Archive for the Celebration Category

National Day of Prayer

Posted in Apps, Atheist, Bible, Celebration, Christian, Church, Community, Country, Culture, DC, Devotion, Digital, Election, Faith, Family, God, Government, HIstory, Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 29, 2015 by BigPhatPastor

NDPThis year I am torn more than ever regarding the National Day of Prayer.  I know it is a huge nationwide event that brings out people and congregations in droves to events all over the nation.  I strongly encourage people and congregations to gather publically and pray for their friends, their families, their communities, and our nation and its leaders.  However, isn’t that what the body of Christ is supposed to do anyway?  And do it daily?

I am torn because some view the National Day of Prayer as the only day to engage in prayer.  Prayer is one of the most valuable assets that the body of Christ has today.  If that is true then shouldn’t the body of Christ be gathering together, even across denominational lines, to pray for people, communities, and our nation…regularly?

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for praying together and in public.  I  am just all for it more than just one day a year.  Why aren’t there monthly or quarterly prayer events going on across our nation on a regular basis?  Why is it usually when tragedy strikes that we see a call to prayer?  Why does it have to take a Tsunami, an earthquake, or a questionable action by a civil servant, or a city in mourning to bring the body of Christ together to pray?  I am not trying to be cynical, but perhaps if we held more prayer events than protests or more prayer events other than to pray against a politician all of our cities and our nation would be in better place.

As I write this, yes, I am trying and have tried to coordinate cross-denominational prayer events for the National Day of Prayer (for those who are wondering if I practice what I preach, lol).  And yes, I am aware that multiple congregations are already engaged in doing regular prayer events with their congregations and with other congregations across denominational lines.  But God help us, literally, if we ever get to a point where we feel like we are praying too much.  This year we are trying to add the following to our local prayer events and if possible perhaps you and your congregation can do the same if it is not being done already:

-Quarterly or regularly scheduled cross denominational pray events

-Public prayer events and prayer walks

That being said, what are you praying for and who will you be praying with for the National Day of Prayer on Thursday May 7th of this year?

The Gift That Matters

Posted in Bible, Celebration, Christian, Christmas, Christmas Party, Church, Community, Faith, Family, Global, God, Holiday, Real Talk with tags , , , , , , on December 17, 2014 by BigPhatPastor

As we get closer to the day when we celebrate God’s greatest gift to humanity, the birth of His Son Jesus Christ, we tend to get busier trying to find, purchase, or make a good gift for others.  Whether you make it, order it online, or hunt for it in retail stores realize there is way more value in a thoughtful inexpensive gift than an overpriced last minute gift (a cruise being the exception…everyone loves a cruise).

Although our list of who to shop for may be long, have you taken a minute to consider what gift you can give to God?  Yes, we can give gifts to God and here are 3 excellent ones:

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1.  Your Talent: although God has equipped each of us with gifts and talents many of us aren’t using those skills to build God’s kingdom.  This doesn’t mean you have to use your gifts and talents in the local church although that is the best place to start. You can also use your gifts and talents within a local organization within your community.  Using your gifts and talents that God has blessed you with and acknowledging those gifts and talents are from God is a great way to bless others and give something back to the God who gives us everything.

2. Your Time: You don’t have to have a special skill or talent to volunteer your time.  Every local church needs people to help out with numerous activities and ministries.  Local organizations in your community that are blessing the lives of others could also use extra hands.  And since we cannot earn that time back in any way shape or fashion it tops the list as one of the most precious things in existence; when you give your precious time to help others it is reminiscent of God giving His precious Son to us.

