Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What a Year....

I apologize for my absence in the blogosphere the past month or so, I've been absolutely swamped with interesting anniversaries and holidays:) First of all, Easter, which as you can imagine, is a very VERY busy time of year for a worship pastor at a church, and I'm happy to report that we had a great weekend of worshipping God and celebrating the hope we have through Him, but let me also add on to that. It was also a bit sad. It really hit me this year that I am growing older and that with each passing Easter, I feel like I'm climbing more and more uphill to achieve something that's not really mine to achieve. I guess what I'm saying is that I'm noticing how selfsish I can be, and I don't like seeing that ugly side of me:(

The toughest part of this past month or so was celebrating my brother's first birthday since he passed, and then three days later marking the one year anniversary of his death. It was a LOT harder than I anticipated it being. I found myself just being overwhelmed with memories of how good of a man he was. Shane was a rarity in my life. He was one of the few men in this world who loved me for me and never tried to change me or get his own personal agenda accomplished by what I could do for him. Shane simply loved me, and I must admit, I really, REALLY miss him.

In the wake of all of this I feel like I'm letting him down because I don't know how to be a fatherly influence on his girls. I'm learning as we go along. I know that I am not expected to be Shane, because thats a mark I fall way short of every day, but I also know I want his girls to know how loved and special they are, and that regardless of their circumstances, they are loved unconditionally.

In my heart, I feel a special connection to God right now because I know that He views me the exact same way. He sees the potential in me but also realizes the reality of who I am, and that He loves me unconditionally. It's a catch 22. I feel like I'm letting God and Shane down by not doing a better job for Amanda and the girls, and I also feel like I'm sure as heck trying you know?

I just keep having to remind myself that God is not disappointed in me. I read throughout scripture that I am loved beyond reason or comprehension, and I'm starting to grasp that a little bit now because of my nieces. Words do not convey the depths of my love for them.

I just want to challenge you to tell someone you love them today. Tell them why you love them, and also tell them that no matter what: you will always love them. That's the life of Christ lived out in this broken world.



Monday, March 23, 2009

The Good of Not Knowing...

"The Good of not knowing..."-Dallas Willard

Seems like a weird quote and almost one of misinformation doesn't it? I want to challenge you that this philosophy can change your life in the most amazing way!!!

What it doesn't mean: It doesn't mean we shouldn't fervently seek after our beliefs and try to grow daily towards knowing all we can about who or what we believe in:) We need to always be chasing after why we believe what we believe so we can live and respond accordingly.

But sometimes things don't make sense do they? Whether you believe in God or not, there are things that just don't make sense. I previously posted that to make it through this world you have to believe in paradox. It's simply a necessity in this world whether it be Christianity, physics or basic biology, paradox exists!!!

So how do we reconcile our thoughts to things that happen that seem odd or even oppositional to reason, rationale or normalcy? This is obviously my opinion, but I think it's the very nature of God. I think we want to know everything and when we can't figure out the why or how we get frustrated and tend to get angry or overly confused.

May I suggest another approach? Let it go.... Being in control isn't all that it's cracked up to be:) Sometimes things happen because they happen and we can never fully know why or how, but we can find rest in knowing its beyond our control. It's a GOOD thing that we don't know EVERYTHING there is to know about God, because if we did, HE WOULDN'T BE GOD!!!

I will never be able to wrap my head around so many things that are a part of this world, so how could I possibly begin to remotely understand God? That sounds intimidating, but I truly can see glimpses of Him and those glimpses cange who I am and how I view life. When we actively seek after our beliefs we catch a glimpse that validates and moves us to a new place in our journey.

I don't claim to be a scholar, heck, I don't even claim to be bright-haha, but I do know that sometimes here is beauty in not knowing, and I'd like to challenge you to recognize that as well. It's life changing!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Theology of Coldplay...

"When you're too in love to let it go
If you never try you'll never know
Just what your worth."-Coldplay-

I think, ultimately, we all struggle with what love should look like and it brings our insecurities to the forefront of our day to day lives. So instead of learning how to love, we shy away from it and let self-preservation and fear control how we live our lives.

Love can't be defined, because it's truly different for everybody, but that's no reason to be afraid of it. We've all been hurt by love in a myriad of different ways. Whether it be unrequited love, where you put your heart out there and the feeling isn't returned, or its the loss of someone you've loved your entire life as a family member, friend or lover:) Love can be painful, but isn't that proof that you have truly loved?

I remember being heartbroken over a relationship years ago and my first thought was to give up on chasing after an idea that would ultimately lead to hurt, but had I not I would have missed out on some of the greatest loves of my life. My wife, my friends that I dearly and deeply love, my nieces, my sister in law, music, the church, and most importantly the God that puts Himself out there millions of times a day only to be shunned. He may be perfect, but He also can relate to us intimately because he knows what it means to be unloved.

At some point we get into a life changing relationship(Most of us), and what do we do when we get there? We bring in the old garbage that jaded us in the first place and we make life miserable for the ones we love. I learned a long time ago, that I can't fix who someone is, but I can choose to love them, and if I truly love them for who they are, then why am I trying to mold them into something that pleases me. I love the church-PASSIONATELY, but it's not my job to fix all the pathologies that come with a corrupt, fallible institution, but what I can do is love people, and I have a reference point.

