Monday, December 08, 2008

Words and Deed

In the season where churches all over are gearing up for their biggest crowds of the year, I found it ironic at best and tragic at worst that one group wasn't talking about the Christ, but rather just doing the kind of stuff he did.

Take a look at the weekly calendar for this group for this week:

ONGOING: Collecting TOYS for Children's Advocacy Center for Denton County and Cook Children's Medical Center.

ONGOING and UPCOMING: "Coffee for the Troops" Now collecting pounds of coffee to be distributed to service members arriving home for the holidays at DFW Airport. Dates and times of distribution will be posted soon.

THURSDAY, December 11, 2008, 6-8 p.m. - ArtShow benefiting The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

SUNDAY, December 14, 2008, 3-5 p.m. - Toy Drive and visit with Santa. $1 Coffee and Hot Chocolate on the Patio with Santa and Christmas caroling. All proceeds benefit Children's Advocacy Center for Denton County and Cook Children's Medical Center.

The Group? A church? Nope. Trophy Club Starbucks.

Go on out and join them if you live close.

Location: Starbucks in Trophy Club, 501 Trophy Lake Drive, Trophy Club, TX 76262

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Religious Wrong

An absolutely great article from Cal Thomas in the Fort Worth Star Telegram!


Monday, Nov 10, 2008
Christians May Have Learned The Most From the Election

When Barack Obama takes the oath of office on Jan. 20, 2009, he will do so in the 30th anniversary year of the founding of the so-called Religious Right.

Born in 1979 and midwifed by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, the Religious Right was a reincarnation of previous religious-social movements that sought moral improvement through legislation and court rulings. Those earlier movements — from abolition (successful) to Prohibition (unsuccessful) — had mixed results.

Social movements that relied mainly on political power to enforce a conservative moral code weren’t anywhere near as successful as those that focused on changing hearts.

The four religious revivals, from the First Great Awakening in the 1730s and 1740s to the Fourth Great Awakening in the late 1960s and early ’70s, which touched America and instantly transformed millions of Americans (and American culture as a result), are testimony to that.

Thirty years of trying to use government to stop abortion, preserve opposite-sex marriage, improve television and movie content and transform culture into the conservative Evangelical image has failed.

The question now becomes: should conservative Christians redouble their efforts, contributing more millions to radio and TV preachers and activists, or would they be wise to try something else?

I opt for trying something else.

Too many conservative Evangelicals have put too much faith in the power of government to transform culture.

The futility inherent in such misplaced faith can be demonstrated by asking these activists a simple question: Does the secular left, when it holds power, persuade conservatives to live by their standards? Of course they do not.

Why, then, would conservative Evangelicals expect people who do not share their worldview and view of God to accept their beliefs when they control government?

Too many conservative Evangelicals mistake political power for influence. Politicians who struggle with imposing a moral code on themselves are unlikely to succeed in their attempts to impose it on others.

What is the answer, then, for conservative Evangelicals who are rightly concerned about the corrosion of culture, the indifference to the value of human life and the living arrangements of same- and opposite-sex couples?

The answer depends on the response to another question: do conservative Evangelicals want to feel good, or do they want to adopt a strategy that actually produces results?

Clearly partisan politics have not achieved their objectives. Do they think they can succeed by committing themselves to 30 more years of the same?

If results are what conservative Evangelicals want, they already have a model. It is contained in the life and commands of Jesus of Nazareth.

Suppose millions of conservative Evangelicals engaged in an old and proven type of radical behavior. Suppose they followed the admonition of Jesus to "love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit those in prison and care for widows and orphans," not as ends, as so many liberals do by using government, but as a means of demonstrating God’s love for the whole person in order that people might seek him?

Such a strategy could be more "transformational" than electing a new president, even the first president of color. But in order to succeed, such a strategy would not be led by charismatic figures, who would raise lots of money, be interviewed on Sunday talk shows, author books and make gobs of money.

God teaches in his word that his power (if that is what conservative Evangelicals want and not their puny attempts at grabbing earthly power) is made perfect in weakness.

