Wednesday, April 28, 2010

#147-Going all Salem Witch Trial on suspicious toys....

 You know those moments when you’re driving and some person in the car next to you reminds you of a face from decades ago. And then your mind aimlessly rambles on it’s way conjecturing images of what that person is doing these days, and then inevitably settles on blurry memories of that person in the past?

Well I had one of those occasions today. Except it was not about a specific person, but rather my church.

My church, back in the day, was one of those churches that never had a dull moment. God was either rocking the socks of the place, or, if He was seemingly absent, we would witness 2-3 scandals in His stead which was just as entertaining and fulfilling for the gossip rings.

Most of the time, it revolved around either adulatory, people leaving church, or teenagers rebelliously going to movie theaters. But every now and then, one of the scandals revolved around a polemic against the modern novelty and/or favorite children’s trend of that era.

Let me give you an example:

One time, in the 80’s,  a lady at my church had a dream about these things:

These William Howard Taft looking things are called Cabbage Patch Dolls. But  it was not just any old dream about these “Cabbage Patch Dolls” (I have no idea where they got the name from), but rather it was an informative dream that revealed to the dreamer from the heavens above, that the Cabbage Patch Dolls were in fact….DEMONIC.

And this set off fire storm at my church….

Just like Christians had a Record Burning of Beatles’ records in the 1960’s…

So too, was there a search high and low within the households of our church patrons to make sure every cabbage patch doll and every remaining vestige of cabbage patch dolls were exiled from the houses.

Of course, we can all easily discern years later, that the struggle was not one of the demonic but rather a simple mix-up of confusing ugliness for the satanic. I too, am quick to make a judgment on that which is aesthetically displeasing to the eye as being demonic. I do this all the time at my initial observation of Barbara Bush...

Of course we all know Barbara Bush is not demonic, but the principle is there: Weirdness in looks and uncertainty about certain trends will predictably result in allegations of the trend being demonic.

Another example which was more in line with my age of development as a toddler:

If I remember correctly, there was even fear of any one of the following as being possessed: Care Bears, Power Rangers, Teletubbies (the purple one of course being a little too flamboyant with his purple costume and purse), He-Man, AOL online cd’s offering free internet service, Barney, Pokemon, and Furbies.

I’m so curious, what are some of the weirder polemics that you have witnessed around your church (these more likely than not will be unique to the church and not necessarily international polemics)?

Monday, April 26, 2010


A few weeks ago a friend of mine sent me a late night text. She was house-sitting and became worried when she noticed that a closet door had opened all on its own. Calmly, and with nary a pause, I responded that we don’t believe in ghosts; it could either be a demon or a vagabond child star from the 80’s—either way her only recourse was to rebuke it. She was encouraged by the answer, her fears allayed, and that was the end of it.

What you just read was a typical experience among Pentecostals; where “the world” ascribes spooky, seemingly supernatural phenomena to ghosts, Pentecostals know better and correctly identify the work of satan’s minions. I must admit that, raised under the influence of my Arabic Greek Orthodox Grandmother’s superstitions as a child, it took me some time replace her foolish mysticism with the hard, fact-based, theologically rigorous rationalism of Pentecostal doctrine when I encountered it as a teenager. In places like campouts or sleepovers I was regularly disappointed when my new friends didn’t tell ghost stories—and they didn’t want to hear mine (their loss because I still have a great story about the time my Grandpa was flayed during his sleep by the ghosts of a graveyard he was building an apartment building on top of).

It was explained to me that all of those times I’d read about ghosts in the bible were wrong, err, well, not wrong because the bible is infallible, but mistranslations, yeah! The apostles who thought they were seeing Jesus’ ghost in Mat 14:26, Mark 6:49, and Luke 24:37? Nope. Jesus in Luke 24:39? Negative. The ghost wife (Jonathan Kirsch translation) Saul uses to summon Samuel’s ghost in Samuel 28? Easy, familiar spirit! All of this spooky confusion is the fault of reading various PERversions of the bible, like the one by that rascal papist King James I (virtual cookie if you can see the irony!) and the same lesbian translators that tried to delete Jesus entirely from the NIV.

Even as I struggled to internalize this, my disappointment was short lived, however, because in the place of ghost stories came a lexical peculiarity I hadn’t encountered: demon stories. They sounded an awful lot like ghost stories, the demons acted just like ghosts, with the haunting and such, but, as I was constantly and forcefully informed, ghosts didn’t exist, only demons and familiar spirits. I found that nearly everybody had a demon story, some with several. They ranged from the mundane, like an ominous feeling, to the titillating, like naked demon-women who tempted pastors, to the horrifying, like bodiless furry claws that grabbed feet in the middle of the night, to the heroic, like full on Greco-Roman wrestling with demons over the control of some local town or county (Ephesians 6:12—literally!). As an aside, my personal favorite demon stories come from people who spent time at a certain Midwestern bible college that is, for some odd reason, absolutely infested with perverted sex demons.