I look at how Jesus lived his life, and I can see a glimpse of who God is and what He's calling to do when it comes to love. In Jesus' generosity and compassion, that's what God's like. In His mercy and wisdom, that's what God's like. In His genuine love for people-that's what God's like, and that's who I want to be like. I know I can't be, but I can sure try. God didn't try to fix people, and I know that sounds wrong, but God loved them and healed them, and that love was life altering and it affected them in a very real, profound way.

Let's stop trying to fix people and start out by just loving them right where they are at. Let's go back to the beginnings of the movement that birthed the church. We've made things so complicated by overthinking the simple act of loving people. Let's start over friends, and create something beautiful:) I want to close with another Coldplay quote from the "Scientist"

"Nobody said it was easy
Its such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be this hard
Let's take it back to the start" -Coldplay-

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Where the fallen finally land...

Can I just admit to you that I'm quite a broken person. I miss the mark on a daily basis; I screw up constantly, just ask my wife-haha. But it's more than that. We all do! I sense that this world is crying out for authenticity everywhere it looks. We don't need to see someone who seems to have it all together, because A) We know you don't and that makes you fake: B) We can't relate to that at all.

Having worked in several churches throughout the past 9 years, I have seen the damage that can be done when a person or organization won't admit that it's flawed. The pathologies that are caused by that view of doing life or church is crushing. It can leave people shrouded in guilt, or worse, jaded by humanity.

What's worse is that when we become separatists in this thought pattern. Don't laugh, I'm dead serious I've seen this as a prevalent culture in the church for the most part. We start thinking that we, as church goers, have all the answers and that "They," nonbelievers are fallen and "we" need to save them. Nothing could be more judgmental or further from the truth!

The "they" and "we" mentality creates a divide that makes it impossible for Christ followers to relate to a broken world, because we refuse to admit that we are broken as well. We are ALL broken!!! How could we be so condemning as to look down on someone because we view them as fallen. That's spiritual bigotry and elitism! That's not who Jesus was, and that's not who we are called to be.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't live out your faith system, and if you feel compelled to share that, please do:) But how retarded is it to believe that we have anything to do with bringing people to Christ. In the Christian faith, The Holy Spirit reveals Himself to His people and it is God who saves people not us. If we disagree with that we are saying that God relies on us to carry out His will, and if you believe that, you are living a "Functional atheistic" philosophy, because you are totally disregarding a part of God that is relevant if you are a Christ follower. You are using God to promote your personal beliefs in that situation, and somehow you play a role in the Savior aspect of who He is.

I guess I just want people who follow Jesus to live like Jesus, and I want to be the first person to say that I'm a broken, fallen screw up. I'm the last person who is qualified to tell someone how to live:) If you are a follower of Christ and you feel like you have to wear this persona that makes you look giddy and perfect all the time, when in all actuality you are confused, hurting and hiding, please STOP covering up, because when we realize we are all fallen, we can start loving each other in a genuine way regardless of beliefs.

When we stop pretending to float on cloud nine and crash land into the reality of who we are, we can finally be free to chase after God. We're all in this together regardless of what you think, and this is the place where the fallen finally land, and our worlds start over again, only this time we walk side by side with each other seeking out who we were created to be, and we love and respect the walking partners we have. My advice: Just crash land for your own sake:)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Memorials not Burials...

I have to tell you that I struggle with the modern view of memorials. We are quick to build memorials after tragedies, and the reasoning has always been a bit fuzzy to me. I think building a memorial is a wonderful thing if it's done for the right reason, but too many memorials have been built so that the memorial can do all the remembering and we can move on as a society. That's flawed in my opinion!!!

We read in the Old Testament that the Israelites built memorials out of stones to signify and to "Never forget" what God had done for them. It was supposed to be something that remained relevant to the people and that would remind them of who they were. This isn't just found in Christian theology. It is a prevalent philosophy in Islam, Buddhism and Humanism. It's remembering the past so it can somehow teach us and grow us as we head into the future.

I think there are so many more memorial stones in our lives if we are open to seeking them out. Here are some personal examples: I remember reading the Canterbury Tales, not because of the story, but because it reminds me of how awkward I was as a teenager. I remember playing soccer when I was 10 and having my dad coach me, and it shows me how selfish I was because I really did take that for granted at the time. I remember long conversations with good friends my senior year of high school and it brings me back to the point where I started realizing that there are other opinions in this vast world, and we all have a lot in common. I remember my wedding day and it reminds me of how beautiful this world can be, and that we took a huge risk by diving into this life together, but we did it together!!! I remember talking to my brother on the phone the day before he died, and having to cut it short because I had something that had to be done-that reminds me that the here and now are just as important if not more important than the where I'm going:)

Why is it so bad to remember? I don't get that at all. We NEED to remember who we are, and we have to claim our history whether we like it or not. Because that history shows us where we've been and where we are going, and if we look hard enough we can see the growth in our own life and be encouraged that we are viably progressing and evolving into something better:)

Growing up in the Oklahoma City area, I have been to the OKC bombing memorial a few times and it has profoundly touched me each time. Every time I've walked those hallowed grounds I am affected and overwhelmed. It takes me back to my freshman year and worrying about my dad because he had meetings at that building all the time. I remember feeling helpless, and I also remember hearing that dad was ok and the relief that followed.

