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Divisive Love, But Love It Is

An excerpt from the book: Bono In Conversation With Michka Assayas

There’s nothing hippie about my picture of Christ. The Gospels paint a picture of a very demanding, sometimes divisive love, but love it is. I accept the Old Testament as more of an action movie: blood, car chases, evacuations, a lot of special effects, seas dividing, mass murder, adultery. The children of God are running amok, wayward. Maybe that’s why they’re so relatable. But the way we would see it, those of us who are trying to figure out our Christian conundrum, is that the God of the Old Testament is like the journey from stern father to friend. When you’re a child, you need clear directions and some strict rules. But with Christ, we have access in a one-to-one relationship, for, as in the Old Testament, it was more of worship and awe, a vertical relationship. The New Testament, on the other hand, we look across at a Jesus who looks familiar, horizontal. The combination is what makes the Cross.

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Pastors and Community

Community is one of the cornerstones of pastoral leadership. It is one of the main things that separates a pastor from an evangelist. And just because you may not officially have the title of “Pastor” in front of your name doesn’t mean you can’t pastor people.

Ingrain Yourself In Your Community
You have to go into your community and spend time there. Know what’s going on there. The demographics, the culture etc. Drive or walk the streets there and pray over the city and the people in it. Pray that the people there would be delivered from addiction and bondage, and that they would prosper. Ask God to break your heart for the people and give you favor in the community.

Be A Regular
A pastor is a person of influence and discipleship. Judi’s childhood pastor always said:

“If you want to have influence, be a regular.”

And that’s true! Be a regular. A known person in the community you serve in. Be a person who connects with the waiters and waitresses, the grocery store baggers and cart pushers, the burger joint drive-through workers, the toll-way attendants etc. And all it takes is a little bit more than the usual interaction. Call them by their names. Tell them yours. Ask them how their day is. It’s not difficult!
And whenever you have the opportunity:

Listen. Listen. Listen.
People should be comfortable around the pastor of a community, not scared that he might see their flaws and go tattle to God. This comes from just listening, and not trying to immediately fix every problem they tell you about. My goal shouldn’t be to make people more like me, but to lead people to a place where they can commune with Christ. And that doesn’t mean that they have to immediately get rid of all their problems and issues. Listening to a person builds trust with them.

Community is about talking and listening to people with purpose, not an agenda.

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A Question For Anyone Who Wants To Answer

What do the words:

“full-time ministry”

mean to you?

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Relevancy

relevancy

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Meet June Jett Thomas

On this day, July 17 2009 at high noon, June Jett Thomas was born to us. We had to do an emergency C-Section because her heart rate was dropping steadily but she came out perfect and beautiful! Just in the nick of time! Seven pounds, two ounces, twenty inches long and the most gorgeous thing I’ve ever laid eyes on. A huge thank-you to all of our family and friends, and everyone out there in Twitter-land and on Facebook. Your prayers pulled us through. It has been an incredible journey and we can’t wait to begin this next chapter.

June Jett

June Jett

Mommy and June Jett

June Jett

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Life In A Day

My friend Joshua White extended a challenge to any takers.

Take 50 unique pictures in one day.

I took it.

Yesterday I went throughout my day and took pictures of just about everything I saw.

It was harder than it sounds taking 50 pictures from my iPhone in one day.

I twitpic’d most of them.

You can see all 50 here on my Flickr page.

Here are some highlights:

red-cat-50

jack-50


preggo-50

rail-50

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Pregnant In The Desert

We arrived at about 6:30am in Las Vegas so we had a very full (and tiring) day of walking around and seeing the sights. I’ll tell ya, these two preggo ladies handled the walking around and the desert heat like champs!

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The Problem With Music

“The problem with music is that most people really don’t know why they like or dislike certain styles of music. And when one honestly examines his tastes, he tends to find that he’s really not as ‘metal’ as he once thought.”

deep.

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Blogging Sucks

Let me re-phrase that:

I [heart] blogging.

Why haven’t I been doing it then?

I honestly don’t know.

But what I do know is that there are a lot of bloggers out there who are in the same boat.

We have found ourselves in the middle of a blogging-drought!

Blog after blog has succumbed to the inevitable blog-fade.

Some blame Twitter. Others blame busy schedules. And some (with a little help) are finding solutions.

