Every awesome life starts somewhere - Start Conference 2013 - 9/13 to 9/14 - Start Here
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Fantasy Football Church Panic

Misc September 9, 2013Comments

It starts slowly, but across the country a panic has set upon our church pews.

Quietly it grows, row by row, aisle by aisle, service by service as one by one, everyone who plays fantasy football resists the temptation to check their games during church.

It’s difficult, sitting their quietly while your team racks up points, not knowing how you’re doing.

Did the guy you sat blow up today? Is your quarterback playing well? Did anyone get injured?

And it sits there, your answer to all those questions, that tiny black box of statistical goodness.

Pick me up, just for a second, no one will know. It will be over before you know it, just one glance! Pretend you’re reading a Bible verse on your phone!

Do it during the offering and the announcements. That’s not worship, that’s housekeeping. Everyone knows you get a free pass to check your phone then. That’s in the Bible somewhere.

It’s even worse if you live on the West Coast. By the time you get out of church whole games have been played on the East Coast.

You throw the keys to your spouse and collapse in the passenger seat, desperate to see how your team is doing after church. Finally free!

It’s Fantasy Football Church Panic season folks, get ready.

Question:
Do you play fantasy football?

God won’t help you.

Misc September 4, 2013Comments

The problem with social media is that anyone can say anything.

I can go online, wrangle a Bible verse way out of context, slap it on a photo of a lighthouse in a storm, and severely mislead hundreds of folks.

Our ability to think logically or check sources kind of flies out the window when someone puts a sentence in a nice font.

Case in point, the image below.

I don’t know who created it, but I disagree with it. I think it’s a gross oversimplification of the idea that we have the power of the Holy Spirit inside us as Christians. Furthermore, I don’t know that there’s a strong Biblical case to be made for a time where God said, “You do it. You’ve already got the power.”

I think about verses like Psalm 121: 1-2:

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
The problem is that it’s easy to create stuff like this, post it online, and get 1,000 likes. But every time we do that, we further dilute the truth, we further reduce our shared knowledge and, in some cases, we further take steps away from the Bible.
I love social media. I think it’s amazing, but let’s use it to encourage, challenge and, above all, share the truth, not water it down with fonts and vista photos where people are standing on the edge of a cliff lifting their hands to the Lord, who is apparently not very helpful after all.
God won't help you

Why do I write Stuff Christians Like?

Misc September 3, 2013Comments

Because of this photo, that’s why.

When I see stuff like this, I become a curious kitten. I have so many questions:

1. Does this Bible celebrate all of the curious kittens that played a role in the Bible? (Like the one who helped David find his rocks when fighting Goliath?)

2. Are there pictures of curious kittens within the pages?

3. Is the cover tough enough for a real curious kitten to use it as a scratching post?

4. Does it meow when you open the cover?

5. Is there a puppy version?

I am overwhelmed with curiosity at seeing items such as this. So write I must!

What do you think about this Bible?

Cat Bible

It’s not all fire.

Misc August 28, 2013Comments

You go on a retreat and you burn.

A distant God suddenly feels like your next door neighbor.

He’s close, the miles between you closed in a single bound.

You want to shout from the bow of a ship, but that joke’s already been done too many times.

Instead you sing and you laugh and you cry and you burn.

You are convinced this time the fire will be forever. The light will not go out. The heat will not fade.

But then Monday sinks its teeth into your retreat reality.

And the shine of your Jesus moment begins to fade a little.

You doubt.

You fear.

You question.

Things go quiet. God’s love doesn’t feel like a waterfall or rain or whatever other liquid metaphor we Christians love so much. It feels like an idea on a piece of paper, not a heartbeat inside your own heart.

It must be you. Everyone else must surely still be on fire. What kind of loser can’t hold onto a God moment for more than 3 days after a retreat or a great sermon? And you call yourself a Christian? You’ll never be good enough to be a “real Christian.”

That is a lie.

That is the voice of condemnation, not the voice of God.

Faith is more than a fire.

Sometimes it is embers. Sometimes the night is so dark and so long that the quiet glow of three coals is all you have in the corner of a room that feels like a cage.

Anxiety, frustration, doubt, they will rage.

They will beat against the shore of your heart, forever trying to quench your flame.

Somedays there will be fire. It will blaze into the night sky, rivaling the stars in their celestial homes.

Other days? You will glow, not burn. The fire is not out, the firestarter is not gone.

But faith is more than fire. And if you can’t feel yours right now, don’t give in to doubt.

Come closer to the glow, no matter how small it feels. Stand closer to the flicker. Crowd around the one small spark if that’s all you got.

