Dec 30, 2010

Best Commercial of 2010

This is the one commercial that always gets me and the family to stop and watch. Always funny when I see it.

Dec 29, 2010

Worship from the silent monks

I saw this yesterday on Kevin DeYoung's blog. This is creative and very funny - a reminder that everyone can praise the Lord, even if they have taken a vow of silence.

Dec 8, 2010

Why one "Mac" guy is very disappointed in Apple...

In this "politically correct" and "tolerant" society, it's not surprising but certainly is disappointing that Apple last week decided to pull the app for the Manhattan Declaration from it's store.  It's another sign in the continuing saga that holding to a gospel-centered, Christian worldview is viewed as "intolerant" and "bigoted" in today's society.  Our culture has shifted rapidly over the last 40 years away from centrally help objective standard.  This is another example of the radical depravity of sin that pervades not just every person, but ultimately can pervade society.  Our culture, while trying to exalt human dignity and value, exalts humanistic value above all else.  While cloaking itself as upholding the value of individuals, it has created a society where the free exchange of competing ideas is squashed.  As we continue to slide toward Gomorrah, Romans 1:18-32 continues to be a picture not just of our future, but of our present as well.  The gospel presented in Romans is not about being "anti-gay" but instead is summed up in phrase "who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth (18)."

We see that part of the judgment of God is that He gives them over to a "debased mind" that no longer has any ability to determine righteousness or unrighteousness.  This is the natural course of sin.  This is the passive judgment of God where He allows people (and a culture) to see and feel the full effects of their depravity.  This is why it is of paramount importance that we build our churches and ministry upon a strong foundation of the gospel.  This is why we must preach and teach the gospel to ourselves every day.  This is why we must take people away from the issue of homosexuality and back to Genesis 3 where we show them how "original sin" causes us to reject God's word and become our own idols. 

Bottom line, Apple is a "for-profit" company that is more afraid of the backlash and political implications of offending a minority than the implications of offending Christians.  Why?  Because as Christians we will meekly step aside like many times before.  In the meantime, I don't see Apple pulling off podcasts from it's Apple store that bash Christianity, openly call the church "anti-gay", or promote ideas that Christians would find offensive.  Why not?  They would want to promote free and open dialogue of course - except in the case of the Manhattan Declaration app.

Here is a great video done by Chuck Colson about the implications of this decision on our political culture.  There is much more here at stake than just "some Christians being offended."

Christmas According to Ipad

This was from North Point Community Church this past weekend.  What an extremely creative use of technology.  I wish I were this creative.

North Point's iBand from North Point Web on Vimeo.

Dec 7, 2010

MSU Dawgs - Egg Bowl Highlights

Another great video by Derek Cody highlighting the Bulldogs Egg Bowl victory.  It's been an awesome and memorable season so far.  Looking forward to the Gator Bowl (even though it matches up my two favorite teams in college football).  Go Dawgs!

Dec 1, 2010

Don't just get people "saved"...give them the gospel

Ok.  Time to get something off my chest.  The longer I am in ministry and the more I look at the state of the church in America, the more concerned I am about some of the tactics and methods we use to help people understand salvation and what it means.  I believe that there are several well-intentioned, but sometimes misleading things that we do in churches today that actually go against helping people to find a true personal relationship with Jesus Christ. 

Let me illustrate first from personal experience.  I have been a "Christian" (I prefer to say a disciple of Jesus) for about 20+ years.  However, I have been a Baptist for 42 years.  I spent my Sundays as a child growing up in an SBC church - attending Sunday School and VBS, going to "big worship", and hearing all the Bible stories.  My church heritage laid a spiritual foundation for me at an early age.  As a child, I deeply believed there was a God.  Not only that, I knew that he had "a wonderful plan for my life."  I knew that Jesus died on the cross to forgive me of my sin.  However, like most children, my young age prevented me from really understanding the true implications of the gospel facts that my church gave me.  I did know enough though to know that I wasn't the kind of person that God wanted me to be.  I knew that I did things that displeased him and I was ashamed of them. 

