Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Peculiar People

Listening to Purple People Leader series on iTunes this morning, by Steven Furtick of Elevation Church. Great message! My favorite quote from the first sermon - "Stop trying to fit in and stand out for the glory of God!" Cool is not what we try to do to be like them. Cool is what we do that is different - fidelity, not getting drunk, telling the truth, living with integrity. Start being exceptional! He's rocking this sermon series in a big way! I'm pumped up. "You're not an abnormal person living in a normal world, you're a normal person living in an abnormal world."

I am trying a new multi-media experience this morning too, which I am really liking. I have iTunes on, listening to his sermon, but I also have some KJ-52 on in the background on Windows media player, playing at the same time but at a little lower volume. It sets his whole sermon to a rocking soundtrack and I love it!! It's really neat to see how the music changes and how that influences how you "read" what he's saying. I'm going to be doing this with a lot of people/soundtrack mixes in the future. I am a big fan of multi-tasking. So, this morning, I'm working, listening to a sermon, and music all at the same time (while drinking coffee! - OH!!!).

Work as for the Lord, and not for men.

Here's the link to his sermon - http://www.elevationchurch.org/mediaPlayer.php?sermon=158

Monday, February 23, 2009

Keepin it Real

I love the internet! It has been such a good friend to me over the last few years. It has helped me get jobs, informed me on tons of stuff, showed me the upcoming weather, and allowed for many a game to be played during boring times. But it has also been an interactive network of people who are inspiring me and influencing my life in a big way. I download sermons through iTunes and listen to them while driving or while at work. I read tons of blogs - thank you Google Reader! I check out church websites, and other websites that have helped to really get me thinking. I also read tons of books. Ok, not as many as some people I know, but more than the average bear. I finished three books last week!

And it was in one of those books - "it" by Craig Groeschel - that I was reminded of something very important. I need to make sure I am worshipping God, and not the things written about God. It was something Craig said he had gotten caught up in one time. He was reading everything he could get his hands on about churches and worship, and leadership - but in the meantime he hadn't been spending significant time with God, and it hurt his ministry. I too fall into this temptation. How tricky is that? Reading books about God (when done in excess) can lead us away from Him. The truth is, you'll never get more benefit than having that personal relationship with God. And that means spending significant time with Him, and in His Word, every day. Books and the internet are certainly good tools, but all things in moderation.

Don't forget to keep it real by staying in the real world and worshipping the real God.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

New Video Tool - Animoto

One of my friends showed me this the other day and I loved it. This is a video of Ross's first 7 months. The song choice isn't an exact fit, but I still liked it. Enjoy!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Prophetic Words from the Past

I just finished reading God in the Wasteland by David F. Wells. I had to read it for class, and I cruised the entire thing this afternoon/evening. The book mainly deals with the church's struggle with modernity, but towards the end there was a few ideas that really stuck out to me. Here is what he said:

"...a church that can find in the midst of our present cultural breakdown the opportunity to be God's people in a world that has abandoned God. To be the church in this way, it is also going to have to find in the coming generation leaders who exemplify this hope for its future and who will devote themselves to seeing it realized.... They will have to rise above the internal politics of the evangelical world and refuse to accept the status quo where that no longer serves the vital interests of the kingdom of God. They will have to decline to spend themselves in the building of their own private kingdoms and refuse to be intimidated into giving the church less and other than what it needs. Instead, they will have to begin to build fresh, in cogently biblical ways, among the decaying structures that now clutter the evangelical landscape. To succeed, they will have to be people of large vision, people of courage, people who have learned again what it means to live by the Word of God, and, most importantly, what it means to live before theholy God of that Word. These leaders must successfully accomplish two major projects. First, the church is going to have to learn how to detect worldliness and make a clear decision to be weaned from it.... Second, the church is going to have to get much more serious about itself, cease trying to be a supermarket serving the needs of religious consumers, and become instead a force of countercultural spirituality that draws from the interconnected lives of its members and is expressed through their love, service, worship, understanding, and proclamation."

