A Movie For The Christian Leaders “Of The Future”

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by request of my mom, i rented and watched “the queen” with my mom the other night. i actually wanted to see it since helen mirren (who plays the queen) got actress of the year for her role in this movie. i have always agreed with the best actor and actress awards when they are announced. i love jamie fox in ray when it was released and he really did deserve the actor of the year award he got for it.

anyways, i want to encourage any leaders who want to help the church “turn the corner” generationally to see this film. the film heavily focuses on generational perceptions and the way they relate and express themselves. there some great quotes in the movie and the whole premise of the movie would easily preach at any church convention.

here are some quotes from the movie (which deals heavily on the lack of the monarchy’s public response of princess diana’s death):

If you imagine I’m going to drop everything and come down to London before I attend to my grandchildren who’ve just lost their mother… then you’re mistaken. I doubt there is anyone who knows the British people more than I do, Mr. Blair, nor who has greater faith in their wisdom and judgment. And it is my belief that they will any moment reject this… this “mood”, which is being stirred up by the press, in favor of a period of restrained grief, and sober, private mourning. That’s the way we do things in this country, quietly, with dignity. That’s what the rest of the world has always admired us for.

(tony blair defending the queen)

You know, when you get it wrong, you really get it wrong! That woman has given her whole life in service to her people. Fifty years doing a job SHE never wanted! A job she watched kill her father. She’s executed it with honor, dignity, and, as far as I can tell, without a single blemish, and now we’re all baying for her blood! All because she’s struggling to lead the world in mourning for someone who… who threw everything she offered back in her face. And who, for the last few years, seemed committed 24/7 to destroying everything she holds most dear!

the movie shows the struggle of the generations and the lack of perception of both parties. i highly recommend it.

what did you think of the movie? how did it apply to the times we are living in the church right now? do you think helen mirren deserved actress of the year for this movie?

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The “Ask” Campaign

this is the marketing presentation i made for our church’s annual “week of prayer and fasting”.

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CONTEXT

when it comes to the week of prayer and fasting, we have two different kinds of people in our church. first, we have those people who have been at the church for a long time. they have done many fast weeks before and it has become a sort of “ritual” our church does during the first few weeks of the year. they understand that they will go through this week hungry, tired and exhausted due to the many services.

the second kind of person we have is the newbie. this person may have just joined or has been here for a year or so, but they have never heard of or experienced a fast week. although we may announce it from the platform (will talk about this problem in a sec) before the week arrives…they have no idea what it’s about. it goes in one ear and out the other.

both of these kind of people bring the same result….un-involvement. the people who know about the week of p&f (prayer and fasting) have no idea when it is. they listen for pastor’s message about fasting, cause they know that always is preached the week BEFORE fast week. the people who are new find themselves say the wednesday or sunday following p&f “there was special services? what’s fasting?”. even with the people who do participate in fast week…how many actually get something out of it? who actually know what to do during that time?

that’s where this campaign comes in. we want to inform the new person of a special time coming up as well as teach them what it is about. they have no pre-conceived ideas about it…so what a opportunity to sow good seed into their future by showing them what seeking God and fasting should be like. we also want to refocus and reteach what the week of p&f is to those who have done it year after year. we want them to be able to answer “why are you fasting?” “what is happening in your life this week?”

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THE ASK CAMPAIGN:

week one: december 30, 2007

for this week, i propose that we HAND out NO bulletins. outside of fast week and the new years eve party, there is no relevant info that needs to be known. people can find the bulletins on the tables in the foyer/hallway as well as on the usher chairs in the back of the sanctuary (if this is really a problem we can have another set of greeters giving bulletins to people as they enter the SANCTUARY). instead of the bulletins, the greeters hand every person one of these cards:

