Welcome to Provocative Church

As you browse, read and share the many articles, our hope is that you may find this site an encouragement to your faith and Christian life.

Worship

We were created to worship. And we are to worship God with every aspect and area of our lives - presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.

The Church

The bride of Christ can often times be difficult and messy - but it is Christ's beautiful mess - to which He is the head and chief cornerstone.

Ancient Future

Our faith comes out from a rich heritage and history. It was during the formative years of our faith that creeds, confessions, traditions, and liturgies were developed. These practices and traditions recaptured will not only anchor us but move us forward in our faith.

Freedom

There is freedom in the gospel as it proclaims that in Christ we are sons and daughters of the King. The importance is learning to preach those truths to our heart and life everyday.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Leave the light on tonight





I have posted on this before and I was reminded by Justin Taylor about it again this morning. I love this post by Tim Challies and therefore I throw this out as a reminder to us all as tonight as our communities celebrate Halloween.


I am guessing my neighborhood is all-too-typical in that people typically arrive home from work and immediately drive their cars into the garage. More often than not they do not emerge again until the next morning when they leave for work once more. We are private, reclusive people who delight in our privacy. We rarely see our neighbors and rarely communicate with them. . . . In the six years we have been living in this area, we have never once had a neighbor come to the door to ask for anything. . . .

Yet on Halloween these barriers all come down. I have the opportunity to greet every person in the neighbourhood. I have the opportunity to introduce myself to the family who moved in just down the row a few weeks ago and to greet some other people I have not seen for weeks or months. At the same time, those people's children will come knocking on my door. We have two possible responses. We can turn the lights out and sit inside, seeking to shelter ourselves from the pagan influence of the little Harry Potters, Batmans and ballerinas, or we can greet them, gush over them, and make them feel welcome. We can prove ourselves to be the family who genuinely cares about our neighbours, or we can be the family who shows that we want to interact with them only on our terms. Most of our neighbors know of our faith and of our supposed concern for them. This is a chance to prove our love for them.

The same contributor to the email list concluded his defense of participating in Halloween with these words: "One night does not a neighbor make (and one night does not a pagan make), but Halloween is the one night of the year where the good neighborliness that flows from being in Christ is communicated and reinforced. We are citizens of another Kingdom where The Light is always on."

The truth is that I have several convictions regarding Halloween. I despise the pagan aspects of it. I am convicted that my children should not dress as little devils or ghosts or monsters. But I am also convicted that there could be no worse witness to the neighbours than having a dark house, especially in a neighbourhood like ours which is small and where every person and every home is highly-visible. We know that, if we choose not to participate, the neighbors will notice and will smile knowingly, supposing that we feel too good to participate.

. . . Our door will be open and the light will be on. And we trust that the Light will shine brightly.

My encouragement to you today is to think and pray about this issue. I do not see Halloween as a great evangelistic occasion. I do not foresee it as a time when the people coming to your door are likely to be saved. But I do think it is a time that you can prove to your neighbors that you care about them, that you care about their children, and that you are glad to be in this world and this culture, even if you are not of this world or this culture. Halloween may serve as a bridge to the hearts of those who live around you who so desperately need a Savior.



Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Interview with Jim Palmer





(HT: Next-Wave Ezine)

Interview with Jim Palmer, author of the new book, "Wide Open Spaces"


Here is a quotable:



Your phrase “Beyond Paint-By-Number Christianity” is the subtitle to your book Wide Open Spaces. This phrase infers something. Will you help define the elements of this phrase for us?

It seems to me that God, faith, and spirituality are more like art than science. Art tends to be subjective, imaginative, spiritual, transcendent, and intuitive. Art in its many forms stirs, awakens, lifts, heals, moves, connects, and inspires people. Science is objective, analytical, material, quantifiable, and formulaic. The word ‘science’ is a Latin word meaning “knowledge.” Science employs a methodology for investigating material phenomena, and gathers observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning.