The point is that memorials are not meant to do the remembering for us, they are physical examples of the remembering that needs to take place in us. They show us what is possible, both inhumane and beautiful. We can also see that its a fine line between evil and good, and that we are capable of being monsters as well as heroes.

We don't bury what happened, we honor it by emerging from the chaos and changing the world for good. We make life count based on what we believe to be true, but we can't run from our past. We embrace it humbly and we look at our personal memorial stones, and we remember who we were and the calling in our life.

May you realize that you are not defined by who you've been, but that you are emerging and growing into who you are called to be. Memorials are not burials-they are growing pains:)

Monday, March 16, 2009


"I will never stop chasing
I will never stop running after You."-Jared Anderson

I love the action that is implied in this simple statement! More importantly, I love the picture that we are called to in these words. We are to never stop chasing! We are to always do EVERYTHING we can to know more about who we believe and why we believe it. It doesn't say I will chase after You and then when I find you I'll stop. It's a constant, lifelong journey of trying to figure out who God is and how that relates to how we live.

One piece of advice: Don't believe your own hype. I speak from experience friends. We can get the idea that we have things figured out because of minor accomplishments in our life and it can cause us to stagnate and fester and it robs us of a growing relatiosnsip with our beliefs. When you think you've got it figured out, you most assuredly do not!

The point of chasing isn't to catch something. It's the fight, the struggle, the worn down pursuit of reaching out for something that will ultimately stretch you and help you grow. This isn't a game of tag because the required goal isn't to catch your beliefs, its to realize that in order to mature and grow we must ALWAYS chase after the truth.

I like the picture of running as well because it means you are passionately seeking. Have you ever known someone that seems to walk after their beliefs. They aren't really interested in chasing they just want to go through the motions for the sake of looking like they are trying. That's sadly an accuarate picture of many Christ followers.

Stop walking friends, RUN-CHASE- GROW!!!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Empowering and Unleashing...

I reference the church I grew up in A LOT! I do that because it was my first real experience in the American Evangelical Church movement. I attended a Southern Baptist Church in Moore, OK for 18 years(Birth to graduation of high school). Obviously I don't remember the first few years of that experience at all, but I can recollect a vast amount of experiences from my formative years that involved that congregation.

I do remember that there were some great things about that body of believers. My parents had some wonderful people who were their friends that they met at church and we loved being around them and still do to this day when we return to Moore for a visit. I also remember getting to play sports for the church and having my dad coach me(I loved it and wouldn't trade those days for anything). I remember certain Sunday School teachers that impacted me in a very loving way.

But just like every church, it has its flaws as well. No church is perfect because it is set up by human beings, and we are fallible. All of us are going to screw up a lot!!!

Probably the biggest problem I had with my parents church was the fact that we were told what to believe. There was no wiggle room at all, and if you disagreed or even questioned the teachings from the pastor(Who was still just a fallible person), you were either looked down upon or viewed as spiritually ignorant. I'm not saying every Southern Baptist or Evangelical church is like this, but what I am saying is that there is a trend in church that scares me. People are constantly being told what to believe!


The church, for the most part, has failed in this area. It has a reputation for telling people exactly what to believe and what the Christian Life looks like as opposed to providing opportunities for people to dive in, struggle and wrestle with who they are called to be and what that would look like. When you own your own faith, you grow constantly and appreciate it more because you personally had to realize why you believe what you believe. It's not your parents faith or your church's faith, it's YOUR faith!

I feel blessed to be on staff at the church I'm at. The Head Pastor is a humble and wonderful teacher, and he says quite frequently that he can't give people what they need. He can be used by God to give them a taste, and allow them to taste the goodness and find out who made the recipe.

Own your own faith friends-It's what makes life REAL and transparently relatable to your existence!!!

Friday, March 13, 2009


For those of you who have never had the chance to do studio recording work in music, I just want to tell you. It's a blasty blast!!! It's very differen than what it used to be, and more importantly, it's a lot different than what it is potrayed to be in cinema or television. It's a lot of TEDIOUS but beautifully rewarding work. It's the creative process at it's most resolute:)

The key is layers! You lay down scratch tracks, which are essentially your vocals accompanied by an instrument. Mind you, these will not even be on the final mix, but you do it so you can start building a foundation from the ground up. Next you lay down your basic drum tracks, followed by your bass tracks. Once this is completed you havea rhythm section backdrop that you can now canvas over with creativity and hit and miss programming. Whether it be acoustic or electric guitar, keyboards, alt. percussion or vocals. The sky's the limit!!!

I view my relationship with God in the same way: I definitely have a scratch track, which is to say, I am the scratch track, but by the end of God working with me and creating in me, I'm nothing like I was when I started. It's growth!!! Sometimes its in leaps and bounds, and sometimes I just need to listen again to the rhythm section for a foundation. I have wiggle room to make a mistake, just as long as I realize that I'm not producing the final product, and I ultimately want to submit to the producer who has better knowledge about the industry(Life).