3. Your Presence (Not Your Presents): Take a little extra time to spend with family this Christmas season; hug them a little closer and a little tighter.  The overtime, the special projects at work, they’ll all be waiting for you.  All your family really needs to have a happy and blessed Christmas is you showing up, telling them you love them, and celebrating the birth of Christ with them.  Take the whole family to a Christmas Eve celebration and rejoice in the birth of Christ together.  #merrychristmas #tistheseason

Just Another Day In Paradise

Posted in Celebration, Christian, Culture, Digital, Entertainment, Fun, God, Leadership, Life, Pastors, Pittsburgh, Real Talk, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 27, 2014 by BigPhatPastor

I know many people think and joke that pastors only work one day a week, and on that day literally only 90 minutes. However, I and most pastors I know put in untold hours for the kingdom…or so I thought. I actually sat down one day and chronicled a regular Tuesday for me, which is a little different from most other days but not much….

Tuesday2-06:17 – Alarm went off. It’s normally set for 06:07 but I was trying a new app called Sleep Cycle to monitor my sleeping habits. I average about 5 hours of sleep a night.

-06:37 – Finished checking news and social media happenings, checked calendar and emails, posted an inspiring pic and started cleaning kitchen whilst listening to preaching podcast (today was John Ortberg).

07:20 – Began personal Bible study (studies unrelated to sermon or small group preparation, one chapter in Jeremiah)

07:27 – Stopped to take blood pressure (not good) and drink maté (an herbal tea with twice the kick of coffee and half the caffeine).

07:35 – Continue Bible Study (one chapter in Acts and one in 2 Kings)

08:20 – Prayer (I use prayer cards and straight conversation with God…He hears me and believe me I hear Him)

09:00 – Posted updates to congregational online group. Responded to emails. Scheduled some inspirational posts and tweets.

NOTE: The time I spend in prayer and Bible study are the most important things I do all day. The Bible study is not related to any teaching or small group study, but my personal time spent digging into and understanding the Word of God. My prayer time enhances my understanding of everything I study and allows me some one on One time with God.

download_20140326_12254109:15 –  Begin stretching to begin workout (gotta stay on top of that high blood pressure)

09:20 – Cardio workout (whilst watching and catching up on Marvel’s Agents of Shield…it’s called multi-tasking for a reason).

10:00 – Post workout stretching (and yes some Yoga…don’t judge me)

10:30 – Brunch with my wife.

11:15 – Updated a few items on my ToDo list for the day, checked calendar and emails, posted information regarding events for the week in congregational online group.

11:30 – Shower (I know some of you were worried about that).

12:15 – Began working on Digital Devotion for YouTube channel (editing, rendering, etc…)

14:00 – Lunch

14:25 – Update order and flow of the Sunday Celebration (this is documenting the prayerful consideration of what will happen in the Sunday Celebration: music, announcements, communion and any other elements; copies are provided to the Praise Team and the Tech Team)

15:30 – Bible Words With Friends Small Group preparation (prayerful preparation of items for discussion and study)

17:05 – Prepare and posting of a discussion topic in a chat room I moderate.

17:40 – Scrounge for pre-dinner.

19:07 – Bible Words With Friends Small Group

20:30 – Planet Fitness to work out with friends; this week: The Batman Workout (Google it or see the picture above, I’m at the Alfred level…a work in progress)

21:50 – Dinner with my wife (late I know but that is why we do pre-dinners)
NOTE 2: Sprinkled throughout the day is time spent checking texts, Facebook, Google plus and other online venues as I sometimes receive notifications, requests for help or prayer, etc…via these venues. In addition, I consistently view some online communities to review questions from people and to post answers to questions. The ones I frequent most often are ones regarding anti-bullying, anti-suicide, and theists and anti-theists conversations.

Note 3: In January my wife completed her degree in Diagnostic Sonography. However, she is still studying to complete  two of four total certifications that are required in her field (she has already completed two of the certifications, both within 60 days of graduating whereas most do so within 18 months). So when I am working from home she is sometimes at home studying. So also sprinkled throughout the day are comments from her whilst studying: “Turn the music down. Please stop talking to yourself out loud. Are you talking to me? Who are you talking to now? Do you have to sing out loud? How is dancing related to whatever you are working on? Honey, I absolutely love being married to you.”