He speaks of the tiny mustard seed, the seemingly worthless widow’s mite, of taking the last place at the table and the humbling of one’s self, the washing of feet and similar acts and attitudes; the still, small voice.

How did conservative Evangelicals miss this and instead settle for a lesser power, which in reality is no power at all? When did they settle for an inferior "kingdom"?

Evangelicals are at a junction.

They can take the path that will lead them to more futility and ineffective attempts to reform culture through government, or they can embrace the far more powerful methods outlined by the one they claim to follow.

By following his example, they will decrease, but he will increase. They will get no credit, but they will see results.

If conservative Evangelicals choose obscurity and seek to glorify God, they will get much of what they hope for, but can never achieve, in and through politics.

Friday, November 07, 2008

You Might Be a Preacher If...

~ Your favorite “light reading” is Strong’s Concordance.

~ Playing the piano and being an expert at packing boxes was high on your list of requirements for a potential spouse.

~ As a child, you practiced baptizing your cats.

~ You say “amen” at the end of the Pledge of Allegiance at a public event.

~ You own more books than the religion section of your local public library.

~ Your kids are always asking to go over to someone else’s house where they don’t have to act “good" all the time.

~ You have fried chicken for dinner every Sunday after church.

~ You look in your wife’s purse for a snack for your kids and all you find are communion wafers.

~ You go the hospital to visit your mother but stop and have prayer with folks in every other room along the way.

~ You have to schedule your vacation around Bible School, Youth Week, the liturgical calendar, and annual meetings of your denomination.

~ The message on your answering machine contains both these phrases: “If this is an emergency...” and "Have a blessed day!”

(adapted from You Might Be a Preacher If… by Stan Toler and Mark Hollingsworth)

Thursday, November 06, 2008


Ran across a good article on prayer from John Eldredge...


In his book Walking with God (Thomas Nelson), John Eldredge writes, “Part of us doesn’t really want to hear what God has to say. Even after years of God’s rescues and surprises and blessing upon blessing, there’s a part of me that gets irritated when someone says, ‘Let’s ask God.’ The act itself is a disruption. Sometimes it feels like grinding the gears. Stop? Now? Ask God? I’m bugged. That’s part of it. And the other part is, if we do hear something, we’ll have to obey.

I was reading the story of Joshua. And it stopped me in my tracks. My goodness, the Israelites received specific instructions from God all the way through the battle of Jericho--when to cross the river, how to cross the river, when to take Jericho, how to take Jericho. And it worked! It worked. You’d think they would have been convinced. This is how to follow God. But the next day comes and here they are, ready to take city number two, and you know what? They don’t ask! It’s not that they don’t ask the second question, they don’t even ask the first. They just charge ahead. And they pay for it. Dearly.

I know something of this. I don’t ask because I don’t want to know. If I know what God thinks, then I’m faced with the decision of whether to follow his counsel or not.” (Click here to learn about the book Walking with God.)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Well Said

As someone who spends a lot of time with his mouth open and speaking to groups of people, I'm always turning an ear to the speeches of others. Last night I heard two amazing speeches. You can find the video and audio transcripts on the web. I've put the transcripts to each below. I hope you realize that these might be two of the best speeches you'll ever hear.

The first from Senator McCain:

JOHN MCCAIN: Thank you. Thank you, my friends. Thank you for coming here on this beautiful Arizona evening.


My friends, we have -- we have come to the end of a long journey. The American people have spoken, and they have spoken clearly.

A little while ago, I had the honor of calling Senator Barack Obama to congratulate him.



To congratulate him on being elected the next president of the country that we both love.

In a contest as long and difficult as this campaign has been, his success alone commands my respect for his ability and perseverance. But that he managed to do so by inspiring the hopes of so many millions of Americans who had once wrongly believed that they had little at stake or little influence in the election of an American president is something I deeply admire and commend him for achieving.

This is an historic election, and I recognize the special significance it has for African-Americans and for the special pride that must be theirs tonight.

