Waco Texas has a new hamburger joint. It’s called Fat Ho Burgers. On its menu are items such as the Supa Fly Ho with cheese, the Supa Dupa Fly Ho with cheese or the Sloppy Ho Brisket.
The name is clearly a gimmick to draw customers. And it’s working. In fact in its opening week, one day customers stood in line over 30 minutes and then the restaurant ran out of cash and their supply of beef.
Fox News did a story. And to be fair, a lot of media sources did a story with the same angle. Fox 4 news reporter Dionne Anglin went down the street and around the corner to the Gospel Café and Bookstore, a volunteer run religious café and asked them what they thought of the name Fat Ho Burgers. According to Anglin, “Folks here at the volunteer run, religious café wish the burger joint were a little more ho-ly.” Get it, she made a funny.
This drives me a little mad. Not the name of the restaurant. (Although if I opened a hamburger joint I probably wouldn’t use that name. I’d call it something classier like Eat This.)
What drives me mad is that everyone is looking to aggrandize the story by asking the closest Christian institution what they think of Fat Ho Burgers. A controversial name goes up on a business sign and the news runs down a block and around the corner to ask what the Christians think about it. This type of reporting makes the church out to be a group of people who are uptight and repressed. And it’s using the Church to leverage a story.
Am I just going mad? What do you think?
Saul Kassin, an 89 year old rabbi in New York pleaded guilty on March 28 to illegal cash transmission. His charges were reduced from the more serious accusation of money laundering. According to CNN.com, “The rabbi was discovered as part of an FBI undercover investigation, "Operation Bid Rig," which made news in July 2009 when 44 civic leaders and public officials were arrested on the same morning for public corruption and money laundering. Among the 15 arrested for money laundering, five were rabbis who were alleged to have laundered collectively more than $3 million, officials said at the time.” Do I need to say it? This drives me mad! Perhaps Kassin and his colleagues need to be reminded of the story of Achan. Achan was one of the men who were seeking God’s Promised Land under Joshua’s leadership. Joshua led an attack against a fortified city called Jericho. It is a famous battle in the Bible where Joshua and his people defeat a city, not by their military might, but by their faith in God’s promises. All the silver, gold, bronze and iron of the city was to be given to the treasury of God’s house. But Achan stole some of these things and hid them under his tent.Achan’s greed led to God’s anger toward everyone. When Achan’s crime was discovered, he and his family were killed and their bodies burned. (Read Achan’s full story here.)The Bible doesn’t have a lot of good endings for people who steal from God. What makes Achan’s story so hard to read is that all of his people suffered when he stole. Then not only he, but also his family members faced the death penalty. We don’t even know if they participated in his crime. They may have been completely innocent.That’s the problem with crime and stealing; even the innocent suffer. Kassin and four other rabbis stole from people and God. Now their organization has made God to look like a fool, just another guy to steal from. And the rest of the world looks at God and religion as another institution that shouldn’t have our trust, attention, or resources.Call me mad but in order for God to be holy, Kassin and his colleagues have to be punished. God cannot allow himself to be lied to, cheated, stolen from and at the same time maintain his glory. Kassin’s greed hurt the charity he controlled, other believers who may now question their faith, his own family who has to live with the shame of his actions and unbelievers who are already skeptical of religious leaders. Worst of all, as a leader in his religion, he challenged the authority of God himself. What do you think? How much should Kassin and the other rabbis pay for their illegal transactions? How does Achan’s story and his family’s punishment translate to this modern day story? Link to CNN story here
St. Laurence Church in Hilmarton, England discovered that its very own Bible, sitting on display in its sanctuary is an original 400 year old King James Bible printed in 1611. It’s missing a few pages and it has been trimmed to fit a wooden cover. That particular Bible has seen better days. But it is quite a discovery for something that has been sitting out in the open as long as anyone at St. Laurence can remember.
The Bible is the best selling book of all time. Chances are you have one somewhere in your house. It may be in a stack of books, behind your bed, in a box, or up in the attic. Once you find it and dust it off, it might look as good as the day you bought it.
Call me mad, but I think every Bible should look old and dated. We should highlight the verses that touch us, underline words that have impact, write our thoughts and notes in the margins. I think everybody should have a Bible that looks like it’s been around about 400 years.
