The Blog: Pastor Parsley's Personal Blog

The Single Cure for our ‘Selfie’ Culture

12/16/2013 1:00:00 PM — The linguists/publishers of Oxford Dictionaries annually choose a word of the year – and for 2013, they chose “selfie.” For the uninitiated, a “selfie” is an electronic picture taken of oneself, by oneself, sometimes with others, often with the camera feature of the subject’s own mobile phone. It can be taken while pointing the camera at a mirror or at arm’s length. Recently, President Barack Obama stirred up a bit of controversy at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service when news photographers captured him shooting a selfie with other world leaders.

It’s hard for me to muster up much outrage, or even interest, in what the president did in what was clearly a collegial atmosphere with men and women who are his peers. It’s his business, and it’s not nearly as important as what he believes about public policy. But the prominent example of our “selfie” culture interests me, because I believe it says much about our attitude toward the things of God in general and the cross in particular.

Certainly many of us are fearfully and wonderfully made. But is there any better metaphor than the “selfie” for a people who have become convinced that this life is all about them?Read More

Thoughts on a Season of Clutter

12/9/2013 8:00:00 AM — As I would imagine most churches have done, World Harvest Church has decorated for Christmas. It’s been quite an operation, with volunteers working to set up trees and other seasonal displays over the course of the week to add to what’s already in our foyers, in our tabernacle and other public areas of the church. It was impressive!

Probably many of you have done the same thing on a smaller scale in your homes. Then, sometime after Christmas, the artificial trees, lights, and other supplies will get put away and stored until next year. I don’t mind this at all – in fact, Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year. But I’ve been thinking lately about how adding new items to already crowded places might be an apt metaphor for our lives this time of year.Read More

Thankful – Like the One, or the Nine?

11/22/2013 9:00:00 AM — I’ve learned many patterns for prayer over the years – though nothing is better than the one Jesus gave the disciples in what we call the Lord ’s Prayer. But that’s another post for another day. One of those is the acronym ACTS, standing for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication.

It seems to me that we in the Church too often shorten ACTS to AS. We’re good at telling God He’s great and at asking Him for things. Less so at confessing our sins and thanking Him.

Shortly after Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, and days before entering Jerusalem on the first Palm Sunday, Jesus taught His disciples, and us, a lesson in thanksgiving we still need to heed.Read More

Coming Down from the Mountaintop

11/18/2013 12:00:00 PM — Sometimes, I think Peter gets a bad rap.
Sure, Jesus must have gotten more frustrated with him than the other disciples. So impulsive, and not the most people-oriented person. But he remains a model for how to be sold out for Jesus. And if you’ve got that, we can work on the rest as far as I’m concerned.

I’ve been thinking about Peter this past week, as I reflect on the Worldwide Miracle, Healing and Victory Prayer Cloth service I hosted recently at World Harvest Church. It was a true mountaintop experience for myself and many others associated with this ministry. But just like Peter needed to come down from Mount Hermon after the Transfiguration, we need to move on to what’s next for us.Read More

From Brokenness to Healing

11/8/2013 7:29:00 PM — More than a decade ago, in 2002, the ecumenical men’s ministry Promise Keepers coined a rallying cry that inspired believers across a broad cross-section of faith expressions to one-on-one evangelism: bringing 1 million men to the cross.

It was brilliant, because it accurately quantified the evangelist’s charge: to bring people face to face with the atoning work of Jesus Christ, at which point the work of conversion and discipleship – His work – could begin. It’s important to remember that we can’t save anyone. But we can introduce our friends, neighbors, co-workers and family members to the One who can. When a broken life becomes whole again at the foot of the cross, we rightly call it a miracle. And I’ve been fortunate enough to see many such miracles over more than 30 years of public ministry.

I am looking forward to being a small part of hundreds of thousands of miracles this coming weekend, when our Worldwide Miracle, Healing and Victory Prayer Cloth service is held in Columbus, Ohio. Like the Promise Keepers of the turn of the century, we will be bringing people to the cross, and letting God do in their lives what only He can. Read More

A Bloody Affair – By Divine Design

11/4/2013 1:00:00 PM — It’s been almost 10 years since Mel Gibson’s brilliant film “The Passion of the Christ” was released in theaters.

