Donate to the Funeral Fund of Patricia Ann Davis

As I mentioned in my last post, my mother died from complications of a stroke on August 22. I’ve had a rough, emotional week. Unfortunately, she never got life insurance, leaving my brothers and me to try to raise the $5500.00 to pay for her funeral. The funeral home directors have kindly given us a year to pay off the funeral. So I’ve set up a Go Fund Me account. Please click here to donate. Also, be sure to share it with your friends.

If we can get enough people to donate $10.00 each, we can get through this quickly. Patricia Davis was the kindest person that I’ve ever known. I just wish all of you could have known her.

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The Eulogy of Patricia Ann Davis

As many of you may know, my mother passed away from complications of a stroke this past weekend. It’s been an heart-breaking week for us, as we just had the funeral yesterday. The pastor who led my father and me to Christ, Phil Tanner, just happened to be at the hospital the day of her stroke. It was the first time that I’d seen him in fifteen years. He graciously spoke at the funeral and it was a very moving service.

Our world has lost a great light. I . . . and many others . . . will miss the amazing woman who was my mother greatly. Below is the eulogy that I wrote for the ceremony. It was difficult to get through, but I managed.


1Corinthians, Chapter 13, says, “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

To say that my brothers and I had an amazing set of parents, would be an understatement. The ins and outs of my parents relationship were truly simple. Dad was the disciplinarian. Mom was the nurturer.

-If I skinned my knee, my mom’s medicine was a kiss “to make it better.”

-If I cut my thumb, a band-aid and a kiss and a hug

-A twisted ankle? More kisses.

-I did something bad? She told dad on me. We feared dad. Mom was the pushover.

My mom made my friends jealous that she wasn’t their mother. Any of them would have gladly moved in with us. She was just as free with the hugs and kisses with my friends and cousins as she was with us. It was a never-drying pool of endless affection that she took such joy in giving away.

Everyone adored Mom. Her personality dictated it. There wasn’t an angry bone in her body. She rarely lost her temper, at least not where anyone could see her. Not too long after I first got married, I told Mom, in front of Dad, that she had ill-prepared me for dealing with a wife with PMS. My dad cocked an eyebrow and said, “I don’t know where YOU grew up.”

I always found their “opposites attract” dynamic interesting. Dad showed his love by working hard and providing for us. He wasn’t affectionate, for the most part. Mom, on the other hand, would jump on his lap randomly to get a deep, passionate kiss, even with us sitting in the living room with them. Dad was embarrassed. Mom just laughed. This uneven dynamic was what made our Dad’s revelation that he wanted to be cremated so that he could be buried WITH Mom so touching. After he passed away in 2006, he was cremated and my brother, Greg, made him a beautiful urn and Mom dutifully kept it with her.

Over the nine years since Dad died, Mom has been a rock for my brothers and me. She walked with each of us through the darkest times of our lives. Had she not been there, I know I personally would not have made it. But, as time wore on, she missed Dad so much. Even through the endless smiles that she had for everyone, we could still see it. She kept busy to cover that fact. She’d wash the same dish for ten minutes, then put it in the dishwasher to wasH again. She loved to cook and was particularly good and frying chicken—a signature dish that has never been topped, at least in our eyes, by anyone else. Some other favorites included banana pudding, egg custard pie and pot roast.

But the affection is what we will miss the most. That endless well of love that God, Himself, put into her heart. Just a peak at the endless love that He has in store for us when we finally see the Lord face-to-Face. On the night of the stroke, before she lost the ability to communicate, she whispered many an “I love you.” It was the last thing that my sweet, angelic mother said to me.

Following that night, we watched Thursday, Friday and Saturday, as her breathing became more and more shallow. Finally, on Saturday evening, she sat up in her hospital bed and took her final breath as God took her out of this dark world and lifted her to the Pearly Gates, where Jesus was waiting for her with George Davis. Our Redeemer placed the Crown of Glory on her beautiful, blonde brow just before she gave our Dad one of her affectionate hugs and kisses. Then, Jesus led our mother, hand-in-hand with our Dad, through the gate and into Eternity.

