Category Archives: Philadelphia Worship

Cheesesteak Challenge: A Scriptural Defense

Cheesesteak ChallengeSeveral of us from the Philly area went out yonder (6 hours yonder) to near the Ohio state line in order to join with 6 other Houses Of Prayer in PA. Special thanks to Dennis and Ralph at the Altar HOP in Meadville for pulling off something unpredented in recent history around here.

We had ourselves a blast, what with all our declarations, proclamations, and other utterances. At one point our generous team even had an altar call of sorts for anyone who would like to try to beat the living tar out of the timpani in the front and obliterate the worship band’s rhythmic cohesion in the process.

Yet at one point in the weekend, my disciples came unto me saying something like, “why dost thou offerest the cheesesteak challenge, whilst Jamie’s disciples fast?” And verily I did speak, saying the same:

Did not our Lord speak, saying that we shouldst use our mammon to make ourselves friends amongst the heathen? So that they might find the truth and have eternal rewards?

And should I not use my resources to recognize and reward those, yea those even in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, who do not cease to pray night and day for the harvest?

And is not the Cheesesteak a principality over our city? And are not those who partake of its gluttonies in need of deeper soul food? Are not its proprietors and workers themselves members of an Unreached People Group?

Yet I was somewhat reviled at first, until I was able to find said passage in Luke 16:9.

I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.

Now, it DID take me a few minutes to find the scripture, without being distracted by taunts and false lifelines (“maybe it’s in Hezekiah 2:14!” “have you tried Isaiah 67?”) but in the end the scripture was proclaimed, and my detractors were silenced.

And then we all discovered the local Steak & Shake, which almost none of us had ever seen before.

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How Close This Came to Failing…

Regarding Philadelphia’s city council decision to celebrate itself as a “Pro-Choice City”:

The proclamation came very close to failing. As the roll was called, Councilman Frank DiCicco paused for several moments, clearly agonizing over how to vote, before finally saying “aye.”

[so this guy didn’t even have his mind made up beforehand???]

Rigali’s [diocese of Philadelphia’s Bishop] letter called the “pro-choice” designation a “shameful label.”

“Philadelphia is experiencing homicide at a record rate; now is not the time to affirm the false choice of procured abortion,” his letter said.

“What’s shameful is to equate reproductive rights with homicide,” said Dayle Steinberg, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania.

[hmm…]

Planned Parenthood helped Brown draft the resolution, and Steinberg applauded Brown for having the “courage to introduce something that shouldn’t be controversial but is.”

[did you catch that? this is what is so deceptive about living on the east coast – these subtle insinuations that I should be ashamed of my convictions]

“We are certain that this resolution is reflective of the opinions of a majority of Philadelphians,” Steinberg said.

[but you have IMPOSED YOUR MORALITY upon ALL Philadelphians]

Once the resolution was approved, Philadelphia joined the ranks of a small group of mostly liberal California cities that have made similar proclamations, including Berkeley, Santa Cruz and West Hollywood.

[SF has yet to enact this resolution? what about Vegas or NYC?]

Source

Who is there in this city that can let me know that stuff like this is being considered in ADVANCE? I’d rather be proactive and less “intolerant” in my retroactive angst. Plus, the Bible tells us that we need to be praying for our leaders instead of just blogging about them… If this was NOT a life and death issue, I might be a bit more civil in my postings.

Philadelphia is a “Pro-Choice City”

The stuff I hear when I’m waking up to the news.

Apparently the only people in an uproar about this is the local Diocese of Philadelphia.

Who’s minding the store in Philly? This resolution passed 9 to 8. Had I any clue this was happening, I would have come just short of harassing my council[person]. This resolution was proposed to a councilperson by Planned Parenthood, a civil and tolerant organization by some accounts.

Anyone think the homicide rate will stay under 400 this year?

OUR RESPONSE

Obviously I’m not encouraged by this. We have 3 responses –

#1 – I will call this the “Angry Religious Pennsylvania Response”

Otherwise known as the “Handwringer”. In this response, we follow my frustrated direction of this post and just start letting all sorts of negative thoughts and words pass out of our mouths. We damn all of the people involved in this vote that we disagree with and we appeal to God based on our frustration and our disagreement with this vote. For some reason (tax and crime rates perhaps) many of those in this group live in the country or the suburbs rather than right in the city limits (where they have a small vote).