Do you know where your Bible is? Have you picked it up lately? Why don’t you open it up, read what it says, and write down a few thoughts?
He Sat on Him
Gender inclusiveness has been a heated topic for many Biblical scholars. The Bible tends to use masculine language when referring to both male and female. For example, Jesus’ statement to Peter and Andrew when he called upon them to be his disciples was, "Come follow me… and I will make you fishers of men." (Matt 4:19, NIV) The word used for men is plural and so translating it as people isn’t taking anything away from Scripture. People is really what it means. But 2,000 years ago, people weren’t concerned with gender inclusiveness. There was no such thing. So words like man were used to mean humanity, and men for people. There is good argument to updating the English translations to be more gender inclusive as doing so does not take away from the original texts.
But now, thanks to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals or PETA, animals will no longer feel left out or discriminated against in Scripture. Now that sexist language has been removed in such translations of Scripture like the most recent edition of the New International Version (NIV) we can now focus on removing speciesist language by referring to animals as he or she and no longer as it.
In a recent letter to the NIV committee that translates the Bible to English, PETA’s Vice President Bruce Friedrich writes, “May we respectfully request that when the committee next convenes, you further extend this reflection of Christ's message of love to all by referring to non-human animals as "he" or "she" instead of "it" and as "who" instead of "which"? Doing so will go a long way toward helping readers identify animals as living beings valued by God rather than inanimate objects.” He further writes, “The public now recognizes that animals are feeling, intelligent individuals, capable of joy and suffering. Thus, more and more, writers are using "he," "she," and "who" to refer to animals instead of the outdated and inaccurate "it" and "which"—terms that are best reserved for inanimate objects, rather than God's beloved creatures. Won't you consider making this transition as well?”
What do you think? Does PETA’s request hold water or does it drive you mad?
Quick Quiz: Who sat on whom?
When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over him, he sat on him. Mark 11:7 (Speciesist free version)
This video was uploaded to YouTube about a month ago:
Here are a few quotes from the clip [with my interpretation]
The noise… you are allowing to be called worship
[Your music is invalid and God doesn’t like it]
I’m not mad at you I’m just angry that you’re not listening to common sense.
[I’m mad at you]
You better watch out…
[I have it in for you]
[This church] think they have financial troubles now? Just wait until somebody that knows what they’re doing gets a hold of this.
[I am hoping this church faces financial ruin because you are playing music I don’t like and playing it too loud.]
It doesn’t have to be rock’n’roll music with quote Christian words unquote … it actually hurts the body. Why can’t you give something melodic and soft so we can come in and pray?
[God doesn’t like your music. God likes my music. I think she also said Christian words hurt the body]
Yes we’re praying for you but please do something about the music. I’ll give you one more week.
[I’m (not we) praying that you will become less like the man God is developing you into and instead become more like me. And I’m praying my will be done in 7 days.]
As a pastor, a video clip like this drives me mad. Not angry mad, but mad in the sense that I have so many emotions I don’t know what to feel. I get a knot in my stomach and I just want to hug the guy that got this voice mail.
I believe I can wrap up everything I want to say with one question. If the caller understood that the purpose of worship was to reach out to a particular people and draw them in to experience the presence of God so they could be transformed and God glorified, would she have made a call like this?
How did you respond when you saw the title to my post? Did you think it was inappropriate?
All I’ve done is type the name of our savior. It could be an exclamation of his power… Awesome! It could be read as my love for him… Chocolate! It could be understood as a swear word… &#$! However you read his name, you applied the meaning. I’ve done nothing more than type his name and add an exclamation.
We do the same thing with who God is. God is who he is. Nobody owns him. Nobody controls him. But we try to take the infinite God and reduce him to our definition. In doing so, we attempt to contain God.
We think we have God figured out. We think things like “God is on my side,” “God will help me” (aka, I have a plan and I will get God on board with it”). We say prayers like, “God, get me through “my” day,” “God, bring me what I want,” “Make me the person I want to be.”
When we do this, we set aside who God is and we replace him with a cheap substitute created by our own definition, our limited understanding, and by applying ourselves onto him. God is here for my purposes and to serve my will.
Don’t try to control God. You’d have better luck trying to steer the Queen Mary by hang over the side and kicking your legs in the water. Either case, in the end you’ll just wear yourself out and get swallowed up in a sea of misery.
