I drove by a church today here in Albuquerque that is selling fireworks out of a huge tent in their parking lot. When I came back to my office, I read a story about a church in Louisiana that does this too. Interesting. Here’s the story:
The House of Prayer First United Pentecostal Church in Thibodaux, Louisiana has been selling fireworks in their church parking lot since 1994. This year, the church plans to use money from fireworks sales to pay off debt on its building, which was once owned by Lowe’s. In the past, money raised from fireworks sales has also been used toward mission work in foreign countries.
The fireworks sold this season could bring the church as much as $15,000-20,000 after taxes, said Ronnie Melancon, pastor for more than 25 years. He expects the church to be debt free by the end of this year.
One church member said this about the church: “We’re really fun-loving and we enjoy life. We’re not a cult. We just love Jesus…and fireworks.”
By the way: for those who are concerned about mixing the message of Jesus with potentially unsafe fireworks, the church offers parents the option of buying bags with safer fireworks specifically designed for younger children!
According to a poll from the Pew Research Center For The People and The Press/Smithsonian Magazine, the next 40 years are looking bright to most Americans. By 2050, 71% believe that cancer will be cured, 66% say artificial limbs will work better than real ones, and 81% believe computers will be able to have conversations like humans.
The results were compiled from telephone and online interviews with 1,546 adults in April. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points, according to Pew. Here are some other findings of the poll:
• 68% of those under 30 predict a world war by 2050.
• 53% say ordinary people will travel in space
• 72% believe the world is likely to experience a major worldwide energy crisis by 2050.
• 42% say it is likely that scientists will be able to tell what people are thinking by scanning their brains but 55% say this will definitely or probably not happen.
• 89% believe a woman will be elected US president by 2050.
• 41% say Jesus Christ will return within the next 40 years while 46% say this will definitely or probably not happen.
• 31% expect the planet will be struck by an asteroid.
I used to live in southern Ohio, and about 10 times a year, I’d make the trek from my home in Dayton to a Reds game in Cincinnati. Every time I did, I would drive by a giant and horribly gaudy statue on the east side of I-75 just north of Cincinnati of Jesus coming up out of the water with his hands in the air. It sits in front of Solid Rock Church and is known by its members as the “King of Kings”. However, to everyone else, it’s known as “Touchdown Jesus”.
I always thought it was a bit much and kinda ridiculous…and evidently, so does the Lord Himself. On Monday night, Touchdown Jesus was struck by lightning and destroyed by fire!
According to Monroe, OH police, lightning appears to have struck the right hand of the giant Touchdown Jesus statue, sparking a fire that rapidly consumed the Styrofoam and fiberglass structure. Here are some of the excerpts of the actual 911 calls over the Touchdown Jesus fire.
Caller: Reports a “bolt of lightning” has hit the statue.
Dispatcher: “Jesus is on fire?”
Caller: “I swear to God, this not a prank … I am serious. I just saw it get struck by lightning.”
Dispatcher: “I believe you.”
Caller: “I know it’s not funny, but literally his one hand is on fire.”
Another Caller: “Lightning hit the Touchdown Jesus monument, and it’s flaming.”
Church officials say they will rebuild a bigger and better Touchdown Jesus monument. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy the fact that it no longer stands for all of southern Ohio to see – and laugh at.
I was shocked and saddened when I learned this week that Christian rock pioneer Dana Key had died unexpectedly from a ruptured blood clot last Sunday night at the age of 56. Key was the co-founder of the Christian rock band DeGarmo and Key back in the 1970’s and was serving as senior pastor of The Love of Christ Church in Cordova, Tennessee at the time of his death.
Dana Key is credited as one of the early innovators of Christian rock, and with his longtime friend Eddie DeGarmo, founded DeGarmo and Key over thirty years ago. Evidently, the two were lifelong friends, and DeGarmo led Key to Christ at the age of 15.
I have most of their albums and loved their straight-forward rock-and-roll music. Some of their lyrics were profound, and some of them were a bit cheesy – but whose weren’t back in the 80’s?! My turntable spun their albums a lot when I was a teen, and occasionally, I’ll listen to their stuff even today. Streetlight is – in my opinion – their best album, and I still consider it one of my favorite Christian albums from the 80’s.
DeGarmo and Key recorded 17 albums, picked up seven Grammy nominations and 17 Dove Award nominations. They also wrote major hits for other artists including Amy Grant and Sandi Patty, and have influenced generations of Christian musicians.
I saw them in concert twice, and at one of the shows I attended, a little-known threesome named DC Talk opened up for them. That’s how good they were in their prime. They were the headliner while DC Talk (who worked as D&K’s road crew) was the opening act!
Of course, Dana Key’s life was lived well beyond the music. He was married and had three children (all of whom survive), and he was a beloved pastor of a vibrant Tennessee congregation. Please pray with me for his grieving family and congregation.
Here’s a vintage DeGarmo and Key video from 1986. Dana Key is the lead singer.
Is this what the pulpit ought to be used for? Associate Pastor Christopher Benek of Providence Presbyterian Church in Hilton Head, South Carolina recently gave a sermon about (and to) NBA star Lebron James (aka King James). The Ohio native is a big LeBron fan and recently took an opportunity from the pulpit to speak about “The King” and to challenge him to stay with his team in Cleveland rather than leaving for another team.
“LeBron James should agree to a three year contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers to play for one dollar each season,” says Benek. He says that the one dollar salary would allow the Cleveland Cavaliers to sign some other all star players, and LeBron could help bring a championship to Northeast Ohio.
Benek also believes that this act of generosity would show Christians that serving others is not about money, it’s about giving up what would obviously make life better on earth, for a chance to receive the grace of God in heaven. Not too sure how biblically accurate it is to connect LeBron giving up his salary with a chance for him to receive God’s grace in heaven, but Benek did it nonetheless.
Benek says that if LeBron agrees to the one dollar per year salary that he will also agree to give up his salary from the church and serve for one dollar per year. LeBron will be fine if he does this because of the millions he receives in endorsements each year. However, I doubt Pastor Benek has that kind of extra cash coming in. I sure hope he ran this past his wife before he made this declaration.
I guess I wasn’t aware that preaching about and to your favorite sports teams and players was acceptable. Now that I’m aware, I’m planning a summer sermon series entitled: “Why, O Why Did You Do That, Big Ben?” It will be a challenge to Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger to give up partying at college bars for three years so that he’ll stay out of trouble and become an even greater quarterback. If he agrees to give up the college bar scene, then I’m prepared to give it up as well.
Join me each Sunday this summer at 9AM. Steelers jersey optional.