#2 – Tolerant East Coast Urbanite Response –

This is the “Whatever will be, will be” response. If you are a Philadelphian you might not even have a problem or disagree with any of this vote for that matter… But let’s say you didn’t want your leaders making an official declaration on your behalf. Well what can you do? God must’ve allowed it, after all He is “sovereign”. Just go about your day and think about the Sermon on the Mount and social justice (the kind that serves the poor who are outside the womb) and somehow it will all work out in the end [From what I understand, Calvin was not a hyper-calvinist, and travailed in much prayer for his world]. Many of this group may live in the city out of a compassion for the needs, but may be blinded to their ability to respond to some of these larger political issues.

#3 – Loving, Intolerant, Respectful Response

This response has finally been showing up on the radar. The “loving, respectful” part is for our 9 councilperson majority and for the verse that says that we must respect and pray for our leaders, who have been set up by God. It’s also for the people that are in favor of this resolution and the lobbyists at Planned Parenthood. People have dignity and we are supposed to bless those we are at serious odds with and treat them well.

There is another realm where a lack of tolerance is called for. Is it possible for us to pray in a loving but intolerant manner for a changing of the heart of this city back to “brotherly love” and back to the God of William Penn. Why did Daniel pray a prayer in chapter 9 that identifies with the people he disagreed with (“Lord, WE have sinned”)? By the way we also live according to the Sermon on the Mount and also do all we can to serve the poor and continue the social justice end, rather than ignoring these huge needs.

Let’s go with Door #3. Here’s a group doing just that in DC.

Prayer at Independence Hall

This was last month during the National Day of Prayer. My friends were rocking out in front of Independence Hall before the event started. Notice the giant mound of dirt. Several cool details to come in a future post. For now, here is a video of it. Great song by Don Potter to boot.

Alms for the Homeless: Don’t Try This at Home

Work for FoodAfter my slot at Temple last Friday, I was driving through the back street of Philly when a most surprising thing happened:

I got to buy lunch for a homeless guy.

Now it has been about 4 years since the last time I was able to do this, when I lived in Cleveland. Now Cleveland is a much smaller, friendlier city, and I came close to perfecting a technique on how to separate the “sheep from the goats” in the panhandling arena.

Now because I am a follower of Christ, I take his words seriously regarding giving to those in need – feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the incarcerated. I do not need to be of a particular political persuasion to have compassion for the poor. So when someone asks me for food on the street, I attempt to take them up on it. It is just so fun to buy lunch for someone who is hungry, because it is better to give than to receive.

And it can be a lot of fun too. I remember a game show called “SuperMarket Sweep” in which people have to stuff lots of food in their shopping cart. What I do is a pathetically scaled down version of the “bonus round” of that show. Without being disrespectful of the person I am helping or their plight, thinking of this interaction in terms of a game show helps me maintain an upbeat persona that assists in maintaining gentle control over the whole situation.

Unfortunately, there is a high proportion of people who choose their words rather sloppily, for when I take them up on their request for “food”, they flip-flop on me and expect “money for food” or “money” or something like that.

This guy, Lonnie, was soliciting “food” from a row of cars I was behind at a stoplight, which is a common occurrance in Philly. An effective means of fundraising for many seemingly legit organizations too. Very hard for motorists to avoid them.

Anyhow, he asked for food at my window just as the light turned green. I was running out of time, fast. I realized that I might have an opportunity on my hands to provide for the needy and even that it could be an “angel” (see Hebrews). I want to be faithful in my almsgiving, and took him up on it.

“GET IN THE CAR!” I said.

(Disclaimer: I am obviously very unique in this view. This is potentially dangerous. However I drive a 17 year old Honda and realize the key to panhandling situations is to 1. take control nicely of the situation and 2. allow the other party to be free to decline their original offer at any time, while 3. confessing Psalm 91 often)

So I took him to a tiny Philly corner market and announced to him that I would buy him all the food he wanted there, up to $10 worth of food. He immediate counter-offered to simply subcontract the allocation of these funds, to which I referred back to his original terms of request, “food”, and told him it was his decision whether he wanted food or not. Also I mentioned that I am not actually in control of the money, it is not “mine”, I am just a steward of it. I think he may have been annoyed by this, but he was the one who got us into this situation.

