It’s not looking good for Eddie Lee Long-–Bishop of Atlanta’s 25,000 member New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. Just last week, a penetrating spotlight was directed towards this mesmerizing messenger who dines with heads of state and celebrities. It took most by surprise when four young men alleged that their spiritual father had committed unspiritual incest.
PROLOG (given by a narrator)
We have all been told that in the hereafter there will be those who arrive in heaven without having heard the gospel message. This is a story about one such woman. She had lived her entire life in an isolated area of the country, an area that certain believers fled to in the final days of earth’s history. As our story opens the woman, Mary Jane, is sitting on her front porch, smoking a cigarette and worrying about some folks she had sheltered just the night before.
Recently I ran across a story that contained the headline, “Hole in Space”. It’s about the Herschel telescope’s discovery of a massive expanse in a nebula that appears to be empty of matter — the result, they surmise, of a young star spewing jets of gas that clear everything away.
The headline caught my eye because of a story it brought to mind from my childhood.
It was a great attention grabber: “Kirk Franklin’s X-Rated Secret.” It piqued my interest, and on Wednesday of that particular week I joined the tens of millions of viewers who tuned in to “Oprah.” During the Queen of Talk’s opening remarks, it soon became evident that this was to be a serious show. My analytical mind was soon to be disappointed when I discovered that “X” was not being used as a symbol for the Christian cross. This “X” stood for “explicit,” “excessive,” and “extreme.” This “X” stood for “censored,” “obscene,” and “crude.”
God has been good to men. He gave
His Only Son their souls to save,
And then he made a second gift,
Which from their dreary lives should lift
The tyrant's yoke and set them free
From all who'd throttle liberty.
He gave America to men —
Fashioned this land we love, and then
Deep in her forest sowed the seed
Which was to serve man's earthly need.
The gospel of Luke records that one woman was so impressed with Jesus that she sought to give him honor by shouting out, “Blessed is the womb that bore thee and the paps which thou has sucked.” (Luke 11:27) According to one writer, she was basically saying, “You are a wise and great teacher, Jesus – wasn’t your mother’s reproductive system wonderful!” (1)
I remember a church board meeting years ago, where one member arrived highly indignant. I have mercifully forgotten the issue, though it was probably something like a special music piece he thought too secular-sounding, or someone had gone up front wearing a wedding ring. Back then, those seemed very important.
The award winning movie, The Blind Side is based on a chapter in the life of Michael Oher, offensive tackle for the Baltimore Ravens football team. The son of a single mother trapped in the prison of addiction, Oher was left to fend for himself as a teenager and eventually became homeless. Enter Leigh Anne Tuohy, a privileged and opinionated White southern Republican, who was so moved to compassion that she “adopted” the socially disadvantaged descendant of African slaves into her family.
Martha wanted to be a disciple of Jesus. She wanted to follow him and learn from him. But she was held back by her social conditioning that said women have their roles and their place. Theological studies were what men did. Women were to care for men’s physical needs so that men could devote their time to study. Preparing meals was important work. But Martha longed to discuss deeper spiritual matters and the things of God.