Over the years I’ve found that there are among the rank and file of every church those poor victims who cannot for the life of them go more than two days without being besieged by the forces of darkness. Anytime, anywhere satan springs a trap on them, trying his darndest to hinder or even kill them because if he didn’t they’d probably single-handedly pray the whole world free from disease, mental/emotional affliction, and on through to salvation. The rest of us less-spiritually threatening brethren can repay these brave souls for bearing the brunt of demonic fury for us by listening attentively to every wild-eyed weekly installment of their battles (call it Joe vs. the Fiery Pit of Hell).

I’ve occasionally wondered aloud why it is that some of the most God-oriented people I know or heard & read about rarely ran into demons—and when they did it was dismissive and short. I’ve also wondered why super-spiritual demon wrestlers rarely see angels, since we believe in their intervention about as evenly as demons. Stupid questions, I am only coming to realize! Hopefully if you’re similarly simplistic in your understanding like I am, we will come to know the truth better by and by.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

#145-Using Facebook like we are some CSI investigators

Oh what joys our generation has found in this new age to which we live. The spirit of our times is ultimately defined by that of social networking. We even find ourselves paying more attention to our virtual identity than our physical identity, so much so that we find ourselves checking our facebook on our iPhones many a time throughout an evening hanging out with friends.

But what makes us different in our facebooking in contrast to that of how the world experiences facebook?

Other than the exorbitant amount of photo-shoots which we partake in, and our desire to make our photographs look as professional as possible with our 200 dollar wal-mart/best buy camera (although the number of semi-professional photographers amongst apostolics has been on the rise as well), I offer one other option:
That of facebook stalking....

And not necessarily facebook stalking of investigating the statuses and comments and uploaded photos of a potential mate (of which I assume we are all guilty of in some sense), but rather the facebook stalking that has us crawling to and fro amongst various facebook profiles looking for "the evidence."

The evidence by which I am referring to is that of investigating that of speculative or concrete evidence of sin.

This of course takes on many forms....


If you are a conservative, you find yourself investigating the eyes of many a female facebook pics trying to figure out whether or not mascara is discernible within them. Because make up is a sin. And it's also a gateway sin. Because once you start wearing make up ("Devil's paint"), you mind as well start calling yourself Jezebel and trying to convert others to bow at the idols of Ba'al.

Perhaps, the conservative may look yet at the social setting of a photograph and try to discern if the environment to which a picture was taken in, resides within a "bar-type" environment which, if speculation proves true, alludes to many other demoniac obstacles to which the picture suspect is inevitably tied to.

And what about the hair? We strain for maggots to try to discern whether or not someone has decided to cut the angelic protection off their hair via shortened bangs or rounded ends....

Lastly, it is the statuses themselves to which the conservative may be most inquisitive in their inquiries. If a lyric is quoted, we copy and paste that status straight into google to find out what worldly pagan is the author of such lyrics. Should we choose to investigate further, we may research the rest of the song/album to see if, by someone's chosen lyrics as a status, they are involuntarily identifying themselves with the overly sexual, vulgar lyrics that the singer/band has produced elsewhere in the song/album.

Or perhaps we see their spiritual quotes on grace, or verses quoted about love as disguises for their lawless lifestyle which is bound by no ethic but that which satisfies their flesh.

Much of the same can be said from the above, except the inquiries are now pursued with the mentality, "are they are on our side yet?" So we look for the bangs and the devil's paint in hopes that they have come to the "dark side."

Or perhaps we scour the various hairstyles of the "uncut" and judgmentally giggle at the audacity of their hairdos.  

The one key difference being that we speedily pursue the facebook statuses looking for any sign of conservatism (buzzword: holiness), so we can sit and dwell on the status and then grow bitter  and resent the status bearer. 

Upon rereading this section, I realized I left out one key part for the liberals...if they are not investigating to see who whose on their side, they are doing it to be able to say "hypocrite" to conservatives. They look for various nuances within those of the conservative and when guilt is found in photograph, they can now claim that the viewpoint of the conservative is delegitimized by the ultimate failing of the conservative to their own conservative ethic. Of course, the irony can now unfold....The judged becomes the judge. 