The movie was notable for many reasons. It showed Hollywood that films with faith-based themes could be moneymakers. “The Passion of the Christ” cost just $30 million to make but took in almost $84 million at the U.S. box office alone on its first weekend. No faith-based movie has been quite as successful since, but the quality of those films has improved greatly as producers realize a well-made film will attract men and women of faith.

“The Passion of the Christ” was important for another reason, as well: it was unflinching in the violence portrayed as Jesus was crucified. You may remember how difficult it was to watch a bloody Jesus hanging on the cross at Golgotha.

Critics recoiled at the realistic depiction of crucifixion. They said it was gratuitous. They said it was inflammatory. They even said it was anti-Semitic. What they could not say was that it was historically inaccurate, because it was not.Read More

The Church's Problem With the Cross

10/28/2013 1:15:00 PM — In doing media interviews for my new book, "The Cross: One Man…One Tree…One Friday," many Christian journalists have pointed out to me that the subject matter is something of a departure for me.

My first thought in response is that anyone who makes that statement hasn't heard me preach very much. But on the surface, I suppose it's true that my trilogy on moral issues – "Silent No More," "Culturally Incorrect" and "Living On Our Heads" – seem to come from a different place than "The Cross."

There's one important connection shared by all four books, though, and it has to do with the aberrant worldview called postmodernism.Read More

What Binds Us Together

10/21/2013 11:15:00 AM — Chances are if you’ve attended a wedding, church camp or youth rally at any time in the past three decades, you’ve sung or heard Bob Gillman’s song “Bind Us Together.” The refrain goes like this:

Bind us together, Lord, bind us together
With cords that cannot be broken.
Bind us together, Lord,
Bind us together,
Bind us together with love.

There is only one God,
There is only one King;
There is only one Body,
That is why we sing

Scripture has a lot to say about believers being bound together by covenant and in community. I certainly believe in the importance of gathering together as bodies of believers for worship, prayer and fellowship. Our church has a small-group ministry, called LifeGroups, for precisely that reason.

In that sense, the cross – the central truth of the Christian faith – binds believers together. Look around a Christian community that you are a part of the next time you are together – what are the odds that the same group of people would gather together for any other reason than a common faith in Jesus Christ? Slim, I would guess.

In my research for my new book, “The Cross: One Man...One Tree...One Friday,” I learned about another sense in which the cross binds us together. Read More

Famous Last Words, Indeed

10/14/2013 12:05:00 PM — When I was in my 20s, the world of contemporary Christian music was both smaller and more genre-inclusive than it is today. One of the more popular Christian artists at that time was Don Francisco, who brought a folk-music sensibility to Gospel narratives. He’s probably best known for “He’s Alive,” the story of the first Easter morning written in the voice of the apostle Peter.

Another essential Don Francisco song, “Too Small a Price,” has come to mind frequently since I began writing my new book, “The Cross: One Man…One Tree…One Friday.” The epic song (there’s a version here) is an account of the crucifixion told in the voice of one of the thieves who was executed at the same time as Jesus. Specifically, he was the one to whom Jesus said (in Francisco’s lyric), “Before the sun has set today, you'll be with Me in Paradise.”

Last words are important, aren’t they? Read More

Our Common Denominator

10/7/2012 4:02:00 PM — Twice last week in the tabernacle of World Harvest Church – at our midweek service and the next day at Valor Christian College’s weekly chapel service – a dance team from Pastor Louis Reyes’s Church of Joy in Zion, Ill., ministered. The team had a great impact on our students and the staff and faculty alike. But the team’s ministry was clearly targeted specifically to the age group represented by the majority of Valor students – less so to those with bifocals and gray hair.

There’s no shame in that; the Gospel is expressed artistically in a multitude of ways. The only problem is when the old folks in the audience decide reflexively that a hip-hop song can’t be “of God,” or when younger people turn their noses up at a choral anthem, mistaking a lack of volume for a lack of passion.

There is one thing that our varied expressions of faith can, and should, unite around, however, and that is the cross of Calvary. Read More