Preach for the Stars

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The grand-prize last question, the point of the skit, emerges when Stu cuts through the jocularity to read a long prayer and ask the teams: Who wrote this? "This is serious," he says. Everyone's ears perk up.

"Heavenly father," Stu reads, "we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and seek your direction and guidance...We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and inverted our values.

"We confess that:
"We have ridiculed the absolute truth of your word and called it moral pluralism.

"We have worshipped other gods and called it multiculturalism.
"We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle.
"We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.
"We have neglected the needy and called it self-preservation.
"We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.
"We have killed our unborn and called it choice.
"We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable.
"We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building esteem.
"We have abused power and called it political savvy.
"We have coveted our neighbors' possessions and called it ambition.

"We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression.

"We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment."

The prayer ends with a request that God "cleanse us from every sin and set us free" and that he "guide and bless" these people "who have been sent here by the people of Kansas." All this in Christ's name.

This was the prayer that Wichita pastor Joe Wright recited at the Kansas Legislature in January 1996, provoking an uproar. In May 1996 Arvada Republican lawmaker Mark Paschall read a version of Wright's prayer to the Colorado House. It caused a row there, too.

While Joe Wright's prayer reverberates in the Chapel of Champions, a few men come forward to testify to the wonderful male bonding at the Promise Keepers D.C. rally.

Then Ryle tells everyone to turn to Judges 5:2. That book of the Old Testament is a history of who slew whom and who ruled in ancient Israel. The "judges" were actually guerrilla leaders, and all of the leaders were men except for Deborah, the subject of Chapters 4 and 5. In Chapter 4, the ancient Israelis win a war (they take no prisoners), but a woman is hero. In Chapter 5, Deborah sings about it. Verse 2: "When the princes in Israel take the lead, when the people willingly offer themselves--praise the Lord!"

"Not the princesses," Ryle says, "but the princes! What else can you do but say 'Hallelujah'?"

A woman asking for men to take over. Praise the Lord.
Inspired, Stu the Brooklyn Jew stands to make his own "impromptu" revelation. After he converted to Christ six and a half years ago, he says, he decided to call his rabbi to ask which part of the Old Testament he had read at his bar mitzvah. It was Judges 4:4 through 5:31. A holy coincidence. "The Lord gave me a sign tonight," Stu says.

And Ryle feels inspired, too.
"The Lord has shown me how to build great men," he says. "I am undertaking the responsibility of leading the men of this church. Our motto: Building great men to build great people who will love the great savior and fulfill the Great Commission. If this doesn't happen, we're just blowing smoke. We need to exemplify for our wives and children. We will be the princes who will take the lead."

Forming small groups of men to bond with is the answer, he instructs. Five values are the key: Worship, discipleship, community, ministry and evangelism.

Ryle drills his men on the characteristics of those five values, making them write their thoughts on color-coded cards that have been distributed to each table.

Uh-oh--is that a pink card? "I don't want to say 'pink' in a group of men," says Ryle, "so I'll call it a 'salmon-colored' card."

His goal for the Chapel of Champions is the creation of eighty small groups of five men each. "That's the target," he says, "and I won't rest until I'm surrounded by people who do those five things, sharing Christ with unbelievers.

"You fill a place with people like that, and we'll kick some butt and take some names. Right? Right!

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Ward Harkavy
Contact: Ward Harkavy