What makes a church cool?
Is it when the teaching pastor wears designer jeans?
Is it when the church has more college students in their services than senior citizens?
Is it when worship sounds like Chris Martin and James Taylor combined forces to write a ballad?
What makes a church cool?
I have to admit, I am really drawn to cool churches.
In fact, I often hope outsiders think my church is cool.
Is that wrong?
I would say yes and no.
Yes, It is wrong if my measuring stick for cool is how worship sounds, how the pastor looks and how young and cool the church community is.
It is not wrong to want to be a cool church if by cool, you mean you want to be part
of a church that is excited to come to church and willing to invite friends who are unbelievers to come to church to check out who Jesus Christ is and what the Gospel is all about.
Interesting Thoughts on Being Cool by Al Mohler
Al Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary recently said this about the critcism Barack Obama is facing from the Homosexual Community for choosing Rick Warren to pray at the Inauguration:
"We would all like to be considered cool. Cultural opposition is a tough challenge and bearing public hatred is a hard burden. Being cool means being considered mainstream, acceptable, and admirable. Believing that same-sex marriage is wrong is enough to turn "uncool" in an instant, at least in many circles.
I am not throwing Rick Warren to the wolves over this. He now finds himself in a whirlwind, and he will not be the last. Pastor after pastor and church after church will face a similar challenge in short order. No matter how cool you think you are or think that others think you are, the hour is coming when the issue of homosexuality -- taken alone -- will be the defining issue in coolness.
If you accept the full normalization of homosexuality, you will be cool. If you do not, you are profoundly uncool, no matter how much good work you do nor how much love and compassion you seek to express.
Liberal Protestantism came to this conclusion long ago, and those churches desperately want to be considered cool by the elites. Having abandoned biblical authority, there is nothing to prevent them moving fast into coolness. The only barriers are outposts of conservative opposition, but they will not last long.
Many in the "emerging" and "Emergent church" movements also state their intention to transcend the divisive issues like abortion and homosexuality. Some of these represent the quintessence of cool in cultural identification. But for how long? Eventually, the issue of homosexuality will require a decision. At that point, those churches will find themselves facing a forced decision. Choose ye this day: Will it be the Bible or coolness?"
Intersting thoughts from Mohler. He feels all Christians and Churches will be looked at as "Cool" or "Uncool" in the years to come based on where they stand on the homosexuality issue (Gay Marriage, etc.)...
Do you agree with Mohler's prediction?
How will churches appear relevant to the culture without compromising on the Biblical teachings presented in scripture prescribing homosexuality as a sin?
Just some light Christmas Holiday discussion for you!...
-Spend time with our family
The name/theme of this years event was "An Ugly Duckling Christmas"
We started off at the church coffee shop with appetizers by a french chef
in our church. They were amazing!
Of course we had to have Duck (seriously, flown in from France), so we had
Duck pate followed up with croissant ham things, chips and dip, veggie platters,
quiche, mini sandwiches, apple and grape cider and for background music,
Sufjan Stevens Christmas album.
Then we headed to the Honda Center to watch the
Anaheim Ducks take on the New York Rangers in NHL Hockey.
The seats were the cheapest in the arena, in the upper deck,
so I don't think any of us ever saw the puck.
There was a good fight on the ice though!
After the game (Rangers won 3-1),
we all headed over to the
Ugly Mug Coffee Shop (this was the "Ugly" part of the night) in downtown Orange.
We rented out the coffee shop from 9pm to 11pm
and sat around drinking coffee, singing some Christmas Carols
and conducting a duck themed gift exchange (Under $5).
The spiritual tie in for the night was Isaiah 53 from the Old Testament.
This chapter describes the ultimate "ugly duckling"...
"He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not."
The ugly duckling described in the passage is the Messiah, who would come into our world some 1,000 years after this prophecy was recorded in Isaiah.
His name was Jesus.
Jesus was the ultimate "ugly duckling"
coming into our world as a man who had
"nothing in his appearance that we should desire Him."
Don't you think God would enter into our world in a more majestic way?
As a rich ruler.
As a handsome noble King.
As a political and military genius.
Jesus chose to enter into this world as none of these things.
Instead his life on earth began in a small, dark, smelly cave/manager,
and continued in a sleepy, forgotten county of Nazereth
and flourished as a man who had nothing in his outward appearance
that would draw any of us to Him.
What a Savior!
The Angel Gabriel has a role in this chapter, disclosing
to Zecharias (Father of John the Baptist) and to Mary (Mother of Jesus)
the specific roles they will play in God's plan.
As Mary takes in the incredible, mind blowing news that she will give birth
to the Messiah, she asks a simple, fairly innocent question...
"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"
Gabriel responds with just enough information to let Mary (and us as the readers) know that a miracle is about to be performed. A miracle that will set in motion the arrival of the Messiah...
"The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. "
Then Gabriel as the spokesperson for God, shares this incredible truth with Mary...
"For nothing is impossible with God."
I love this truth.
"Nothing is impossible with God."
The original Greek translation of this verse actually translates into English,
"no word is impossible with God."
This means that any word that God says...can happen, has power, and is to be trusted!
What an incredible truth...
I want to respond to the words of the Bible, (God's words to you and me)
in the same way that Mary responded to the words from God sent through the angel.
This is how Mary responded:
I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said."
This is my prayer this Christmas:
but I was fascinated by it.
Recently a British news outlet has come across the playlist the
US military has used when interrogating terrorist suspects to get
them to talk. Here are the bands and songs the military has used
to drive the suspects to speak...
"Enter Sandman," Metallica.
"Bodies," Drowning Pool.
