Be.Still.

April 26, 2011

It’s Tuesday after Easter; just two days after the incredible resurrection of Jesus Christ. Are we still living like it? Are we still as excited on Tuesday as we were on Sunday morning? I know with myself it’s pretty easy to get distracted and think of it as “just another Easter.” That’s not it, though. Easter represents the day that Death itself DIED! That’s SO COOL!

The title of this post is “Be.Still.” That was done for a reason.

Jesus is still alive. The Resurrection still happened. Are we still as excited about Christ today, Tuesday, as we were on Sunday? Can others still tell?

Be.Still.

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Thought to ponder…

April 21, 2011

St. Augustine once said “The Church is a whore, but she is also my mother,” meaning that we… the Church… have been the unfaithful bride of Christ, seeking our own ways above His and lusting after our own desires in this world.
The Church, though, is my mother. Through generation to generation, the Church is how I came to know Christ and know of God’s unconditional love.

Your thoughts on this?

A New Direction…

April 14, 2011

That’s right. It’s been months since my last post. There’s a reason.

Honestly… over the last few weeks/months, there have been a lot of trials that have come my way. There has been happiness, anger, frustration, loss, success, failures… well… there’s just been quite a bit.

At this point, I’m not really sure that I can continue to post on a regular basis, but… I will try. I give up on saying that I’ll post on specific dates or times. I give up on trying to keep a certain focus or direction with each and every post. What I WON’T give up on, not now, not ever, is telling the world about the Love of Christ. That can come through this blog at times, but mostly… I want to live a life that has evidence of a change. I want people to see me on the street and say “Whoa… something is different about that guy.” I want to be SO different that they can’t help but come up to me and ask what’s going on in my life. When they do, I want to have the strength and courage to share my faith in Christ with them.

You see… God’s done some pretty amazing stuff in my life in the last couple of years. He delivered me from alcohol, promiscuity, a destructive relationship, and more. He has given me an incredible godly woman to call my bride, an opportunity to use the gifts He gave me to serve others, a fresh start in a new land, and now… he’s blessing me with a son that’s going to be born in September. God is GOOD! He can take everything wrong and make it right… but only when we get out of the way, stop seeking our own glory and desires, and submit to Him and his plan.

God’s got a plan (Jeremiah 29:11) for each and every one of us, yourself included. Even if you don’t believe in God, He believes in you. Seek Him and He will show you what that plan is.

In light of the coming Easter holiday, we tend to start thinking about the death and resurrection of Christ. All too often, however, we tend to get hyped about it during this season and then go back to “life as usual” on Monday. Will you?

To wrap up, I’ll leave you with an article by Red Letter Christian, Hugh Hollowell. The article asks a very piercing question: Do I Deny The Resurrection?

Expect to see more articles from other authors. From time to time, I’ll post my own thoughts, but I’ll also be sharing bits from around the web, blog posts, magazine articles, etc, that catch my attention and I find worth sharing. Just because they might not be my own original thoughts, though, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t comment on the post. It lets me know if you like it or not, what you’d like to see, etc. Make sense?

Once you read the article linked above, come back here and tell me what you thought of it. Let’s get some discussion going.

BC

Why worship? Why do YOU worship? I’m not just talking about why do you sing songs of praise or adoration, but why do you worship? I’m talking about why you present yourself to God… why you choose to worship.

Maybe to be able to answer that question, though, we need to start back at the basics. I’ve touched on it before, but let’s do it again. Let’s start 2011 off learning to grow together. Let’s take the next few weeks to really delve into what worship is and what it looks like.

Step 1: What is “Worship”?
The World English Dictionary defines worship as “to show profound religious devotion and respect to; adore or venerate (God or any person or thing considered divine)” and “to be devoted to and full of admiration for.”

Did you catch that? Profound religious devotion… respect to… adore… devoted to… full of admiration for. Worship isn’t a song. It isn’t a word. It isn’t an act or a set range of motions or tasks. Now… that said, all those things I just mentioned can be a part of your worship. My point is, though, that Worship isn’t just one thing. Worship is a way of life. Worship is how we go through every single day giving glory or praise to something (preferably God). But the truth is we can worship anything we choose.