I've always believed that America offers opportunities to all who have the industry and will to seize it. Senator Obama believes that, too.

But we both recognize that, though we have come a long way from the old injustices that once stained our nation's reputation and denied some Americans the full blessings of American citizenship, the memory of them still had the power to wound.

A century ago, President Theodore Roosevelt's invitation of Booker T. Washington to dine at the White House was taken as an outrage in many quarters.

America today is a world away from the cruel and frightful bigotry of that time. There is no better evidence of this than the election of an African-American to the presidency of the United States.

Let there be no reason now...


Let there be no reason now for any American to fail to cherish their citizenship in this, the greatest nation on Earth.


Senator Obama has achieved a great thing for himself and for his country. I applaud him for it, and offer him my sincere sympathy that his beloved grandmother did not live to see this day. Though our faith assures us she is at rest in the presence of her creator and so very proud of the good man she helped raise.

Senator Obama and I have had and argued our differences, and he has prevailed. No doubt many of those differences remain.

These are difficult times for our country. And I pledge to him tonight to do all in my power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face.

I urge all Americans...


I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our good will and earnest effort to find ways to come together to find the necessary compromises to bridge our differences and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world, and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited.

Whatever our differences, we are fellow Americans. And please believe me when I say no association has ever meant more to me than that.


It is natural. It's natural, tonight, to feel some disappointment. But tomorrow, we must move beyond it and work together to get our country moving again.


We fought -- we fought as hard as we could. And though we feel short, the failure is mine, not yours.


MCCAIN: I am so...


MCCAIN: I am so deeply grateful to all of you for the great honor of your support and for all you have done for me. I wish the outcome had been different, my friends.


MCCAIN: The road was a difficult one from the outset, but your support and friendship never wavered. I cannot adequately express how deeply indebted I am to you.

I'm especially grateful to my wife, Cindy, my children, my dear mother...


... my dear mother and all my family, and to the many old and dear friends who have stood by my side through the many ups and downs of this long campaign.

I have always been a fortunate man, and never more so for the love and encouragement you have given me.

You know, campaigns are often harder on a candidate's family than on the candidate, and that's been true in this campaign.

All I can offer in compensation is my love and gratitude and the promise of more peaceful years ahead.

I am also -- I am also, of course, very thankful to Governor Sarah Palin, one of the best campaigners I've ever seen...


... one of the best campaigners I have ever seen, and an impressive new voice in our party for reform and the principles that have always been our greatest strength...


... her husband Todd and their five beautiful children...


... for their tireless dedication to our cause, and the courage and grace they showed in the rough and tumble of a presidential campaign.

We can all look forward with great interest to her future service to Alaska, the Republican Party and our country.


To all my campaign comrades, from Rick Davis and Steve Schmidt and Mark Salter, to every last volunteer who fought so hard and valiantly, month after month, in what at times seemed to be the most challenged campaign in modern times, thank you so much. A lost election will never mean more to me than the privilege of your faith and friendship.

I don't know -- I don't know what more we could have done to try to win this election. I'll leave that to others to determine. Every candidate makes mistakes, and I'm sure I made my share of them. But I won't spend a moment of the future regretting what might have been.

This campaign was and will remain the great honor of my life, and my heart is filled with nothing but gratitude for the experience and to the American people for giving me a fair hearing before deciding that Senator Obama and my old friend Senator Joe Biden should have the honor of leading us for the next four years.


Please. Please.

I would not -- I would not be an American worthy of the name should I regret a fate that has allowed me the extraordinary privilege of serving this country for a half a century.

half a century.

Today, I was a candidate for the highest office in the country I love so much. And tonight, I remain her servant. That is blessing enough for anyone, and I thank the people of Arizona for it.



Tonight -- tonight, more than any night, I hold in my heart nothing but love for this country and for all its citizens, whether they supported me or Senator Obama -- whether they supported me or Senator Obama.

I wish Godspeed to the man who was my former opponent and will be my president. And I call on all Americans, as I have often in this campaign, to not despair of our present difficulties, but to believe, always, in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here.

