In A Similar Vein...Seattle Minister Charged With Violating
March 18, 2004

It is interesting, there is much controversy being caused here in Seattle over a United Methodist Church minister who is also a lesbian. This week, trials began against "Rev." Karen Dammann and her right to remain a minister in the Methodist church although she is involved in a lesbian relationship. While here the UMC in Seattle maintains that they are a "welcoming and affirming church" for gays and lesbians (note: here in Seattle, "affirming" means "agreeing, encouraging, and approving"), they don't allow their clergy to participate in homosexual relationships. So can someone please help me understand what this trial is all about? My simple mind just does not understand what the debate is about. Even more strange is the extensive coverage of the trial including pictures of protesters, the UMC has posted on their website. Thus far, there have already been 33 arrests of protesters both for and against Rev. Dammann remaining part of the clergy. This is an issue that will continue to be in the press and there needs to be a clear stance on what the Bible says concerning it.

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The Gay & Lesbian Church
March 17, 2004

I'll be travelling to Dallas on business soon so yesterday, I searched on the internet to find a church in the area. Even when I'm away from home, I like fellowshipping with other local bodies of believers. It's a sad reality when you can't just open the phonebook and pick a church -- Not even in the Bible belt. For this reason I usually go on recommendation of a friend. I'm not interested in stale worship, lack of diversity, long dresses/no make-up, or heretical teaching. I want to visit someplace where the spirit of God is alive and present and the teaching is relevant. Somehow via a google search, I arrived here. "The Cathedral of Hope" has dubbed themself, the "World's Largest Gay and Lesbian Church". What an accolade eh? Now I live in Seattle so little suprises me. In fact, Seattle itself has a growing number of gay and lesbain churches. This particular church appears to be part of the UCC (United Church of Christ) denomination. The website itself is perhaps one of the most disturbing things I've seen this week. It's rather extensive.

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Whitney Enters Drug Rehab
March 17, 2004

It was reported yesterday that singer Whitney Houston entered drug rehabilitation. Sometimes it seems as though people have to hit the lowest point before they are restored. It's often a Biblical pattern of how God does things. Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston are the poster children for how fame and fortune can ruin a person. The lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, and the pride of life. It gets us everytime. God protect their offspring.

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Disney to Bring C.S. Lewis to the Big Screen
March 16, 2004

Walt Disney has plans in the works to bring to film, C.S. Lewis' classic The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I hope C.S. Lewis doesn't roll over in his grave (what a morbid saying. Who made that up? Christians shouldn't say that. It's not even Biblical. Shame Ambra). Although Disney has denied that the film will have Christian connotations (I'd expect nothing else from them), who knows, perhaps it's a great thing. C.S. Lewis was an incredibly influential writer. In terms of production, Disney wouldn't have been my first choice, but neither was broccoli and I love it now. Unfortunately, I only "love" broccoli when it's slathered with butter and salt and all the nutrients are completely cooked out. Let's just hope that's not what happens to the C.S. Lewis' masterpiece. I'd like to see it go to the big screen raw.

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A Moral Hollywood?
March 16, 2004

Today I read an article in the New York Times called "Hollywood Rethinking Faith Films After 'Passion'. The article really stirred something in me rather unrelated to the title. While Hollywood is wiping the nasty after taste of their feet out of their collective mouths, it is interesting to follow as critics kick around various issues as it relates to God and movies. Though the Passion is predicted to surpass even box office sales for the Matrix trilogy, movie executives aren't 100% convinced they'll jump to imitate. Although, I am certain they want to. In the article, movie producer Michael Nozick said, "You can't deny when a movie makes that kind of money that the audience has spoken to the filmmaking community, but it's a frightening comment."

Indeed it is frightening for them. Hollywood salivates over success like that of Mel Gibson, but even Warner Brothers' president of production admitted, "I wouldn't know how to duplicate this". Hollywood's fear is rightly justified. The mold that may have worked in the past of pushing out mindless box office hits can't really be applied to God or His Word. Hollywood's fear is that they would attempt a work like the Passion and fail miserably.

There has long been contempt in the movie industry of an absolute good and evil. The statement in the article that really struck a chord with me read, "As divisions of major media conglomerates concerned with their public image, Hollywood studios have historically shied away from all but the most benign values, like friendship, family and love. Movies with strong points of view -- political and particularly religious -- have had difficulty receiving green lights." This is what is shocking so many about the Passion. It is doing well despite pushback from the major media conglomerates. The author of the article is absolutely right.