We can worship God. We can worship our job. We can worship our car. We can even worship our family. Let me take it one more step: It’s entirely possible that we can worship our church and our traditions, yet never truly worship God.

So let’s go back. Let’s go to scripture and figure out what worship is, what it has looked like in the past, what the basic root of true worship is.

In Exodus 24, Moses is told directly by God to, “Climb the mountain to God, you and Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel. They will worship from a distance; only Moses will approachGod. The rest are not to come close. And the people are not to climb the mountain at all” (v. 1-2).  As the chapter goes on, we read that God gives Moses very specific instructions as to how they will present themselves and how they will worship. There are instructions for what will be presented as an offering, how it will be presented, and so on. The next morning, Moses and the others set out to fulfill their worship, and in verse 11, it tells us that “They saw God; and they ate and drank.”

Did you get that? Not only did God present Himself to them, but they ate and drank. They fellowship with God; they commune with Him. Why? Because they were there to worship… to adore God, and to show absolute devotion to Him. The people worshipped, and God was with them.

In Isaiah chapter 6, the prophet Isaiah describes a vision he had. In this vision, he sees God sitting on His throne… high and exalted. There were Angel-seraphs hovering above God and calling back and forth to each other “HOLY! HOLY! HOLY IS THE LORD GOD ALMIGHTY! His radiance… His brightness… His excellence… fills the whole earth.” The very foundations of heaven shook as the angels were shouting this, and the whole room filled with smoke.

Sit for just a second and imagine that if you can. The very foundation of heaven shaking because of the intensity of angels worshipping God. THAT is how powerful worship can be.

Are you worshipping? Are you completely sold out to God and to the gospel? Are you plugged into a body of believers that just gives you a “fix” to get through the week, or are you choosing to come together with fellow believers and shout “Holy! Holy! Holy!” from the very depths of your being to the very God that created you?

This isn’t the last I’ll talk about why we worship; it’s simply the first post of many. Let’s get intentional, folks. Let’s worship out of true adoration and devotion, not just because it’s “what is right to do.”

Wow… time to play catch-up!

November 10, 2010

Wow! Has it seriously been three and a half weeks since my last post?? Ok, I’m SERIOUSLY sorry about that.  Let’s get down to business, shall we?

So… double standards. What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear that term? Is there a law or social setting that comes to mind? Is there a male/female thing that comes to mind? Is there a certain person that comes to your mind? I’ll tell you very honestly that there is one person that INSTANTLY springs to mind when I hear “double standards”: me.

I do it from time to time. I won’t say I do it a lot, but I do it more than I realize. I do it in situations that I don’t realize I’m doing it in. I realize I do it to people that I don’t mean to do it to. I do it at times when I even know I shouldn’t be doing it (which if you’re wondering when is a good time, that answer is “NEVER”). Point is that I’m guilty of double standards. I’ve held my wife to them. I’ve held my job to them. I’ve held my congregation to them. I’ve held my youth group to them. I’ve held my praise team to them. I’ve held friends and relatives to them too. This isn’t said to be a self-loathing thing, though; I bring it to light because while I’ve been guilty of it before, I don’t want to be guilty of it any more; I desire CHANGE in my life.

Recently, I found that I had become upset with a friend of mine because this person wasn’t doing what I would do in the situation. Of course in my self-righteous mind, I “would’ve never even gotten myself into the situation.” I was quite the royal high-and-mighty jerk. I expected this person to respond exactly how I would… but they’re not me. I was expecting them to make a change that I thought they should make, even though it’s not my say over whether or not they even WANT to make that change. I was doing this and realized I have people in my life telling me that I should be doing things the way THEY see fit, but I’m not doing it. Doesn’t mean they’re right or wrong, and it doesn’t mean that I’m right or wrong. I say that, of course, meaning that the actual meat & potatoes of what I’m saying might or might not be wrong; the way I was going about it was ENTIRELY wrong; please hear that part the way I intend it.