Americans never quit. We never surrender.


We never hide from history. We make history.

Thank you, and God bless you, and God bless America. Thank you all very much.

And then from President-elect Obama:

BARACK OBAMA: Hello, Chicago.


If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.


It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different, that their voices could be that difference.

It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled. Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states.

We are, and always will be, the United States of America.


It's the answer that led those who've been told for so long by so many to be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this date in this election at this defining moment change has come to America.


A little bit earlier this evening, I received an extraordinarily gracious call from Senator McCain.


Senator McCain fought long and hard in this campaign. And he's fought even longer and harder for the country that he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine. We are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader.

I congratulate him; I congratulate Governor Palin for all that they've achieved. And I look forward to working with them to renew this nation's promise in the months ahead.


I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart, and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton...


... and rode with on the train home to Delaware, the vice president-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.


And I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last 16 years...


... the rock of our family, the love of my life, the nation's next first lady...


... Michelle Obama.


Sasha and Malia...


... I love you both more than you can imagine. And you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us...


... to the new White House.


And while she's no longer with us, I know my grandmother's watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight. I know that my debt to them is beyond measure.

To my sister Maya, my sister Alma, all my other brothers and sisters, thank you so much for all the support that you've given me. I am grateful to them.


And to my campaign manager, David Plouffe...


... the unsung hero of this campaign, who built the best -- the best political campaign, I think, in the history of the United States of America.


To my chief strategist David Axelrod...


... who's been a partner with me every step of the way. To the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics...


... you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you've sacrificed to get it done. But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to. It belongs to you. It belongs to you.

I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn't start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington. It began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston. It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give $5 and $10 and $20 to the cause.

It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation's apathy...


... who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep.

It drew strength from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on doors of perfect strangers, and from the millions of Americans who volunteered and organized and proved that more than two centuries later a government of the people, by the people, and for the people has not perished from the Earth.

This is your victory.


And I know you didn't do this just to win an election. And I know you didn't do it for me.

You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime -- two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century.

Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us.

There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after the children fall asleep and wonder how they'll make the mortgage or pay their doctors' bills or save enough for their child's college education.

There's new energy to harness, new jobs to be created, new schools to build, and threats to meet, alliances to repair.

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term. But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there.

I promise you, we as a people will get there.


AUDIENCE: Yes we can! Yes we can! Yes we can!

OBAMA: There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won't agree with every decision or policy I make as president. And we know the government can't solve every problem.

But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And, above all, I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation, the only way it's been done in America for 221 years -- block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

What began 21 months ago in the depths of winter cannot end on this autumn night.

This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were.

It can't happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other.

Let us remember that, if this financial crisis taught us anything, it's that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers.

In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people. Let's resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.

Let's remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House, a party founded on the values of self-reliance and individual liberty and national unity.

Those are values that we all share. And while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress.


As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, we are not enemies but friends. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.

And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. I need your help. And I will be your president, too.


And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces, to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of the world, our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand.


To those -- to those who would tear the world down: We will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security: We support you. And to all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright: Tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope.


That's the true genius of America: that America can change. Our union can be perfected. What we've already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that's on my mind tonight's about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She's a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing: Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.


She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn't vote for two reasons -- because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.

And tonight, I think about all that she's seen throughout her century in America -- the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can't, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.

At a time when women's voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs, a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

AUDIENCE: Yes we can.

OBAMA: When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

AUDIENCE: Yes we can.

OBAMA: She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that "We Shall Overcome." Yes we can.

AUDIENCE: Yes we can.

OBAMA: A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination.

And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change.

Yes we can.

AUDIENCE: Yes we can.

OBAMA: America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves -- if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see?

What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment.

This is our time, to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope. And where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can.


Thank you. God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.

Here, Father.

