Thanksgiving – More Christian than Christmas?

Black Friday ads are everywhere. My friends who work in retail are already having nightmares where they wake up in cold sweats. You can smell it in the air. The Christmas rush is upon us.

…and so is the “Merry Christmas” vs. “Happy Holidays” debate. I’ve spelled out my philosophy on the matter over the last couple of years so you won’t have to hear me rehash that.

However, today I was talking with a friend who feels the same way and I came to a conclusion: Thanksgiving is more like Jesus than Christmas is.

Here’s why: Read the rest of this entry

New Music Tuesday

I’m going to be very honest here for a minute. Most Christian music is horrible. That might sound harsh and it probably is a bit of a stretch but I believe most (not all) Christian music lacks creativity in two main areas: artistic quality and lyrics and it frustrates me that there is a shortage of great music that I can sing at the top of my lungs in praise to God.

Christian music should be setting the trends in creativity since we serve the ultimate Creator and were made by the Creator in His image. Instead, we often follow musical trends…5 years after they’ve come and gone.

Lyrically there generally isn’t anything wrong with many of the songs being written today (except I think they’re phoning it in lyrically when they constantly rhyme “fly/cry/die/I, etc.) but culturally speaking I believe *transparency in songwriting has never been more valued and I feel that it is often missing in Christian music.

*except for pop music. That soulless garbage doesn’t count for anything. I’m looking at you Bieber, Black Eyed Peas, et. all.

I don’t want to suggest that there isn’t good Christian music out there, there is, but you have to hunt for it. Like any genre of music to find the really good stuff you have to go through the bad.

So with that I want to present to you the first New Music Tuesday. A weekly post where I hope to bring you some of the good/great/inspiring music that is out there that reflects God given artistic ability and will hopefully help you worship our Creator.

The first artist and song is from someone who has a new album coming out on 11/1/11 – John Mark McMillan. I was introduced to him several months back and this song “Death in His Grave” has instantly become one of my favorite songs. John Mark fits the description perfectly for  me of creativity, uniqueness, and heart felt, worship filled lyrics.

Riding the Sports Bandwagon

It had been 10 years since the last time the Detroit Lions hosted a Monday Night Football game. Charlie Batch was the QB, James Stewart was the RB, and Johnnie Morton was our #1 WR. The same guy who was once #3 behind Herman Moore and Brett Perriman was our top guy. That year the Lions finished 2-14. In ’01 and ’02 Coach Marty Mornhinweg led the team to a 5-27 record.

And that wasn’t even the lowest point.

In 2008 they dared to dream the impossible. 0-16. Our team was so bad that they couldn’t win once. This feat was never done before and will likely never be done again.

In a country where football is king and in a state where we have two great college football teams (I know that’s debatable) it’s no wonder that fans refused to pay the money to go to the games or cared enough to really follow them closely during the last decade. We could get it every Saturday.

But now that the team is on an upswinging (winning 9 straight regular season games going back to last year) we are witnessing one of the most hotly contested issues in sports and I think a story from last night’s MNF game sums it up well.

My wife and I went to the game with a group of church planting friends from across the country. Out seats were in the family section and we were seated by some Chicago Bears fans. They were loud but pretty cool. We had fun going back and forth all night and with only a couple minutes left in the game they decided it was time to go and left with some friendly high fives. They “fans” two rows in front of us weren’t as friendly. All night they hurled incredible well thought out and creative insults like “BEARS SUCK!” and “GO HOME BEARS!” to every Bears fan in the area. Finally, these Bears fans behind us had enough. They shouted back “Don’t talk to me, bro. You’ve been a Lions fan for all of one day.” To which the Lions fans replied “Go home bears!” and started chanting “BEARS SUCK! BEARS SUCK!”.

These Lions fans were being called out as the second worst kind of fan: bandwagon fans. (The worst kind of fan is the guy who likes whatever team is the best that year. To that guy I say “Knock it off. You have no moral character.”)

Then on the way home and to the airport after to drop a friend off talk radio was filled with calls of “real fans” bashing the bandwagon fans.

I don’t know what it is that we find so offensive about the bandwagon fan. For whatever reason, because they haven’t suffered like we have enduring a team when it was terrible we hate these fans and think less of them. We often take every opportunity to remind them how weak their fandom is and how we deserve to be a part of the winning team. But there’s a little story from the Bible that I think fits well here. Read the rest of this entry

Day 15: Halfway Done

It’s funny over the last few days on three different occasions I’ve had a conversation with someone about a place they ate that day. It’s usually about 30 seconds in that they remember I am on a fast and their tone changes. “Oh, I forgot. I’m so sorry.” As if meat were a family member that died. It’s ok people. I’ll be eating meat, cheese, etc. again in just 15 short days.