Listen for his whisper. For though we want his love to always rage like a furious hurricane, often it is a whisper.

Listen for his whisper.

How much does Jesus love you?

Misc August 27, 2013Comments

This much. (Shout out to my brother who is a vegetarian and my college roommate who was a straight edge vegan. Both didn’t fit this joke.)

Vegan

 

Hoping the live animal they are using as a sermon illustration goes to the bathroom on stage.

Misc August 26, 2013Comments

Too specific?

Just me?

So be it, but that’s exactly what went through my head yesterday when they brought a goat on stage.

Right in the middle of the sermon, Pete Wilson had his oldest son lead one of their goats out.

Instantly the 5-year-old version of me started taking bets on what the goat would do.

“Please, please goat kick an acoustic guitar!”

“Please use the bathroom in the middle of the sermon, thus creating the greatest church instagram moment ever.”

“Please walk on your back legs for at least 6 Vine-worthy seconds.”

“Please have a Nashville tattoo symbolizing music and faith and hope. Whatever the goat version of that is.”

Unfortunately, none of this happened. I asked Pete’s son later if the goat had been using the bathroom backstage. He said, “Oh yeah, like crazy!”

I knew he had it in him. But as far as animals go, this one was pretty calm.

No one got bitten. No one got butted. No associate pastor had to follow him with a broom like the guy at parades.

No dinosaur ate the goat off a rope with a peg stuck into the ground a la Jurassic Park.

Are my expectations too high? Perhaps.

Has your church ever brought live animals into the service?

 

Rollercoaster faith.

Misc August 21, 2013Comments

I want my faith to go one direction, forward.

I want it to grow.

I want it to mature.

I want it to strengthen day by day, always progressing forward.

And yet, sometimes it feels a bit like a rollercoaster.

God teaches me something. He saves me from some disaster and, days later, I’ve already forgotten it. I lose sight of where he’s brought me in the past, as I stare at my future.

And I think I am the only one that fails that way.

Until I read the Bible.

God bless the disciples.

Countless times they witness the most amazing miracle and then, within the very same day, doubt Jesus. Fresh off the loaves and fish miracle, they are confused that Christ can walk on water. Sure, he can multiply 5 loaves and 2 fish, that’s a cooking trick, but walk on water?

There’s not a greater example of this rollercoaster than Peter. In Matthew 16:18, Christ says to him “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” He continues in 19, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Why did he say this? Because Peter had faith in the true identity of Christ.

What an amazing moment! Surely Peter is on the upswing and yet, 3 verses later, not chapters, verses, Peter pulls Jesus aside to rebuke him.

How does Jesus respond?

“Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”

The crazy thing is that’s not even Peter’s biggest swing. He’s also the guy that said he’d never leave Christ and then denied him three times.

And, in response, Christ loved him. In his failing. In his messing up. In his mistakes. Christ loved him.

Next time you fail, and you will, remember Peter. The rock who sometimes seemed more like gravel but was always loved.

BYOT

Misc August 20, 2013Comments

Recently at church I heard something jangling during the middle of the worship music.

I assumed that someone near me was wearing an unbelievable amount of bronze bracelets. For all I know that’s a trend. Forget bling, this is the bronze age!

I looked around because it was really distracting and instantly found what I was looking for … a tambourine.

Three people down the aisle from me, a woman was playing her own tambourine.

During the fast songs, this was actually pretty great. It was very much a “stones will cry out” kind of moment.

She was doing her thing and that was beautiful.

During the slow songs, though, it was a little tougher. She and I have the same rhythm, and there’s a reason a quiet worship song does not have a loud tambourine.

My hope against all hope was that she’d play it during the sermon too. I was ready for one of the pastor’s key messages to be accents with the soft rumble, jumble of the tambourine.

The girl sitting next to me covered her mouth to keep from laughing and exclaimed, “I had no idea we had the option to bring our own instrument!”

And what is it about the tambourine? The only other time I saw someone bring an instrument to church, that’s what they chose too.

An elderly member of my dad’s church brought one, and then proceeded to walk to the front of the stage and stand next to the worship leader. It was very “Soy Bomb” of him. (Ancient reference.)

Why the tambourine? How come no one ever brings a saxophone and Kenny Gs that whole scene? No harp? Not even a piano necktie?

It was a lighthearted, giggly kind of moment, but my wife summed it up best.

“I’d rather go to a church where she can bring her own instrument, than one where she can’t.”

She’s right.

Question:
Have you ever seen something like that happen at your church?