Sorry for the weird metaphor, but I spent some time this morning in the studio and it always energizes me and gets me thinking about the work God's doing in me.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

God the paradox:)

"So a divine human being (Jesus) is truth. God is transcendent and immanent. Truth is both reliable and contextual. Relativism is relatively absolute. Paradoxes abound in the Christian faith"- Tony Jones-

I find it kind of bewildering that for the most part, people who follow Christ tend to struggle with the idea of paradox in the Christian faith. The world is chalked full of paradox! We see it everywhere and in every facet of our lives. We see a viable sustaining planet that has the capacity to destroy(See Nature-the beauty of a gentle rain shower compared to the powerful tornado or hurricane). We see it in relationships(The unloving vs. loving responses that are inevitable). We see it in the food we eat(Fruit=good. Cake=great! Fruitcake=Nasty crap-Jim Gaffigan thought of the day FYI). On the most fundamental levels paradox exists as well.

In our earliest encounters in physics we are told that things are either a particle or a wave, and then we are told that an electron acts as both a particle AND a wave. We just learned that that those two things: particles and waves, are mutually exclusive, and now we're being told that at the basic level of EVERYTHING electrons act as particles AND waves. And it's stinking confusing!!! Here's the point, if you can't embrace the paradox, you can't really continue your growth in physics and you cannot begin to comprehend the basic components that make up our world.

I tend to believe(opinion that could be wrong-again-haha) if there are paradoxes in every aspect of life, then why can't there be paradoxes is theology as well.

For instance, The Trinity! Below is the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church definition:

"Trinity, doctrine of the--The central dogma of Christian theology, that the one God exists in Three persons and one substance, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God is one, yet self-differentiated; the God who reveals Himself to mankind is one God equally in three distinct modes of existence, yet remains one through all eternity."

This has been argued for two thousand years about what it actually means, but the detailed concept of the Trinity is sparsely represented in the Bible. Jesus' great commission in Matthew is the only "in your face" reference to the Triune nature of God. "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit." Other than that, the three in one nature of God can only be inferred by references to God's Spirit-who is active throughout the Old and New Testaments, The "Word" of God(See the gospel of John), and the Father(To Whom Jesus cries out to in prayer).

The actual thought of the trinity is already a paradox: How can God be one and three? To us its a paradox, but it is holy and true to the nature of God. We in the church try to compare this concept to many things so we can come up with an analogy that people can relate to(I'm guilty of it as well-sadly). I've heard it referred to as liquid, ice and vapor-Baseball managers, pitchers and catchers, a candle sharing three wicks, and even a three bladed fan. All are brilliant attempts I think but they fail in portraying accurate aspects of God throughout the whole relationship of the Trinity.

"You can't analogize God! You can't compare God to something. You can't say what God is. You can only say what He isn't!"-LeRon Shults

Wow!!! We try to compare God to the finite and universal when He is indeed BIGGER than all of that stuff. What we can identify with is that the Trinity is three beings in relationship with each other, and we are beings in relation as well(Thanks again T. Jones). Our finite minds can't prove the exact truth of the Trinity but it's too beautiful and powerful and most importantly-Godly-not to be true. We believe in the Trinity because we know it to be true because God states clearly that He is indeed three-in-one.

It's a paradox!!! But it is beautiful, illuminating and the character of God, so as part of our faith we must embrace paradox if we are to try to comprehend(TRY is the word) who He is and how He relates to us.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A "Mac" approach to following God...

Anybody who knows me, knows that there are certain beliefs in my life that I cling to and believe to be amazing. I want to talk about one of those today. I am a Mac convert when it comes to computers. I'm a huge proponent of using a Mac if you have the means to make it happen. Macs simply perform creative tasks better as well as run Windows software better-haha.

There are tons of differences between Macs and PCs that run Windows operating systems, but I want to focus on the fundamental philosophical difference between the two. Windows has a bureaucratic belief system in how it does business as opposed to Mac which has an open-source philosophy when it comes to how they run their business. I want to compare this to the modern church and its failure to recognize where the postmodern church is going.

"Bureaucracy and social harmony are inversely proportional to each other."-Leon Trotsky-

Apple makes their production materials freely available, open-source software developers make room for individual users to adapt software to their own needs. The term "open source" comes from software trailblazers back in the late 90s who wanted to make their products accessible and flexible, thus the Linux Kernel was created-it was the first open source operating system. Apple kept this as a priority which almost bankrupted them but they stood their ground because they believed that a One-Size-Fits-All operating system isn't what's best for people, because people are different, their operating system should be different and catered to fit their needs not the company's.

Windows on the other hands makes their One-size fits-all software available only to those who can afford hefty licensing fees, and essentially mass produces the same closed system for people to use.

I think the modern church is mired in a "closed" philosophy of how it views the world and approaches it. I think the bureaucratic approach has failed, and yet the church continues to try and force it upon the postmodern church because it still wants to hold tightly to the controls and steer the ship where they want it to go. That's what I think is really ironic, you can't tame or bridle God or His movement, but that seems to be exactly what the modern church is trying to do. Maybe its fear of change, or maybe they do not trust a younger generation that they raised to take the wheel. I can tell you this, if the wheel was passed to me, I wouldn't be the only one driving, Id be asking for directions, trying to find out from God and other believers on this walk where we are going, and I'd let someone else take the wheel, and I think that scares the establishment that is the modern church.