Friday, April 23, 2010


Somewhere in the heart of each gospel is one of my favorite stories. The story goes like this: Jesus goes into temple, looks around, gets very very angry and just starts going all Hurricane Katrina on the place. He breaks out a whip and starts whipping the life of out the place and everyone in it. Now, I want to first know why Jesus had a whip to begin with. Because quite frankly, Jesus went into Chuck Norris territory when he pulled that stunt. Seriously, before the whole beating the life out people in the Temple courtyard,  Jesus was kind of passive. He would get mad, but never brought down the hellfire.  So then we get this Rambo Jesus whipping people. Why? Because He is God that’s why.

Don't believe me?

Well how about some  real photographic evidence:

Okay, that rant really does not have much to do with this post. But I was just 
trying to think about any biblical comparison to what we experience in the “lobby.” And in a way the Temple courtyard where the “Jesus with the Whip of Justice” incident occurred is not dissimilar. Both our church lobby and the temple courtyard had in essence a kind of circus going for it just outside the confines of “the Holy of Holies” (of course our holy of holies being the altar).

And this allows the tie-in I imagined for this post: Much of our identity is defined by the church service and what happens inside. But there is a whole jackyl-and-hyde kind of thing here where a whole other part of us comes out in the church lobby,  just outside the sanctuary to which much of our spiritual identity is defined.

It is in the lobby circus that much of our social maneuvering is found:  The winds of gossip find their epicenter here.  Our strange “survival of the fittest” dating rituals are also found here in their most intense capacity.  Church sign-up sheets for the next “pot-luck dinner” or church clean-up day are found here.  Mints are sold and guest cards are filled out so that the church will have their own kind of spamming mechanism in mailings.

Perhaps most importantly for our youth, it is in the lobby that arguments are made and attacked regarding the restaurant of choice to which even more social meandering is to take place amongst a hearty meal or two.

But the apostolic love for lobby is not bound to the church itself. For it is at general conference/camp/convention wherein the lobby takes on the role of “Super lobby.” No hotel chain that sells its services to board apostolics amongst their church conferences realizes what exactly they are getting into.   For when apostolic sign up to stay in a hotel, they are more specifically signing up to form a kind of crusade-esque take over of the lobby. Simply because guys and girls are not allowed to go about their mating processes within the hotel rooms themselves (guys aren’t allowed in girl’s room, visa-versa).

Lastly, I ask us as a reading community to ponder the role and origin of the lobby rat. The lobby rat is he/she who seems to never be found in church during service. Rather the only place where we know they can be located is in the lobby itself. Before or after church, the lobby rat’s presence is always prominent within the lobby itself however. Their spirits seem to be at an all time high of elation and euphoria when the lobby is invaded upon by the rest of the church congregation. As if the lobby rat were the owner of the lobby and thus was welcoming each and everyone of the congregation members in his home as a special guest.  In spite of the term “rat” I do not want to paint the picture of the lobby rat in a negative sense. Rather, I have found all lobby rats as very hospitable and pleasing people to talk to. 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Oh the legacy of being an usher. What more can we say of you that has already not be said ye usher? (excuse my use of King James English as I have been hopelessly bound to reading Moby Dick as of late) Ye ushers protect our temple’s treasury from the attacks of the bawler, thief, and demoniac forces to which we are so accustomed. Where would we be without you ushers?

Perhaps, without the usher, upon the giving of our monetary gifts and tithes, our church would be found under continuous attack of Somalian pirates and other such scoundrels  wherein our plight would results in immediate bankruptcy unable to properly fund the salaries of our pastors, elders, and electrical bills therein. For in the bowels of self sufficiency as a church, we need but a few valiant characters of ill-repute who find their calling not in the praise of the congregation en mass, but rather in the calling of justice and the protection of funds therein.
But seriously, who are they that possess the mysterious roll of that as usher? Is it he who looks to the church sermon as the last remaining possible vestige in this apocalyptic world to find a proper context whence we may nap peacefully and without restraint? For surely, we know the task of sleep during church is a very difficult mission as it is. And we know that the further back one is to sit within the sanctuary, the more easily we may rest our eyes and by undaunted by the speculative eyes of fellow parishioners who find no better joy than to spot the church sleeper during preaching? With such in mind, where is the best spot to sit as an interested party to sleep? Not even the back row, but rather the seat of usher.

Or perhaps the usher is he who wants never to be seen in the altar during church in fear of being committed to the laying on of hands of those “holy rollers” who seek nothing more than to see tears or a dance from those whom they prey on with in prayer. With this in mind, the usher is no different than the sound man without an ear for the music.

