusing and conflicting time for everyone involved...

and you never want to be that kid who falls asleep while everyone else is still full of energy because you will either be burped on, poked at, or at the very least have random object thrown in your mouth.

And then of course there is the "cool vehicle" be it a car or van wherein all the cool kids find themselves in one vehicle, and of course there is always 2-3 who are fighting arguing over that last spot available to be in the cool van, and not end up with the weird kids who listen to Skillet in their over-sized portable cd players....this is Survival of the Fittest at it's best... (special apologies to the person who recommended that I write about the "cool van" ...i forgot to add your name as a source when I added the topic...Whoever you are, God will reward you all the more so in heaven)

The most unique feature of such road trips are the bathroom breaks...when 5 girls have to stop to urinate, one won't have to go for another 2 hours which results in it's own separate stop. And then two guys who were trying to "man" it out the first two stops have to go another 2 hours past the second stop. When it's not the bathroom, it's the food, and when it's not the food, it's the gas...

But the point is when we stop in mass at a truck stop or gas station, subtlety is not the word we use to describe our stop. Invasion, mutiny, raid, takeover, etc... are all more appropriate words to describe the stop on the church road trip....

We barge in as if we have owned the place our whole life and likewise in a period of 3 minutes make the random gas station we stop at one of the top tourist destinations in terms of square foot density....Where there was no line for the bathroom, the females have somehow made the line a Rugrats episode length of a wait.....And that poor gas station attendant suddenly goes from making minimum wage by ringing some food in a scanner to world's greatest baby sitter.

And of course, if you are a youth leader/pastor and you see your kids lining up to get snacks, all you are thinking is how bad the car/van will smell within the hour because of the outrageous and unnecessary amount of energy drinks/synthetically cheesed chips that will be purchased, consumed, and burped out into the vehicle atmosphere.

Seriously, new Sheaves for Christ campaign idea: Ask that all kids save their money that would be spent on junk food/carbonated beverages during church road trips and give that money saved to SFC instead....I guarantee you we will have a record breaking fundraiser year.