A paint-by-number set is essentially science masquerading as art. Inside the packaging it appears like art with paints and brush. But then you discover there’s not much creativity or imagination to the process, you just do the math and stay in the lines. Likewise, Christianity was meant to be centered in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, which stirs, awakens, lifts, heals, moves, inspires and connects humankind into a dynamic and spiritual relationship with God. All the external hoopla seems promising but then it essentially ends up being the same old checklist of do’s and don’ts, mechanical programs, and keeping the church machine running. Jesus’ teachings of love and living in the present reality of God’s kingdom becomes replaced by more rational and objective ends like correct doctrine, being good, and doing church.

So, going “beyond paint-by-number Christianity” is a willingness to wake up each morning as a beginner. The soul loves risk, and through the door of risk we awaken and grow spiritually. God draws us into the wide open spaces beyond our pre-determined notions and formulas about him. The phrase “do not be afraid” appears 366 times in the Bible. Hold on to that one as you go or you won’t get very far.



Jack is Back!

Definitely getting excited about the new season of 24. If you haven't seen this yet, this is the trailer for Season 7.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Information Overload

Here again is a lot of good material throughout the week that I come across and I feel the need to share the good stuff with you. This is in my stack of stuff that shows up in my Google RSS Reader throughout the week. I end up filing so much of this stuff away and I never have the ability to comment on it within the blog. Enjoy some fun, entertaining and provocative reading.

(I am taking a cue from my friend John, over at Grasping for the Wind, and will use the widget from my "shared items" in my Google Reader to post the most interesting information that I've gathered from the web)


Communion Meditations

At Big Creek Church we celebrate communion weekly, you can read the theological and practical reasons are from this series of posts on the Lord's Supper, part 1; part 2; part 3.

These are our communion meditations that we post on the screen to provide an opportunity of meditation and contemplation during the Lord's Supper.

1 Peter 5:5-6: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

Where are we proud? How are we humble? You need to begin to discern where pride has creped into your life so God can give you the strength and courage t grow in humility. Think about how pride subtly attaches itself to our hearts. Ask the Lord the following questions to show you your pride and what you need to repent of:

Do I often talk about myself and my accomplishments?

When I am in a group setting, do I regularly compare myself to others?

When I pray in public, am I concerned with what others think? In times of public worship, do I worry about what others are thinking of me?

In a group setting do I hesitate to speak because I fear making a mistake or sounding stupid?

Do I look for ways in public to be noticed or praised?

Do I confess my sins (to trusted friends) or do I hide my sins so they won't know my weaknesses?

Or think about humility. Ask yourself: Am I amazed that the infinite, holy, all-powerful God loves me and wants to have a relationship with me? Do I think often about how lavish and great the work of Jesus at the cross is for me?

Do I understand my weaknesses, and am I willing to talk with a few trusted friends about them?

When I serve others is my primary goal to be seen or to glorify God?

Do I mind not being recognized when I serve?

Do I regularly confess my sins regularly to others?

Don't be driven or feel guilty about the answers to these questions. Let Him humble your heart, confess your sin, and be healed.

(Aboriginal Christian art from the Balgo Hills, Australia)

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The irony of their outrage



ImprovEverywhere.com gets 111 men to go shirtless in the 5th Avenue Abercrombie & Fitch.

Abercrombie & Fitch are known for pushing the moral envelope of taste. What makes them particularly offensive is that they do this when they are fully aware that a lot of their customers are impressionable middle and high school age kids.

So don't you find it deliciously ironic that the store is upset and is outraged when 111 shirtless men go shopping in a store that happens to be filled with shirtless models and pictures.

I guess it is ok to be shirtless at A&F if you have six-pack abs, but not if you have abs shaped like a two-liter bottle.

Enjoy this little cultural experiment!