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QUEST FOR YOSHI Preview #2

Presenting the next preview of Book Four of the ADVENTURE CHRONICLES. Please remember that it is pre-edited.


Rain pelted the bedroom window as Shawna tried in vain to watch the television. Her mother had gone to the Bluff for some last minute Christmas shopping. Shawna had decided not to go. She was simply too exhausted.

It’s a Wonderful Life was playing on her television. She was normally ecstatic at the idea of seeing this movie, but she just could not concentrate tonight. So she changed into her Tweety pajamas, then brushed her teeth.

Coming back into her room, she switched off the television. She knelt down next to her bed just as the phone rang. She grabbed it from the receiver, placed it to her ear and said, “Hello?”

“Hi.” It was Jamie’s voice.

She smiled. “Hi. What’s up?”

“Do I need a reason to call you?”

She deserved that. “Of course not. I haven’t been a very good girlfriend lately, have I?”

“You’re going through a lot. I understand.”

“That’s no excuse. And you’re going through a lot, too. With Yoshi, and all . . ..” She immediately regretted bringing up Jamie’s late clan-sister.

He cleared his throat, then said, “Dave and I are going to go out and stay the night with George tonight. His parents have already left for his aunt’s house in Rolla, but he decided to wait and drive up the day after tomorrow. That way he can still go with us to the party tomorrow night. But he doesn’t want to be alone tonight.”

“I can understand that.” Shawna thought about the curly-haired teen. “How’s he doing? I don’t have any classes with him.”

She could hear Jamie sigh. “He’s better. Yoshi’s death really hit him hard, but he just started telling himself that she was a ‘high school sweetheart’ and that she probably wouldn’t have been the person that he would’ve married, anyway. He’s supposed to go to that college near St. Louis in the fall that has the ‘Biblical Archaeology’ program. Yoshi had wanted to go to SMSU in Springfield. And you know what they say about long-distance relationships.”

Shawna nodded, then realized that he could not see her. She had been thinking about the same thing. She had applied to a Christian college in Texas and knew that Jamie would be going to SMSU, as well. They had not discussed their own long-distance relationship.

Then, a thought popped into her head. She saw a vision of Jamie, a little older than he was now, wearing a tuxedo. He was dancing with a woman in a beautiful, flowing bridal gown. Watching them were a group of people that consisted of all of Adventure, Laura, Amy. . . and herself.

“Shawna?”

Her name snapped her to attention again. “I’m sorry, Jamie. I’m just so tired.”
He sighed. “That’s okay. You go ahead and get some sleep and I’ll call you tomorrow, okay?”

She smiled. “I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

She hung up the phone and shivered. Had she just been sent a vision? Or was it her own fears?

Still kneeling next to her bed, she bowed her head. “Lord, I don’t know why You’re sending me these dreams. I don’t know if I’m the right person to be a prophet. But I belong to You, my King. Use me as You will.”

She smiled as He sent His peace over her. “In my Blessed Savior’s Name, Amen.”

She climbed to her feet, switched off her lamp, then settled into her bed. As she closed her eyes, a thought hit her. She had just referred to God as her King. Though the title was certainly accurate, she had never done that before.

“King,” she whispered. “King . . . Kings . . .,” she bolted upright ” . . . KINGS!”

She reached toward her bedside table, turning on the lamp. Snatching her Bible, she opened it and found herself in 1Kings. Drawn to the eighteenth chapter, she read it. It discussed the time when Ahab ruled Israel and his wife, Jezebel, had given authority to the priests of her own religion, which worshiped a god named Baal. A prophet of God, named Elijah, had challenged the priests of Baal to a test to prove who the true God of Israel was . . ..

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BOOK FOUR PREVIEW #1: PROLOGUE

Here is the first preview of The Quest for Yoshi. As always, remember that this is an unedited preview.


