Tuesday, March 10, 2009


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Monday, March 9, 2009

Chase the Lion

I thought I would share with you a quote I have taped to my desk. It is by Mark Batterson, and is based on the cool, yet obscure, verse @ 2 Samuel 23:20. It comes from his book, In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day. I love to read this because it helps me remember to not get stuck in a rut! Anyway, here's the Lion Manifesto:

"Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. Set God-sized goals. Pursue God-ordained passions. Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention. Keep asking questions. Keep making mistakes. Keep seeking God. Stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution. Stop repeating the past and start creating the future. Stop playing it safe and start taking risks. Expand your horizons. Accumulate experiences. Consider the lilies. Enjoy the journey. Find every excuse you can to celebrate everything you can. Live like today is the first day and last day of your life. Don’t let what’s wrong with you keep you from worshipping what’s right with God. Burn sinful bridges. Blaze a new trail. Criticize by creating. Worry less about what people think and more about what God thinks. Don’t try to be who you’re not. Be yourself. Laugh at yourself. Quit holding out. Quit holding back. Quit running away. Chase the lion!"

Friday, March 6, 2009

Batterson on Impact

"The impact God has planned for us doesn't occur when we're pursuing impact. It occurs when we're pursuing God."
--Mark Batterson

I absolutely love this quote from Mark Batterson. It may seem like semantics to some, but it defines a fine line in a church's ministry. As we seek to impact our community, it is always tempting to be completely pragmatic, and rely entirely on our own sense of wisdom. So we ONLY study demographics and community felt needs. Those things aren't bad or wrong or unnecessary. But our first goal shouldn't be to pursue impact. Our first love, our first pursuit, must always be God Himself. God will always use those who are His completely sold-out followers to make a difference, to make an impact.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Culture Questions

Yesterday, I wrote about the four major relationship roles I see Christians take toward culture. Culture is the society we live in, and the avenues through which that society communicates. (ie. TV, movies, art, musics, etc) If you haven't read yesterday's post, you really should. It's right here.

Here are some major questions I would ask of each of these four groups:

1. Combatants. I guess I would ask first, "Are you doing any good?" I mean, have your boycotts, pickets and internet outrage actually slowed or stopped the progress of what you deem to be bad stuff? A couple more: "Why are you expecting secular people to do anything but create secular media/culture?" And perhaps the best, "Did Jesus call you to change movies, TV, and music, or to help change lives?" I mean, really! Here is the best news for you: When lives are truly changing for Jesus, all the other stuff will change too.

2. Consumers. God gave you a brain. Time to use it. You'll never hear me say, "Don't watch TV. Stay away from movies. etc." BUT AT LEAST THINK ABOUT IT! Why is that song so popular? What does it say about God and men? Why does our culture think that show is funny? I guess the biggest question I would ask is this, "What need does this reveal that Jesus can meet?" My advice for those who disengage their brain and simply consume is to take your faith glasses wherever you go.

3. Creatives. Let me say this, I applaud you! I wish I were among your ranks, creating art and beauty. You have your own unique set of challenges. Here are some questions I would ask you: "How do you measure success?" You are trying to reach the culture by diving right into the middle of it, but be sure to have some benchmarks to make certain you are the one doing the influencing. "Where are your boundaries?" What are your limits? How far is too far?

4. Communicators. (NOTE: I am one of these, so I try to ask myself these questions.) The biggest challenge for communicators experiencing culture is motives. Are you really watching that show, listening to that music for some learning purpose? Or is it just for you? THAT'S NOT ALL BAD, but let's just be honest about it. Because I could use this argument to justify watching TV all day instead of working. 'Just doing some cultural study by watching Soap Operas.' I guess the other big challenge with communicators is realizing that ALL media with not reflect YOUR culture. In other words, while some cities and towns may relate and live out 'Sex and the City' most DON'T. I guess the the cure to this is to get to know people. Turn off the TV, leave the movie at Blockbuster, unplug the internet and go be around some real people. Media can be a listening post for culture, but it can also be a soap box for the extremes.

We all have our own unique challenges as Christ-followers in a secular culture. But the answer is the same as it has always been. Jesus' message changes lives. And when lives are changed, culture is changed.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Twitter in Plain English (Video)

Here is a little video explaining twitter for all those whackos who think I am a whacko for tweeting.