10-20-30 Virus

I was tagged by John Smulo with the 10-20-30 Virus. It has to do with what you were doing 10, 20, and 30 years ago. So, here goes:

Ten years ago: I was living in Baltimore, working with Campus Crusade for Christ. I was the campus director at Towson University. Our second daughter just turned one year old and I was beginning to take seminary classes at a local seminary called Chesapeake.

Twenty years ago: I had just entered my senior year in college in the fall. I had just come back from my first missions summer project on a beach in South Carolina. This was the year that my future wife, Lauren, popped on my radar screen - a fateful drive home during Thanksgiving and I began to ask myself, "Who is this girl? And why haven't I noticed her before?".

Thirty Years ago: I was eleven years old and living in New Jersey. I was involved in soccer and scouting and this was the year that I started to blossom academically in school.


Now part of the game is to tag 5 of my blogging friends, I tag John, Paul, Caleb, Trey and Lisa

Friday, October 19, 2007

Heart for the lost


People often given Calvinists (those who emphasize our election and predestination by God) a bad rap. The stereotype is to think that Calvinists are passive or even apathetic in our attempts and desire to want to see people come to faith in Jesus. You wont still think so after reading Spurgeon's comment.



If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for. - Charles Spurgeon (HT: intersect)


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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Your heart on display


Woman Puts Own Heart on Display -

Jennifer Sutton developed a life-threatening heart condition in her teens and had a heart transplant earlier this year. She decided to lend her old heart to to be put on display:

She said: "Seeing my heart for the first time is an emotional and surreal experience.

"It caused me so much pain and turmoil when it was inside me. Seeing it sitting here is extremely bizarre and very strange.

"Finally I can see this odd looking lump of muscle that has given me so much upset."

(HT: Woman Puts Own Heart on Display )

It must be very strange to see one's own heart in a jar, sitting on a table. I am certain that the difficulty it caused her, having her heart out on display, was wrapped up in feeling "exposed".

I think, as hard as it would be to have one's physical heart on display in a jar, it is even more difficult to make known one's spiritual heart.

I was meditating and reading on Psalm 139 yesterday during a time of prayer. Psalm 139 is one of my favorite psalms. In verses, 7-10 it says this:

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

A long time ago, I had written in the margin next to these verses, "comfort to know that God is everywhere." As I looked at that note yesterday, I thought to myself, that truth that I had written years ago appears to me now merely a "good Sunday school answer", but it doesn't really reflect how those verses impact me.

Knowing that God is everywhere and that I can't hide didn't give me comfort, but rather they invoke fear. Those verses scare me.

Why?

Because when I am truly honest with myself, I know that my heart is prone to hide. I want to hide. Hiding is my default mode.

Just like that woman, it would be painful for my heart to be out on display.

But as I meditated further on the Psalm, I began to see the character of God. He is good. It says later in vs. 14 that He has created us and that all His works are wonderful. In a world of billions and billions, God created me and cares about me.

I prayed that I would delight and give my heart over to God who not only made me wonderful but also pursues me. I prayed that I would have the desire of the psalmist who concludes the prayer (vs. 23-24) by saying:

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.



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Monday, October 15, 2007

The Creator behind the Creation - Blog Action Day

This post is part of the Blog Action Day, go here to see an explanation.

One of the biggest concerns that I had about writing a blog post about the environment is that this issue has a ton of barnacles (politically, social and scientific agendas) attached to it. People have attached so many extraneous issues to this very ONE issue.

We need to be reminded though, that the environment is not an end in itself. The environment and this creation points us to someone beyond it. The creation is a signpost. The creation points to a creator. Our mandate, to take care and be stewards of the environment, is motivated out of reverence and worship of God, who is the creator of all. This perspective must be the ultimate motivation of a Christ follower.

Meditate today on Psalm 104. This is a wonderful picture of God as not only creator but also the continuing sustainer of all His creation.

Psalm 104
1Praise the Lord, O my soul.
O Lord my God, you are very great;
you are clothed with splendor and majesty.

2He wraps himself in light as with a garment;
he stretches out the heavens like a tent

3and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters.
He makes the clouds his chariot
and rides on the wings of the wind.