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automatically, this does several things. it creates interest in all parties. they wonder what this is. they see the dates and see the scripture on the back, but they are a little puzzled about what it is. attention is placed on this card even more SINCE there in no bulletin. instead of an insert that can be ignored, they are thrown a little bit out of the complacent zone (new term i made lol) and it wakes them up to the realization that “something new” is happening at our church. that morning, the offering speaker mentions “the week of prayer and fasting” (we NEED to use a different more neutral term!…like “the week of asking”…or “seek week” or something…ANY IDEAS???) using the card and quickly talks about how the church will be setting aside this week to ask God everything and anything. (they will get more of the point next week. the main point this week is to get it in their heads)

week 2: january 6

this sunday goes a lot like the last sunday. bulletins are replaced with a NEW card:

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the point of this week is to….with all ways possible…make it clear that the week of p&f is about ASKING GOD and talking to Him. “ask” is the theme (yes, we are now having themes…like the tent) of this year’s p&f (also part of the proposal). we want people to understand that this week isn’t about going without food or coming to church every night…it is about spending a week with God and asking Him what is on His heart, what is His will for your life, for wisdom, for safety and health for family and friends, for provision. THAT is what we want to focus on corporately.

this new card is a great way to start conversation…whether during offering, sermon, worship (hopefully we can do some “asking God for…” songs this and the following week) or just fellowship in the hallway after service. the back has multiple scriptures from the new testament (ESV) that concern asking. the word “ask” is also emphasized on the card to help the word “ask” pop out at people. the card starts with the same scripture as last week’s card…and ends with “you don’t have cause you don’t ask.” this helps cements the thought that “all you have to do is ask…He’s wanting to answer”.

this sunday, i suggest also buying upright banners (2’x8′) that say “ask me” on it with the same look as the cards. if this is something that sounds good, i’ll make the samples. [we want to do all we can to flood the church with “ask”…that everytime they turn around there is something there concerning this “event”]

week 2: january 9 (wednesday)

the week2 cards are placed on all the seats in the sanctuary as ANOTHER reminder that “the week” is only a few days away.

event week: january 13 (sunday morning)

we place all banners (if we decide to make them) in the sanctuary as a visual reminder that week what we are there for. it also brings the campaign to a climax.

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Lazy Holidays & Possible Overreactions

i have a statement to make. i am lazy when it comes to many things. i love procrastination and all it doesn’t do for me. (hey, at least i’m honest…lol) i’m slack in a lot of areas in my life…even in the blogging realm and occasionally my laziness overflows into my english/american language…especially at this time of year. “how” you ask? by two simple words…

happy holidays

yes, i said it. this is a unashamedly christian blog and i said “happy holidays”.

(before i go on and before you write mean things about me…please read this post if you haven’t…lol)

first the context. there is and has been a great fight going on concerning christmas and political correctness. many people have declared that there is a “war on christmas”. they have said that there are organizations that have tried to take the Christ out of christmas. they also have said that these same organizations have tried to ban nativity scenes and other judeo-christian icons that we recognize in this nation. and you know what?…..THEY WERE RIGHT.

i am not here to proclaim these “heralds” of the “war on christmas” as crazy. i have seen it with my own eyes…our nation not wanting to offend anyone and removing all religion from the holidays. places like walmart jumping on board with it. i am sure it all started with the same kind of people who wanted to take “in God we trust” out of our currency and “one nation under God” out of our pledge. it is the same movement that has taken prayer out of schools and has overblown the separation of church and state to be something unconstitutional….

now…in light of that context….

i am lazy.

i see thanksgiving, christmas, hanukkah, canadian boxing day & new years day as a season of holidays. they are so close together and i don’t like to think. so every once in a while during this time i will say “happy holidays” cause i many times forget where we are on the “seasonal calendar” and what a better way to tell everyone in a group “happy fill-in-a-blank” than to say a blanket statement like “happy holidays”.

i consider the phrase “happy holidays” to be a generic holiday phrase just like “get well soon” is a generic phrase. i agree that there are some people that desire all religious references to be taken out of this time of the year. i feel like i spend half of my time debating this to non-christians and the other half debating it to christians who believe it’s all pagan tradition (trust me…Jesus doesn’t mind the free publicity). but when it comes down to it…i am not one of those people. i’m just lazy and i’m sorry that if by saying “happy holidays” every once in a while it offends someone…that’s not my goal.