The values in Hollywood are watered down and tired. The combined work of filmmakers over the last 20-30 years has left a gaping hole in the consciousness of humanity. In other words, it's done absolutely nothing. Ask the average person about the last movie they saw that completely changed their life and they may have an answer for you twenty minutes later if at all. Film has been relegated to insipid tales of friendship and foe, 18th century epic sagas, stories on the endurance of the "human spirit", and action-packed special effects thrillers of an erethreal Jesus. And yes, I too loved and found insight in the Matrix.

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Another Passion?
March 16, 2004

It starts! Did you think that the Passion would rake in the money without the phonies on the trail? Guy Ritchie (aka husband of that fake blonde chick who can't sing Madonna), has plans to make a "religious" film called "Revolver". Fortunately, he's been unable to secure a studio deal due to references made to Kabbalah which is a Jewish form of mysticism, AKA a cult, and a new "trend" among celebrities. I suppose Kabbalah is what Scientology was to the 70's. Both Madonna and her husband share this religion. Has not the world yet realized that Madonna is confused? Try as you may Mr. Richie, no false spirituality will draw the masses like the account of the redemptive work of Christ.

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The Penthouse
March 15, 2004

Repentance. It's a word not used often enough by those who are believers in Jesus Christ. Even when used, it is usually not used correctly or understood to its fullest extent. The Bible speaks of repentance often. Jesus himself preached it numerous times throughout the Gospels. In fact, we all know that repentance is necessary for entering into the fullness of what God has for us as even Jesus declared, in Luke 5:32, "I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance". Another message Jesus preached that we should be preaching is, "Repent for the Kingdom of God has arrived or in some translations (is at hand)".

Growing up in the church, the message I heard preached overwhelmingly was the message of forgiveness: that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for our sins. Even as a child, I recall the sinner's prayer and those words they taught us to lead non-believers to salvation. I remember many times while growing up, asking for God's forgiveness for stealing candy, staying up past my bedtime or lying to my parents. I always knew that no matter what I did, or how many times I did it, God would forgive me. I was right in thinking this because God's faithful and just to do it. In fact, forgiveness of sins has been the hallmark of most great 20th century evangelical movements; Billy Graham Crusades being a perfect example. Forgiveness is a popular message. It's a message of hope, relief, restoration, and most importantly, it touches humanity at its most weak and feeble place, sin. Only over the last couple of years have I realized a need for a message much less popular among believers and non-believers alike. It is the message of repentance. Too oft, it seems we confuse forgiveness and repentance. The Bible itself makes a clear distinction between the two. Luke 24:46-47 says, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." Interesting that Jesus makes a distinction between repentance and forgiveness of sins. Much of the New Testament goes on to declare and repeat what is stated in this passage. This is also the very message that even John the Baptist preached in preparing the way for the coming Savior.

Is it enough to just be forgiven?
"Repent" is a hard word to swallow. The "p" sound in "pent" sort of cuts you in the jugular of your pride. What? Repent? Me? It is much easier for us to ask God to forgive us and leave well enough alone. God does His part as His word declares, and we sort of do ours. We move on with the intention of never committing that sin again. Sometimes we're successful and sometimes we fall. However, if we do fall, we know God will forgive us. Repentance on the other hand, is an act of our will. The burden of repentance does not rest on God's shoulders, but on ours. The word "repent" itself is teeming with depth. The Greek word for repent is metanoeo which essentially means, "to change your mind". Looking even to our own English derivative. The prefix "re" implies that we are doing something again or establishing once again a reality that already existed. "Pent" has been commonly known to mean five, but it also means "upper" or "top" thus the word "penthouse"; the fancy apartment at the top of the building. We must call true repentance what it is: a turning away. Repentance is a made up mind to turn away from a lifestyle, a habit, an addiction, an idol, but most importantly, a way of thinking. Repentance is reclaiming our "top mind", the original mind God has given us. Repentance is returning to how God originally intended us to think, act, do, and speak. Dare I say many Christians these days have sought forgiveness, but have not yet demonstrated true repentance?

I am overwhelmingly frustrated with Christians who lead a defeated life. Each day is a struggle and they continue to slip back into old habits and old ways of thinking. I realize there are various levels of growth amongst us all. This walk of faith is truly a process and the gamut of Christianity encompasses many levels. However, I cannot tell you how many Born Again Christians I encounter that face the same struggles they did 23 years ago when they first found God. I believe repentance is the key missing in lives of many a believer. So many Christians have yet to completely turn their mind around. They've only made it about 90 degrees or so. I often admonish believers to seek after the mind and purpose God originally intended for us. When we grab a hold of that, we will be unstoppable. I believe this is why the enemy wages war so heavily on the minds of humanity. Schizophrenia, Bi-Polar Disorder, Psychosis, and Depression are just names we've assigned to a disease that's been at work in the spiritual realm since sin entered the picture. It is the attack on the sound mind God gave us in the beginning. We have a poor self-image and we are unable to see who God has truly created us to be: victorious. This is why the Bible commands us to renew our minds. The awesomeness of God is that He has given us the tools we need to live a Godly life. We need Him for repentance. We can't do what He's called us to do without Him, but it is ultimately our choice. God is a gentleman; He does not force us to choose Him. Is the God we serve not great enough to deliver us from everything that is not like Him? I wouldn't serve Him if He wasn't. That is true grace. Grace is not just "unmerited favor" as we so often say, nor is it a cover up for us to live "free" and sin. First Peter declares that the true grace of God is divine enablement or, the power in Him to do everything He's calling us to do.

