A Time for Jesus

The cover of Time magazine for June 21, 1971

Time was when Jesus got top-billing.
The headlines were unmistakable.
In cover-story proportions,
God got our attention
(or at least attempted to).

And time and time again,
God’s Spirit manifests itself
in life altering ways.
Be it at an altar near the front of a church
or in an outdoor sanctuary
in a baptistry of ocean waves,
faith is celebrated
in never-to-be-forgotten ways.

But sadly, given the times we live in today,
too many have forgotten
what God has done
and what He has promised to do.

It’s time to be reminded.
It’s time to be revived.
It’s time for God to restore
the years that the locusts have destroyed.
It’s time Jesus gets top-billing once again.

Hugh Steven (my father-in-law) wrote The Reproducers in 1972. It is the original history chronicling the early days of Pastor Chuck Smith and Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa. You can read the entire book online by going to…

Check out this trailer to the movie Jesus Revolution

A Classic Movie with a Timeless Message

Greg Asimakoupoulos interviews Karolyn Grimes about her role in The Bishop’s Wife

Last month was Breast Cancer Awareness month. But for the last twenty-five years or so, October has also been observed as Pastor Appreciation Month. Churches throughout the country look for tangible ways to recognize pastors and priests for the contribution they make in our lives.

Needless-to-say, clergy serve on the frontlines of warring factors in our culture. They play a significant role in combatting injustice and self-destructive tendencies. Often, however, their efforts are overlooked. Their attempts at compassion are easily camouflaged. At the retirement community where I serve as chaplain, we recently invited area clergy to our campus and honored them with a special lunch and a small gift. They were grateful.

Having been in the ministry for more than four decades, I know firsthand the joys and challenges pastors face week in and week out year after year. Someone has aptly stated that the clergy person’s rewards are out of this world. But the struggles he or she faces are very much in the here-and-now.

One of those challenges common to the typical clergyman is taming the inner beast known as ego. What pastor or priest has not wanted to grow his congregation or parish? What person of the cloth has not looked for tangible ways to earn the respect and recognition of his or her peers? Who of them has not known the hunger for power and influence that becomes insatiable at times?

While that unhealthy hunger is hardly abnormal, it is also hardly new. The lust for power and recognition has cost too many celebrity pastors their reputation. The inner conflict that can destroy the gifted has been dramatized on the silver screen over the decades.

One of those films celebrates its 75th anniversary this year.  “The Bishop’s Wife” starring David Niven, Loretta Young and Cary Grant portrays the inner struggle of an ambition-driven cleric. Although this timeless picture was remade in 1996 as “The Preacher’s Wife” (with Whitney Houston and Denzel Washington), there is no replacing the original. I ought to know. “The Bishop’s Wife” is this chaplain’s wife’s favorite Christmas film. We watch it every year.

One of the actors in “The Bishop’s Wife” is a friend of mine. Karolyn Grimes, who played the part of Debby (the Bishop’s young daughter) is now eighty-two years old. Karolyn was also in “It’s a Wonderful Life” (my favorite Christmas movie) as George Bailey’s daughter Zuzu. Having spent time with Karolyn, I know that playing the role of the bishop’s daughter was a highlight of her young acting career.

Curiously, Karolyn once told me that David Niven (who portrayed the ego-motivated minister in “The Bishop’s Wife”) had his own struggles as an actor. He didn’t like children. Karolyn related much better to Cary Grant, whose angelic role on screen was replicated in real life.

As with Frank Capra’s “Wonderful” film about Mary Bailey’s husband George, “The Bishop’s Wife” deals with a dark plot. In both black-and-white classics, we see desperate men calling on God for guidance. In the underrated movie that exposes the over-ambitious clergyman, the film ends with a redemptive conclusion. The bishop discovers his identity is not tied to the construction of a new cathedral. Instead, he finds (with the help of an angel) that his life and ministry is most fulfilled by serving those most in need of his care. And those include his wife and daughter.

As one who has tasted the sweet (but forbidden) fruit of ambition, I understand the seductive nature of success. A bout with clinical depression thirty years ago proved to be the reality check I needed. An undisciplined ego demands a high cost. Examining my motives, I determined to invest my limited energy in those around me. As a result, this chaplain’s wife can attest to my contentment and hers.

And so, I commend to you “The Bishop’s Wife.” This movie celebrating a milestone anniversary offers a glimpse of the humanity of those clothed in holy garb. But it also reminds us that investing in people (and not brick-and-mortar) results in the most lasting value.

Greg’s book,
Wonderful Life
is listed on the
BOOKS menu
at $16.50
Lulu Books.

Greg’s book,
Finding God in
It’s a Wonderful Life
is listed on the
BOOKS menu
at $2.99-$14.99
Lulu Books.

Goodbye Mrs. Potts

A poetic tribute to Angela Lansbury, a giant of stage and screen

Murder she wrote,
but Disney she sang.
Mrs. Potts fit her role to a tee.
(Just ask Chip!)

Yes, Angela had the voice of an angel.
She was hardly short on talent.
This Mame truly could coax the blues right out of the horn.
She could dance and act and sing.

This beauty was truly a beast when if came to hard work.
Mrs. Potts poured herself into all she attempted.
Playing Elizabeth Taylor’s sister
or Elvis Presley’s mother,
she was all in.

A rather tall woman,
she stood head and shoulders
above her peers.
No wonder we looked up to her the way we did
and the way we will continue to.

Peace to her memory!

*My wife and I had the privilege of hearing Angela Lansbury talk about her life and her career at the Lesher Center in Walnut Creek, California three decades ago. That was about the time we visited Mendocino (on the California coast) for the first time. While there we drank in the quaint setting where “Murder She Wrote” was filmed for a dozen years.

It’s Time for October Ball!

Here comes the Judge with a bat instead of a gavel.

At last it is October Ball
when the Boys of Summer shine.
Forget what happened back last spring.
The Fall means playoff time!

The Judge is ready to hold court.
His Yankees are in tow.
And then there is that Mariner
whose name is Julio.

This is the very time of year
when baseball fans appear
who for six months were MIA
but now are perched to cheer.

Excitement builds. The Series waits!
But what two teams will play?
October Ball will find us hooked
as we watch day-by-day.

Check out…

A Prayer for God’s Reign

King Charles walks with those who carry his mother’s casket at her funeral

With half the world
we watched, O God,
as one so dearly loved
was carried on the shoulders of our grief.

In silence and in song,
we heard You speak, Lord.
Through the words of Your Book,
we were reminded
of the pages of our lives
still being written.

Ironically, we recognize that
a world divided by race, religion, injustices and war
was united in this sacred moment
by a common task:
to remember Her Grace,
with somber gratitude,
as we contemplate Yours.

We acknowledge our alienation
from one another
and from You.
We confess our need of a Savior.
We embrace the gifts
of His presence and forgiveness.

For Elizabeth,
we voice our praise.
With knowledge of Your sovereign reign, we quiet our pride.
With a desire for Thy Kingdom come,
Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven, we pray.