Lastly, we must ask, is the usher our congregation’s most concrete form of the legalistic judaizers which we read about in Galations? While they may not be walking around to commit spontaneous acts of circumcision, is it not the usher who reaps visual unspoken judgment on they that choose to partake in the unholy act choosing the toilet and/or urinal for their brief sabbatical from the sermon itself? In such a regard, could it be proposed that the usher is not so much sitting in judgment over the bathroom-break taker, but rather is envious of being defeated in the usher’s task be as far removed from the service itself as possible but still be considered an a participant of the service thereof?

But this post should not end on such a negative speculative note. For we all know the usher is but a tremendous saint if only for the ability to point the random guest to an unoccupied pew/seat that otherwise would have taken an entire 30 seconds to spot if the guest was left alone to choose their seat and the spiritual destiny that seat implies?

Or perhaps, the best description yet: The ushers are simply a code word for "Church Police." They bring the heat, and they bring it with the fiery justice of the Old Testament. They settle for no running, they settle for no talking, and they settle for nothing that can be confused as enjoyable in the house of God. A long while back I did a post on the "No-fun police" but I have come to realize the "no-fun police" are a subsidiary of the "Church Police" who are the ushers.

Monday, April 19, 2010

#142-"Good Church"

This is post is brought to you by the vibrant and sensible intellect of Brandon Curry, who is currently an Iowa resident, but I think I can safely claim him as a Michigander….

Hit it…

For the many of us out there who have grown up in the pews, women dancing in the spirit, men running in suits, and the shouting unknown tongues were all as common to us as secretly saying curse words were for other kids. Relatively bizarre and outward displays of emotion were the normative for apostolic church, whereas the rest of the world would have to settle for an episode of Jerry Springer, WWE Monday Night Raw, or the Rocky Horror Picture so to see “different and exciting.”

Preachers will shout off the peaks that our differentiator is in our holiness standards. While standards (or “distinctives” as the term is being better known as) are indeed a different maker, I argue that our identity is not born out of the standards, as much as our difference really rests out of having “Good church.” Many other obscure denominations have come to share similar standards as us (even the Orthodox Jews), but many of these same obscure denominations still find themselves gawking at the way we have church…

How often do we hear this one?:

"I thought this was an Apostolic (substitute “Pentecostal”) church I came to tonight. It says that's who you are in phone book, even on the front of the building..."


How many denominations can say that it’s a good thing when the preacher starts disrobing himself amidst the sermon by removing his suit and passing it on to his assistant in waiting?


How many a denomination can proudly declare that good church happens when it looks more like a McDonald’s play land than classroom in a British Boarding School?


How many a churches can say that raising your hands at the altar in prayer over and over again can be hazardous to your spiritual health if not accompanied with the occasional jump, sprint, roll, and loss of a bobby pin?


How many pastors can say they went and done had good church not because of the content of the sermon but rather by the length of the altar call?

So I would posit, that it is in the spirit of being apostolic, one of the crucial pillars of our identity is our drive towards having good church…..

In fact, most of our denomination’s ailment’s can be said to be able to be healed by more “good church.”

We argue that the sudden influence of the emergent church and the tendency towards a compromise of standards in our movement can be traced to the very rock to which we built our foundation on: Having Good Church. Back to the good ole days when services ran 3 hours deep and revivals, 6 days a week (yet whenever it’s preached as a good thing, a dread reaches the ears of the listeners, and a kind of “You got it made” attitude comes from the speaker). More time at the altar. Longer Sermons. More Services. More time in the Prayer room before church services.

We tend to sell this point as if we were salesman with a product. Sure prayer and more “good church” cost us time, but the reward will be more revival which means more converts which means more personal validation for our own congregation as being the “right” congregation.

This is where the salvation of our denomination lies….

Just give us more Good church

So in essence, we arrive as more separation from the world as the solution. More time in doors…More time away from society. More time fighting spiritual demons….and surely the heavens will burst open with miracles left and right on the street pointing all strangers magically to our “good church” wherein the stranger just saw the church sign and knew to come in….

Except we forget we are indeed the miracle. We are the children of God saved only by his grace through the cross and resurrection of our savior. Is there no miracle better than this?

Give me an amputated arm restored, give me a man who falls dead at the altar and is resuscitated moments later through prayer, give me a baptismal tank whose waters separate on command, give me a preacher who levitates his way up to heaven, give me a building whose walls fall because of the enormous amount of volume from a congregation have us good church, and I will easily give back such “miracles” for the idea that Christ came to redeem us on that tree, and with that an opportunity that we may Go Out into the World to help in Christ’s redemption of others.

