Yesterday I had 5 friends come over to Church to help me create gift bags to give out this Saturday Night at our "Lite the Night" event.
We are expecting over 6,000 people to be at our Church for this event so we are talking about a lot of gift bags. Items we include in the gift bag include a Chick-Fil-A free sandwich coupon, some promo materials about our Church and a free copy of the Gospel of John from the Bible.
As I was gathering the materials yesterday I realized much to my regret that we didn't have enough Gospel of John's to give out. In fact we only had about 100 left. I had assumed we had more in a storage area but found nothing there. So as I walked back to my office kind of bummed, I prayed a quick prayer. "God, please provide the Gospel booklets that we need for Saturday."
As far as I know, no one knew what I had prayed, no one except me knew we were out of these booklets for Saturday.
What happened next amazed me Waiting for me on my desk, was a post it note saying these words, "One of the instructional aides at the School was wondering if we could use some boxes of the Gospel of John for this Saturday. Her Husband Steve has boxes of Gospel's of John he can donate to us if we want them." Signed, Susie (a co-worker at Calvary).
I immediately called this guy Steve, who I had never met before and within 45 minutes had 1,500 Gospel of John's in English AND Spanish!
What an incredible answer to a prayer I had only started 1 hour ago. God is Amazing.
I just finished speaking at a Christian Junior High School Chapel. It is such an honor to teach the Bible to students. I absolutely love it.
As I was speaking this morning I realized something strange about myself. I have a "Youth Pastor voice" when I talk to junior high and high school students. This voice was unintentionally developed over my 9 years of youth ministry. People have always teased me about this, but until today, I could never admit it to myself. But as I spoke to the students this morning, I sadly realized the truth. I do have a Youth Pastor's voice when I talk to students.
My Youth Pastor voice sounds like a combination of: Rob Bell/Pauly Shore/My Sister Jenny/Weird Al/Jeff Proobst from Survivor
My Youth Pastor voice uses the words such as "like" "stoked" "rad" way more than my normal voice does. I guess the first step to change is admitting the issue.
Seth Godin posted on his blog today about "Dunbar's number."
Here is what Seth writes,
"Dunbar's number is 150. And he's not compromising, no matter how much you whine about it. Dunbar postulated that the typical human being can only have 150 friends. One hundred fifty people in the tribe. After that, we just aren't cognitively organized to handle and track new people easily. That's why, without external forces, human tribes tend to split in two after they reach this size. It's why WL Gore limits the size of their offices to 150 (when they grow, they build a whole new building)."
What are your thoughts on this theory? How does this impact our Church's? Should Church's plant new Churches when they grow to be over 150 people? Does our Facebook and Twitters obsession with friend numbers fly in the face of this theory?
These are some of the questions I am thinking through tonight. (and the fact that I made several errors, got picked off 2nd base and contributed to our team's loss in men's league softball tonight...sad)
=================================================== "Recently, I saw a commercial for a new show on ABC called “V.” I immediately got excited because I thought someone finally had the courage to address a problem that is tearing the church asunder … V-necks.
Unfortunately, my enthusiasm was misplaced as the show appears to be about aliens. Fine, ABC, chicken out. Address fictional issues. V-necks however, are fact. And they are terrifying.
If you’re reading this right now and you can feel a slight breeze on your sternum because you’ve rocking a deep v-neck, it might be too late for you. If you’re reading this and thinking, “What’s a v-neck?” there’s still hope for you my friend.
Having recently seen 19 million v-necks at the Catalyst Conference and found myself in stage three of Deep V-Neck Syndrome (DVS) I feel qualified to offer the following caution. Here is how DVS typically goes down:
Stage 1 – The Questions “I wonder if I could wear a v-neck?” As soon as that question dances across your mind like a nimble antelope, a seed has been planted. No one ever jumps right into a t-shirt with a neck that plunges toward their belt, it usually starts out slowly with a series of questions. “I wonder if I’m cool enough for that t-shirt?” or “I wonder how I would look wearing something like our worship leader is wearing? Could I pull that off?”
Stage 2 – The Initial Purchase You don’t go to Urban Outfitters to get your first v-neck. Those are too deep and too fast all at once. You start out with “baby V steps.” You’ll be shopping at a store you often go to and suddenly notice that they carry v-neck t-shirts. “Hey, that’s different, that’s not the crew neck I’m used to. Hmmm.” I myself fell under the v-spell at Target. I saw some buttery smooth t-shirts, liked the colors and lo and behold they had a very subtle v to them. You could barely see it, but it was there. And with one taste, I was hooked.
