Tag Archives: church

Giving Back


“Giving back means giving all; any inferior definition is pure deception. Our money, our resources, our gifts, our time, our dreams, our selfish ambitions, our comfort — these we give back in their entirety. Anything less is not discipleship at all. It is simply a clever substitution by a crafty enemy who has figured out how to use our own weaknesses against us, rocking us to complacent sleep with a consumer version of the gospel and knowing all the while he is making goats out of sheep.” – Brandon Hatmaker (Barefoot Church, pg. 113)



Matthew 27:51-54 NIV

“At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people. When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, ‘Surely he was the Son of God!'”

We are missing a great opportunity…
Want to do a good seeker AND in depth Good Friday service at your church??

Zombiepocalypse Friday (think of the real meaning of that word and be impressed that I’m using it correctly 🙂 )! Scrap the common and normal and go full tilt with this verse. Every single person there would remember that service all their life.

Make the whole point about how we often skip the familiar in the Bible thinking we know it and skip the unfamiliar thinking it’s boring and irrelevant. Because if we really knew it… we would live differently. If you’re like me, very differently.

Seriously, when is the last time you learned something at a holiday church service? Me? I don’t remember. All I remember is a good skit or cool effects. Each year it is the same thing with different wrapping paper. I feel like the common service is less teaching something new and more showing off the new lights or visual effects.

Churches are like young male peacocks strutting their new feathers. They look different to other peacocks, but to the rest of the world it is a familiar show with little to no meaning.

Almost everyone at a holiday service is in the same boat… “Been here, heard this” (ourselves included). So why do the same thing we always do and prove them right? Forget thinking outside the box. Leave the box alone and think/read fresh.

Zombiepocalypse 2012. Let’s do this!


God made man in his image. We are human beings. We are created to reflect God’s love character; his love and grace and peace. In Genesis it says God made us in his likeness. We are created like him. We are not his equal, but we are created like him.

The promise of Satan is that we could be like God. Like him. What an empty promise. The strange part is that it isn’t empty because it isn’t real. It’s empty because we already are. We were created to be like Him in the first place.

This reminds me of Christ’s temptation in the wilderness. He offers to give Jesus everything in the earth. He offers to give him the Kingdoms of the world. But they were already his.

Thank God Jesus was smarter than Adam. Thank God Jesus was smarter than Eve. Jesus saw through the empty promises of a fallen angel. He didn’t need to be given the world. He didn’t need to be given the Kingdoms of the world. He already had them.

I think the reason Jesus didn’t fall for the same old tricks is because he knew who he was. He wasn’t trying to be someone he wasn’t. He knew who he was. Adam didn’t remember who he was. He forgot he was created in the image of God. He forgot who he was.

May we never forget, may we never question, may we never lose sight of who we are. It’s good to be who we are. Be who you are.

Psalm 37:3-6 Assessment Day 1

Was reading in Psalm 37 this morning and as I read I thought God was speaking to me through it. I thought I’d share since it really hit me. I don’t feel nervous, but it seems as if God is reassuring me or building me up ahead of time. Really over the last month or so it’s felt like God is building me up and encouraging me a lot through many different ways and circumstances. These have been exciting times!

Psalm 37:3-6
Trust in the Lord and do good.

Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord.

Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.




Link to Glenn Beck on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcSgWLaJuNE
Link to Free Press article about Bing’s reaction: http://www.freep.com/article/20110301/ENT03/110301012/Bing-knocks-Glenn-Beck-Detroit-Hiroshima-comparison
Link to Patrick Reyes blog post: http://patrickreyes.net/2011/03/02/maybe-glen-beck-was-right/

So I’m a few days behind with the whole Glenn Beck thing…
It’s March 4th and although I’ve had a couple articles and a blog post bookmarked for a couple days now, I’m just catching up. But really… I don’t feel like there’s much to say.

For you who don’t know yet, you can click through the links above and read for yourself or I’ll try to give a quick recap here:

Basically Glenn Back compared the last 50-60 years of Hiroshima’s history to Detroit’s.

Hiroshima was hit with an atomic bomb in 1945. Scientists thought the city would be uninhabitable for decades. Instead, the people decided to rebuild their city. Now, 66 years later, Hiroshima is a thriving metropolis. Beck points out that, yes there was some government assistance in rebuilding Hiroshima, but the majority of the work, time and money it took to rebuild came from individuals who loved their city and would not let it lie in ruins.

Over this same time period Detroit has gone from a vibrant and thriving metropolis, the “Paris of the West,” to ruins. Beck says that bad and corrupt government, corporate and union policies are what destroyed the Motor City.

Basically… yes. I would also like to point out that he neglected to mention white flight. White flight, in my opinion, was the catalyzing factor that enabled, encouraged and brought about bad and corrupt government, corporate and union policies.

But why is this news? Anyone who lives in Southeast Michigan and is honest with themselves knows this to be true. We’ve known this for decades. We’ve watched this, we’ve experienced this, we’ve lived this. This isn’t news for February 28th, 2011. This is old news.