From Preaching Now Newsletter


In his Turning Point Daily Devotional for Oct. 29, David Jeremiah tells the story of an aged Quaker named Hartman who had a son in the Army. When he received news that a dreadful battle had taken place, he went to the scene of conflict to find him. The officer said they believed the boy was dead because he had not answered to his name. This did not satisfy the father, however, and he set out across the battlefield to call for his beloved son who was dearer to him than life. Night set in and Hartman continued searching by lantern until a gust of wind extinguished the light. In desperation, he began shouting, “John Hartman, thy father calleth thee.” Finally, in the dark distance, Hartman heard his boy’s voice crying, “Here, father.” He then took him in his arms, carried him to headquarters, and nursed him back to health.

God loves us more than life itself; and as His beloved Son hung on the cross and died for our sins, He shouted to us in a dark world, “(Your name here), thy Father calleth thee.” Have you cried, “Here, Father”?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Brilliance and Bemoaning

It’s a big day today in America. Vote '08. Election Day. This ensures that by tomorrow morning, half the nation will be celebrating the brilliance of their fellow citizens, while the rest will be busy bemoaning the tragic events that are sure to follow in the years ahead.

Regardless of whether your candidate wins or loses, just remember you're still are blessed to live in an amazing country with a democratic process and a peaceful transfer of power. Believe me, there are billions around the globe who would swap places with you at a heart beat.

So I'm asking you to do two things:

1. Vote.

Men and women gave their lives on beaches, in jungles, and in deserts so you could vote. Picture those brave souls storming Normandy before you voice your complaint about long lines.

2. Pray.

And remember, if Paul can admonish his people to pray for their leaders and the leaders he was referring to is none other than Nero, then guess what? We can pray for our leaders too!

I like how Michael Duduit, Editor of, puts it:
"Whatever the outcome, it’s going to be OK, because the God we worshiped last Sunday is the same God who is on His throne on Wednesday."

Keep that in mind on tomorrow--whichever side you’re on.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Halloween Scary Story

A man is walking home alone late one foggy night...
when behind him he hears:
Walking faster, he looks back and through the fog he makes out the image of an upright casket banging its way down the middle of the street toward him.

Terrified, the man begins to run toward his home, the casket bouncing quickly behind him
He runs up to his door, fumbles with his keys, opens the door, rushes in, slams and locks the door behind him.
However, the casket crashes through his door, with the lid of the casket clapping
on his heels, the terrified man runs.
Rushing upstairs to the bathroom, the man locks himself in. His heart is pounding; his head is reeling; his breath is coming in sobbing gasps.

With a loud CRASH the casket breaks down the door.
Bumping and clapping toward him.
The man screams and reaches for something, anything, but all he can find is a bottle of cough syrup!

Desperate, he throws the cough syrup at the casket...

The coffin stops

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Growing Up To Honor The Sacred

I read a great blog this morning from my friend, Matsonia. Check it out:

Growing Up To Honor The Sacred

If our sex is not sacred
Then our relationships are not sacred
And our children are not sacred
And the artifacts our sons and daughters produce are bound to deny the sacred

These four motions of culture are supposed to be our creative expressions of the sacred:

  1. Sex,
  2. Relationships,
  3. Children,
  4. and their Artifacts.

To honor the sacred is to sustain a sacred fire through each successive motion. Sex generates relationships, relationships generate children, children generate artifacts, and artifacts generate our history of the sacred. And so on….If the sacred fire is not fed, the flame dies with the motion that fails to carry it forward. The movement of culture, however, does not die. It flows on in a constant wave of motions, with or without the fire that fulfills their meaning.