The first 15 days have been unbelievably difficult. Skipping out on all these foods that I love has been hard. There are so many times when I just need a snack and I can’t handle carrots, fruit, or nuts anymore. I just want some string cheese. Or soft pretzels. Or a Snickers. Or a small ham sandwich. Or Pop Tarts. Or something gummy. Or  some chips and cheese dip. Or a big bowl of late night cereal. Or…I think I’ve made my point…

But here’s the funny thing: as brutal as it has been I’ve already started planning my next fast. Crazy, I know but there has been such a connection with God during this time that I’ve not had in some time. I’ve not seen his hand so clearly in my life since I started this church planting journey over two years ago. I’ve not felt this dialed into his will and plan since…ever! It’s an experience that I am desperate to have again and it hasn’t even ended yet. Read the rest of this entry

Day 13: Prayer Theft

As I was talking with a good friend last night we came to a conclusion about prayer: we rob people of it often. Here are a couple of ways how.

The “I’ll pray for you” line – a lot of times this is just church speak for “That sucks. Hope it works out for ya.” This can happen a lot in person but is also really common now in the world of social media. But there is another, more subtle way that I think we rob each other in prayer. Read the rest of this entry

Day 12: Fast Make Hulk Angry!

Recently, I spent an evening hanging out with an Aunt and Uncle. She asked me a simple question “Since you started your fast, have you lost your temper more?” “No, I’ve felt great.” While I thought I was telling the truth, I would soon find out how wrong I was. The very next morning I was getting frustrated with the kids as they were taking forever to get ready for school.

It happened the next day on the way to school. Then again after school.

Ok, maybe my temper was a little off. But that’s to be expected, right? Read the rest of this entry

Days 10/11: The Weekend Wrap-Up

Whoever said fasting gets easier is a liar. Maybe that’s too strong. Let me try again.

Whoever said fasting gets easier is either a liar or I am weak and rely on food way too much. Through 11 days I don’t think the temptation is any less but I do believe I’m just better at saying “no” to food. All weekend I seemed to have been tempted by food. It didn’t help that on day 9 we discovered anything with yeast is a big “no-no” so there goes our whole grain bread. I’ll miss you FL-T sandwich (facon, lettuce, minus tomato).

Last night we had a launch team gathering for the Pursuit and I was blown away by my church. When I say “my” I don’t mean it as “I own this church” but “I am proud to be a part of this church.” One of the members on our team is a teacher in Detroit who was given incredibly difficult circumstances to teach in. She wasn’t given enough desks or chairs for her second graders. During the first few days several kids had to stand at their desks. She was basically given an empty room. No supplies. No teaching tools. Just a room and a roster. And then there’s the kids… Read the rest of this entry

Day 9: I HEART ZOMBIES

I don’t know what it is about zombies, but I love them and things related to these walking dead. So forgive me if this post is self indulgent and is somehow a “Jesus Juke” but after reading John 6 this week I want to take zombies and draw some spiritual connections for a bit. And hey, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, a guy who was sitting in a window listening to Paul preach fell asleep, fell out the window, died and then was raised, and several others came back too so…wouldn’t that make them zombies? (Jesus Juke total:1)

So there. *Zombies are biblical.

Let’s do this…

(more after the break including my current top 5 zombie related things)

*They’re not. It’s a joke.

Read the rest of this entry

Day 8 – The Routine of the Routine Breaking

I didn’t expect to feel this way 8 days in, but I guess I’ve always tried to be a little ahead of the curve.

The whole purpose of fasting was to break the routine of gorging myself and running through life as fast as my fast food anchored body could go. But here’s what I noticed today:

I broke one bad routine only to replace it with another.

And it only took 8 days.

Routines by nature can be good or bad. Routines help us maximize productivity but things go terribly wrong when we forget why we started the routine.

Example: think of how many people start out with good intentions like providing for their family. They work hard and long hours and get a promotion. Then they get to work harder and longer hours. They get another promotion and increase the work cycle. Eventually work starts coming home with them. At that point the line between family and work gets blurred. The family that they were working so hard to support disappears behind the routine. The relationship with the spouse suffers and the kids become a nuisance, not a blessing. Read the rest of this entry

Day 7: Short and (non)Sweet

It’s been a long day and I’ve got a lot to do still in getting ready for the gathering this weekend but here’s the highlights:

1. I took the 2 younger boys to Buffalo Wild Wings for lunch to celebrate the first day of school. They tore up their lunch while I picked at a salad. Really. Who goes to BW2’s and orders an Asian Chicken salad sans chicken?

2. I realize that while the cravings are far less frequent they are infinitely more intense. I hope that this eventually starts to pass too.

3. I wish I hadn’t waited until planting this church to get to know my aunt better. I had a really good time hanging with her and my uncle for a bit tonight.

I apologize for the brevity, but I really have to get rocking on some other things.

Until tomorrow…

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