Prologue
A Night Two Months Prior
Wednesday, October 21, 1992

The girl walks over the ground, her insubstantial form not disturbing the mist that has settled above the grass. The gentle breeze blows through her hair, bringing the sound of familiar voices ahead. Her walk becomes a run as she moves toward the rising smoke of a chimney.

Shawna enters a clearing, recognizing a small cottage and a smaller building. Smoke comes from the chimney of the house, where she knows that something is happening that defies the very laws of nature. The young prophetess looks quickly around the yard and sees freshly dug earth in front of a tombstone some thirty feet away. She floats toward the house, coming to a stop in front of a window. Peering inside, she finds two figures standing over another, unmoving figure.

The two who are standing seem familiar. One is a woman, the other a man. The woman has flowing blonde hair and delicate features. Her eyes are slightly slanted, giving her the appearance of someone with some Asian ancestry. Her ears end in a startling point and her blue robes are dark and beautiful.

The man stands a full foot and a half taller than the woman. He has a muscular frame, but his gut is somewhat rotund, giving him a jolly appearance. His red-bearded face, however, shows no trace of jolliness.

The unmoving figure is completely covered with a white sheet.

The standing woman reaches into a pocket of her robe and produces a blood-red amulet. She looks down at the piece of jewelry, her hands trembling. Even from this distance, Shawna can tell that the amulet was forged from a force so dark, that most pious men would fear it. This woman is no different.

The woman’s lips press together in firm resolve as she hands the amulet to the man. He nods at her, the same look on his face, as he reaches under the sheet and places the chain of the amulet around the neck of the unmoving figure. Then, he pulls back and waits.

The seconds move by and the fear in the air is palpable. Shawna’s breathing speeds up. Her heart begins to pound in her chest. In the distance, a wolf howls.
Suddenly, the figure sits up, the sheet still covering it from head to toe. There is a gasp for breath. After the lungs are filled, they release a blood-curdling scream that . . .

* * *

. . . she could still hear as she sat straight up in the bed. Shawna leaped to her feet, steadying herself with a trembling hand against the wall of her bedroom, just next to the light switch. This was the eighth time that she had experienced this same dream since that first night back in October.

She walked nervously from her room and stepped into the bathroom, turning on the light with a flick of the switch. Looking in the mirror, the young woman examined the face staring back at her. Bags had begun to form under her eyes, complaining to her of their lack of sleep. Beads of perspiration ran down her face. Her hair, which she had just recently dyed back to its natural brown color, was matted to her head with dampness, even though it was now December.

Shawna turned on the cold water, then splashed some of it on her face. As soon as she instinctively closed her eyes to keep the water out of them, she could see that sheeted figure again, screaming with a pain that no human being was ever meant to feel.

Shawna turned off the water, then headed back into her bedroom. She looked at her alarm clock, which gave the time as 4:56 AM. The adolescent decided that she needed to go back to sleep. She switched off the light and climbed under her covers. She closed her eyes.

And saw the figure screaming.

She shot into a sitting position, reaching instinctively out to her bed table, closing her hand over the cool, leather cover of her Bible. Hugging it close to her, she whispered, tears building in her eyes, “Why, Lord? Why?” Then she wept bitterly.

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“How Being a Christian Affects My Writing” by TW Johnson

For another perspective on what makes writing “Christian,” I present my good friend TW Johnson. I’ll have a couple more entries in this series over the next few weeks.


Greetings, all. My name is T.W. Johnson. I’m a writer, musician, and tinkering artist. In this article, I’ll reveal how being a Christian affects my creative writing process.

Firstly, though, I’d like to thank my long-time friend, Jeffrey Allen Davis, for inviting me to his website/blog for such an important and, recently, controversial topic.

But before I start, allow me to give some brief info, so you, dear reader(s), will understand my reasoning for what I’m about to get into.