As I said, I’ve done this to more than just that friend. I’ve done it to my praise team. In the beginning, I expected them to practice throughout the week, but when it came down to it, I would always find myself “too busy” during the week to practice songs myself. I would justify it that I was comfortable enough with the song that I didn’t need it. I’ve done it with my learning team at school by expecting them to have their part done by whatever date and time, but then not having mine done til a few hours after the soft deadline.

Folks… this is wrong. How much added stress have I put on myself because of these double standards? How damaging am I being to myself and to others by doing this? I don’t honestly think I could handle the answer to that. I don’t think any of us could; it’s too huge for us to carry.

In the Bible, it says there are to main commandments. The first is to love God with all your heart, soul, strength & mind; the second is to love your neighbor as much as you love yourself. That’s it. Love God; love people. There’s nothing in there about “Love people… as long as they do what you know (ahem… think you know) is best for them.”

Are we living this? Are we striving to live this every day? I’m ashamed to say I haven’t been as much as I should… but I’m proud to say I’m not okay with leaving it that way.

Monday Musings

October 18, 2010

“If I could just do _______”; “If I could just be _______”;”I’d do _______ with all my heart.”  A lot of us have said those statements or something at least very similar to it.  Some of us have even prayed things like “God, please let me be able to do _______” or “It’d be great if you could open up ________.”

So what is it?  What’s in that blank for you?  What are you clinging to that might not be the right answer?  Is it possible that God is saying “Look… you asked Me for this; I don’t really think that’s best for you right now.  What you really need is this: ________.”  What’s worse, though, is that oftentimes as humans in all our finite splendor, we still push the issue.  We see what God has gifted us with, and we know that He’s closing a certain door, and we see the open window that He gave us.  Unfortunately, instead of looking to see what’s out that window and acting appropriately, we use that window to yell out at our world around us how unfair life is that we’re “stuck” in this room.  We would rather use that window of opportunity to discourage others, to sulk in our own mental muck, or to simply stare at and think of “what could have been.”

Are you doing that?  Has God closed a door for you? Are you staring out the window, yelling at “those meddling neighbor kids”?  Why?

God has a plan to help you grow.  He wants to rock your world, and to use you for greater thing in His Purpose… but you have to submit to doing it His way.
“I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11 (The Message translation)
Sometimes the only thing standing in the way of us accomplishing those great things that He has for us is… us.

We’d rather wait for someone else to reach those people.   We’d rather sit back and wonder why God won’t give us one opportunity when He’s got five others lined up waiting for us.  We choose to be upset about not knowing a new song on Sunday rather than seeing those around us that already know the song and are simply lost in His presence. or even simply attempting to connect to the lyrics.  We’d rather… well… you get the point.

I don’t say this to be negative; I know it might seem that way and for that I apologize.  My point from all of this clutter of thoughts is this:  What opportunities are we missing because we’re looking for our answer rather than His?  What gourmet feast are we missing out on because we’re too busy rummaging through the fridge looking for a corndog?  I’m going to take it a step further… perhaps a step too far…

How many people are hearing us call ourselves “Christians” but seeing us live our lives completely out of God’s plan… and how many of those people are WE turning away from Christ because of our un-Christlike actions and words?  How many people are looking for Christ every day, but see “His people” pursuing everything but Him?

Thursday Thoughts

October 14, 2010

A couple of weekends ago, I was privileged enough to attend David Crowder’s Fantastical Church Music Conference on the campus of Baylor University in Waco, TX.  It was an absolutely amazing time as there were well over 2,000 worship pastors and other church staff in attendance.  (Try being in a room with Hillsong London and 2,000+ other people singing praises to God at the top of their lungs and not being completely overwhelmed by God; not possible.)

While I was there, there was one question that was presented to us on a number of occasions.  It was a question that many of us don’t even think about, or if asked would give a short half-planned response.  The question that all the facilitators kept asking was this: “Why Do You Sing?”  Sounds pretty simple, right?  Now the question isn’t “What physical attributes allow you to sing” or “Do you like to sing”; no, the question is “Why Do You Sing?”  What is it the very reason for you to sing?