As we walked to the end of the block upon parking, he again attempted to solicit funds for cigarettes and a fake Rolex that was being sold on the corner. Again I referred to the original verbal terms of our agreement.

Here is where it got interesting: in Cleveland everyone, male or female, who I bought food for knew what to get: the Rotisserie Chicken! It made sense when I thought about it. Well remember, this is Philly, home of Rocky. I underwrote a gallon of milk, coke (a 2 liter of it), and 2 cartons of raw eggs. I thought “how is this guy gonna hard-boil his eggs?” But then I remembered that Rocky DRANK the eggs.

Lonnie only used up about $7 of food, and I attempted to avail him of the full amount. Turned out that he made a last attempt to cash in for the $3 that he didn’t use but it was too late and outside the terms of our deal.

The low point of the interaction was that he refused my offer to pray off his nicotine addiction. I said “I don’t mean to be disrespectful of your struggle, but I will pray for you and believe that God will break off the need for cigarettes”. He didn’t take me up on it, but I went ahead and prayed for him behind his back anyhow.

In my car at the next light, I turned my head toward a building and read the engraved words, “A HOUSE OF PRAYER”, zoomed out and it was a beautiful church with that verse on it. Go figure!

Bloggin’ in the Prayer Room

A few hours ago I was in the middle of a “24” (24 hour prayer session). We do them monthly at one of the churches I go to (there are… FOUR!… yeah seriously). I know there are rules in other HOPs forbidding the practice of prayer room blogging, but we are not anywhere close to legislating such laws around here! I achieved the task of upgrading the blog Banner that you have undoubtably noticed. The picture is of Philly as well!

Well it was way intense at times. At this point in time I am sort of a displaced prayer guy without a central base of operations. I must say that there is an awful lot I have fallen into prayer wise in the last 2 months. Now my Friday and Saturday looks like this (when there is a 24).

Friday 2-4 pm – Temple HOP session. Yesterday it took almost an hour to break through.

Friday 8-12 pm – “Watch of the Lord” at Jamie’s church. Didn’t do this last night, instead…

Saturday 4-6 am – Went to bed at 730 pm after fixin’ myself a pastrami with some horseradish. Sweet. Got up too late at 3am (HOP is 30 miles away) and almost was late. There was nothing to break through here because:

1. It is 4 am – prime prayer time

2. No unauthorized people in the room at 4 am. They are all ready to go.

3. Was fresh off of breaking through at Temple. It rocked.

I did Psalm 73, and had done Psalm 37 (it’s dyslexic twin Psalm) at Temple. I find a common thread in both of these regarding near burnout and dissillusionment, that I can really relate to. So we prayed for those struggling with maintaining a redemptive view of God. Powerful.

In case you’re wondering, all this driving does add up. I’m proud to say my ’90 Honda has passed the 290K mark!

Cheesesteak Challenge Winner, Part 2

Part 2: Here is the first WINNER of the Cheesesteak Challenge:

Winner of Cheesesteak Challenge
Jamie is a worship leader out here who has been doing 12 and 24 hour prayer sessions locally for close to a decade now. When I first moved to Philly 3 years ago I found out about his past involvement and briefly swapped emails a couple times but never got to meet him… until last month!

I recently found out about a Friday Night 8-12 that they do at his church only 15 minutes away from me (in Philly, NOTHING is only 15 minutes away!).
He also showed up for my Friday 2-4pm set at the Temple HOP. The TUHOP is currently under 10 structured hours per week, so I continue to maintain that Philly is the largest city without a significant HOP presence. This HOP is about 3 miles north of center city Philadelphia, which is a very sweet spot for prayer. Conversational highlights included the following:

1. How God has been raising up 24/7 in Philly, under the radar

2. Speculations on what the prayer movement in Philly is really like in terms of Ethnicity, Style, Focus and Vision

3. Prophetic Hip/Hop and Intercessory Rap (neither of us is adept at this as you can see from the photo)

4. The role of the Cheesesteak in eschatology (the End Times)

Jamie concurs with my theory that the last commercial subsector to hold out against the mark of the Beast will be Authentic Cheesesteak Joints (ACJs). This is because one of the marks of an ACJ (pun intended) is to take CASH ONLY. I put this to the test, paying for the challenge with a $50 dollar bill. The guy didn’t even flinch at this large denomination, which is often refused by credit card-friendly merchants.

ONLY 10 DAYS LEFT for the Cheesesteak Challenge!