The postmodern-emerging church is an open source approach to Christianity. It's free and available for all, but its also free and available for ALL to search out and change, transform and (Dare I say it) evolve. This movement believes that together we can grasp a better understanding of the world we live in, and how God relates to that world and what it looks like to follow Him in a constantly changing world. It doesn't force religion down someone's throat, instead it de-emphasizes mass produced Christians and emphasizes Christ followers who fervently seek after God and do so because they want to know why they believe what they believe and live their own life in accordance with that.

Shouldn't we be wanting open source followers? People who dive in and figure out how God relates to them on an individual level, and how that effects them systemically in getting involved in changing the world, whether that be helping the weak, feeding the hungry, taking care of the lame or supporting the poor. Just because a pastor sees God leading him or her to preach doesn't mean that's your calling. You have to actively engage God and figure out for yourself what it looks like for YOU to follow God. And in an open source movement we can rely on each other for support and help, and we can figure out what we believe, because I'd be narrow-minded to think that anyone else on this planet should believe exactly what I believe.

I'm an optimist! I think the next generation of the church is tired of how the modern church has refused to change and adapt to a postmodern world, and I believe this next generation will get back to its roots, and that entails each person figuring out passionately why they believe what they believe and realizing that there will be differences, but there is truth all around us and in an open source world-we can actively seek it out and hold tightly to those truths that we see, and that can give us direction to our individual calling, and also it can plug us into a worldwide movement that changes the world!!!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Start doing...

First of all, I want to thank my dear friend Michelle, for sparking my thoughts in this direction. We had a very lively and positive discussion yesterday that I think got a lot of people thinking, which is AWESOME!!!

Michelle said a great statement at the end of one of her responses yesterday:

"Stop praying and start doing!!!"

I couldn't agree more with this statement, in fact I want to spend my time today focusing on that because we also see that very statement come from God in Exodus. Now of course as I always do, I want to say a disclaimer, I'm in no way, shape or form a Biblical scholar or even that bright for what it's worth, these are just my thoughts and opinions and I'm very open to the fact that they could be wrong:)

In Exodus, we read about Moses finally leading the people out of Egypt after 400 years of slavery, and after a few days or weeks, we're really not sure-we find them camped out on the coast of the Red Sea. If you remember the story, Pharoah changes his mind again and unleashes his entire army to chase after them and to slaughter them, and that's where God intervenes, but there is a verse in Chapter 14, that a lot of us overlook, and that we do not see portrayed by Charlton Heston, Burt Lancaster or any other Moses we've seen on the silverscreen.

Exodus 14:15; The the Lord said to Moses, "Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on!"

God is literally saying, you have cried out to me enough, you have prayed to me enough, it's time to stop praying and start doing, get moving. There are three or four translations, that literally say "Stop Praying, and go!"

I love this passage because I believe that it speaks volumes about who we are called to be as Christ Followers! Is God saying that prayer is bad? NO WAY! Prayer is a means of communication with God, as well as a daily chance to just converse and build a relationship, but at some point YOU have to act in faith!

Too many people I know sit in a reactionary mode to God. They pray for what they want, or sometimes they even pray for God's will to be done, but they NEVER ACTIVELY SEEK IT OUT!!! Jesus said, "I have come so that you may have life and life to the fullest." That's really hard to experience when all you do is exist in a way that waits for everything to be done for you. God also created these brains and bodies for us to use them. We need to actively engage them in a way that is constatnly seeking truth and trying to find out what we are being called to in this world.

I guess what I'm saying is that at some point you have to get off the bench and join in the game if you want to experience all that God has to offer. Now, that being said, do not expect God to give you all these desires that you want such as wealth or fame. What I can say is, "Expect the unexpected."

Michelle, I want to thank you for sparking a thought that has been a huge growth for me in the past few months already. I know we believe different things, but I also know that I love you to death and value your friendship and opinions:) Thanks!!!

Monday, March 9, 2009

In Tune...

Being a musician, I tend to view the world a bit differently. Somehow, everything in life I can trace back to or identify with in regards to musical terms and theory. Feel sorry for my wife, she's the one who has to put up with my oddities, and this is one of them.

I always say a quick blessing before I eat my meals. It's not to show off or be super religious, i just tend to want to thank God for every little thing that He provides for me, but I also struggle with this because I can be sitting at Panchero's thanking God for an amazing Pork Burrito, and on the television screen I'm viewing pictures of carnage and hopelessness from around the world. So in my mind I go that place where I say, "If God cares enough to provide this pork burrito, then doesn't He care infinitely more about Darfur, or the economy of the world?"

There has been a massive increase in what I call "Impersonal faith" that's become an epidemic in the church. We only care about God for what He can do for us, and we view Him as this distant being that stands at a distance and watches us. He's existent but not active, and every now and then He intercedes to give us what we want. That's totally false(again, my opinon and i could easily be wrong, I know that)! We've bought into a consumeristic view of God, and it's a belief that essentially states that "God is here to supply my wants." Do you hear how selfish and narrow that is?

To debunk that belief i think we need to start witha simple, yet profound question: Where is God?

When I think of God I picture a song, any song that's good. For this allegory, I'd like to picture "The Scientist" by Coldplay. It's a beautiful, moving song that has amazing lyrics, and more importantly, outstanding music. We see God in the scriptures as physical(see Jesus and all the references to hands and feet as well as the dove after Baptism). We see God in Spirit(See the Smoke by day and pillar of fire by night, as well as the day of Pentecost). So where is God?