"Shoot to Thrill," AC/DC.
"Hell's Bells," AC/DC.
"I Love You," from the "Barney and Friends" children's TV show.
"Born in the USA," Bruce Springsteen.
"Babylon," David Gray.
"White America," Eminem.
"Sesame Street," theme song from the children's TV show.
Other bands and artists whose music has been frequently played at U.S. detention sites: Aerosmith, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Don McLean, Lil' Kim, Limp Bizkit, Meat Loaf, Rage Against the Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Tupac Shakur.
(taken from KFI Radio)
Wow, a set list of Barney, David Gray and Meat Loaf would get me to spill me
intel knowledge too.
What Christmas Song would you add to the list?
My Choice would be, "Tennessee Christmas" by Amy Grant.
even "low elevation snow!"
Here is what a Ventura County News Article wrote on Monday:
"With a warm November, Southern California is finally ready for cold storms to make their way in. Resort level snow will be likely next week, and in pretty hefty amounts if things stay on track. OWSweather.com Meteorologist Kevin Martin predicts a 50 year event. While Martin is usually conservative on these events, the pattern highly favors it. "We are in a pre-1950 type pattern, "said Martin. "We know we are due for a winter storm sometime this year. The type we may be dealing with will be ranked up there with the known years before 1950, which set record low daytime temperatures into the forecast region. With this, may come low elevation snow."
Forecaster Cameron Venable is seeing very cold temperatures in the Los Angeles areas as well. Torrance is not usually known for winter weather, thus making this an interesting event for Venable to track.
About half way through the night, I started feeling kind of ill.
When we got home from the dinner, my daughter Lily
began throwing up and a few hours later,
There is nothing quite like throwing up to intensify your prayer life with God.
I was confessing sins I have never committed in hopes that God would
alleviate my condition. It didn't seem to work, but it is amazing what type
the last couple of weeks, I am praying with me and Lily going down last night,
on the USC/UCLA football game, in Sunday's Sports section and decided to write him to give my 2 cents on the game.
Much to my suprise, he printed a portion of my e-mail in today's page 2 of the sports section!
Here is the link to the article if you have nothing better to do in your life
than read a letter to the sports editor from a sports nerd/loser like me...
Click Here to read the article
Mariners Church Christmas Tree Lighting (December 6th)
This is actually in LA County, but not far from the OC. Offers Free cocoa and cider and traditional carols sung by the Biola Choral, this is a very moving event,
I had the opportunity to teach on the life of Joseph,
the earthly "father" of Jesus.
We observe Joseph's life in 3 main Biblical texts:
Matthew 1, Matthew 2 and Luke 2.
I read over these passages several times, praying that God would give me wisdom and insight
as I taught from these Biblical narratives. Here are a few of the things I observed as I studied Joseph's life.
Joseph was called a righteous man. (Matthew 1:19)
Mary had been away visiting her cousin, Elizabeth for 3 months (Luke 1) and more than likely told Joseph of the pregnancy after returning home.
(what fiancee would believe this story after having his future wife out of town for the past 3 months!)
Joseph's righteousness was displayed in his act of grace in deciding not to divorce Mary
when he found that she was pregnant and he was not the father. (Matthew 1:19)
God used 4 dreams to specifically speak to Joseph and confirm God's will in Joseph's life
(Matthew 1:20, Matthew 2:13, Matthew 2:19, Matthew 2:22)
In dream #1, As Joseph is given the huge responsibility of caring for the King of Kings, God reminds Joseph that although he is a everyday laborer (carpenter), his identity is as the "son of David" (Matthew 1:20)
Joseph's righteousness was further displayed in how he kept Mary a virgin until after the birth of Jesus (Matthew 1:25)
I wonder if the real reason there was "no room at the inn" (Luke 2:7) for Jesus' birth
was because Joseph's family considered him and Mary outcasts for becoming pregant during the betrothal period and simply didn't want to share a room with them.
Even though Jospeh was called a righteous man, he was still in desperate need of a Savior who would forgive him of his sins (Matthew 1:21)
Jesus true fatherly authority was not Joseph, but His Father in Heaven (Luke 2:49).
Joseph's life story fades away in the Gospels, we never hear about him after Luke 2,
as Jesus lifestory comes into prime focus.
I love this example. That is what we should want!
The spotlight on our lives dims and Jesus Name is the one people are left remembering
after they have spent time with us.
30"He must increase, but I must decrease.
31"He who comes from above is above all, he who is of the earth is from the earth and speaks of the earth He who comes from heaven is above all. "
In Matthew 25, Jesus tells his followers that they are to look after the least of those he loves,
I love that in a small way, Angel Tree is doing this. Ministering to families who are missing a Dad or Mom. Ministering to a Parent who feels the sting of poor choices but is encouraged to know that someone is buying a Christmas Gift for their child.
I pray that the kids and parents will see Jesus love for them in our small act towards them.
#1 - The Christmas Local Outreach Project we are working on at Calvary?
#2 - My Personal Obsession with Winning my Neighborhood Christmas Light Contest?
#3 - 3 Observations I made about Joseph, the "earthly father" of Jesus, from last Tuesday's Young Adult Gathering at Calvary?
#4 - Reasons Why I Believe UCLA will upset USC in football this Saturday?
#5 - Other Ideas?
We were greeted with such care from the church staff.
I have to admit
Sometimes I forget that visitors to my church are watching and waiting to be noticed, appreciated, remembered and just generally helped out as they take the initial step to try out our church. Visting New Life this past week was a great reminded to be more intentional about this at Calvary.
Virtual Church at New Life