I grew up in the 70s/80s, and on the tail end of the old-fashioned tent revival era. I’ve witnessed a lot of goings-on in churches, etc. And as a Christian of thirty-four years, I’ve seen the church (and certainly the world), as a whole, change into something almost completely alien to me. Without a doubt, one place this can be found is in entertainment: music, movies, TV, genre fiction, and now, even Christian fiction have fallen prey to a bizarre “bandwagon” movement.

Now, if you will, carefully take into consideration the following questions. What is Christian fiction―what makes it Christian? Are they stories reinforced with scriptural truths? Or, are they simply “clean” reads, free from certain, worldly elements? What say you?

Pardon my digression, but, when I was a kid, TV―for the most part―was a sanitized viewing experience. There were lots of re-runs of 40s/50s science fiction and horror movies, where rocket ships and flying saucers were sleek, often silver, and robots, aliens, and monsters trudged after their victims instead of sprinting like nowadays. Even 60s, 70s, and 80s standard TV programming is a long ways off, morally, from most modern offerings. At least, the shows I remember where that way (to be fair, though, some good came out of the 90s and so on as well).

Okay, now that I’ve that out of my system, lets switch back to Christian fiction.

In 1986, “This Present Darkness” by Frank E. Peretti was published (which I read a little later on), and I thought to myself, “Oh, cool, a Christian horror novel!” So I looked for more of the same and was sorely disappointed to discover a huge void in Christian books. Fantasy, horror, and science fiction titles were basically nonexistent. However, a small explosion of Christian fiction did occur sometime during the 90s and well into the early and mid-aughts with the horror titles often hidden behind a toned down “Spiritual Warfare” label. Nevertheless, It was a great time for Christian readers, and aspiring Christian writers.

However, in 2003 (eight years after I’d begun writing) another Christian horror novel by an unknown writer caught my eye. But I was quickly let down after finding out that it contained profanity. I dismissed it as a fluke, but over time I periodically found more Christian titles with out-of-place obscenities. “What’s going on?” I’d asked myself.

You see, profanity has always been a pet peeve of mine in entertainment. I find it unnecessary, and a kind of crutch some writers rely on, yet many readers expect, as though it’s some kind of “acceptable magic brew” to maybe help with the suspension of disbelief. It’s permeated mainstream secular fiction for a long time, but its eventual normalcy of placement in Christian fiction seems closer than ever.

The Bible has a lot to say about swearing and crude language. And, nope, I’m not going quote scripture about the evils of profanity; but for the curious, here’s a not-so-thorough list to check out: Colossians 3:8, Ephesians 4:29, Matthew 15:10-11, Matthew 12:36-37, James 3:10, Proverbs 21:23, 2 Timothy 2:16, Psalms 19:14, Luke 6:45, Proverbs 4:24, Proverbs 6:12, Psalms 34:13-14.

Incidentally, here’s what Wikipedia has to say: Profanity, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is “an offensive word” or “offensive language”.[1] It is also called bad language, strong language, coarse language, foul language, bad words, vulgar language, lewd language, swearing, cursing, cussing, or using expletives. This use is a subset of a language’s lexicon that is generally considered to be strongly impolite, rude or offensive. It can show a debasement of someone or something, or show intense emotion. Profanity in this sense takes the form of words or verbal expressions. In its older, more literal sense, the term “profanity” refers to “offensive words, or religious words, used in a way that shows you do not respect God or holy things”, or behaviour showing similar disrespect.

Disrespecting God? Well, I certainly don’t want to do that, not if I can help it. And why would anyone (any Bible-believing person, to be more accurate) want to disrespect God?

As the Tootsie Pop narrator once said, “The world may never know.”

Back to that nettlesome question, though: what makes Christian fiction Christian? Well, I’m not sure there’s a definitive answer. Nevertheless, I can say how being a Christian affects my writing.