4He makes winds his messengers,
flames of fire his servants.

5He set the earth on its foundations;
it can never be moved.

6You covered it with the deep as with a garment;
the waters stood above the mountains.

7But at your rebuke the waters fled,
at the sound of your thunder they took to flight;

8they flowed over the mountains,
they went down into the valleys,
to the place you assigned for them.

9You set a boundary they cannot cross;
never again will they cover the earth.

10He makes springs pour water into the ravines;
it flows between the mountains.

11They give water to all the beasts of the field;
the wild donkeys quench their thirst.

12The birds of the air nest by the waters;
they sing among the branches.

13He waters the mountains from his upper chambers;
the earth is satisfied by the fruit of his work.

14He makes grass grow for the cattle,
and plants for man to cultivate—
bringing forth food from the earth:

15wine that gladdens the heart of man,
oil to make his face shine,
and bread that sustains his heart.

16The trees of the Lord are well watered,
the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.

17There the birds make their nests;
the stork has its home in the pine trees.

18The high mountains belong to the wild goats;
the crags are a refuge for the coneys.

19The moon marks off the seasons,
and the sun knows when to go down.

20You bring darkness, it becomes night,
and all the beasts of the forest prowl.

21The lions roar for their prey
and seek their food from God.

22The sun rises, and they steal away;
they return and lie down in their dens.

23Then man goes out to his work,
to his labor until evening.

24How many are your works, O Lord!
In wisdom you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.

25There is the sea, vast and spacious,
teeming with creatures beyond number—
living things both large and small.

26There the ships go to and fro,
and the leviathan, which you formed to frolic there.

27These all look to you
to give them their food at the proper time.

28When you give it to them,
they gather it up;
when you open your hand,
they are satisfied with good things.

29When you hide your face,
they are terrified;
when you take away their breath,
they die and return to the dust.

30When you send your Spirit,
they are created,
and you renew the face of the earth.

31May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
may the Lord rejoice in his works—

32he who looks at the earth, and it trembles,
who touches the mountains, and they smoke.

33I will sing to the Lord all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.

34May my meditation be pleasing to him,
as I rejoice in the Lord.

35But may sinners vanish from the earth
and the wicked be no more.
Praise the Lord, O my soul.

Praise the Lord.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

How to deal with Trick or Treaters

Communion Meditations


At Big Creek Church we celebrate communion weekly, you can read the theological and practical reasons are from this series of posts on the Lord's Supper, part 1; part 2; part 3.
These are our communion meditations that we post on the screen to provide an opportunity of meditation and contemplation during the Lord's Supper.

John 2:28-3:3

28And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming. 29If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him.
Chapter 3
1How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
2Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.3Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.

"Our imagination so powerfully magnifies time, by continual reflections upon it, and so diminishes eternity . . . for want of reflection, that we make a nothing of eternity and an eternity out of nothing"
Blaise Pascal

Romans 5:5-8:
6You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.
7Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

George Macdonald wrote to his daughter who was dying of tuberculosis:
"I do live expecting great things in the life that is ripening for me and all mine - when we shall have all the universe for our own, and be good merry helpful children in the great house of our father. Then, darling, you and I and all will have the grand liberty wherewith Christ makes free- opening his hand to send us out like white doves to range the universe."

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Saturday, October 13, 2007

10 ways to avoid building community...


I have the position at my church with the title, Pastor of "Doing Life Together". Pretty niffty huh? The reason that I have that title is because the scope of my responsibilities are to help people move from their First Impressions on Sunday to establishing Lasting Connections. In a nutshell, I am committed to helping people connect at Big Creek.

Needless to say, I get torqued when I hear people saying "I don't feel connected". Now of course, one response should be to ask, "What are we doing or not doing at Big Creek that is making it difficult to connect?" It first needs to be a question about our systems and processes. But the flip side of the coin is, "What is that person doing or not doing that it prohibiting their ability to connect?" That question has got to be asked as well.