Christians in Culture

Many, many Christians struggle with what is good and bad, what is right and wrong, as far as cultural things go. What TV shows should we watch, what movies are okay to see, what social networks should we be a part of, what music should we listen to? It all comes down to your mindset on what our relationship as Christ-followers to culture is. I have seen four general mindsets about that relationship:

1. Combatants. This is by far the most well-known, and most visible attitude. Combatants consistently moan about the deterioration of American society as seen in movies, TV shows, and elsewhere. These people are boycotters, feeling like it is their moral obligation to fight against immorality.

2. Consumers. These are at the opposite end of the spectrum. Consumers ignore what culture is saying all together and just devour as much of it as they can, generally for their own entertainment or self-fulfillment. They rarely, if ever, consider the ideas, notions and consequences of the TV shows, movies, etc, that they join in on. Consumers just know it is funny, entertaining, or otherwise personally-fulfilling and that is all that matters.

3. Creatives. These people jump into the middle of culture with a mission. Creatives are artists who use their abilities and gifts to make culture. Art, movies, TV, and music. You might be amazed at how many Christ-followers there are in the midst of Hollywood and Nashville that are teaching the truths of grace, wisdom and beauty. And I am not just talking about 'Jesus movies'. Creatives are painting the portraits of grace in modern terms and stories. (Parables?) I could give you a few modern examples, but would rather see them from you in the comment section.

4. Communicators. These people use culture as a listening post. Communicators participate in culture as a means of understanding the prevalent themes and trends and attitudes in the world around them. They subscribe to the age-old notion that we must first seek to understand, and then seek to be understood. Communicators approach culture and media with a mission to know how to best voice the message of the gospel in the midst of that culture.

I find myself to be a communicator more often than not. What about you?

Tomorrow I will discuss some questions/concerns I would have for each of these groups!

**DISCLAIMER: THIS post by Dick Staub got my mind working on this over a year ago. I added to his thoughts and categories though!**

Please Discuss:
Do you fall into one of these categories? What are some examples of each?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Hot Chocolate @ A Coffee Shop?!?!?

Since we are on the subject of coffee this week, let me share a story from my college days:

Roseann and I were getting to know each other, not doing the typical dating thing, not doing the full courting thing yet. But we decided to go to Columbia, MO and hit up a hip, trendy, and super cool coffee shop there. I was excited. I thought to myself, "YES! I found me a girl would likes coffee!" So we got there and there is this natural color/bamboo motif to the place. (sweet) We walked up to the counter, and I ordered some kind of mixed drink. (mixed COFFEE drink, people!) And then my wife ordered a hot chocolate! WHAT?!?!? We are in a COFFEE house, not a HOT CHOCOLATE HOUSE!?!?! And then the bombshell was dropped. I found out she was one of THEM! You know them. Those crazy people who like the SMELL of coffee, but hate the taste! I was crushed. I knew I had to call it off that very night! (We got married 18 months later.) She still loves when I make coffee at home.

This story though got me thinking about the purpose and mission of churches. Too many churches are serving hot chocolate at a coffee house. It might be good, but it is not what the coffee house is there for!! Some churches are serving up a political agenda. Some churches are serving up a social agenda exclusively. Those things might be 'good', but they don't belong in Jesus' church. His church is ALL about making disciples. End of story.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Coffee Houses

I really love coffee houses. In fact, if I never had to go anywhere else besides home in life, I would be okay with hanging out in coffee houses the rest of my life. Why?

1. I really love Coffee. I mean, I love the smell, I love the taste, I love the jitters after too much! I seriously can feel the warmth and relaxation spread through my body as I take my first drink of the day. I seriously have a man crush on coffee.

2. I really love Coffee Houses. I honestly believe that no one pays more attention to decor and atmosphere than coffee houses. I mean, from the hip, trendy super cool colors and designs at Starbucks to the bamboo-ish natural feel of the coffee house Roseann and I frequented while in college, Coffee Houses love to build an atmosphere. Often it is an atmosphere that reveals a lot about their owners, such as the Firehouse Coffee Cafe here in Denton.

3. I really love talking in Coffee Houses. It seems that Coffee Houses are different from restaurants in the fact that sitting and talking/chatting is expected. Maybe it's the coffee, the atmosphere or something, but people seem to just want to chat and talk in a coffee house.

I guess my question is this: do people have positive experiences like this at church? If they were to write a blog post about the things they love at church, the things that make them want to go back, what would they say?

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