To repent is much more than simply asking for forgiveness. Anyone can do that. Repentance is a choice to die to what we desire and live in who God originally intended us to be. Repentance is the path less traveled, but a made up mind is not easily swayed. We need to bring our minds from the basement and begin functioning out of that lavish penthouse of reason and soundness God has given us. God is not just calling us to seek His forgiveness, He's calling us to seek His face, turn away from the things that do not glorify Him, and reclaim our "top mind" to the glory of Him.

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Rounding Up the Week
March 13, 2004

It shouldn't be forgotten the devastation of human life that has taken place in Spain recently. I feel the need to mention it above all the news below since clearly it should take precedence. My prayer is for the families and that God be glorified in this situation. How soon we all forget.

Woman Accused of Murder for Refusing a C-Section
In an attempts to save one of twins born to Melissa Ann Rowland, doctors insisted she have a cesearean section. When Rowland refused, the baby was stillborn. She is now in jail charged with criminal homicide and child endangerment (un-related). Of course now people are charging that she is mentally ill in order to discredit this story. Critics are already talking about how this case may seriously affect the defense for abortion rights since Rowland is being accused of killing her unborn baby. Sounds rather familiar doesn't it? The pro-choice message is not only wicked, it's also illogical.

PETA Shows How Evil they Truly Are
Here in Seattle, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is notorious for taking every opportunity they get to indoctrinate the minds of children. Today they waited for school to end outside a local middle school here in Seattle and greeted exiting students with signs that said "just say no to meat" and handed out fliers talking about meat pimps and meat addicts. The whole purpose of their message was "eating meat is like drug addiction". In addition, they handed out pens made to look like syringes wih red ink symbolizing animal blood. The whole heroine/meat comparison is just low. The principal was not happy, charging them with being racially insensitive to the high population of African American and Hispanic students at the school. Forget that. This is not an issue of racial insensitivity. PETA crossed the line when they tried to assert themselves over the rights of the parents of these children. If my child came home with PETA pamphlets, I'd be LIVID. In spite of the principal's wishes, PETA, not doing anything illegal, refused to stop. Last year they handed out fliers to kids saying, "Your Mommy Kills Animals". Funny, if those fliers said, "Jesus is Lord, repent and be baptized" the ACLU would be on the case. Somehow, PETA gets away with murder even though they're against it. This organization is blatantly corrupt and psychotic. It's a religion and they push their agenda on kids for a reason. Somebody's got to touch this generation and if we don't, PETA, NAMBLA, GLAAD, and Planned Parenthood will.

Britney Spears' New Show Too Racy
Tonight Britney Spears was in Seattle for a concert and parents are outraged over the graphic nature of her concert. Apparently, she simulates sex acts and takes it too far. I suppose "too far" is relative right? Britney's latest CD boats songs about sexual promiscuity and masturbation, but simulating a sex act on stage, now that's taking it too far. Now parents are calling for concerts to have different ratings. This is ridiculous. I have a couple of thoughts on this matter.

  1. Britney Spears hides behind smoke, sex, fancy outfits, sets and dancers because she does not have the vocal ability or talent to carry the stardom she's achieved by faking it.
  2. Any parent who sent their 13 year old daughter to a Britney Spears concert expecting a clean show is in serious denile.
  3. Any parent who allows their child to listen to a girl sing about masturbation and sexual liberty shouldn't have expected anything different from her concert.
  4. The ratings system in our society is a joke.
  5. Ratings and Parental Advisory Warnings were created for parents who don't want to do their job.

Okay, enough doom and gloom. God is doing fantastic things on the Earth. Although it seems I sometimes critique the negative aspects of our culture, these are the very same things that get me excited about the work of God. What an awesome opportunity we have as believers to make God's presence known in these above areas. Oh how we need it!