We all try to direct God at some point. Peter tried to take control of Jesus’ plan by pulling him aside and telling him to his face that he should never be arrested and crucified. It’s like Peter was telling Jesus, “Don’t do it your way, do it my way.” Jesus responded rather harshly saying that Peter wasn’t thinking about God’s interests, but rather the world’s. (Mat 16:21-23)
How do limit God by applying your own will on him? How do you try to control God? Are you willing to allow yourself to be defined by God and allow him to take control of your life? Because if you don’t, you might just go mad trying to keep the Creator of the universe in the little world you have fabricated.
God is busy helping
someone who is
I’ve had more than one person say the following quote to me thinking it was in the Bible, “God helps those who help themselves.” Not only is this statement not in the Bible, it is contradictory to the message of God and it drives me mad.
I find issue with this statement for several reasons:
1. If people could help themselves, then why would they need God’s help? It just isn’t logical.
2. What kind of God is only willing to help others who help themselves? I suppose a God who doesn’t want to put forth much effort. After all, the work is already started.” I’m here to help! Oh, you started with out me? Just tell me where you need me and I’ll do my part.”
3. If God only helps those who are already helping themselves, doesn’t that make God their assistant? I didn’t know God was in my life to be my assistant… “Can you hand me that wrench? It’s out of reach.”
4. Such a theology gives us some control over God. If we want him to come and help us, we start helping ourselves and then we’ll have God coming in to join us. How can we get God here to help us? Start doing something and he’ll come.
5.Worst of all, this gives the impression that God won’t help those who can’t help themselves. Now I’m not talking about the “‘Oh I ate too much pie for dessert because I just couldn’t help myself’, help themselves.” I’m talking about people with a real need; personal, social, medical, emergency or otherwise, that truly are not able to help themselves.
The psalmist wrote, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalms 46:1)
Jesus said, “"Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners." (Mark 2:17)
Jesus has come to help those who can’t help themselves. He might even help someone who has chosen not to help themselves. He’ll help if he wants. It’s his help he’s giving. He takes no payment, he works for no one. He’s no one’s assistant.
It drives me mad thinking that God will only help me if I can produce some kind of effort of my own. God will help me because I have a need. God will help me because he is God.
Adam and Eve had the whole world. They could pretty much do anything they wanted. As far as I can tell God gave them one rule; they could not eat the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden. If they even touched it they would die.
But the serpent was crafty. He spoke to Eve and said, “Did God say you couldn’t eat from any tree in the garden?” She said, “I can eat from any tree except that one. If I eat from that tree, or even touch it I’ll die.”
By asking that question, he got Eve to starting thinking about the one tree she wasn’t allowed to even touch. Once he got her thinking about temptation the serpent used the truth to do evil. He said “You won’t die, you’ll be just like God knowing good and evil.” He tells the truth but in a misleading way.
That serpent was one sneaky snake!
Eve was deceived. She took the fruit and she ate it. She knew she wasn’t supposed to. Then she gave some to Adam. By the way, he was with her the whole time and never spoke up. Wimp. As soon as they ate, their eyes were opened, they realized they were naked, and for the first time, they felt shame.
As they were putting the final touches on their new fig leaf wardrobes God entered the garden. Adam and Even knew they broke every rule in the book (at this time I think there was only one rule… don’t eat what they just ate) and afraid of God for the first time, they went and hid.
God found them… bid shocker. And then he asked Adam and Eve why they were hiding. He noticed a little bit of juice running down Adam’s lip and God asked him, “Did you eat from the tree I told you not to?”
Adam defended himself, “The woman you gave me, she fed me the fruit.” In doing so he denied responsibility for his actions and blamed his own behavior on both God and Eve.
God asked Eve if this was true. “Did you really do this?” Eve replied, “It’s not my fault, I was tricked. It’s the serpent’s fault.” Eve has learned the art of passing the buck too.
The serpent was right. Adam and Eve did not physically die. But they have changed. Who they were before that day began died. They’ve been transformed. They now use the truth to try and mislead God.
Adam and Eve are sneaky snakes!