Detroit today is not the Detroit that is comparable to Hiroshima. Or maybe it is, but the timelines are just askew. Hiroshima came to its ruin in 1945. Detroit came to its ruin more gradually culminating early this century. But the phrase “will the last one out, please turn out the lights” will never apply to Detroit.

Detroit is being remade. Yes, there are some governmental changes that are helping Detroit to be remade. But not for the most part. For the most part it is people, individuals who have decided they love their city and are not willing to let it fall to the wayside.

What Glenn Beck is missing is the current. The current of Detroit has changed. The river of wealth, knowledge and education is now beginning to flow the other way. We, together, are stemming the tide of escapism, white flight and neglect. We are stirring a new direction for our city. There is a new tomorrow and more importantly, there is a new today.

There’s a song by Robbie Seay Band that says,

“And it might not be
The prettiest thing that you’ll ever see
But it’s a New Day
Oh baby it’s a New Day”

This is Detroit. And this is a New Day. And we have a new current. The current is a city on the incline. The current is a city that is being remade from the ground up through grassroots efforts and community organizers who are encouraging people to love their city and their neighbors. And what is most exciting to me about this current is the strong role the body of Christ is playing in it.

Historically Detroit was a major hub in the underground railroad, led by the church. It was a beacon of freedom and the relief of oppression. As a result there are more church buildings per capita than any other city in the country. Then it became a destination for new jobs and opportunities for people of any ethnicity. Then the church led the way again… in the wrong direction. Running out of the city in white flight. Then Detroit quickly became the most segregated city in the country. Then race riots. We’ve had more than our share. For decades the church has ridden the backs of white folks out to the suburbs and what has been left is health and wealth gospel preachers that I cannot appreciate in any way.

But finally… a new generation is stirring. A New Day has come. The Kingdom is becoming visible here again. The church is shining its Light once again in the city that put the world on wheels… and invented headlights.

We have people reversing white flight. We have people sharing with others as they have need. We have people beautifying their homes, their blocks and their city. And they’re doing it for no other reason than to show the world that it’s a beautiful place and should be treated that way. We have CCS, the DIA and the DSO. We have food and restaurants galore. We have urban prairies with deer, pheasants and wild chickens roaming free. We are number 2 in the nation for fishing rod sales. By consumption, we are the potato chip capital of the world. We have more registered bowlers than anywhere else in country. We have Critical Mass, Noel Night, the Auto Show and DEMF.

We may have inherited the problems of our parent’s Detroit. But this is not our parent’s Detroit. This is a New Day and it comes with a new current flowing in a new direction… forward.

Glenn Beck was right about where our problems came from. But he’s missing where we are now. A lot of people have been up in arms about what Glenn Beck said about Detroit. I see no problem. He’s right. He’s just a bit behind the times. There’s no point in denying our history with all of its victories and all of its defeats. To deny one’s history is to deny one’s current state. And I’m proud of our current state… or should I say… City.

A few links to good things: http://elevatedetroit.com (blatant self-promotion)
Palladium Boots / Johnny Knoxville video: http://www.palladiumboots.com/exploration/detroit
Requiem for Detroit by the BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00rkm3y (no, not the video clip unfortunately, but I do have a DVD)

Chris Brown – Give Me Faith

Tonight I visited The Eastside Vineyard Church. Tonight was their final monthly “preview” service. Next Sunday they begin meeting every week.

Dan Kopp shared an excellent message about spending time with God. He challenged us to spend as much time preparing for the day spiritually as we do physically (showering, dressing, etc.). He hit the nail on my head.

For this week I’m going to try to spend an hour every morning every day reading, praying and singing worship. I’m also going to try to set aside one hour every day in the morning for creative time. I’m also going to work out regularly in the morning.

Along with a great message came the introduction to a great worshipful song. Here’re the lyrics:

Chris Brown – Give Me Faith

I need you to soften my heart
To break me apart
I need you to open my eyes
To see that You’re shaping my life

All I am,
I surrender

Give me faith to trust what you say
That you’re good and your love is great
I’m broken inside, I give you my life

Verse 2:
I need you to soften my heart
To break me apart
I need you pierce through the dark
And cleanse every part of me

Give me faith to trust what you say
That you’re good and your love is great
I’m broken inside, I give you my life

I may be weak
Your spirit strong in me
My flesh may fail
My God you never will (repeat)

Give me faith to trust what you say
That you’re good and your love is great
I’m broken inside, I give you my life

Give me faith to trust what you say
That you’re good and your love is great
I’m broken inside, I give you my life

I may be weak
Your spirit strong in me
My flesh may fail
My God you never will (repeat)

V360 Coaching Session on Evangelism

Someone said:
“In a post-Christian context, there is a greater distance between someone who is truly following Christ and someone who is simply an active good citizen.”

I disagree!