To me, this question took a few seconds to fully digest and to start thinking of my response.  Simply enough, I sing because it’s what I believe I was created to do.  I’m not saying that I’m the best singer in the world, or that I even have a highly-desired voice (although thankfully my church people seem to think I’m something special, and I’m not going to try and convince them otherwise; I love my job!).  What I will say, though, is that I connect with God through song in a way that it seems I can’t fully do otherwise.  The word “sing” is mentioned in the KJV Bible on 169 separate occasions; “song” is mentioned in 61 separate occasions.  What I’m trying to say is this: singing is kind of a big deal.

I sing. I sing throughout my day. I sing throughout good times and bad. I sing in all seasons. I sing in all places. I sing alone or with others. I sing because God’s song cannot be silent within me; I HAVE to tell about it.

So… I ask again; what is it for you?  “Why Do You Sing?”

If you get a chance, check out my friend Jon Acuff’s blog here.  He’s got some really solid stuff on there:

http://stuffchristianslike.net/2010/10/three-more-words/

Monday Musings

October 11, 2010

What’s the first thing you think of when I say “Church”?

Hopefully, the first word into your mind was something like “people”, “loving”, “welcoming”, “community”, “life”, “caring”, “compassionate”, or the like. Honestly, I would even settle for a simple “God.”

Sadly, though, for probably more of you than I’d like to think, none of those words came to mind. For some of you, the first descriptor dancing around your noggin was something such as “building”, “judgmental”, “snobby”, “club”, “boring”, “rude” or something similar. Why is this? I’m not saying it’s not true; it’s entirely true.

The real question, however, is “Why has the church become this way?” Better yet, why have we as the church been okay with becoming this way? Nobody forced us to become what we are today; it was our choice; it’s always been our choice.

When Christ walked the Earth some 2,010 years ago, he didn’t seek those who wanted to make buildings for him; he didn’t seek after those that wanted to form a group that would come together because they were all the same. I would even venture to say that he didn’t want a group of people that would simply be content to gather, mutter a few songs, listen to an hour of speaking from some chosen orator, and then leave feeling better about themselves because they “went to church.” But it’s what we do. We do it every single week, don’t we?

When Christ walked among us as a man, he wanted those that would leave whatever they were doing… jobs, trades, hobbies, sometimes even family members… and follow him and obey his teaching. He wanted those that were willing to give up any securities or comforts that this world has to offer and passionately pursue the lessons he was giving them.

He didn’t want people who would follow him out of obligation. He didn’t want people to follow him out of guilt. He wanted people who wanted him; he wanted followers whose appetite for him could never be quenched.

So how about you? Do you attend church regularly?
– If so, why? What keeps you coming back? Is it the message? Is it the music? Is it the lights or building? Or is it the truth that is being taught and LIVED by the body of believers?
– If you don’t, why? Have you ever been a regular attender? Were you driven away, perhaps by something I described above? Would you ever give another body of believers a chance if you saw them living the way that Jesus actually taught in the Bible?

Now I know this post doesn’t apply to every single church; it probably “doesn’t apply to your church” (at least I hope it doesn’t). I also realize I’m probably going to get some hate mail for this; I’m okay with that. I’m not condemning; I’m just calling attention to the 5-ton elephant in the room that nobody seems to want to talk about.

We’ve become lazy, church. In a time when there are still nations and regions where people can’t gather to worship for the fear of being killed, we’re taking corporate worship for granted. There is an epidemic spreading throughout the church like wildfire: passive worship. In other words, people that show up, listen to the “good message”, sing the songs, and then walk out the door completely unchanged. I pray I never become like that. God is too good, and life is too short.

Love God. Love people. Change your world.

Flag Pole Standa’

September 22, 2010

One by one, parents drop some off. One by one, some drive themselves. The scene is familiar, but the timing is not. It’s early. Not stupidly early, but earlier than most kids would ever dream of getting to school on a normal day.  So why today?

Easy… it’s See You At The Pole 2010.

Share your photos & stories from SYATP’10 here. Tell about some of the things God is doing in your life and in the life of those who surrounded you today (or will surround you at some point later today).