In seventh grade, an FCA group came to my school for an assembly.  They asked us to come back that night for a big gathering in the gym.  What 7th grader doesn't want to go hang out with friends and hear ex-jocks tell their stories?  Besides, I think there was free pizza. (isn't there always?  I don't think most churches can share the gospel with students without pizza.)  I heard athletes share about how they lived their lives in drugs and sports.  I heard them share about how they trusted Jesus to forgive them of their sins.  I heard them tell us that if we didn't trust Jesus as our Savior that we would spend eternity in hell.  (I knew I didn't want that.  My dad often referenced hell, but I don't think he understood it biblically either.)  Then some guy gave an altar call.  I watched as dozens of kids came down out of the gym bleachers to get "saved".  My friend Darren who was next to me said "Do you want to go down?" (Darren wasn't a Christian.  He was just a guy with a mullet who liked heavy metal music like me.)  I said "Yeah, do you."  We both went down and had some guy on a stage say "If you want to get saved, pray this prayer."  We did.  Then we were given some cards to fill out.  That was pretty much it.  The only problem was, nothing really changed.  I still liked heavy metal music, thought cursing was cool, and was tempted to look at dirty pictures of women.  However, I was "saved". 

Several years later, I was at a student night revival at my church.  I was a junior in high school.  I just had 5 pieces of pepperoni pizza (see, gospel and pizza).  I heard the revival speaker tell stories about kids who went out and got drunk and died and were spending eternity in hell.  He talked about how Jesus wanted me to get saved.  I knew that I was in need of something.  When the invitation was given, I went forward.  I was sent to a room with a counselor who shared the gospel with me and prayed with me.  However the doubts about my salvation remained for two more years until I fully surrendered to Christ at age 20.

The point of my story is that I wasn't ignorant about my need to get "saved".  I knew that Jesus died on the cross and that he rose again.  I knew he loved me.  Some would say I had a head knowledge of Christ, but not a heart knowledge.  I don't think that was the case.  I did want to love God.  I loved what I knew of him.  I meant it when I sang the youth choir songs.  What was missing was a continual planting in me of the gospel. 

Let me clarify a couple of things:  1.) I believe that everyone along my spiritual journey (SS teachers, youth ministers, evangelists) genuinely wanted me to know about the love of God and Christ's sacrifice on my behalf.  2.) I know that my capacity to have a saving knowledge of Christ, implications of my sin, etc. was limited along my journey by my age and personal knowledge and experience of sin.  3.) I don't think that someone must have a complete understanding about all the gospel facts in order to experience real salvation.  Jesus himself said we must come like little children.  Romans 10 says that what is needed is confession of Jesus as Lord and belief in his resurrection. 

Here's the point of all this.  I want to plead with my brothers in ministry to hold true to the gospel.  Sometimes in the simplicity of the gospel, we try to make it too simple.  In ministry we often judge success by spiritual identification and not spiritual transformation.  So, we give stories about hell, give powerful pleas to "accept Christ", get people down the aisle and into the baptistery, and consider ourselves success.  We use the scorecards of church attendance and baptisms instead of saved marriages and changed lives.  We need to help people see that they need the gospel as much to be saved as they do to become saved.  We need to remember our end goal is not getting people down the aisle.  We need to remember as Dallas Willard says that "our end goal is not to get people into Heaven, but to get Heaven into people."  This week, I had the privilege to talk with a 48-year old guy who is trusting the gospel for the first time.  He's been "saved" and "rededicated" several times.  He knew many facts about the gospel.  He just didn't know the gospel.  I explained that following Jesus meant the death of him.  I explained that in order to follow Jesus he had to give up everything he was for everything Christ is.  His eyes lit up.  For the first time, he was experiencing the gospel.  He went from spiritual jargon to spiritual reality.  It was a beautiful site.  The sad thing is that 28 years ago, this guy walked an aisle.  He was probably very emotional.  He was told how to be saved.  He prayed the prayer.  He was baptized.  However, by his own words he admitted that nothing changed.  He said it felt like the door was shut on him.  Frustrated, he decided that since heaven was secure then God wanted him to just do his own thing.  He lived 28 years with just enough facts about the gospel to reserve an eternity in hell.  I do not fault him.  I don't know who to fault.  I fault a system that takes a simple, yet beautiful message and boils it down to a simplistic jargon and recitation of facts.  We must do better. 

Brothers.  If we are going to get people saved, let's make sure that we make the gospel; it's facts and implications, the starting point.  Let's not be afraid to take some time and carefully explain it.  Let's be more afraid of false conversions than gospel rejection.  Let's not measure success by getting them down the aisle and instead measure it by their progression towards Christlikeness.  And, let's make sure that we understand and preach the gospel as larger than "getting saved."