BUT at the same time…i want to state that i think the “war on christmas” IS being a little overstated. there are many people, like me, who say happy holidays innocently and with true meaning…not as a way to “x” God out of christmas again. i believe that most people just don’t care. most people don’t mind Jesus being in christmas, they don’t mind that God is in our money and anthem. they don’t mind that our leaders (and in court…the witnesses) swear by the Bible. they don’t care that prayer is a response of our nation to attack. they just don’t care.

i do care, but please don’t overact and go slandering them cause they don’t want to destroy all the “Jesus-hatin” people. most people just want peace and love (and before you write me off as a hippie…which i am not)…isn’t that what christmas is all about? peace and love?

so i wish everyone a merry christmas, a happy new year….and a happy holidays. 🙂

what do you think about the “war on christmas”? do you agree with my thoughts and statements? why or why not?

America’s Next Top…Christian?

for some reason, this thanksgiving weekend, vh1 was doing re-runs of the show “america’s next top model“. in fact, they had been showing ALL eight previous seasons of the show (i guess to prep for the ninth season coming up). [note: i found all the info for this post in this wikipedia section] when watching the show (my sister loves it…lol), it’s all about who can stand out in a crowd, who’s picture really “pops” and who looks like they know what to do. the show really hits on overcoming your failures to “rise to the top”.

so why am i talking about this (especially since i’m a guy…lol)? well, i was listening to the title track on audra lynn’s “fading” . here are the lyrics:

i have watched the clouds
with ambition’s depth growing in my heart
i have seen the stars
with a love that’s cold, filling up my head
then i felt the pain
of a love so deep it brought me to the dust
then i saw the cross
and a voice said “cry out, show them what this means…”

now that i’m delivered and my body has been broken
You’ve made me as the lowly and my soul has been set free
now that i am dust and You have brought me down to nothing
now that i am ashes, what shall my message be?

we are fading
this is the glory of the cross
we are fading
this is the hope of all the lost

so come and take my dust
come and breathe Your breath of life
come and take my ashes
shine Your beauty, shine Your beauty

good lyrics huh? so i was listening to this song on my way home and i realized that the christian life is REALLY different from the world’s….i mean i knew that, but a deeper realization of that came over me. see the chorus? it says “we are fading” and then “THIS is the glory of the cross”. what an amazing thought…the glory of the cross is that it allows us to fade…it become nothing.

you see, this culture’s measurement on success is who stands out the most and pushes their way to the top. while Jesus’ measurement of success is who can fade the most….who can be the lowest and the servant of all. let’s look at some scripture regarding this:

“whoever serves Me must follow Me; and where I am, My servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves Me.” (john 12:26)

“when He had finished washing their feet, He put on his clothes and returned to His place. “do you understand what I have done for you?” He asked them. “you call Me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. (john 13:12-17)

blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (matthew 5:3-12)

Jesus calls us to a life of secretness…whether or not our calling in life is to serve Him publicly or not. the winners of this “race of life” are those who have lost it all. not saying they can’t be rich or popular…as long as you’re rich in heaven and popular in heaven.

what are your thoughts about “success” in culture and christianity? what other scriptures talk about “fading”? how do you find the balance between success in the world and success in secret?

What’s Missing In Blogging Is Boldness

i had a quick thought today that in today’s culture…we are missing boldness. we are missing the boldness to say what we are truly feeling, thinking or believing. i think it is due in part to the “fear of punishment of being wrong”. i think in today’s culture, we expect everyone to have a belief and thought system that is as flawless as Jesus Himself. while this may save us from a lot of error…it also keeps us from taking a risk and thinking outside the box.

i have read and heard a lot of comments about people and churches (like rob bell, joel houston, hillsong, political candidates) regarding what they do, how they do it, what they believe and preach and what they focus more on. but when it comes down to it…i think (can i do that without being judged? lol) that we are just afraid of something new, different and dangerous. we hate risk. we hate change. we hate realizing that we don’t have it all down. we hate seeing that there may be someone who knows more than us. and while i do believe in judging things by the Word of God…if it DOESN’T DIRECTLY CONFLICT with scripture…why can’t we give it a try and see if it will fly? (no rhyme intended) why can’t we take a risk? why can’t we try something…even if we think it may fail?