I can be responsible for what we do at Big Creek, but only an individual at Big Creek can be responsible for their own choices.

With that in mind, consider this "sarcastic" list in order to help evaulaute whether or not you are doing all that it takes to build community and get connected....(built off a post from askingY.com)

10 Ways to Avoid Building Community Within Your Church

1. Keep conversations short.
Just like the old Dragnet character, Joe Friday, "Just the facts..." Don't get into details. Don't share anything with an emotional element to it. Make conversations short and sweet. You are busy, you have a lot to deal with in your life, if you talk to someone you might get close to them and that takes time and energy that you don’t have. Just keep it short and sweet, don’t bother talking about anything more than the weather. The key is if you don’t know a person is hurting, then you don’t have to do anything about it.

2. Always sit in your “assigned” seat
By always sitting in the same seat you always sit around the same people. These folks know the deal, and stick to the appropriate 30 second conversations: weather, sports, how the new preacher is doing, etc. Also, this keeps you from having to venture out, meet new people, and possibly sit next to someone you aren’t familiar with. Also, if you catch someone sitting in your assigned seat, make sure to stare them down and feel uncomfortable. That will teach them and perhaps they won't come back your church again.

3. Avoid new people
If possible come to church through the back door. It’s one thing to deal with all the people that you already know at church, but it’s another to actually meet new people. Seriously, you aren’t good with names, you don’t have the time, or the energy, so just walk right past anyone you don’t know. After all, they won’t notice that you totally avoided them.

4. Come late to church
Don’t overlook the beauty of this one. By coming in late you totally avoid even the 30 second conversations. And (bonus), you avoid the new people! It just makes life easier.

5. Leave immediately after the service (or early)
You got to get out quickly in order to get a seat at the local restaurant. This strategy has the same benefits as coming in late. If you add this method with the coming in late method you could go to a church for years and never meet anyone.

6. Be physically present but mentally absent
When talking to someone, pretend to listen by nodding your head and saying “uh huh” while you are really thinking about what football game comes on TV later that afternoon. Basically, this strategy allows you to engage people on the superficial level. After all, you’re just there to put in your “time” and then get on with your life.

7. Don’t share a meal
If you goal is to avoid community, this step is of the utmost importance, don’t ask people to lunch! Especially don't invite people over your house for a meal, that would be doubly stupid. Sharing a meal is an intimate thing that creates deeper relationships. So, when someone asks you to lunch fake a stomach ulcer or something, just get out of it.

8. Stay very, very busy
This strategy is used by practically everyone on in North Atlanta. The busier you are, especially on a Sunday, the less time you have to “deal” with people. In fact, attempt to be so busy that when speaking to someone you never even stop walking past them as you say hello. Also use the old Seinfeld trick of walking quickly and look annoyed. Everyone will think you are busy and won't bother talking to you.

9. Make your default response “everything is great” or "fine"
People will always ask how you are doing. Make sure that you have your “default” answer ready so that when they ask you are ready to say, “everything is great!” or "fine". This must be your default response, otherwise you might actually let on that your life is not perfect, or worse, that you are struggling and actually human. If you make the mistake and share anything more it could lead to deeper conversation and deeper relationship. If you are going to really avoid community while in church, this is probably your best weapon.

10. Don’t show up
This is definitively your best method of avoiding community overall because there is no community where there are no people.

(HT: askingY.com)

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Friday, October 12, 2007

The genie is out of the bottle

"It's not our intention to create any bizarre cow-human hybrid, we want to use those cells to understand how to make human stem cells better." - Lyle Armstrong, a Newcastle University researcher, on British regulators agreeing in principle to allow human-animal embroyos to be created and used for research.

Somehow I just don't believe him...read this...
Performance artists are known for pushing the boundaries, but one Australian has astonished his contemporaries by having a third ear implanted onto his arm.