As a Christian, my main goal is to always write a great, original story that, in the end, will organically contain the ideals that have guided my life thus far. Secondly, I want to always write a story most everyone can enjoy (with condition to whatever genre I’ve chosen at the time, of course). Thirdly, I want to always write a story I can be proud of, without fear of shame. To put it more clearly: I’ve no desire, whatsoever, to include any overt form of vulgarism in my work. No turmoil exists within me as to what I should or shouldn’t write about. There is no flipping a coin―like the Batman villain, Two-Face―which governs my story-crafting decisions.

Does that make me a goody two-shoes? No, because there’s no such thing. Christ was the only perfect individual to ever walk on Earth. Everyone else is flawed. But, for Christians, that doesn’t excuse us from striving to seek perfection by allowing the Holy Spirit to guide our steps.

So aside from my own writing, what does all this mean for me as a reader, and a fan of pop culture and geeky stuff? How do I avoid all the junk? Well, I can’t. No one can. Not completely, anyway. In a world proliferated with crudeness, one can only try their best.


For more info on TW’s work, check out his blog.

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Faith in Fiction Guest Post #1: AM I STILL A “CHRISTIAN FICTION” WRITER? by Greg Mitchell

Today I’ve been asked to write about faith in fiction—namely my faith and how I incorporate it in my fiction. For those who don’t know me, I’m Greg Mitchell. A few years back I penned my “Christian Horror” trilogy The Coming Evil. That one, as you might be able to guess from the genre branding, was very obvious in its faith elements. I’ve also been involved in the Christian film industry, co-writing the screenplay for Amazing Love: The Story of Hosea. Also “in your face” where faith elements are concerned. But I’ve also written other novels since then like HITMEN: Four Tales of Magick, Monsters, and Murder, and my Rift Jump duology of multidimensional cosmic horror/adventure/romance (whew), that straddles the fence between traditional Christian publishing and secular fiction. Most recently I’ve been turning out Syfy Original Movies like Snakehead Swamp and this month’s Zombie Shark—which, to some, has been a far cry from my days writing mainly “Christian Fiction”.

My point is, I’ve written all along the spectrum of “religious fiction”. Therein lies a big struggle in my writing career.

I’m a multi-faceted guy. I love the Word of God and have been a Bible study teacher my entire adult life. I also love monsters and Halloween, as they take me back to a more innocent time when all I had to fear were werewolves by the light of the full moon rather than all these politics and a corrupt world as an adult. I like writing about mutated killer man-eating fish one day, and then the next day writing something more introspective about the difficulties of living out one’s faith in a world that would rather people keep it to themselves. However, I’ve come to find that my readership sometimes has a hard time with these dual aspects of my life. The readers I’ve picked up from my Christian book series are sometimes offended by the “worldliness” in my more secular-served offerings, whereas my Syfy viewers are turned off by the “preachiness” in my faith-driven endeavors. You can’t please everyone, it seems, and to be honest, I’ve yet to find my groove. My fanbase, as it were.

So the question is “Who am I?” Am I the Christian Fiction guy, or the Syfy movie guy?

To me, all these projects, from The Strange Man (the first installment in The Coming Evil Trilogy) to Zombie Shark stem from the exact same wellspring. I don’t see the great divide between sacred and secular in my work, as it’s all coming from the same desire to explore truth. I want to discover the truth about my characters and how they react to the situations they find themselves in—no matter how ridiculous those situations might seem. It is in their reactions, how they turn on each other, or how they overcome obstacles to work together, that I learn about myself. And, of course, my faith is an integral part of that process. As with any writer, my beliefs wholly shape how I see the world as I write it. In some of my works, my characters are Christians, but in others they’re not. And though I may not agree with everything my non-believing characters do or say, they are still obviously filtered through my view of the world. I just couldn’t write from a belief that there was no God, that there was no ultimate justice in the universe. Now, I often write characters who don’t believe that, but that’s never been the reality of their situation from my narrator’s perspective.

But does that make my writing “Christian Fiction”? What does that title even mean?