I think God is everywhere. He is all around us. He's not here to be our persoanl maid service, nor is He here to give us our wildest fantasies. He is here and at work. He is carrying out His will 24/7 365. So if God is everywhere, then why is there so much sadness, and how come I don't get what i want most of the time? Easy-We're here because of God and for God, not the other way around.

God is always at work, the song is always being played. The question isn't "Can I hear my favorite song?" The question is: are you in tune with the song that God's playing. It's really strange because there are some people who claim to be experts on this song(Pastors, Theologians, Lifetime believers), and yet they can sound way out of tune with this song, and yet on the other end of the spectrum, there can be people who've never heard of the song and they seem to fit in beautifully with the rhythms, harmonies and intonation.

Everyone is playing the song, regardless of what their belief system is, the true test is, are you in tune?

Maybe you have this sense like you have no sort of relationship with God because of various reasons. These ideas you have about what that means, all these things that you've been told about what it looks like or what it doesn't look like to be a Christ follower. Maybe its too hard to wrap your head around the idea of an infinite, massive, invisible, loving God. It's still hard for me to get my head around. BUT-truth, compassion, mercy, love, grace, kindness-the way Jesus lived, I can see that. I can understand that and relate to that. I can play that song!

I have a dear friend, who does not follow Christ, but I will tell you this, she lives her life in such a way that speaks so much beauty and love to this world that I dare say, God smiles upon the way she lives her life. She's in tune with the song!!! I also have a friend who has been pastoring at a church for years, and his life doesn't fit into the song at all, it's way out of tune!!! I'm out of tune from time to time believe me:)

I just want you to be aware that when you realize that God is all aorund you, and the song is written on your heart, you can be in tune with what God is doing, and at that moment you can realize the fact that you are in relationship with the Living God.

(NOTE: Being in tune with God usually requires us to love one another unconditionally and not to judge people or view that as trophies we need to reach-it's about relationships!!!)

Thanks Rob Bell for some help on this blog;)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Why so serious?

I absolutely love the people I get to work with on a daily and weekly basis!!! Whether that be the church staff at Grace Community Church or the worship team that I get the privilege of leading:) Not only do they possess amazing talent and beautiful hearts, but they also possess something that I think is necessary to make it through this world: A Sense of Humor!!!

I've been in numerous situations where i was with "Church" people, and even the thought of cracking a smile or quoting a silly movie would have made them uncomfortable and worse, probably caused judgmental thoughts. I have no problem with how anyone lives their life, but may I make a suggestion on how to improve it: LAUGH!!!

Church people especially need to laugh! Not only at the every day funny things, but at ourselves, because I think deep down we all know we aren't perfect and we have some really funny quirks about us. The Bible calls us pecuilar people, so don't shy away from it. Stop trying to be so prim and proper that you miss the point of the gospel-Jesus came they we may live. Yes that means eternally, but it also means in the here and now. I'm not saying go out and get plastered and get a drunk driving ticket, there is, of course, some discretion involved. But go out and do something intentionally for the purpose of laughing.

Watch a funny movie, engage in a conversation with friends that ends up with you on the floor rolling, go to You Tube and find some funny clips or comedians. Here's a few suggestions: Jim Gaffigan is a riot, as is Demetri Martin.

I guess the point is we shouldn't take ourselves too seriously because we really are just a very small grain of sand on a vast ocean beach. Might as well enjoy the water every once in a while right? If all else fails, picture me trying to run a sprint-it's hysterical-My college soccer coach referred to my running style as a "retarded gazelle." Now that's funny!!!!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Terribly Acted "Christian" Movies!!!

First of all, I already know I'm going to catch some flack for this, but i seriously have to speak up about this subject. The last two "Christian" (And I use quotations on purpose), movies I have seen were "Facing the Giants" and "Fireproof." I want to first point out that these are not normally movies that i would watch because they are missing two important criterium for me:

1. Will Ferrell
2. well, there really is no number two, Ferrell is so funy that he needs two points!!!

I'm more of a comedy guy, and of course I like action movies like the "Bourne" Trilogy, but I tend to stay away from most other movies(I know, I know-narrowminded).

I would like to say that these past two movies had great plots, and the writing was even pretty solid, but the acting was RIDICULOUSLY HORRENDOUS!!! There were extremely poignant points during the movie in which I found myself audibly laughing at how bad the acting was.

"Facing the Giants" had a decent excuse for this, it was extremely low budget, so that kind of hurts your ability to pay a credible actor who does a good job, but that movie grossed over 15 million dollars so when they made "Fireproof" I would expect that they would use that money to go out and hire a credible cast. Who did they cast as their star? KIRK CAMERON-that's correct KIRK STINKING CAMERON!!! And he was the best actor in the movie, and after reading that last statement I hope you realize that any movie that has Kirk Cameron as its star and BEST actor is going to be acted miserably. That's like handing a 13 year old your keys to a Porsche and EXPECTING everything to turn out all right! There were parts of the movie where I cringed at how horrific it was. I appreciated the message of the movie, and they even made some scenes look very Hollywood-esque-AKA-the rescue scene from the fire, but I couldn't get over the fact that this guy was getting paid to be this terrible.