The Cypriot-born eccentric Stelios Arcadious spent 10 years searching for a surgeon willing to perform the controversial operation.

Read more here: Artist implants 'third ear' on his own arm

Len Sweet at Catalyst talked about this kind of stuff (yet only briefly). He mentioned the unfettered application of genetics by scientists around the world. He said that our culture has no idea what scientists are capable of or on the verge of doing. He seemed someone scared and alarmed when he talked about it. Putting an ear on an arm may not be dangerous (only bizarre) but this kind of thing is but only a harbinger of scary things to come.

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Foreskin's Lament



This short introduction of Shalom Auslander's book was shown by Chris Seay at Catalyst last week. Too often, as Christians, we view God the same way as Shalom Auslander. We think that God is either indifferent or at worse uncaring.

We are reading Brennan Manning's book, "The Ragamuffin Gospel" during our Friday morning's mens group. And Manning, through the scriptures, paints a beautiful picture of God as He really is, head over heels in love with us. He calls his children beloved. Let the reality and true of God's love sink deep into every recess of your heart and life today!

You can see more about Shalom's book here.



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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Interesting 60 Minutes this Sunday

CBS's 60 Minutes this coming Sunday, October 14 is doing an investigation of Joel Osteen.

To view a short clip from the interview with Joel Osteen, go here.

(HT: Riddleblog)

I am not sure what the overall take and tone of this 60 minutes piece will be. Anytime 60 minutes comes knocking on your door, it mostly likely isn't a warm hug.



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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Blog Action Day

Next Monday, October 15th, is Blog Action Day. This is a day when bloggers throughout the world concentrate their energy and their voice to one subject. This year that subject is the environment. What I want to say about the environment is up to me, but on that day many different thoughts and ideas are going to be shared throughout the blogosphere.

This video will tell you more....



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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Final Season


I had a chance last Thursday to attend with my family an advance screening of the new movie, The Final Season. (opening this Friday)

The Final Season tells the true story of the 1990 championship high school baseball team from Norway, Iowa and their final season. Norway is a small Iowa town that is will be closing down their high school the following year to merge it with a larger area school. Baseball flows through the veins of this small Iowa town, and the impending loss of their baseball team causes strife, heartache and great loss. Baseball is the major character in this story about perseverance, loyalty and friendship.

The movie stars, Sean Astin (Rudy and Lord of the Rings) and Powers Boothe (24 and Tombstone). Although the movie is family friendly fare and tells a nice story about this small town and their community's commitment to baseball, it isn't on par with other sports movies. This movie is no "Rudy" or "We are Marshall". The storytelling seems a little flat and at many times the story moves slow. This isn't the kind of movie that I would spend full price for on a Friday evening. But it worth a future rental when it is released on DVD in a couple of months.

Attention golfers in the Atlanta area!

You will want to check this out. This Golf Tournament is for a very worthy cause and ministry.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Let your heart break open.

I just read this article in the New York Times, thanks to Think Christian for pointing this out. The article describes a scale and proportion of evil in the Congo that is just overwhelming.

I know that we don't want to face and read about this level of injustice and evil, but as followers of Christ we have no other choice. We must know so that we can speak out and confront the evil and injustice in the world. We must know so that we can pray for these women and for a country broken open with violence. We must know, because God is requiring the church to act.

When I read this article, I wept. I know that God is weeping to. Let your heart break open.

Read the Article HERE (Note: the article describes some very disturbing crimes.)

Evan Almighty on DVD


My review months ago about the movie, Evan Almighty was one of the most popular posts that I had ever written. Since the movie is now being released this Tuesday on DVD, I thought that I would repost my review here, enjoy!