In decades past, there looked like less of difference between followers of Christ and regular citizens. But in this same time frame we had legalized segregation, rampant racism and the people were destroying the earth for the sake of financial gain.

Now, when I say this generation, I mean people now. I’m not dividing people by age. I’m dividing people by decades. People in the 40s or 50s and people in the 2000s.

These days people of culture may not have any idea of the story of Jesus as generations past have. But I would say this generation looks more like Jesus than generations past.

I see people now reaching out and loving the poor, widows and orphans. And they’re doing this for the sake of helping other people; other humans. I see people loving the earth and celebrating creation for the simple sake of celebrating creation; for the feeling that we “should.”

I think this generation may not know the story of Jesus well… yet. But I would argue that that is evidence of the Church not doing its job, rather than a problem with culture. But the power of the Spirit is evident in this generation in this way: That without even knowing the story of Jesus, they are still seeking him, still following him, still embodying him. I’m so thankful that I get to be a part of this generation.

Free Your Soul

You have to free yourself of the existing in order to grapple with the possibilities of the not yet.


Lord, leading this is well beyond my ability. Don’t let me stop at my ability.

Glory to God?

“Take my life and let it be
All for you and for your glory
Take my life and let it be yours.”

I’m 31 years old. I’ll be 32 in November. I’ve gone to church all my life. There were times when it was an average of 3-4 times a week. Other times I was totally absent. Probably an average of twice a week overall. When you do the math, that’s around 3,276 church services. That’s allot of sermons. That’s allot of words.

I remember when I was “born again”. I was about 4 years old. It was a sunny summer afternoon. I had been playing outside in my sandbox with my best friend, Mike. I had come inside to get a drink or some other no doubt urgent 4 year old need. Whatever it was was taken care of and I was rushing back outside to play some more. Again, with all the urgency of anything a four year old wants to do.

Before I ran back out the door, I stopped. My mom was standing at the sink doing dishes. In that moment, I asked her if I could ask Jesus in my heart too. This may seem random, but to a four year old who was later to be diagnosed with ADD, there is nothing more logical.

She answered yes. I stood there and prayed with my mom. Then immediately rushed back into my sandbox with my best friend, Mike. I went back to playing as if nothing had changed.

My born again experience is pretty symbolic of the way my spiritual life was throughout my childhood. On the first Sunday night of every month, the church I went to did baptisms, communion and an invitation to accept Christ. Inevitably there was some verbiage like, “If you’ve never asked Jesus into your heart, or if you’re not sure, pray after me…”. As a kid I figured that it couldn’t hurt to do it again. So, I would pray the magical prayer week after week. I began to think myself safer and safer with every passing first Sunday night, every ending summer camp bonfire experience or every outreach event finale.

I have struggled with depression and all that goes along with it for about as long as I can remember. Last week I went camping with my family. And as it seems happens after every good thing, I crashed when I got home.

I’m 31 years old and I haven’t figured out how to beat this yet. Often my depression will show itself in a lack of motivation to do anything. With that often comes my mind wandering to places it shouldn’t go. Sometimes with doubts and self-hating thoughts. Sometimes it’s lustful thoughts. Sometimes it’s questioning that there is anyone on earth who truly loves or believes in me.

Though I haven’t figured out how not to crash yet, I have learned how to see it coming. And sometimes I can distract myself enough to head it off before it happens. This past Saturday, when I was on my way home from the UP, I could feel it coming. Hoping to avoid a crash, I invited a few friends over Saturday night.

It didn’t work. This week has been down. I have been down. I didn’t leave my house from Saturday evening until Wednesday evening. Not once. I have sat on my couch and watched seasons 3-5 of the Office. I have managed to take a shower each day. I have eaten at least once each day. I have done a few small unimportant things around the house. I have felt unmotivated and incapable of doing much of anything more. And with every passing day, I have felt more and more overwhelmed and more and more like a failure and a disappointment to my mom, my dad and my Jesus.

So here I sit in another church service. 3,277. My mouth is moving along with the words I know so well. I don’t know if I mean any of them tonight. I want to. But my heart is so numbed and low that I can’t tell what’s in it.

“Glory to God
Glory to God
Glory to God in the highest”?

I doubt it. I don’t think I’m glorifying anyone tonight.

What do you do when you’ve said the words so many times that you don’t think they matter anymore? It seems like an empty transaction. I say this. I give God my life. He takes it. I take it back immediately. Then I do it over again. Meaningless. I feel heartless. I feel lifeless. How do I give my heart and life when I don’t feel like I have either to give?

“Take my life and let it be
All for you and for your glory
Take my life and let it be yours.”

I want to mean it. I want to feel it. But I don’t think I do. Not tonight. Those words have been said so many times before. Too many times. I’m not sure they mean anything to me anymore. So why would they mean anything to anyone else when I say them… again?

Here they are, Lord:

Take my life. It’s yours. Do anything you want with it.

Not sure there’s any point in saying them again. But there they are. I’m trying to mean them. I think the rest is up to you. Do the words really matter though?