Have you ever used the truth to mislead someone? Boss, I’d have that project done but Larry wouldn’t return my phone calls so I didn’t have the information I needed. It’s his fault I’m behind schedule. I didn’t pass that test because I didn’t have time to study… but wow, what a great ending to Lost! God, I know you want me to give to the Church but I just don’t have the finances right now… I’ll have a non-fat, double shot mocha please. Make sure that lid’s on tight. I don’t want to spill it in my new car which will be mine after 84 easy payments.
We justify our behaviors. We take advantage of God’s grace. We use the truth to manipulate others, to manipulate God.
We are sneaky snakes!
Just like he did with Adam and Eve God comes to us. He covers our shame. Ultimately, He gives our honor back to us by sharing our shame on the cross. By taking our guilt onto himself God has redeemed us and transformed us back into his children again.
God loves sneaky snakes!
I visited a mega church when I lived in southern California. I don’t want to tell you the name but it rhymes with Baddleback. During the worship a couple sang a duet. It rocked! I felt like I was at a Broadway musical. (Actually, I’ve never been to a Broadway musical but if I ever am, I hope the quality is as good as what I heard that day.)
I’ve been to plenty of other churches since then. I often hear music that is just fabulous; guitars, drums, keyboards, tambourines, flutes, piano, singers…. My home church had an electric violin for a season. What a beautiful sound!
I’ve been to other churches with not so great music. I’ve mentioned the above instruments to them. “Oh, we don’t do that here. We don’t want to turn worship into entertainment.” Substitute, “Oh, we don’t want to sound too good. People might think its entertainment and not worship.”
It drives me mad that there seems to be this belief in some churches that the value of worship goes down when the quality of music goes up. This leads to the unofficial credo many churches have regarding worship and quality: they must remain separate.
We value entertainment that has quality. Bad TV shows get cancelled and shows that are good get picked up another season. (I know this isn’t an airtight argument. I’m still lamenting that NBC dropped Life and Friday Night Lights deserves a full season every year, but I digress.)
But Mad Pastor, this is worship we’re talking about, not entertainment, we can’t confuse the two!
I’m not confused. The reality is worship is entertainment. The purpose of worship is to entertain God. To bring him glory. To bring him our best. To put a smile on his face. To remind him that he is the most important thing in our life. We gather on Sunday to entertain God.
I do not believe in the separation of church and quality. I think the church should be the place where we bring our best to God. Our best song, our best behavior, our best attempt at entertaining him. Why should we go before the God of all creation, the one who designed music itself, and not bring him our best? Why do we think that the best should be reserved for the “entertainment industry” and the rest be given to God? (Should I be concerned about being too good of a preacher? Maybe I should make sure my sermons aren’t too entertaining?)
Worship ceases when we think the service is put together for us. When we praise the singer we are worshiping the singer and we are thanking him/her for entertaining us. But when we praise the One who gave us the gift of singing, we are worshiping God. It’s our job during services to focus on the right thing, it’s my job as a pastor to keep us aware of that.
What do you think? Should churches hold back on the quality of their services for fear that it won’t honor God? At what point has a church crossed the line between worship and a talent competition?
If you’ve been reading my posts, you know how much I admire our men and women in uniform. The people who serve in our military and have dedicated themselves to defending our freedom are volunteers. When they step into a battle zone, they have willingly chosen to a place where an enemy is focused on killing them. Too often, the enemy succeeds.
When a soldier dies in service to our country, their death should be treated with the utmost respect. They have made the greatest sacrifice. Jesus said, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends.” (John 15:13)
That’s why I get so mad (and this time by “mad” I mean angry) when I hear of people protesting soldiers’ funerals. But this is not a story about protesters; this is a story about soldiers.
I want everyone to know about a motorcycle club who started Patriot Guard. They use their motorcycles, their bodies, American flags and patriotic music to create a wall of protection to guard the families and loved ones of fallen soldiers from protesters at funerals. Although originally founded by motorcyclists, their organization is open to anyone. According to the Patriot Guard’s website each mission they take has two purposes:
They accomplish their mission through legal and non-violent means. These are men and women who got mad and used their righteous anger to bring glory to God by bringing peace to families in pain. As one member of the group who is also a Methodist pastor said in an interview, “Those in the church care about them, love them, and God is standing here with them.”Click here for the Patriot Guard's website.
- Show our sincere respect for our fallen heroes, their families, and their communities.
- Shield the mourning family and their friends from interruptions created by any protestor or group of protestors.