Stage 3 – The Judgment Once you go V, it is very, very difficult to ever respect your normal t-shirts again. You’ll open the closet, see those round, crew neck t-shirts staring at you and feel disappointed. “Look at you lazy t-shirts. Didn’t even make an effort to have a little flair, to dip your neck southward in a bold move of fashion and awesomeness. You disgust me.” I was about to pay for a maroon t-shirt at the register recently when my wife noticed it was not a v-neck. I snatched it like it was some sort of pit viper and flung it across the aisle away from me. (OK, not really, but I did hand it to the cashier and decide not to buy it on the spot as soon as it’s boring crew neckness was revealed.)
Stage 4 – The Scissors “V the world!” your little heart will tell you. So in addition to buying v-flavored clothing items, you’ll actually get out a pair of scissors and start making your own. A friend of mine did that at a retreat recently. We were having a meeting and I noticed he was wearing a deep, ragged edge v-neck t-shirt that had the retreat’s logo on it. “Interesting,” I thought, “the t-shirts for this retreat are v-neck.” But they weren’t. I saw later that they were regular t-shirts but he had taken a pair of scissors to his and made his own v-neck. V very careful if you ever do this.
Stage 5 – The Abandon It’s over. Your shallow v is about to go deep. First your sternum will be exposed and you’ll probably shave your chest a little. And then emboldened by that, you’ll get an American Apparel shirt that dips below your diaphragm. “Hey, look at me? Watch me breathe!” And then, it will dip so low people will be able to tell if you have an innie or outie belly button.
Has this happened to you? Did you recognize yourself in this list or perhaps someone you know and love?
Only we can stop Deep V-neck Syndrome. Please forward this to loved ones. Print it out and post it in a spot where worship leaders are known to congregate. (Perhaps a common watering hole like Starbucks.) We’ll get through this together. I know we will.
I have the honor of teaching in one of our Sunday services at Calvary on November 15th. I going to teach on the first 16 verses of 1 Timothy 5, as part of our "House of God" sermon series.
Here are the first few verses I will be teaching on: "1Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers, 2 the older women as mother and younger women as sisters, in all purity."
Here is how you can help me...
#1 - Do you think Paul is instructing Timothy to appeal to older men lile a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers and younger women as sisters only when correcting them or is this a general instruction at all times?
#2 - What observations do you have about these 2 verses?
#3 - What questions come to mind as you read these verses?
#4 - What modern day applications to you take from these verses?
Calvary graciously gives me Fridays off each week. My typical goals for each Friday are:
#1 - Connect with God (Sabbath Rest) *Read the Bible *Create some space to sit and listen to the voice of God in my life *I try to listen to a sermon podcast or two on the i-pod
#2 - Connect with my Wife and Family *We are in special season right now as a family with 2 kids under the age of 5 who are not in school. We try to make my day off special for them by doing intentionally (yet inexpensive) activities. Today, we used our Disneyland passes to go to Disneyland this morning and then had a picnic lunch in the backyard for lunch. At night we often will get some cheap fast food or make an easy dinner and just hang out together.
#3 - Work on the things around the House *Every Friday I mow the front yard grass, clean the backyard pool and sweep the leaves off our deck...In a strange way, I really enjoy this time because it is one of the few times in the week I get to use my hands to work.
Sadly, I have Fridays where I fail to reach my goals. Either because of selfishness, laziness or a lack of boundaries I compromise my day. I thank our God that His grace covers me in the days I fail.
One of our leaders in the Youth Ministry movement across the United States has been the President of Youth Specialties, Marko Ostreicher. Marko is a quirky guy, yet so completely honest and passionate about Jesus and so completely honest and passionate about youth ministry.
Zondervan the parent company of YS has some explaining to do. I don't like this.
Had a fun morning today hiking Laguna Canyon with a great group from our Young Adults ministry at Calvary. One of the important topics that came up as we hiked was the popular YouTube segment, "Will It Blend?"
The guys at willitblend.com recently attemped to blend a i-Phone. 2 of my favorite things, i-Phone destruction and blenders. I naturally looked it up immediately upon arriving home.