Let me say this before I get bombarded with negativity, I think Mr. Cameron is a decent and well intentioned human being, but I don't think acting is his calling. I would be absolutely terrible acting in a movie, I'm robotic, a bit awkward looking and I can't act!!! I guess my underlying problem with all of this is twofold:

First, why do "Christian" movies seem to have the cheesiest acting known to man(Exception-Passion of the Christ-Kudos Jim Caviezel, you acted brilliantly!!!). You're telling me that the church with all of its monetary wealth can't afford a better cast? And I don't want to hear that we spend our money on far more important things because we both know that is a false statement for the most part. Evangelicals in America have pretty much sold out to Hollywood and Hollywood loves it because "Christians will pay money to see Christian movies!!!" SO the first problem is this: If you are going to continue to make "Christian" movies, have some standards in regards to acting.

Secondly, why do we need "Christian" movies in the first place. I want to be honest with you, I'm not against the previous movies mentioned, I'm just curious. I have found some profound truths in many "Non-Christian" movies. I am overwhelmed with God's brevity in "The Lord of the Rings" movies. I'm deeply moved by God's compassion in "Schindler's List," Liam Neeson breathed life into a role that touched many in a deeply somber and powerful way. I see the humor of God when I watch "The Goonies" or "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." I experience the grace of God in movies like "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" and "The Shawshank Redemption(Which can be seen bi-weekly on cable for some odd reason that I haven't figured out yet).

My point is this, we can be looking for the goodness of God all around us, even in the most unlikely places we can see glimpses of how good God is. I don't need a "Christian" movie to see the profound nature of God in entertaining ways. I just need to be aware that God is permeating everything and I just need to open my eyes a bit wider.

Friday, March 6, 2009

A Beautiful Mess...

I think (For the most part) that the church is ignorant when it comes to their understanding of culture! I think many of us who have attended church at some point in our lives have been told to stay out of culture because it's evil or its not sacred.

Here's what I believe to be true about culture: it is not this rigid, massive entity that Christ followers can either ignore or choose to acclimate to. The word Culture comes to our English language via Latin "Culturus," from which we also get cultivate(Thanks Tony Jones for that bit of information;)). Technically, culture is the wide variety of symbols (dialect, accents, language, apparel, ideas, secret handshakes, obscene gestures, hair styles, stem ware, icons and pretty much everything else) by which humans cultivate our experiences of life. Picture life as building supplies for a house that are strewn all over the place. Culture is the tools and builders that make this mess somewhat presentable into a house we can live in, so that we can make sense of all those parts.

"A culture is just a fleeting human creation, a spontaneous uncontrolled collaboration, and we shouldn't expect it ever to be perfect or even to be very good."-Frederica Mathewes-Green

Culture isn't anti-God!!! When we look at how we live our lives, and how we cultivate our experiences in life, we realize that culture is everywhere and everything. Counter culture is still culture-HAHA.

I'm very tired of pastors speaking from pulpits on Sunday mornings proclaiming to be countercultural when they, themselves are married to culture. These pastors are using language and microphones, Outlines they've typed on their computers(Hopefully a Mac-shameless plug). They have their hair done in a certain, perfect way, and they're either wearing suits and ties, reading from a particular version of the Bible. Likewise, every church attender in every pew is completely dripping with culture. There is no way to escape it!!!

When we realize that we ARE culture, we realize that there is no line between sacred and secular at all. We view this whole created world and culture as one big, beautiful mess in which God is moving. There's the glorious and godly, -Rocky Mountains after fresh snow, birth of a child, great conversations with dear friends- and there is also the horrific and evil-Tornados that level communities, murder and shattered relationships-and they are all inelegantly intermixed. And between those two ends of the spectrum lives a wide variety of objects, events, people and ideas that reflect some of God, some of us and even a bit of evil.

The way we approach culture is awesome if we approach it in the right way(Just an opinion):

There's no one-size-fits all method for seperating the good from the bad. In all actuality, it's an art of looking for the intersections between theology and other disciplines, looking for truth wherever one can find it.

This may sound like blasphemy, but I read it in the Gospels and see God working in His culture this way. Christian theology does not have the sole claim to truth(Don't stone me-haha). What christian theology should do is find truth and then translate that truth into the idioms given to us through the truth of the Biblical narrative.

Truth is whereever God chooses to expose it; Its most perfectly instantiated in the person of Jesus, and from Him it flows out into ALL creation. Not just the parts that we deem "Clean!" I believe that Christianity has a lot of truth-Jesus being the Son of God-the inspired breathing word of God we read in the Bible. But I also think that somehow, we as human being have perverted what that looks like at times. One of the greatest truths I ever heard was from Ghandhi, who most definitely was not a Christ follower

"I like your Christ, but I do not like your Christians."

Translation: BE Christlike, and I see a Jesus in the Bible that was no hold barred, and nothing was off limits. He was immersed in the culture and creating culture and transcending it as well. He made water into wine(Thanks Chrisi); He broke all the "religious rules" of His time; He loved voraciously; He hung out with supposedly secular people; And most importantly He painted a picture of a perfect God moving in a beautiful mess!!!