When a person denies his social responsibility to sustain the sacred in the world, he fumbles his fire. He denies the sacred in order to hang back in a prolonged state of adolescence. A generation in a collective state of denial (the 1960’s, for example) can generate and sustain a culture that refuses to grow up about sex, about relationships, about children, or about their artifacts. This is the irresponsible culture in which we now live, a culture populating the landscape with consumer playthings, sucked hollow of any sacred value. See if you recognize them:

  • convenient and disposable sex
  • convenient and disposable relationships
  • convenient and disposable children
  • convenient and disposable artifacts

I hope you will recognize how cheap convenience has replaced the costly sacred in your own home, and you will get angry. Because no one can repopulate our culture with the sacred better than you. However, if you believe someone else produces the trash piling up on your doorstep, you should think again. You can not blame the generation of the 1960’s. Only yourself. If you want to declare that you have faithfully honored the sacred, give yourself this test. The ultimate proof is in the artifacts your children generate. This fourth motion is your thorough declaration, the lasting fruit of your sacred seed that will remain on earth after your children are dead. Yes….I’m talking about ART.

“Where the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art.”
- Leonardo DaVinci

“Art is to me the glorification of the human spirit, and as such it is the cultural documentation of the time in which it is produced.”
- Hans Hofmann

The role of the artist is to generate artifacts born of a sacred union between the physical and the spiritual. Such artifacts document our history with the sacred and keep the flame alive. Yet the sons and daughters we produce are not given any real understanding of the sacred. Our sons and daughters are being taught that artists who honor the sacred are to be ignored. Because for an entire century, no constituency has stepped forward to claim responsibility for properly sustaining their well being. We don’t mind seeing faithful Levites scrounge and starve. Meanwhile, the artists who deny their sacred duties enjoy the advantage of a constituency that pays great attention to their adolescent work. A constituency that sustains a culture that refuses to grow up.

What is wrong with this picture? How are you cultivating and honoring the sacred?

I wish I were more mature as a man and as an artist. But I do recognize my responsibilities as a Levite and prophet of culture. Therefore, I have declared my commitment to carry the sacred forward and grow up with anyone willing to endure the growing pains with me. Any culture that fails to honor the faithful among the Levites and prophets fails to honor the sacred.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Cherokee Indian Rite of Passage

Do you know the legend of the Cherokee Indian youth's rite of passage? His father takes him into the forest, blindfolds him and leaves him alone. He is required to sit on a stump the whole night and not remove the blindfold until the rays of the morning sun shine through it. He cannot cry out for help to anyone. Once he survives the night, he is a MAN.

He cannot tell the other boys of this experience because each lad must come into manhood on his own. The boy is naturally terrified. He can hear all kinds of noises. Wild beasts must surely be all around him. Maybe even some human might do him harm. The wind blew the grass and earth, and shook his stump, but he sat stoically, never removing the blindfold. It would be the only way he could become a man! Finally, after a horrific night, the sun appeared and he removed his blindfold. It was then that he discovered his father sitting on the stump next to him. He had been at watch the entire night, protecting his son from harm.

We, too, are never alone. Even when we don't know it, our

Heavenly Father is watching over us, sitting on the stump beside us. When trouble comes, all we have to do is reach out to Him. If you liked this story, pass it on. If not, perhaps you took off your blindfold before dawn.

Moral of the Story: Just because you can't see God, doesn't mean He is not there.

'For we walk by faith, not by sight.' ~ 2 Corinthians 5:7 ~

Saturday, October 04, 2008

More Dogs Than Christians

Love him or hate him but you just can't ignore him. The following is an interview with Mark Driscoll that I thought was worth passing on. Enjoy!

Seattle is among the least churched cities in America. It‘s a comment often said of the city and much of the Northwest, so when Mark Driscoll started Mars Hill Church in 1996 at age 25 he knew he had his work cut out for himself. If he had to catch the enthusiasm and interest of the people of Seattle, he apparently has done so and more. “The city itself tends to be very young. Most people are single, non-Christian, and in their 20s; that’s probably the majority of the city,” says Driscoll. “I think the denominations and the networks really thrived on the East Coast and in the South. It just seems like the denominations never really made it up to the Northwest.

“I grew up in Seattle. I think the church attendance here is about the same as Communist China. There are more dogs than Christians in the city.” Driscoll says. “So we have a lot of work to do.”

“Most churches in the city are very small, very liberal. A large portion of the churches in the city have gay pastors. Not just mainline, I mean the American Baptists, the Episcopalians, the Lutherans, all of them.”