1. It’s lonely to lead. Leadership involves tough decisions. The tougher the decisions, the lonelier it is. 2. It’s dangerous to succeed. It is dangerous to succeed while being young. rarely, does God give leadership that young because it takes crushing and failure first.
3. It’s hardest at home. Nobody at home is applauding you. They say, “Dad! You’re fly is open.”
4.It is essential to be real. If there is one realm where phoniness is personified it is leadership. What I care about is that you stay real.
5.It is painful to obey. There are rewards, yes, but it is painful nevertheless.
6.Brokenness and failure are necessary.
7.My attitude is more important than my actions. Some of you are getting hard to be around. And your attitude covers all those great actions you pull off.
8.Integrity eclipses image. What you are doing is not a show. And the best things you are doing is not up front but what you do behind the scenes.
9.God’s way is better than my way. God is going to have His way.
30 years ago today, John Piper decided he wanted to become a Pastor. He later the next year would become the Senior Pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I thank the Lord for how Piper has influenced me and so many others over his ministry career.
Tonight, I met my neighbor Steve. I have seen him walking past our house dozens of times over the last year, but never before introduced myself or asked his name. My prayer tonight is that I will remember his name. Sadly I have a track record of forgetting names in a hurry.
If you want to impact others with the love of Jesus Christ you must establish a relationship with others. In order to establish any relationship you must know others names! I know, I know I am captain obvious but hear me out on this.
How many times have you unintentionally killed the beginnings of a friendship you could have really influenced for Jesus Christ, because you couldn't remember a person's name. You met them once or twice or 10 times and could never get beyond the barrier of remembering their name. Can't you just keep asking a person their name if you forget it? Not in our western culture. There is a certain point after meeting another human being, where you go beyond the "point of no return" in asking someone their name. I have neighbors, barista's, Church goers, mailmen, and others who for some reason or another I can never remember the name of and I am too embarrased to ask them for their names now. The Revolution I Want Start Everyone...Everywhere...Wears name tags
But short of thit happening, I believe we as Christians need to prayerfully ask the Lord to make us more disciplined in this area. If we want to see our short, temporary lives here on planet earth count for eternity, we must cultivate relationships with others and that all begins with learning and remembering names.
God, help me to be more disciplined with my memory.
Forgive me for knowing meaningless sports stats, yet forgetting
your word and so easily letting people's names slip away from me.
God, I ask that you would make me a better listener and a better friend
so that I can be used by You to impact the world around me.
And may you receive all the credit for anything good that is produced through my life.
Here are some brief reviews and a preview of what I am reading this week.
1. "Leadership Beyond Reason" by Dr. John Townsen
Impact the book had on me: Low
Impact book could potentially have in the life of a non-Christian: High
First of all let me say, I love John Townsend. I think he is one of the best communicators I have ever heard. He has made a big impact on my life with his "Boundaries" series of books and is a great friend to our Church, making himself available in so many ways to our staff and people. But I have to say, I wasn't really into this book. It is a book encouraging leaders to use their values, feelings and intution to make quality leadership decisions. I found most of the book obvious and not full of any new insights. However, I do believe this would be a great book for a friend in leadership or business who is not a Christian. I believe they will be encouraged to be more open to God through the reading of the book.
2. "In the Name of Jesus" by Henri Nouwen
Impact the book had on me: High
Impact the book could have in the life of a non-Pastor: Medium
The late Henri Nouwen is one of my spiritual heroes and has shaped so much of the philosophy I have about what a Pastor should be. In this book, he records a lecture he gave to a group of leaders in Washington DC. in the late 1980's. He challenged them that the Christian leader of the next century (21st century) would be a leader who moved from Revelance to Prayer, from Popularity to Ministry and from Leading to being Led. I went through this book in this past week as part of our Church Staff retreat to Hume Lake. We had some great discussion as a staff about the key points of the book and I walked away so encouraged. The primary audience of the book is those in ministry leadership, so if you are not, you may not be as impacted by this short little book as others, but I would still highly recommend it. As for me, this book makes my short list of books I should read again and again every year.
A Book I Hope to Read This Week:
"Forgotten God" by Francis Chan
In his second full length book, Chan examines the Holy Spirit and His work in our daily lives. I am excited to read, wrestle with and be challenged by this book.