As a movie goes - this movie was hilarious. Very funny! The test of FUNNY is that my kids and wife were laughing so hard they were crying, that means it was really funny! Steve Carell was great. Wanda Sykes, had the best lines in the film. A great cast, with a lot of funny actors. This is the kind of movie that I would have seen on my own. Funny Factor: A+

What about the Biblical theme. I thought at first, that it might be offensive. But gladly there was no weird, New Age messages or bizarre theology. The whole flood theme was actually handled very well, with an interesting twist. The only thing that made me cringe is when Morgan Freeman, who plays God, explains why the original flood happened. His explanation had something to do with bringing people together. I would say that kind of explanation misses the point. God's deliverance of those from the flood was a picture of what Christ eventually did on the cross. But, as I said in a previous post, I don't go to movies to get my theology. Biblical theme: B-

I have been disappointed by the sequels this summer. As sequels go, I liked this movie better than Bruce Almighty. Evan Almighty was original and clever. I would have rather spent my summer movie money on this sequel, than the money I flushed down the toilet for Pirates 3 and Shrek 3. Sequel Satisfaction: A

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Facebook and the constantly evolving narrative


If you have been reading my blog, you know that I have had a lot to say about Facebook, here, and here. I use Facebook regularly to keep current with old friends and connect with certain people around me. You are certainly welcome to visit my profile here.

I have to share with you this article I came across on why Facebook became so popular with the young twenty-somethings at college. While too many adults are looking at Facebook as a networking platform to do business (or if you are a church, do ministry - i.e. Lifechurch.tv), the reasons behind the growth and popularity of Facebook for a younger generation are entirely different.
Facebook did not become popular because it was a functional tool — after all, most college students live in close quarters with the majority of their Facebook friends and have no need for social networking. Instead, we log into the Web site because it’s entertaining to watch a constantly evolving narrative starring the other people in the library.

I’ve always thought of Facebook as online community theater. In costumes we customize in a backstage makeup room — the Edit Profile page, where we can add a few Favorite Books or touch up our About Me section — we deliver our lines on the very public stage of friends’ walls or photo albums. And because every time we join a network, post a link or make another friend it’s immediately made visible to others via the News Feed, every Facebook act is a soliloquy to our anonymous audience.
(HT: The New York Times)

Wow, did you hear that? Why did Facebook become so popular? Because they want to enter into to other people's stories. They want to watch the evolving narrative of our life play out within the bytes and bits of Facebook. The adult world wants to turn Facebook into a pragmatic, functional tool, while an entire other generation wants to read and vicariously experience each other's story.

We each live out a story. Facebook, for many, wasn't popular because it networked them in a way that wasn't possible if Facebook hadn't existed. If you remember college, you know that college is perhaps the easiest environment during a person's entire life to be socially connected.

Facebook became popular because it provided a stage. Each of our lives is a narrative. We are desirous to not only open and share that narrative to others, but we like to voyeuristically peek into the windows of one another's lives.

Understanding the power of story will allow us to speak to the greater story. Each of our narratives lies within a greater narrative, a meta-narrative. That meta-narrative is God's story. It is His redemptive work through the rule and reign of His Kingdom.

Story is the language of this culture.

Story is the language of God.


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More than just time

Want to see how not only the time is changing but the world is changing around us...

....keep this clock going within your browser.

It will be an eyeopener when you see that as the minutes have marched by -how many people over that period of time have been infected with HIV, how many people have gotten married and divorced or been diagnosed with cancer.


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Saturday, October 06, 2007

Being Missional, where you live, work and play


If you were at Big Creek's Vision night a couple of weeks ago, you got to hear the story of Art Rountree. God has given Art a cool opportunity to coach his son's football team. As God has placed him there, He has opened up numerous opportunities to impact the kids and their dads for Christ. Art is being Christ where he lives and plays. Art would have coached his son's team regardless of the ministry opportunities, but in the course of where God has placed him, Art is intentionally asking God to to help him show Jesus to those around him.

This is what missional is all about. Showing people Jesus through your life, your service, and your winsome words as you go about your life. God has sent us all out into our jobs, our kid's sports teams, our tennis teams, our carpools, our PTA groups, our neighborhoods and the places we do business. The key is that we see those natural places where we live, work and play as God ordained opportunities to shine the love of Christ into. It doesn't matter who we are or where God has placed us, He wants to shine in and through us.