Driscoll can be blunt and disarmingly honest, which occasionally gets him into trouble. Like the time a couple years ago when Ted Haggard left New Life Church in Colorado under a morals cloud and Driscoll raised a furor with a comment about pastors’ wives letting themselves go in appearance.

Did he recall that? “Yes, unfortunately, I do.” Was there a time when he wished he hadn’t said it? “Yes, that would be a classic example of foot-in-mouth.”

In addition to a church planting organization, Acts 29 Network [], the Mars Hill Church has the Resurgence Missional Cooperative, where pastors and church leaders can go for resources and references. And there are conferences, the Web site and books written with Crossway Publishing.

Seattle magazine says you’re one of the 25 most powerful people in Seattle. How do you wield that power?

I don’t know. I’m just trying to serve Jesus, teach the Bible, love my wife and love my kids. I mean I’m a pretty simple guy. It’s been amazing what God’s done. We capped out at about 8,000 for Easter, which was the high point for us this year, attendance-wise. In our area that’s very unusual. I don’t think there’s ever been a church in our city that got anywhere near that.

How is it that your church is so different than every other church in town?

God has been gracious to us. I tend to be a Bible preacher, I preach for an hour- plus. We preach long, we have 16 services on six campuses.

The city created a zoning restriction just against churches. You’re not allowed to build a church more than 20,000-square-feet so you can build anything you want, except for a big church in Seattle. We had to spread across multiple locations, use video technology, live stream the sermon via television broadcast satellite. It’s been pretty complicated.

In the U.S. alone we’ve planted 125 churches; we also have churches overseas that we’ve started.

You’ve been called a cultural liberal while being theologically conservative. How does that play out in real life?

For us it means we take the Bible very, very, very seriously and everything to which the Bible speaks we absolutely believe. So we believe getting drunk is a sin, we believe sex outside of heterosexual marriage is a sin. We’re conservatives biblically.

When it comes to cultural issues like our music, we write most of our own songs and we use a lot of technology. I’m big on Facebook and MySpace, YouTube and iTunes. We’ll have 100,000 downloads of the sermon each week just off the Internet.

We don’t care if somebody’s got a tattoo. I don’t care if they’ve got a hog or are covered in piercings, I don’t care if they play in a band — the Bible doesn’t speak about those things — so we tend not to worry about them.

How literal do you get? The old Jonah and the whale thing, what do you make of that literalism?

Yep, Jonah was literally in a whale. Jesus says as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, he’d be in the grave. So it’s just as literal as Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection to me.

We take it all literally, literal creation, literal Adam and Eve. We are a very conservative Bible-believing church, but if you walk in a lot of our people have Mohawks and piercings and tattoos and they’re smoking cigarettes and just became Christians. So they don’t look like your typical church crowd.

The demographics of your community are just the opposite. You’re literal and they’re very liberal. It doesn’t seem like it fits in your community.

It’s interesting because we’re telling them something they’ve never heard, we’re telling them something that they’ve never considered and they’re finding it appealing. Well over half of our church is single, but about a third of the people at our church, as far as we can tell, were raped or molested, they were sexually abused, most of them grew up in broken homes, their parents got divorced, they’ve used drugs and alcohol, they’ve got a history with pornography. And by the time we see them they’ve realized it’s just not a very happy, joy filled, satisfying way of life. And they tend to be open to something different.

What part of living the Christian life do young people just not get? What’s really on their minds?

I think they get the idea of community and being in relationships, of being part of a church and I think they understand sin. I think the things that they struggle with are believing that Jesus is the only way to salvation, that other religions are not equally right. The other thing they struggle with is gender issues and sexuality. Almost everybody we get is in sexual sin, homosexuality, adultery, fornication. Pornography is an epidemic. So the sexual sins are really the big ones that we deal with continually.

You’ve even had death threats as a result of your ministry?

At the church services we’ve had occasions where guys wanted to give death threats, we’ve have people try to get up on the stage to fight me, we had one guy pull out a machete and try to kill me while I was preaching. So now I’ve got security around the building and security off the stage.