A Book I Continue to Read This Week: "Devotional Classics" by Richard Foster and James Bryan Smith
I love Foster/Smith's compilation of selected classic readings from authors such as CS Lewis, Dallas Willard and Augustine. Marie and I are into our 3rd week of reading through this together and really enjoying the conversations and thoughts it sparks.
What about you... Do you have any Book Recommendations/Reviews you could give me?
"The 2012 phenomenon is a present-day cultural meme proposing that cataclysmic or transformative events will occur in the year 2012. The forecast is based primarily on what is claimed to be the end-date of the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, which is presented as lasting 5,125 years and as terminating on December 21 or 23, 2012. Much speculation has attached itself to this date, including interpretations of assorted legends, scriptures, numerological constructions and prophecies, and alleged channeling from extraterrestrials."
My non-Christian friend is genuinely concerned about 2012 and the potential for impending doom. It has opened the door for some great conversations about who Jesus Christ is and how the New Testament book of Revalation speaks to future events involving Jesus. I am curious to see how others will use conversations about 2012 to point people to God.
On a side note, the movie 2012 is coming out this November and is being laughed at in unison by movie critics and tech geeks. Check out the trailer for yourself:
I made a little Bible nerd joke in Church today asking the congregation what the significance of October 31st is. The crowd mumbled, "Halloween" and in my best Millhouse voice answered back, "no, it is Reformation Day, hehehe." As nerdy as my little set-up this morning was, It is true, October 31st is Reformation Day, celebrating the revolutionary work of Martin Luther and the reformers efforts to bring the Church back to Biblical principles. Out of this movement came John Calvin and Calvinist theology. Calvinism can best be summed up using the "T.U.L.I.P." acronymm which describes the 5 points of Calvinism.
T = Total Depravity (we are complete sinners) U = Unconditional Election (we are predestined/elected to come to a saving faith in Jesus) L = Limited Atonement (Jesus' sacrifice is limited to covering the elect) I = Irrestible Grace (God's offer of grace to the elect is impossible to turn down) P = Perserverance of the Saints (Once saved, always saved)
I have wasted more time in my Christian life than necessary debating the above points. But you know what? Where I stand right now, I believe I can comfortably say, I am a reformed Calvinist. To me, it simply gives God the most credit in the God-man relationship and makes Him out to be the ultimate hero.
Mike Blowers, former Yankees and Mariners 3rd basemen had an incredible prediction before a Mariners game a few Sundays ago. Blowers predicted on a PRE-game show that Mariner rookie Matt Tuiasosopo would:
1.Hit his very first home run in the majors. 2.In his second at bat. 3.On a 3-1 count. 4.On a fastball pitch. 5.Will hit the home run on the left side. 6.And the ball will land in the second deck.
Check out CNBC's Rachel Maddow describe what happened next:
Thanks to Ryan Lemen, several facebook links and Eric Cowalker for pointing this out to me!
A few Saturdays ago, I was innocently mowing my front lawn when it happened.
My lawnmower let out a noise that sounded like the combination of a old lady shrieking and a Toyota Corolla backfiring. The engine immediately stopped and I stood in the middle of the lawn thinking out what had just occurred. My immediate thoughts were:
1) Was my lawnmower just the victim of a drive by?
2) I wonder if this means I can hire a gardner?
3) When was the last time I put oil in this thing?
Unfortunately thought #3 was the most accurate. I had foolishly forgotten to add oil to the mower's engine in the past year (okay past 5 years) and the engine siezed, never to be heard from again. I have put little effort into maintaining my lawnmower and the result was a blown up lawmower. There is a spiritual analogy found in my experience.
When Life Explodes Sadly, it takes a moral collapse or a life circumstance that overwhelms to make us realize just how little maintance and attention we have put into our relationship with God. Sometimes at that point the damage has been done and our life screeches to a halt, much like my lawnmower. This is a lonely, discouraging place to be.
This is Where God's Grace Comes In
In our moments of despair when our lack of attention to our journey with God is exposed, God shows up in an amazing way to offer us grace in our time of need. Instead of accusing us or letting us suffer, he gently cares for us by offering his forgiveness and strength. This is incredible grace!
When our life explodes we receive grace from our amazing God.
Lawmower explosions do not always receive such measures.
But God has been so good to me even in this circumstance.
Marie's parents brought home an extra lawnmower they had been storing up our Grandparents home in Northern California. I was spared from forking out hundreds of dollars for a new lawnmower and simply given this one. What amazing grace!