And in Acts, if I recall correctly, all salvation happened outside the church walls…

Thursday, April 15, 2010

#141-Lucifer (aka Naming bible characters names that they never wanted).

 Alright, so here is another informative blog. It's not even my's far better than what I could've written on the subject and plus it has an optimistic ending (something I think we need more of around these parts). For now the author has yet to give permission to use their name so for now, we'll just leave the author anonymous. Also, a challenging study, do an in depth study of satan, it will not get boring (note Job 1 & 2, I Cor. 5 for instance). 

Without futher adieu:

Is Lucifer the name of Satan?
This idea that the true name of Satan or the devil is Lucifer comes from a passage of scripture in the Old Testament, Isaiah 14:12,

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! (KJV)

To many this verse is referring to Satan and in this paper I will assume that position.
I am not going to argue the interpretation of this passage of scripture but rather the error in thinking that Lucifer is the real/original name of Satan.

Let’s take a look at the word Lucifer. Where does this word come from? Was this word in the original Hebrew manuscripts? Why did the King James Version of the bible use the word Lucifer in Isaiah 14:12? The word Lucifer is a Latin word from the words lucem ferre, and it literally means “light-bearer”. In the Latin language it was used to describe the planet Venus, which is the third planet from the sun and the third brightest object in the night sky. Venus appears in the night sky an hour or so before sunrise so they gave it the name Lucifer (light-bearer, bringer of light) because it brought the morning. So, was this word used in the original Hebrew manuscripts that the bible was written in? No, the bible was not written in Latin and the word wasn’t even invented yet. So what word was used in Isaiah 14:12? This is the only place in the KJV bible that you will see the word Lucifer but the original Hebrew word is Heylel, which means light-bearer, shining one, morning star. This same Hebrew word is translated into “to shine” in Job 29:2-3.

The author of Isaiah was not trying to reveal to us some mystical hidden name of Satan. He was giving us a description of the angelic being that ounce dwelt in the presence of Jehovah. Satan must have been a glorious angelic being that shined like the morning star that is why the Hebrew word Heylel is used here.

If you want to imagine Lucifer to be the name of Satan then you run in to some big problems when you get to the New Testament, mainly that Jesus Christ is referred to as the mourning star (Lucifer in Latin). One of these scriptures is 2 Peter 1:19,
Because of that experience, we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. You must pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a lamp shining in a dark place—until the Day dawns, and Christ the Morning Star shines in your hearts. (NLT)

Here Christ is referred to as the morning star and in the Latin Vulgate the word used is Lucifer. As you can see Lucifer can not be the name of Satan because if it was the 2 Peter 1:19 would be saying to wait until the day dawns and Christ Lucifer shines in your hearts.

The reason why this misconception has gone so far is that people don’t get into the word of God like they should. The Word is not just for the preachers and pastors to study, every saint should be a studier. We must become lovers and studiers of the Word of God. 2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” 2 Timothy 2:15 “Work hard so God can approve you. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.”

Monday, April 12, 2010

#140-Planning Weddings

Okay, so as a resident sympathizer for women's causes, I have trouble stereotyping the female gender within the apostolic realm as a whole. So I will add this sidenote: The following is true for 85% of the female gender within our historic movement. If you are not one of the 85% please feel free to laugh at those who this is addressed to. 

Also in an informal survey of 4 apostolic young men within the house that I am sitting in at this moment, one of them defined two specific plans for their wedding (small and in a tropical setting) meaning that if this terribly thought out survey was demonstrative of the men in our movement, 25% of the males enjoy planning their wedding.

But essentially, unmarried apostolic ladies love thinking about, talking about, reading about, and watching tv shows about weddings. For proof ask teenage girls in your church what plans they have for their wedding and your ear will be talked off about various styles of wedding dresses, best season for a wedding, and the colors that theme their wedding. 

While this topic demands a much deeper investigatory process by more skilled sociologists than I, I will still attempt to engage my thinking apparatus to bestow on you faithful readers what I think are some serviceable explanations for the topic at hand:

#1-Apostolics girls in general are not allowed the same freedoms in their surroundings as secular girls. Meaning: There are restrictions to the amount of fun apostolic girls can have. Their world (for better or worse) becomes entertaining in and only in sleepovers, youth ralleys, bowling alleys, and mall. There is also a massive acceptance of Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, The Notebook, and It's a Wonderful Life within our movement. The theme to all these motion pictures is that the climax of life comes in a romance that goes on happily ever after under the Godly approved institution of marriage. 