who told us that we can’t fail? who told us that we can’t work something out? who said we have to get it right the first time? that’s why i love this “journey” thing that the world (and our church) is on. yes, there is a destination. but there is also a journey…and God cares about both! if He wanted us to be perfect and complete and in heaven…altar calls would be “instant death” services…cause when we reach our destination (being heaven in this case) we will be perfect and complete. but God longs to shape us into that completion here on this journey.

i love this article i found today on wordpress. david quotes at the start of his blog:

“Curmudgeon Alert…pet peeve to follow.  Disclaimer: Blogs are places to arrange thoughts and mull over ideas.  Not everything read in one’s blog is put into practice or followed to the letter.  Sometimes it is simply the author thinking aloud and inviting other’s to follow along on the journey.”

he then goes on to talk and share and you know what? it was fine. (i encourage you to read the article and leave him a comment on what you think)  i was actually happy to hear someone else’s true feelings and heart…regardless of the issue. it wasn’t blasphemous, it wasn’t sinful…it was honest. and honesty is a great trait to have nowadays with so much lying and deception going on in this world.

now when i talk about boldness, i am not talking about arrogance. here’s the difference. boldness will speak true to itself, but it is humble enough to accept when it is wrong. arrogance speaks true thought and feeling…regardless of what the truth is (i think the word “truthiness” is a synonym) and will not change its position. speaking for myself, i know i may have some crazy thoughts that are on the edge (have you seen my thoughts about modern worship? or my insights into the feminine spiritual dna?), but when Jesus speaks to me and tells me that i am “off” in any of these “crazy” areas…i gladly change what thoughts and feelings i have about it. at least i am passionate and open enough to take a risk…no matter who may not like it.

i mean who has made any serious impact in the world by always being popular and doing what everyone says is right? not even Jesus did that. 🙂 i challenge you to write something true to yourself and God…something that might be crazy enough to make a difference.

what do think of boldness versus arrogance? do you think there is a fear of being wrong in the church and world today? do you admire people for being bold and saying what they really think…even though it may not be totally right?

5 More Reasons To Blog

So I thought of five more reasons to start a blog! (click here for the first ten reasons)

  1. You get a new family.
    When you start blogging, other people find you and start checking back on a normal basis if they like you and what you’re saying. They continue to comment on your posts and you start commenting on theirs. One day, you wake up to realize that these people that you converse with are now good friends. When you get a bunch of them, they can become a second family, a family you don’t have to buy gifts for Christmas.
  2. It keeps your long distance friends up to date with your life.
    I have been having more and more friends move away. My blog has been a great way for them, at their convenience, to pull up my blog and get an update of what’s happening with my life. This saves much time and frustration, and it makes things like phone calls and visits even more special.
  3. It helps your friends’ blogs out (because they probably already have one).
    Yes, you are probably the only one within your friends’ circle without a blog. That may be an overstatement, but if you get a blog, you can link to your friends’ blogs and help them out. If none of your friends have a blog, then start the trend. Start interviewing them. It gets really funny when your friends type in their name and find your blog at the top of the list.
  4. You can use your blogging influence to make a difference in the world.
    This is a point that the presidential elections have proven. The internet is starting to be a major factor in this world when it comes to elections and social issues. It used to be that you would have to go door-to-door and annoy people, talking about digging wells for in Africa for impoverish children, banning human trafficking in foreign lands or raising aids awareness. But now you can blog about it and make websites about it and people will come to you. The people/family (see point #1) who regularly check your blog want to know what’s on your heart. You have the opportunity to enlist them to the cause of your heart. You, the little person at home on your computer, can do something that affects people around the world.
  5. You can be a part of something that, in the future, Al Gore will take total credit for starting.
    This point sells me.

Quote Of The Week

many christians love the “r” words. they talk a lot about “revival”, “redemption” and “renewal”…but no one talks about “repentance”.
– charlie cleverly

what are your thoughts about this quote? do we tend to ignore the issue of repentance?