Here is another example in Jon Kitna, the QB for the Detroit Lions. This is a very cool article of how God is using this guy in the lives of the people that he has contact with.

ESPN The Magazine: Does God want Jon Kitna to win? - NFL
Since he signed a four-year, $11.5 million deal in March 2006, about 20 Lions have given their lives to Christ. Teammates, converted or not, credit Kitna -- and, in part, this religious awakening -- with helping change the previously poisonous attitude in the Lions' locker room. Says Orlovsky, "He is the pulse and the heart and the soul of this team."


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Catalyst Conference - Day 1, Labs




Just got back from Catalyst this evening, and day consisting of breakout labs. Our staff team broke up and went to the different options in order to get the full exposure of all the speakers.

Here are some great take-aways that I got from Catalyst today:

Leonard Sweet, Prof. at Drew Theological School

I just finished Sweet's book, The Gospel According to Starbucks, and so I enjoyed hearing directly from Sweet and as he elaborated on much of what he has written.

Sweet talked about the 5 Forces shaping this Revolution (Christ's Kingdom, His church)
1. Size does matter, how little things mean a lot, and the power of 1 (he didn't go much into this)
2. The Well Curve replacing the Bell Curve - the Well curve says that the things cluster at the middle. Sweet says that in today's culture, it looks like a well. The middle has bottomed out while either ends and extremes are huge.
3. E.P.I.C. rules. This is the Postmodern interface. (Experience, Participation, Image Rich and Connective)
4. Islamic One-World-ism, the issue and movement of Islam is the church's new sparing partner.
5. Decline of a once great nation, America


Mark Batterson - Pastor of National Community Church

Mark talked about much of the stuff in his book, "In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day"
He unpacked the great mighty man of faith, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada.
Mark talked about playing offense with our faith, and in order to do so we must often do things that are:
Scary
Crazy and
Risky

Matt Chandler - The Village Church

Matt made it clear that the church is good at downloading information, but not seeing transformation. Matt outlined several ways the church can help Christ followers experience real and meaningful transformation. Matt suggested:
1. Don't focus on width, but rather depth. We don't need new information, but rather we need to be held accountable to the application of that information.
2. We have a real disintegration of Christian community. If we really want to see transformation than we need people in our life that are going to encourage and rebuke.
3. We have lacked in building a authoritative church. No church discipline, no submission to Christ ordained authority.
4. Numbers are sexy. We measure success by size, and not by real transformation. We inspect what we expect.
5. Speed. We want it quickly. We are built for speed, but transformation takes a lifetime.

Chris Seay - Pastor, Ecclesia in Houston

Talked about the cost of consumerism, and he challenged us through story and several videos.

We are responsible for each other and we need to caring for one another.

We measure ourselves by the stuff we buy. We can't speak out against consumerism, because the church is held captive by it.


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Monday, October 01, 2007

Awesome time away!

From this past Thursday until late Sunday afternoon, I was away at a men's retreat entitled, "Battle for Men's Hearts" sponsored by The Wellspring Group

It is hard to go into all the details at this stage, because I am still processing so much from it, but it was one of the best investments of my time and energy in a long while. Put aside any notions that this time consisted of men either running around shirtless beating a drum or holding hands in a circle crying as if having an Oprah moment and singing Kumbaya. This time was much more significant and important than imagined in those stereotypes. It was a time understanding and beginning to apply the truths and reality of masculinity (as God designed it) to one's life. It was a significant time for men, including myself, to do some real business with God.

To give you a picture of the retreat, read these words are directly from the Wellspring Group,

Battle for Men's Hearts
This retreat is a transformational journey into true masculinity. It provides a context for living that can make sense out of the mixed messages and multiple demands of your life. Come join us and begin or deepen your transformational journey into true masculinity by discovering the energy and strength of living from your heart, the wellspring of life.