You’re a specialist in multi-site. How is multi-site changing the Christian church?

They say that 80 percent of churches are plateaued or declining, that 3,500 die and close every year, yet we’re starting to see more and more large churches. So the hope is that the large churches would be able to adopt some of the struggling and smaller churches and revitalize them so that they won’t die. I think that one of the great points for multi-site is resourcing and helping struggling and dying churches.

For us we just saw so many people become Christians so fast that we couldn’t add any more services and the city wouldn’t let us get another building. We baptized a couple hundred people on any given day at various times in the history of the church, so for us multi-site campusing is necessary.

Multi-site media has worked very, very well for us. It has allowed us to spread out across the region, reach different parts of the city. Now we’re looking to going out of state and out of country with campuses. Ultimately it’s a new form of church planting where new congregations get started that are more than just overflow rooms for churches that have too much attendance.

What trends do you see in the Christian church in America, how should Christians look at the growth of the Muslim faith, the Mormons and secular humanism in the coming years?

It is distressing. I think what’s happened though is, particularly in urban centers, fewer and fewer people are having children and raising families. More and more I think you’ll see Muslims taking over major American cities.

It is the same with Mormonism. It keeps trying to reposition itself as just another Christian denomination. They’re trying to make it more like a denomination in appearance even though it’s not theologically.

I think too the biggest issue in the coming years is the younger generation doesn’t see the problem with things such as homosexuality and sex outside of marriage. And so you’re going to see the media pushing more and more to have gay pastors and to have same-sex marriages, even if they say they’re Christian.

What does it mean to “reach one’s community by living culturally accessible and biblically faithful lives”?

Our theme is that Christians need to function as missionaries. They need to imbed themselves in the culture, they need to love the people there, and they need to learn the culture, understand it and serve it. So our thinking is that when it comes to missions, missionaries are not people we send overseas. We need to keep sending them overseas, but we also need to send missionaries into American cities and neighborhoods as the cities are completely lost and don’t know Jesus.

We encourage our people to move into the city, live in the city, love the city, serve the city, start Bible studies, do ministry and bring the Gospel to the city.

Some people feel that living in the world, in the city, can be a corrupting influence, being in the world but not of it?

I think people are sinful whether they live in the country, the suburbs, or the city. Sinners are everywhere and the city tends to have more people so they tend to have more sin. But I think that means that it’s also a great opportunity for the Gospel because people there really need Jesus. And if we don’t reach the cities we’re not going to reach the young people, the universities, the politicians, the culture makers-as the cities get more and more secular the culture gets more and more secular.

Are there compromises to living in the city?

We’ve got five kids and it’s amazing at the grocery store or the restaurant when people come up and rebuke us for having too many kids.

In our area there are a lot of people who are committed to radical environmentalism, homosexuality and saving the planet. They feel it’s already over-populated and better just to be gay and not have any children and save the planet.

Your services are downloaded more than a million times a year?

Actually, millions and millions of times.

Because you’ve got great messages or good marketing?

We don’t do any marketing; we’ve actually never done any advertising. We’ve never hired an advertising firm or sent out mailers. I just preach and we put it on the Internet and I hope people download it because they want to learn the Bible and learn about Jesus.

How do you keep up with sermon preparations and still have time for media, conferences, writing books and magazine articles? Are you super organized?

I tend to be very personally organized and I’m really blessed to have a very good personal staff who takes the e-mails and the phone calls. I think the e-mail and the phone calls alone, those two things, can kill you if you’re a pastor.

The truth is I’m not that great at managing the staff. I did okay until the church was maybe 5,000-6,000 and then I just completely burned out. I don’t have the administrative gifts to take it beyond that, so I just have to be humble and back away, trust other people, give them power and authority, set them up for success, and stay out of the way.

For all your media coverage and notoriety, what do you wish people really understood about you?

That I’m a sinner who Jesus has been really good to and anything good that’s happened is because of Him and anything bad that’s happened is because of me.