 

The First Un-Boxing

Posted in Bible, Celebration, Christian, Culture, Devotion, Digital, Electronics, Faith, Global, God, HIstory, Holiday, Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, Resurrection, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 4, 2014 by BigPhatPastor

Although many people have moved on from their Christmas gifts to focusing on other things I am still playing with and intrigued by some of my gifts.  As a self-proclaimed techno geek (no, I do not think more highly of myself than I ought) I love playing with gadgets and technical things, especially one gift in particular.  I saw a video of a backup battery case in operation and thought it looked good so I gave one to my daughter as a Christmas gift.  She enjoyed it so much so I used a few of my Christmas gift cards to purchase one for my smart phone.  The case has a built in battery so if the phone’s battery gets depleted the case itself becomes a charger and can provide about 191% of the battery power needed to fully charge the phone.

empty-tomb-of-jesusI was  intrigued by the device because of the un-boxing videos I’ve seen for this and similar products.  For those that do not know an un-boxing video is not a review.  It is literally watching a person open a boxed product and take stock of what is inside.  The video will usually shine some light on what the product is, what it is used for, what the contents are, and a slight hint of what their review will hold.  Every time I watch an actual un-boxing, where the product has not been opened before, I feel as if I am sharing in the surprise, hope, and joy of the person opening the box. It is almost like watching people open Christmas gifts all year long.

Each year as we come upon the season commemorating Resurrection Sunday, I get that same level of excitement, hope, and joy.  I think of the wonderment of Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome as they brought spices to the tomb of Jesus and found the tomb open, or un-boxed.  I think of the amazement, unbelief, and spark of hope as they entered the tomb and found not a body, but an angel sitting inside.  Mark chapter 16 records the women were trembling and that they were amazed.  Some translations use the word bewildered.  However, the Greek word used is a word where we derive our English word “ecstatic”.  These women weren’t confused; they were in a state of divine hope and delight beyond reasoning.

Luke records that Peter ran to the tomb upon hearing it was empty and was filled with wonder whilst John records that they saw it empty and believed.  Oddly enough, in the very next verse John confirms that they didn’t understand that Jesus had to rise from the dead, yet still they believed.  The empty tomb, the first un-boxing if you will, was God’s fulfillment of scripture.  But it was also a sign, a guarantee of who Jesus Christ was, the Savior, the Son of God and of the Spirit filled life that would be there for all those who believed.

In the days and weeks leading to this year’s Resurrection Sunday Celebration, God invites us all to search our hearts; to determine what the empty tomb represents to each of us and to determine who Jesus will be in our lives.  Will His resurrection be just a historical event or will it be the earth shattering act from the Creator of the universe to show humanity that He knows us, cares about us, and is able to give us a new life in and with Him?  Will Jesus be just a teacher and religious icon that sparks societal controversy or will He be God in the flesh who lived, died, and was resurrected so that nothing would separate us from the love of God and so that we might spend an eternity experiencing God’s goodness, grace, and love?

7 Things You Didn’t Know About The 1st Christmas Party

Posted in Bible, Celebration, Christian, Christmas, Christmas Party, Church, Community, Culture, Devotion, Entertainment, Global, God, Holiday, Jesus Christ, Real Talk, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on November 21, 2013 by BigPhatPastor

I realize for many we are still one Thanksgiving away from the start of the Christmas season.  However, for others it started with the first snow, the first Christmas present you purchased for someone this year (for some that was in January, lol), or the day after Halloween or the elections (depending upon your upbringing).   With the start of the Christmas season comes gift wrapping, gift giving to co-workers, gift mailing to our troops and far away family members, and of course, Christmas decorating.  But one of my favorite aspects of Christmas is the Christmas party or as I like to call it the Christmas Celebration.