So what do we do? How do we stay in the game and avoid blog-fade?

It’s my strong opinion that blogs are important to the internet tubes and we must get back to the excitement and wonder that drew us to the blogosphere in the first place.

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Hostile to the Gospel

I recently had a conversation with a friend that kinda rocked my world. Maybe I’ve been naive, but it sort-of opened my eyes to a whole different side of church ministry. And if I’m being honest, it kinda freaked me out. The progress that I thought was being made in these young, “new way of doing church” churches is actually being contradicted in several of them. People are no longer allowed to be free in worship. Crosses are no longer hung on sanctuary walls. Each part of the service is planned out to the second and there’s no room to allow the Holy Spirit to move (and besides, that might freak people out, right?).  It made me wonder how many other churches out there are like this. I honestly don’t know. I was, admittedly, disheartened. And maybe I’ve been spoiled by my own church. Either way, I resigned to the fact that if you want to have a large, young church in this day and age, you have to dumb-down and dilute the Gospel with “everyday application”, and not mention the crazy Christ stuff too much in order to create a more palatable God experience.

Then, last Tuesday I had a conversation (albeit unrelated to the above topic) with Pastor Marilyn Hickey. She began to tell me about a church she had visited. The church was packed with 12,000 people every week and they moved in the gifts of the Spirit in a very real way in just about every service. The kicker, however, is that the church is not only packed with people, but it is packed with young people! Twenty and thirty-somethings dominate the demographic. This gave me some hope.

Then I kicked my own arse and remembered something I’ve heard and told myself thousands of times: Numbers don’t necessarily represent spiritual health.

Wow. How could I have forgotten my roots?! Spending years and years volunteering in startups and church plants. Chasing after God, not for a paycheck or recognition or to feel like I’m in the coolest church in town, but simply because we were hungry to see Him move in our lives in a transformational way.

Then I read this: [ht:Pastor Dave]

It seems that large churches generate a dynamic that is simply hostile to the gospel. Business models overtake ecclesial life. At this point they become more interested in preserving their life, or in preserving their image (success) than in the kingdom of God, and this becomes a violent and oppressive dynamic. [link]

Then that word starts to creep up…relevance

Oh yeah. We gotta try to be cool and look like the world otherwise people won’t come to church.

What?!

So you’re telling me that for the first time in the history of church and the Christian faith we have to stop acting like a church and stop doing what churches should do?

That sounds a little backwards to me. Let’s not be so vain.

[ht:Josh Brage]

Oh, brother or sister, God calls us to worship, but in many instances we are in entertainment, just running a poor second to the theaters. That is where we are, even in the evangelical churches, and I don’t mind telling you that most of the people we say we are trying to reach will never come to a church to see a lot of amateur actors putting on a home talent show.

-A.W. Tozer

We’ve turned our head pastors into nothing more than used car salesmen, hocking our shiniest new programs and facilities in the name of relevance. Our board members and business partners don’t let our pastors preach an un-vetted and unbridled message of Jesus. The fullness of Christ.

This translates to our congregations. Now, instead of going to church to give it all to God, they go to church to get for themselves some temporal experience with cool lights and smoke, self-help sermons, free lattes and the fuzzy feeling that they went to church and it didn’t hurt a bit. All the while avoiding any real, personal transformation.

What this has created is selfish church-goers. They complain when the worship team does a song or style they don’t like. They complain when the pastor doesn’t preach as good as some guy on the internet. They complain when they can’t pick up the free WiFi in the parking lot. They complain when the speakers are too loud or too soft. ETC!!!!

When did church become our spiritual convenience store? Our one-stop-shop for everything we want; and our complaint counter for everything that’s not to our liking? Why does personal preference have so much say in the planning of our services? I mean, the whole idea of following Christ is that we die to ourselves, take up our cross and follow! Right?

How did it all get turned around?

I know, I know, “but we gotta be relevant in order to reach the next generation of world changers”.  And I agree!   See, the thing is, Jesus is relevant. His message transcends time and culture. I don’t wanna stay old fashioned and stale (and I’m not going to), but time period and cultural fads don’t change the transformation that is held in a life of chasing Christ.

The idea that we need to somehow change the image of God to be more palatable to a mass audience should be offensive to those who consider themselves a follower of Christ.

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