I grew up wanting to write about things that entertained and excited me, often infusing my faith and ponderings of God. Sometimes those ideas of God were underdeveloped and painfully immature, and I look back on them now and laugh at myself for some of my interpretations of Scripture—but I did learn something in the process of writing those early stories of my childhood. And as I grew older, I continued to “work out my salvation” through my storytelling, putting thoughts on paper—and throwing a monster in there, just to keep things fun. It all made perfect sense to me, this mishmash of faith and fear. I thought, why is it I never see books on the shelves of my local Christian bookstore that are essentially monster books with a Christian underpinning? “There must be a void here! I shall fill it!” When I started my writing career nearly twenty years ago in Christian film (and, later, Christian fiction), though, I found out why there aren’t many such books and certainly no films.

I was immediately bombarded by rules and regulations that I had no idea were in place. It seems that then—and now (for I still hear the same arguments on a daily basis)—the genre is uniquely locked in a perpetual state of self-definition. Maybe I’m wrong: Maybe the science fiction community locks themselves in hidden rooms and discuss for hours what exactly is and is not “science fiction”. Maybe “romance” circles have annual meetings to discuss the parameters that a work should meet before it can truly be labeled “romance fiction”. I don’t know—but it is that way in Christian fiction, at least from what I’ve seen. “What is Christian fiction?” Is it merely a work of fiction written by a believer, stemming from their beliefs? Is it a work of fiction trying to communicate a deeper truth about God’s character or maybe a more Old Testament approach that just shows people living their lives and suffering the consequences for their choices? I used to think so, but now I think many just mean “clean fiction”. “Well, we’re Christian fiction, so we don’t have bad language, graphic violence, sex, and we also have an uplifting positive message…and if you don’t meet that, then you’re out.” It’s the same thing I’ve heard for years, but what it always seemed to boil down to for me is “You’re not Christian enough.” But that seems to be in a lot of our churches, as well. We start judging whether people are Christians or not, using parameters beyond a saving faith in Christ and the fruits of the Spirit. “You don’t look like me, you don’t listen to Christian radio, you don’t eat at Chick-Fil-A enough or read all of LifeWay’s recommended books—you must not really be a Christian.” Being a lover of monsters and rock and roll, myself, that became a very personal battle of mine. “You like horror? Christians don’t like horror. Ergo, you must not be a Christian.” We’re defined by what we’re not. We watch the latest trends and then react to them. We know what we don’t do in Christian fiction, but what DO we do? What should we do? Is the highest goal of Christian art to have “clean art”? Is that really the height that we’re striving to attain?

Look, I’m not saying let’s all have potty mouths or be sexual deviants in our work. Of course we have to be careful not to glorify sin, and we’ve got to have decorum, and properly represent the Lord. Also, I’m certainly not saying let’s never present Jesus. As Christians, we should be presenting Jesus in everything we do, art included, in one form or another. But I think our actual challenge—above all the standards and regulations we put on each other—is to make actual art. Great art that we’re proud of and passionate about. Something that comes from within us, out of our joy for God and His creation, out of our thankfulness for His mercy and inspiration. Shouldn’t that be the goal of “Christian fiction”? Not to be a “safe” version of what the world is offering, but to offer something that the world can’t replicate. Christians have fellowship with the Holy Spirit. We have a direct line to the Creator of space and time. We have heaven as an inheritance, and really the best we can come up with is that we’re the “cleaner alternative to the world”? We have unlimited creative power surging through us. We should be striving to, first and foremost, reach beyond the stars, to discover truths and depths and insight that will inspire others and show them the awesome majesty of God. Isn’t that our calling?