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The "Image" of Black Americans As Told by the NAACP
March 12, 2004

Last night, clearly having lost my mind, I tuned into the re-run of the NAACP Image Awards. I'm not sure what I was thinking, but in my defense, I happened to be previously watching that channel, took a phone call, got distracted, and when I came back it was on, and like a zombie, I watched. Props to blogcritics.org, who have published a much beter re-cap than I could've including pre-awards show controversy over the nomination of R. Kelly. Apparently, Kwesi Mfume now believes that future nominations of entertainers warrant a moral standard. Shouldn't every nomination? Project 21's Mychal Massie was pleased with this decision. Although it may seem the NAACP was "out of touch" in their nomination, part of me can't help but think this was all a sick ploy for ratings. But what isn't these days?

Some noted observations and un-highlights of the night:
Singer Beyonce was chosen as the "Entertainer of the Year", an award which clearly must be based on record sales and beauty alone. In introducing the awardee, actress and comidenne 'Monique lauded Beyonce's "booty-shakin'" song "Crazy in Love" and joked about how the song made her want to shake her backside in church. Most definately in poor taste if you ask me. Beyonce's acceptance speech made it clear that there was no depth to her music nor did she even seem convinced she should've been up there in the first place. She was right to feel that way. I'm not sure if I was more disgusted by Beyonce being recognized for her scantily clad image or Queen Latifah being awarded a best actress award for her work in the film Bringing Down 'Da House?! There is nothing more to be said. The NAACP has officially gone off the deep end. Keep in mind, the criterea for awards given is, "...projects and individuals who have demonstrated exemplary works by and for people of color". The NAACP has certainly re-defined "exemplary".

Then comes the God section. All African-American awards show have one as we have a rich spititual heritage and find it necessary to incorporate God into all that we do. I long for the day when we stop "incorporating" and start "serving". So the so-called "Gospel Movie" The Fighting Temptations (an MTV movie by the way) won for best film. I could have predicted that since black people have a propensity to rally behind most things that have to do with God, the Church, or Gospel Music. The trouble is, we usually don't have the discernment to recognize the real from the fake. Case and point: "Rev." Al Sharpton. Growing up, we used to joke about how anyone who ever sang gospel music at the Apollo never got "booed" off the stage.

In tribute to awardee Bishop TD Jakes of the mega-church "The Potters House" in Texas, Donnie McClurkin (one of my favorites) and Yolanda Adams sang a beautiful tribute, followed by Kirk Franklin running around the stage and yelling (never singing) as usual with his choir One Nation Crew. They sang "Hosanna", a great song and what would the NAACP be without a great gospel song? So of course the audience is on their feet, clapping and singing, many not even fully convinced of the words they speak, "Hosanna forever we worship you". The camera caught Cuba Gooding, Jr. clapping off-beat (I knew something wasn't right about that boy). That was a good moment. T.D. Jakes had some good words, but nothing he could've said could rescue the train wreck that had just taken place on that stage. It was a disturbing night.

LaShawn Barber posted some good insight a few days ago about the NAACP needing to be extinct. The Image Awards only further proves that point. We are in desparate need to re-define as a society what we believe to be a "good image"; especially African-Americans. God help us all.

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Spike Lee Confuses Again
March 11, 2004

Notorious for making films with a messy message, Spike Lee is at it again. This time he's tapping into homosexuality to pull a plot for his newest film, "She Hate Me". In this comedy, "A Harvard-educated biotech executive (Anthony Mackie) is fired after exposing his bosses' corrupt business practices. According to Variety, he then begins to support himself by 'impregnating high-powered lesbians'." Lee claims his goal in making the film is to, "talk about the moral ethic in this country, and how money is God". In short, the fired executive plans an extensive money-making scheme in which he charges thousands of dollars to lesbians hoping to get pregnant. Great way to get your message across Spike and support the homosexual agenda at the same time! Either gays will be incensed and cry bloody murder over this portrayal, or they'll hop on the bandwagon and find a way to incorporate in it their right to get married. Then again, being that Lee has no real pull or influence in the media, they may just ignore him like much of America already does.

Like much of Spike Lee's work, this film has disaster written all over it. Although it is clear, Lee has staked out his spot of controversy on the Hollywood lawn. He wears the badge rather well; almost to the point of arrogance. I sometimes wonder if he's even able to take constructive criticism anymore. The whole "forget them" mentality seems to permeate his messages. Arrogance must've got the best of him last year because Lee sued Viacom, the company behind "Spike TV" claiming it was an attempt to associate the channel with himself for commercial gain. Spike, Please. If you hadn't noticed, Spike TV is up and running in spite of that presumptuous claim.

It is unfortunate however, that someone with such a brilliant cinematic mind wastes his efforts on mindless drivel and convoluted mixed messages. I think that given the right conviction, Spike Lee has the potential to be a powerful filmmaker. After all, the gifts of God are without repentance. "She Hate Me" is scheduled for release in July of this year. I can only pray it dies a miserable death at the box office.

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