Now, the most interesting thing about all that is that he wrote it back in 1994 - 15 years ago. That's why I believe it was in some ways prophetic. From my perspective, these things are coming to pass. There is a new generation of leader being established that is doing things differently - better. The past is the past, and I'm not saying there was anything wrong with the way things were done. But continuing to do the same thing in the future is just poor logic and a lack of wisdom. The things he wrote about back then are happening now. If you don't see that, take a look around at the many failing and dying churches that were started within the last 50 years. Then, if you want to see what the new era looks like - go visit the websites I list under "My Influences" on the right side of this page. You will find that these guys are doing things in a new way - but they have reclaimed a tight grip on the Word of God and are letting it determine their worldview once again.

When you look around the landscape of Christianity in America - what do you see?

I have the song "God of this City" stuck in my head tonight...

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Fatherhood Fraternity

One of the coolest parts of being a dad is talking with other dads about being dads. I just recently caught back up with a friend from college and we were both discussing how great fatherhood is and how cool it is that we both were. I have another friend from where I vacation who posted a video on his blog of him tickling his daughter, and it was almost the same thing I do with Ross. It was great! There are a couple guys at work with older kids, so it's nice to talk to them sometimes and they let me know that the current crisis I am facing will be shortlived, or not nearly as bad as so and so that will happen later.

There's always been the brotherhood of men, and I greatly enjoy sharing stories of feats of strength, hunting and fishing, and other things that only guys find entertaining (like how I lost part of my big toenail). But there's another fraternity within all men that is comprised of those of us now raising little men and women. For those of you who aren't yet fathers, I can only say that it's like nothing you can imagine. It's both the most challenging and rewarding thing you'll ever do. And once you are one, you won't be able to ever imagine what life was like before and you wouldn't have it any other way than now.

And from my wife's experiences and discussions with her friends, I know there's a sisterhood of mothers out there too. When you think about it, it's what life is all about. Finding groups to belong to, sharing common ideas and interests, and supporting those in your group. This idea encompasses all realms of society from biker gangs, to the Ruritans, to well, hopefully, local churches. It's called community. And it is integral to making it through life. We all need people around us and we all need support and friendship. As Seth Godin says in his book Tribes, people tend to break out into groups of similarities. My current one happens to be fatherhood.

Take some time and think about what communities and tribes you are in right now and what those mean to you. Jim Kallam Jr. wrote a book several years back that is one of my absolute favorite books about how churches should be, called Risking Church. If you want to learn more about why community is important in the church and how to begin cultivating a good one, this is a must read. Without God, and without each other - we will struggle horribly with life. But with God, and with a supportive community around us, we will, as Jim says, "struggle well with life."

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Wisdom from Willard

Dallas Willard wrote a great book a while back that I read for school called "The Spirit of the Disciplines." I am currently listening to him on mogulus.com/monvee. He just said something really profound. He said (in effect) "no Christian should spend any amount of time worrying about the longevity of any local church." John Ortberg, who was interviewing him, asked him to repeat it just to make sure everyone got that. He said, Jesus Christ is building His Church, so we shouldn't waste time worrying about whether it will last or not - it will, and Jesus has it under control.

This struck me as so insightful. SO MANY PEOPLE are focused on their local church and whether or not it is growing, how it's doing financially, etc. That is not really what we're supposed to be focused on. We're supposed to be focused on being Jesus to the world - meeting the needs of those outside the church, reaching out, spreading the good news of the Gospel. When it all comes down to it, the longevity of any given church should have nothing to do with those other things. We should always be doing those things and spending our time thinking about them. Jesus is taking care of the Church.

Now, this is not to say that the Church isn't vital and important - it absolutely is. It was set up by Jesus, it is the bride of Christ, it is His Body. But it is not contained in a congregation or a building or a name. It is all of us, every Christian man and woman living and being that Body and working out the Gospel message in our lives and making a positive difference in the lives around us. That's what matters. We do that in part THROUGH the various functions of a church, but there is a distinction here that bears thinking about. Are we putting our time and energy in the right places? Are we letting God be in charge enough? Are we fighting the right battles - the ones that make an eternal difference?

Essentially his main message today is that we need to live out a radical trust in God. Don't worry about results, don't worry about anything really - trust it all to God. Let Him account for the numbers or whatever. It's about living deeply. It's about trusting deeply, and the freedom that comes along with it.