It can then be inferred that in a young apostolic female's mind two things are occurring growing up: Life is not as fun as a Christian single teenage girl (while they may enjoy their life, it can be repetitive and monotonous). And secondly, that according to the movies, this mundane life comes to a close through romance where our hearts burst open to another human beings own reciprocal eros love. Therefore, it is in the wedding that their life of boredom ends, and their life of "happily ever after" begins. This explains why weddings are so important to apostolic girls but it is insufficient in it's explanation of why so much planning goes on with the weddings (even years in advance).

-#2-Girls want to have babies. Their wedding is their celebration for it then to be socially acceptable to be "with child."

-#3-The girls are in competition with each other. Just like the fact that girls do not dress up to impress guys, but rather to show off to other girls (as to cause feelings of jealousy and hatred), girls also enter into a kind of arms race with not only wedding rings, but also in the wedding itself. The wedding would then be a  signal to all other females that their wedding displays that the bride is about to enter a monogamous relationship complete with childbearing with an alpha-male (or so the bride would like to think so).  While this theory is the most boring, to me it seems to be the most sufficient in it's explanations.

Conclusion: I wrote the article for one reason...Weddings are so big, girls are willing to fork over thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited bible college whose course material could probably be learned through a few books and a few talks with their own pastor  in order to find a mate (most likely a pastor). Of course no girl claims this to be true, and nor am I saying this is the case in all instances, but I will say that it does happen and several girls have admitted to it, and that if I ever decided to go to a bible college it would be for the sole reason to find a wife.

To further the above reason, a dear friend of mind described a class at her bible this class the final project was for the student to PLAN THEIR OWN WEDDING complete with a budgeted outline with a where, when, and what will be worn at the wedding! Is there no better of a symbolic event than this which displays our movement's infatuation with the ceremony of inaugurating a marriage?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

#139-Church as the House of God....AKA as an attempt to time travel back to when we confined God to specific regions and locations

Preface: This very post has been brewing for a while. And it's been a long long time coming. Several individuals have written to me suggesting this topic be written, but I have just been really really nervous that I could convey the logic behind what is about to be written because it involves a need to go into the Greek of the bible, a bit of theological rambling nonsense and also if one has not heard the argument behind it, it can really cause a complete 360 of confusion....But that said, the truth does not forfeit itself so we can be comfortable in our own knowledge....

And in my hesitancy, I realized very quickly yesterday that I don't actually have to write much. In our most recent post, the topic that is addressed here was written about more eloquently and concisely than I ever could write. More or less this post is using these commenters own words as well as those that have been e-mailed to me. So, thank you Ryan Evans,  "Lee,"  "Chuckles," an anonymous, Stuart, and also someone who I will simply nickname Darwin (he has been a help on several posts now)....(if you want you want your real name inserted in this post , let me know)...

First, to better understand this post, let me go by way of overly-simplified analogy. Think back if you will to your childhood, at the height of our innocence and joy. Our biggest worries were scraping our knees and forgetting to brush our teeth. At this time the world was our playground, simply because our imaginations would run wild. A blanket fort became a magical kingdom. Our backyards became lands of milk & honey where trees were  our infinite leaps into the heavens,  and conquests of imaginary battles were devised with sticks as our weapons. If one was a female (though I could be becoming misogynist in my assumptions), there was no need for church or family because they could replicate such occasions on their own in their basement with their friends playing pastor or dad, lead musician or mom. Anything or everything was up to our mind to recreate and build a new. We were our own entertainers left to perform for an audience of no one and we frankly didn't care. 

But then something happened, we grew up. As teenagers we were not so self-reliant in our own imaginations. We had to go out on Friday nights to "do something." To stay home and play became absurd. We no longer provided our own entertainment but rather thrusted ourselves into the entertainment that our social environment provided, be it youth rallys, bowling alleys or youth rallys that ended in bowling alleys. We need the exterior world at large to provide our entertainment,  and somewhere in this process the magic was lost.

What does this have to do with church?

Well the point is that traditionally when we think of church, we think of our local building.  Quite frequently we refer to this building as “the house of God.” And in this terminology, a kind of constructed sacredness is built around it. The house of God then references our church where children are forbidden to run, gum is taboo, and countless other “do nots” are constructed out of reverence for this building  (see post on the No Fun Police). But at the same time, the House of God as we know it, is much much more than that.  This is the building(s) where most of us received the Holy Ghost, became baptized, worship, and find our callings in bouts of tears of joy on our knees as the alter.

This post is not made to bemoan the idea of church whatsoever. It is rather to place it in its proper biblical context.

And here is where I will defer to the comment section of our last post…

(See Rest of Post after Jump: Click "Read More" below).