Now, I realize—as the writer of Zombie Shark—that not everything we do is going to be quite so lofty, ha ha. But even in the more frivolous things we may write, we should still delight in our creative expression. We should craft them with a humble spirit and offer them up as thanksgiving to God the Creator. I love when my kids bring me their little crayon drawings or show me stories they wrote, because it came from them. That’s special. I want to believe God looks on us the same way. In everything we write, we should strive for authenticity—namely our own authenticity. I’m not always a good guy, though I want to be. I’m not always the best example of Christ, though I wish I were. I mess up. I get angry and I flail and, yes, sometimes I use a bad word. But Christ loves me. He sees me through. He sees my innermost thoughts that no one ever sees, and yet He still serves as an intercessor for me in the presence of God. There’s a level of honesty and intimacy and transparency and security there that I want to express in my fiction.

I want to write about truth. Not the truth in the world, but the truth in myself. My own ugliness and my own fears. But my hopes, too, and my reliance on God. Again, we come back to the question: Who am I? Do I write Christian Fiction or secular fiction? These days, from my various projects all across the spectrum, I no longer classify myself as either. I’m not concerned with if I’m “Christian enough” to be considered for that genre, and I also don’t want to have to keep up with the world and impress them with my “raw grittiness” to compete with their cynical sensibilities.

Simply put, I write “Greg Fiction”, just like I always have, ever since I was a boy who just wanted to write something that entertained me and gave me an outlet to express myself. That’s my genre, and it’s the one I know best. It might take me longer to find that fanbase who’s looking for Greg Fiction, but I’m content to write where my imagination leads and work out my faith on the page or the screen, if for no other reason than to give back to God my praise, my respect, and my gratitude.

Thanks, Greg! Be sure to check out “Zombie Shark” on SyFy later this month. And be sure to visit Greg’s blog to stay up to date on his projects.

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CHURCH?

Most people who know me know that I was converted to Christ, at the age of twenty-one, in a small Assembly of God church in Southern Missouri. For years, I was a blatantly Charismatic Christian. It wasn’t until I was in my thirties that I started to come around to a Reformed point of view. The misuse of the Charismatic Gifts (in which I DO still believe), was one part of what lead me away from actively Charismatic churches. The other thing was probably the lack of solid theology in the sermons.

Now I’m going to say that I have had a few really good theologian ministers in those churches. Phil Tanner, who led me and my father to Christ, was a good theologian. Christian Salzillo, a youth pastor from Springfield, MO, who left to minister in Georgia, was an on-fire theologian. In fact, the pastors at Parkcrest Assembly in Springfield, for the most part, where good ministers. But that church and Ellsinore Assembly of God, in Ellsionore, MO, seemed to be the exception, rather than the rule.

I also have some really good friends who are still Charismatic Christians. Basically, if you’re on my friends’ list on Facebook and you are a Christian, I know that you are my brother or sister and this blog entry is not about you.

I am an active critic of Joel Osteen. I do not believe that the man is a true minister of the Gospel. He acts as a self-help guru who seasons his messages with just enough Scripture to make people think that they’ve watched church. “Sin” isn’t preached, even though the Good News is that Jesus’s Sacrifice saved us from our sin.

I just had the pleasure (or displeasure, as the case may be) of seeing Osteen’s good friend, David Crank, speaking on television. The sad thing is that the sermon that he was preaching was different than his normal, Prosperity Gospel-laden fare. It COULD have been a good sermon about learning to be thankful in all things. But, he didn’t preach a sermon. He did a half-hour comedy routine. You see, he is not a self-help guru like his friend. He is a stand-up comedian who peppers his routines with just enough Scripture so that his audience can say that they’ve gone to church. He also used his friend’s book title during the routine, telling you that you needed to get to (his) church so that you can “Have your best life now!” I agree with John MacArthur on his response to this book title. “You can’t have your best life now unless you’re going to Hell.”

We need true ministers in the pulpit. Men who are not afraid to preach ALL of the Bible. Men who are not afraid to warn us of sin and Hell. Men who understand that we sometimes have to hear the uncomfortable truth that we are being saved from something and who understand that we are not in church to be entertained. A joke in your sermon? Good. A stand-up routine? If I wanted that, I’d buy a Tim Hawkins video. He’s much better at it.

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