Nov 2013 4Many people have gotten away from having Christmas parties because the parties have become more about the party than about Christmas (‘ll just leave that thought there).  However, Christmas parties used to be about celebrating the true meaning of the season with family, co-workers, friends, and neighbors more than anything else.  In fact, we can learn a lot by looking at 7 things you didn’t know or may not have known about the very first Christmas party.  A man named Luke researched the Life of Jesus Christ including His birth.  He captured his findings in what we today call the book of Luke or the Gospel (good news) of Luke.  From that we find the following about the first Christmas party:

  1.   It was God’s idea– In the book of Luke chapter 2 we read about the birth of Jesus Christ.  It was God’s idea to send His son, Jesus Christ, as the Savior of humanity, but it was also God’s idea to celebrate that birth and have representatives of Heaven and Earth join in rejoicing about it.   In verse 9 of the chapter we read that God sent an angel to tell the shepherds about the very 1st Christmas party.
  2. It was by personal invite – Although God could have invited anyone and everyone, verse 9 also tells us that God sent an angel to provide a personal invite to some shepherds who just happened to be out on that particular night.  He didn’t invite the most popular people, the richest people, or royalty (not even the media made this invite list).  He sent an angel to personally invite local people from within the community to come and rejoice and to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
  3. It took place on Christmas Day – Most people and businesses plan to have their  Christmas party weeks or days before Christmas.  There was a time when every week in December and every day of the week before Christmas there was a Christmas party being thrown by someone I knew that I would attend.  Verse 11 tells us that this first Christmas party took place on the day of Christ’s birth, although in the evening.  This is why many congregations used to hold a special service on Christmas day.  Most congregations have gotten away from doing that by switching to holding it on Christmas Eve.
  4. There was a whole lot of music – Verse 13 tells us the party started way before the shepherds got to the house.  I can remember playing Christmas music and getting in a happy happy jolly jolly mood before heading out to many a Christmas party.  This must be where that tradition started because verse 13 tells us a multitude of heavenly beings appeared and started celebrating.  The word multitude is used in the KJV whilst the Amplified and Complete Jewish Bible versions use verbiage indicating there was an army of heavenly beings.  The Greek word used is one where we get our English word plethora and it indicates there were a whole lot of angelic beings, a great number.  While Luke tells us that they praised God the word He uses for praise is a word commonly used for singing praises.  Luke’s verbiage paints the picture that most of us grew up with of a heavenly choir appearing and singing and rejoicing at the birth of Christ before the shepherds even got to the location where Jesus Christ was born.
  5. There were no gifts exchanged – Despite many of our traditions of exchanging gifts, or white elephant exchanges, there were no gifts given at this party.  The shepherds showed up empty handed because they were there to acknowledge humanity’s receipt of the greatest gift ever given in the history of creation: God giving His Son to us.
  6. There was only one party – Although verses 17 and 18 tell us that the shepherds left the party and immediately began telling others about it, we don’t read of any other gatherings or any other celebrations.  There was only one gathering, one celebration, in an un-decorated location that would make Martha Stewart cry if she knew parties were hosted there.  But people representing the community gathered there to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.   Verses 15, 16, and 20 indicate they went eagerly wanting to experience all that had been revealed to them and they left excited and happy and glorifying God.  The main reason was…
  7. It was all about Jesus – The shepherds went to celebrate Jesus, the party was all about Jesus, and they left glorifying and celebrating about Jesus.

This Christmas Eve many congregations will be hosting a Christmas Eve Celebration.  If you attend one you can put some of these things into practice by: Inviting a friend or neighbor or co-worker to go with you; invite them personally, not just by text or Facebook invite (although if you invite people that way, try to connect with them personally and let them know you really want them to attend); if you host a Christmas party or attend one somewhere else ensure you invite those people to attend the Christmas Eve Celebration with you and your congregation;  help get them in the Christmas mood before the celebration by taking them out for coffee, or lunch, or dinner depending upon the time of the celebration you are attending; but most importantly, let them know in advance that you want them to join you in celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.