I hope I can dive into this beautiful mess, and be more aware of who God is by doing so, because this place is dripping with truth, I just need to be aware of where God is placing it!

-NOTE-I want to thank Tony Jones for a lot of his thoughts on this subject-great stuff-

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Dreaming...The Post Political Church...How sweet that could be

I hope you have your own set of beliefs. More importantly I hope you know why you believe what you believe. This is not a post about what I believe or what I think you should believe, because that would be shortsighted and judgmental at the very least. More importantly, I think the diversity of our beliefs allows us to really dig in and be aware of what's going on all around us.

I want to chat a bit about politics, more importantly, the lack thereof. I grew up in a very conservative, white, republican church, and no matter what I believe I need to realize that my beliefs are based on my own cultural biases that stem from the environment I was around for a huge part of my life. I think we all need to realize that our beliefs are based on our own personal biases, and that we shouldn't be ashamed of that, but if we realize that we should also be open to different beliefs than our own on our quest for growth and truth.

I am now a professed moderate because I can see validity on both sides of the aisle, more importantly though, does it matter? I mean the church for the most part has taken on the role of major political player in the American landscape, and I don't think that this was ever our calling(Again I could be worng!). We have certain denominations that lean towards the right(See Baptist, E. Free, Christian Church, and other evangelical denoms.) and we have certain denominations that lean toward the left(Episcopalian, PCUSA, Anglican, etc...).

My worry is that these supposed agents of unity under the cross of Christ, are arguing more with each other than spending time on impacting the world we live in. I didn't see God really relating to the different flavors of religious leaders in His day, I saw him caring for the sick, hanging out with tax collectors and prostitutes, and more importantly, I saw Him truly trying to reconcile the world He was a part of. It was profound and perfect!!!

I think that we, as the church in America, are becoming less relevant because people perceive us as judgmental jokes. I think it's about time we stopped trying to be the political power in this country and instead addressed the culture the way that Jesus did. He was aware of the culture He was a part of, He related to that culture and more importantly, He transcended culture.

You can easily have your beliefs, and you can openly share them, but please, PLEASE, let's try to work together and do what Jesus commanded us to do: Love Him and love others!!! Help the poor, take care of the sick, immerse ourselves in the culture so we can truly empathize and love!!! Don't fear culture! After all, I have no idea how many times I've been told not to conform to this world because its evil, and my response lately has been, "Well, then how do you expect me to love God and love other people then? It's not a sin to relate to people, it's a sin to be holier than thou, or judgmental."

The Post Political church is a place where we do have our own beliefs, but we humbly realize that there is truth everywhere in God's Kingdom. It stops pushing an agenda, and starts loving a desperate world. That's a movement I could get behind, and that's a movement that people will feel loved by. Left, right-who cares? Are you loving people and are you seeking after Him? Just because you believe something different than me, doesn't make you retarded, moreover, I'd suggest it makes you someone I need to chat with so that maybe I can learn more about this world!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Question O' the Week:

Which celebrity in real life reminds you the most of Peter Griffin off of family guy?

My personal answer: Dick Cheney, let's hear your answers

Counting on God!!!

As I prepare to lead worship this week as Grace Community Church, I'm overwhelmed by this very simple statement-Counting on God!!! We are singing a song by Jared Anderson with this title, and it's a very powerful, beautifully written song that speaks of our reliance on God, but it's made me go much deeper in what I think it means to Count on God!!!

Growing up in an Evangelical Southern Baptist Church, I was tought that this is a one way street when it comes our relationship with God. I should rely on this picture of a distant God that reacts to how I approach Him in my life. THIS IS NOT AN ACCURATE PICTURE OF GOD OR OUR FAITH!!!

My actions do not dictate what God does at all! God moves independently of me, of us. He is already at work despite what I do or do not do. To view faith as a picture of us trying to invoke a desired response of God is moronic and very selfish, and dare I say, not faith at all! In polar opposite of most Americanized views of faith in God is a beautiful picture of a God that's revealing Himself to us in creative and different ways, and we can have the faith to respond to what he is doing and joining in the gorgeous song that He's singing, or we can choose to believe that God responds to what I'm doing, which totally paints a picture of us as God, and the Father as merely a maniacal genie in a bottle that shows up when we do what we're supposed to do.

Here's what blows me away: Not only does counting on God mean that we can see how He is working in this world and partner with Him, but it also shows a duality of faith coming from Him as well. Not only are we counting on God as our total reliance and selfless leading, He is counting on us to be agents of change in this world!!! How crazy is that??? God is counting on you and I to selflessly follow Him to carry out His will in this place. That humbles me.

I want to be crystal clear here: I screw up on an hourly basis if not more, and I am in no way, shape or form a genius, so please don't think I'm preaching here because I'm not!!! Moreover, I hope you view this as a conversation that I hope will make us reevaluate why we believe what we believe. Your beliefs may be different than mine, and that's awesome!!! But I do hope you would approach your view on faith humbly because there's a great chance we're all retarded when it comes to knowing or defining even the core aspects of God, because that's how big God is:)

I am counting on God, not the other way around. I hope I'm open to His movement in this world and that I can join in the eternal work that has always been going on, because cooperating with God even for the briefest moment transforms us, and it makes our "Faith" beautiful!!!