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

#138-"Missing" People (a.k.a. Making Them Feel Guilty for Not Coming to Church)

If there's one loaded Apostolic phrase other than "We're praying for you," it's "We missed you." Let's break this gem down:

The Implications
No Apostolic worth his salt would respond to the simple, friendly statement "We sure missed you at church last Sunday!" with a simple, friendly, "Why, thank you!" and expect to leave things at that. "We missed you" is so classic because of everything it implies. Not only were you not in church, but the reason for your absence is unknown and therefore suspect. It is a statement, but in reality, it is a series of questions:

1. Why weren't you in church?
2.Why didn't you give advance notice?
3. Is your excuse sufficient enough to reassure me that you aren't on the road to perdition?

If these questions can't be answered satisfactorily, one begins to question if you are truly a real Apostolic, or if you're one of those spineless fence-sitters.

The Origins
Why do we miss each other so often? Because church attendance is up there with tithing; it proves your faithfulness. After all, if you forsake the assembling of yourselves together for no good reason, isn't it just as bad a smoking a cigarette or something?

In our culture, we are expected to attend church at all costs, because there exists the idea that nothing is more important than church. Because somehow it follows that if something is more important to you than church then something is more important to you than God and if something is more important to you than God, then . . . just give it up and dive headfirst into the handbasket.

Church = A service?
Number one, "church" is more than a service and it's a crime to reduce it to that, and number two, um, there are things more important than attending a service.

Before I get tomatoes splattered all over me, this post is not an anti-establishment cry to abandon traditional church service as we know it. I think, overall, it's a very good idea to go to church simply because it's a way to stay connected to the Body. It prevents you from becoming cut off and isolated. Christianity was meant to be lived out in community, and attending church service is one way to do that. But it's only ONE way, not the end all, and definitely not a spirituality gauge. And I do wish the term "spirituality gauge" were completely foreign to me, because why in the world do we want to gauge each other's spirituality in the first place?! But alas . . .

I personally feel that focusing so much on a service and elevating it to "our time to meet with God" allows Christians to compartmentalize their relationships with God. One begins to think of church as the time to do God Stuff and life outside of church where you do Regular Stuff. And I think that's problematic.

Back to Being "Missed"
Anyway, to be honest, I appreciate people's concern when/if I miss church for whatever reason. It's just that "We missed you" is rich with subtext and was begging to be deconstructed for such a site as Stuff Apostolics Like.

Monday, April 5, 2010

#137-The Anointing aka The Force

It's a really good day up here. The weather is stunning. And I am considering myself on a one day sabbatical because baseball season basically gets under way today....

If there is ever a post here on SAL that is about syntax it will be this one....

Apostolics love the "anointing." In fact, we have many claims about the anointing, and dear reader, I would be leading you astray if I was to tell you I would be examining our cultural understanding of anointing and then applauding the very understanding. Rather as you have come to expect, I, your amateur blogger for now will investigate the common held beliefs regarding the topic at large, and then proceed to deconstruct these myth traditions in hopes that we may leave this very website with a more informed understanding of what the anointing is, and in that process be encouraged.

I would estimate 4.3% of all apostolic sermons focus on the anointing. 

Myth #1: The Anointing runs top-down from the pastor then to the congregation
We love using the story of Aaron's anointing and how the anointing oil went from the crown of the head down to the feet to justify our top-down authority structure as biblical. 

Truth: Paul says the only one that is to be the head of the body is Christ himself in 1 Corinthians 12 basically invalidating the argument at it's head (literally). So the idea that the anointing runs top down is only existent in one old testament story which never makes claims to have any theological implications. Further in light of the new testament revelation of Christ at the head of the body, there is then no superior part of body other than Christ.

Myth #2- The Anointing is temporal

We love hearing singers who were anointed in their singing last night.

We need to pray the anointing on.

Bro. Kropawhitz sure was anointed last week in his sermon.

Except there is nothing to suggest within the old or New Testament that the anointing is revocable or rather restricted to certain times (such as when a song is sung or when a preacher preaches). The anointing is rather irrevocable and is a lifelong calling. You may elect to not follow that calling, but the anointing is still present and should not be used to describe a feeling.

I John 2:27-"As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you,

Luke 4:18-"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed," 
                                                              -Jesus (4 B.C.-29 A.D.)

The above describes the religious mission Jesus was called to, and thus anointed for. It is not that he had a really good night of preaching and saved a few poor people and had a few miracles, and thus could be declared to really "have the anointing" that night." Rather, this would be his lifelong mission.

Myth #3: The Anointing is a Feeling

Very similar to myth #2, but slightly different. In this regards, we may commonly hear "I really felt the anointing tonight."