From myself , my family, and the entire Church family of CrossRoads Community Church of Jefferson Hills, have a very merry Christmas and God’s blessings for the New Year.

The Next Big Thing Is Already Here

Posted in Bible, Celebration, Christian, Church, Devotion, Digital, God, Jesus Christ, Ministry, Pastors, Real Talk, sports, The Church, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on June 11, 2013 by BigPhatPastor

You don’t have to be a techie to be familiar with the Samsung phrase “The next big thing is here.”  However, as a mild techie I am just becoming familiar with the Samsung brand of smart phones.  My wife is more familiar having had the Samsung Fascinate as her first smartphone.  She recently updated to the Samsung Galaxy S3.  I had the first droid from Motorola followed by the HTC Thunderbolt.  I recently updated to the Samsung Galaxy S4.  The S4 is supposed to be the greatest and latest smartphone on the market today…for now.

20130611_090812In some ways, people treat the Sunday Celebration like they do their smartphones: they’re ok for a while, until someone comes along with the Next Big Thing on how to do the Sunday Celebration.  It may be a more flashy music celebration, it may be adding dramas or videos, it may be changing the setting where the celebration takes place to an auditorium or a theatre or even adding locations via video.  In some cases, it is adding more and more liturgy.  But no matter what we add to the Sunday Celebration it does not change the fact that the Next Big Thing was already here…Jesus Christ.

When pastors and leaders remove the focus of Jesus Christ from the Sunday Celebration they are in essence saying there is something bigger and better and more important than coming together as the Church in the presence of the creator of the universe.  There is nothing wrong with having all of the things mentioned previously in the Sunday Celebration.  In fact, it is my personal opinion that the Sunday Celebration should be and needs to be the most exciting, vibrant, powerful celebration anyone attends.  Why? Because we are celebrating the Creator of the universe; we are celebrating everything God has done and will do in our lives; we are rejoicing that God loved us enough to send His one and only Son that we might have life and have it to the full, and we are doing it together…as the Church.  We should definitely celebrate that harder than any sports game, musician or music group, or anything else in existence.  It is our job as pastors and ministry leaders to remind people that the Next Big Thing was already, and still is here, Jesus Christ and the amazing saving grace He offers to us through His death, burial, and resurrection…definitely worth celebrating!

Jesus Christ: Super Sports Star

Posted in Celebration, Christian, Church, Community, Culture, Digital, Entertainment, Fun, God, Jesus Christ, Pittsburgh, Real Talk, sports, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 21, 2013 by BigPhatPastor

Pittsburgh Sports Fan Since living in the Burgh I have come to have a real understanding of the words faith and commitment.  Pittsburgh sports fans are extremely committed to their sports teams and are faithful to them even in trying times.  I often wondered what the Christian culture would look like if Christ followers took their relationship with God as serious as Burghers take their relationship with their sports teams:

If Christ followers were as committed as Pirates Fans: The church buildings would be filled every Sunday even after years and years of bad sermons.  Almost all of the Sunday Celebrations would end with happy people enjoying fireworks and good fellowship and families would line up after each celebration for hours to have their children run around the podium..

If Christ followers were as committed as Penguins Fans: Local congregations would tear down existing church buildings to build bigger ones and put screens outside so the tailgaters could enjoy the Sunday Celebrations as well.Real God

If Christ followers were as committed as Steelers Fans: People would stop what they were doing, even come home from camp early every weekend, just so they didn’t miss a big message on Sunday.  They would wave crosses in the air during the celebrations and lay them across cell phones and tablets whilst downloading or streaming sermons hoping for a good message.  They would train their children from birth to think, eat, breath, and live the gospel message of Jesus Christ (and yes, they would still bleed black and gold).

What would the culture of Christ followers look like if people in your city were like the sports fans in your city?

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