Which biblically, you are literally saying,
"I became more objective in my understanding of God's irrevocable call on my life tonight." But that is not at all the context we are referring to "feeling the anointing about the sermon."

I think in this regards, what we call "anointing" is actually just feeling a strong impression of the Holy Ghost.

Myth #4: We must pray the Anointing On


Myth #5: Preachers and pastors are the only truly "anointed and called."

Please, for the love of God, if you think this is true, find that thought in your brain. And then immediately find your way to a neurosurgeon and show him the place where this false belief exists in your head, and ask him to extract it immediately.

In this regard, the anointing becomes more like "the force" that is only bestowed on some of the specially called amongst the good guys. And then you can wish "the force" to be with certain people. Also, if you remember in Star Wars (if you have seen it), the dudes keep on saying to Luke that the "force is very strong in you." Similarly, we have this concept that the anointing can be very strong in certain speakers. But we must not confuse the feeling of strong impressions of the Holy ghost in someone's ministry as demonstrating that someone is more or less anointed based on this feeling/discernment.

Except, once again, we are confusing hollywood with the bible.

The reality:
Aaron was anointed for the position of high priest. Newsflash, we belong to this same royal priesthood (I peter 2:9). Meaning, upon conversion, we have the same anointing of Aaron himself. this is never limited to "men of God" and those in "ministry." It's for your pastor, you and me, and the Sunday School teacher who seems to always be in some kind bad way with her temper.

And note, our "anointing" no longer comes from the top-down mechanism that was prevalent in the old testament (think Moses to Aaron, or Samuel to David).  Rather, as Acts 10:38 has God anointing Jesus with the Holy Spirit, now we are anointed through the reception of the Holy Spirit through Jesus himself (II Corinthians 1:21-22).

The bad news: Most of our understanding of "the anointing" depending on how you were raised was probably wrong. The Good news:
We are all anointed!

Lastly, on our facebook page, we are having a contest, suggest SAL topics and the ones that get liked the most will get written about sooner.

Also I went about this post from mostly memory from a study 4 years ago. So it's liable to be wrong at parts. So please do proper study with due diligence and make sure to call me out where/if I am wrong. I am not so much into the business of proving myself right and everyone else wrong, but rather a business that makes us think and study and ask questions.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

#136-Sitting/Standing in Church

Apostolics like sitting in church. Apostolics like standing in church. How do we enjoy both opposites? 

The answer is that we like each depending on the context. When we are standing up for the "reading of the Word" at the beginning of the sermon, we anxiously await the words of the preacher to instruct us in declaring "you may be seated."

So in such a context we love sitting.

However, at about 20 minutes- to 90 minutes after the instructions to "be seated" we somehow find ourselves acting as a flip-flopper (ala John Kerry 2004), and wanting to stand. At such an occasion, we anxiously await the words from the speaker for "the musicians to come while you rise in closing." So at such a time we love standing.

We enjoy sitting or standing in church depending on the context.

Those Who Sit while we Stand

But what about the frequent saints of the church who get somehow confused about this order. During worship service, they are seen plopping down for a seat after only a song and a half. However, more often than not, the people who are seen sitting during the standing time are those who liken to the WWII war veteran...they're usually in their 50's or 60's and are seen sitting down but we just assume that it's because of a bad back they are suffering through. Nevermind that these people have never actually done any actual service, we just all get to a point where we consider everyone who is receiving AARP subscriptions as war veterans. And as we know, war veterans can do whatever they want whenever they want and we will salute their behavior.

Those Who Stand While We Sit

And then on the other end of the spectrum, you have the people that stand up and clap and amen the preacher when everyone else is sitting down. Such a person is no doubt entitled to such action, but we well know that when people start standing up just for the sake of applause, we begin to get anxious, because one by one more people will feel obligated to stand as to follow the preacher's momentum (hopefully into a quick closing, but this rarely happens)....and eventually you know, that while it is very well sitting time (because the sermon close is not even in sight), you will feel compelled to be standing because of the reversal of fortunes.

I think the most confusing aspect of this standing/sitting debacle that plays out in nearly every church service is when the preacher is an advocate of "stand to worship/thank God for such and such preaching point" simply because you are never quite sure if the standing is for simple thanksgiving or whether or not the speaker is intending to tie the "standing to worship" straight into the closing.

Now i'm just rambling....I guess overall,...I think it's just very peculiar that when we are standing in church we are longing to sit, and when we are sitting, we are longing for the invitation to formally stand.

This post was inspired by Matthias Newman of Milwaukee, WI.