Archive for celebration

Lenten Lessons

Posted in Christian, Community, Devotion, Faith, Global, God, Holiday, Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, Lent, Life, Prayer, Real Talk, Resurrection, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 20, 2015 by BigPhatPastor

Although I do not participate in Ash Wednesday, as many did this past week, I do acknowledge the purpose of Lent.  In the 4th century the early Church believers wanted to dedicate a time leading up to Resurrection Sunday to focusing on what Jesus Christ did for us by giving His life so that we might have life.  They decided to start that time of focus 40 days before Resurrection Sunday since Jesus Christ fasted for 40 days before jump starting His ministry.


I get the people that give up things for Lent as a way of fasting and focusing on God’s love, goodness, and grace.  What I don’t get are people who just go through the motions.  I have talked to people who gave up meat for Lent and when I ask them why they literally just say “Because we are supposed to…aren’t we?”  Why would you engage in a 40 day long practice without knowing what you are doing or why you are doing it?  I’m not trying to judge, ridicule, or criticize anyone but here are a few suggestions,  #IMHO, to get the most out of Lent.

  1. DON’T give up anything for Lent if you don’t know why you are doing it.  That isn’t called fasting, it’s foolishness.
  2. DON’T give up anything for Lent without spending time that would normally be used engaging in what you are fasting from drawing closer to Christ by reflecting on what He gave up for you.
  1. DON’T spend the 40 days of Lent griping and moaning about what you gave up. That just shows you don’t really understand what’s going on.
  2. DO celebrate and rejoice in the fact that whatever you gave up pales in comparison to what Jesus Christ gave up for you and that He loves you with a never ending love. Rejoice in that for eternity.

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?

The #1 Problem on the Planet

Posted in Bible, Celebration, Christian, Church, Community, Culture, Devotion, Digital, Evangelism, God, Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, Life, Real Talk, The Church, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 26, 2013 by BigPhatPastor

I realize I have talked about, blogged about, tweeted about and even preached about this topic before but it definitely bears repeating.  If you ask one hundred people what is the #1 problem on the planet you will likely receive 100 different responses depending upon their background and life experiences.  If you ask within numerous denominations you might receive different answers but they will center on the fact that sin, the acts and attitudes, and our human transgression that separate us from God, is the #1 problem on the planet.  However, since sin has been done away with by the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, it cannot occupy the #1 spot.  Communicating this truth is the problem the Church is facing and why I believe that “lack of effective communication is the #1 problem on the planet”.

Countdown !A few weeks ago my nephew, who I have not seen in over a decade came to visit.  He has a hearing disability and communicates using American Sign Language (ASL).  Prior to his arriving my son and daughter spent time with him and quickly picked up ASL. I used to be fluent in Spanish from my three years stationed in Panama while I was serving in the Army however, this was going to be an entirely different challenge for me.  When my nephew arrived he began teaching my wife and I how to communicate using ASL.  We both picked up much quicker than we thought.

As I became more proficient, but definitely not fluent, in communicating via ASL I noticed there were no tenses in the language.  I also recalled that whenever my nephew would send me a Facebook message or a text his writing did not contain tenses.  Since he was 21 I thought he was communicating like most other young adults do via text, fast and not necessarily using correct grammar.  However, I began to understand he was writing in the same way he would sign using ASL, without tenses.  A message of “I go store” was not incorrect to him as that is how he would communicate via sign.  A message of “I sleep now go home later” would also be correct communication. A lady within our congregation stated that one of her friends who has a hearing disability also communicates via ASL and also writes the same way.  It was clear that I had to learn not only how to communicate TO my nephew but how to understand him so that I could communicate WITH him more effectively.

This truth exists in any company, government, and especially of those who do not know Jesus Christ.  There is a need not to just communicate TO people but WITH them.  The problem with sharing the gospel isn’t limited because of sin.  The gospel message itself is that sin has been overcome by the precious Lamb of God, Jesus Christ and what He did on the cross.  However, if we want to communicate effectively with those who do not know Jesus Christ then we, within the Church, have to learn to communicate more effectively.  People who are not Christ followers or who do not regularly attend a Sunday Celebration do not talk about redemption, sin, grace, and atonement the way those who do know Christ might.  In fact, those words may likely never come up in their day to day conversation.  To effectively communicate the gospel to them we have to do it in a way they understand.  This does not mean changing or decreasing the level or amount of biblical truth we reveal (what is known at watering down the gospel).  It does mean, taking the time to get to know the people we are sharing the gospel with and communicating the truths of God’s word to them in a way that makes sense to them.

Telling someone who doesn’t know God exists and therefore has no reason to believe that sin exists, that they are a sinner doesn’t make sense to them.  However, inviting them into your life and loving them the way God loves us might make all the difference in the world to them.  Sharing with them that there is a God, a Creator of the universe who loves them so much that He was willing to die for them, and put His Holy Spirit in them so that nothing could ever separate Him from them just might change their life.  Letting them know that certain attitudes and behaviors and actions can prohibit us from experiencing the level of intimacy with God that He wants us to have with Him just may draw them into the new life God wants them to have.

But it starts with the Church being able to recognize and overcome the #1 problem on the planet, lack of effective communication.

3 Questions Every Christ Follower Should Ask…Now

Posted in Celebration, Christian, Christmas, Community, Culture, Family, God, Holiday, Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, Life, Real Talk, Spiritual, Taboo Topics, The Church, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 12, 2012 by BigPhatPastor

I realize this post may offend some but it will inspire others.  For those of you who are into more of my lighter and more casual stuff skip this one…next one is for you, I promise.

Manger CrossRoadsIf you are a Christ follower and are a part of a congregation that is looking forward to and planning on celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, here are 3 questions every member of that congregation needs to ask of themselves, their leadership, and their pastor.  While I respect the views and differing opinions of everyone, I also respect the Words of Jesus Christ on this topic.  So, just as I allow you the freedom to express your opinion I appreciate being allowed to express mine.

1 – Do you/we believe that Jesus Christ was really born of an actual virgin: This is important because there are many discussions going around today that say this verbiage should be minimized in order not to offend others.  This includes changes to Bibles to remove the word virgin from Old and New Testament passages.  That is totally different from those who say the virgin birth did not actually occur but was an analogy.  In otherwords, they claim there was no physical birth by a virgin woman that occurred via the Holy Spirit although there are the claims of numerous Old Testament prophecies, Mary and Joseph (Joseph had absolutely nothing to gain by supporting the claim), and many New Testament writers who record the virgin birth not just as a miracle, but a factual one.

2 – Do you/we believe that Jesus’ birth has an impact on my life: This question is kind of crucial because Jesus Himself said He was the Messiah, the one of whom over 300 Old Testament prophecies foretold.  If He was not telling the truth about His birth, then why should we believe the truth about His death, burial, and resurrection which are the actual events that free us from sin and allow us to enter into relationship with God the Creator?  The birth of Jesus Christ only impacts one’s life if it is true, even if no one believes it.  If it is false, it really has no impact on anyone’s life even if they choose to believe it (not a Godly impact anyway).  Believing a lie doesn’t make it true.

3 – If I/we believe the virgin, historical, factual birth of Jesus Christ occurred, and does impact my life, is it worth celebrating: There are many today who, as Christ followers, feel that we should not celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ because it is associated with a pagan holiday.  Although that is an un-biblical stance I will not try to persuade people one way or another (although in a teaching series called “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” I addressed this topic Biblically in great detail.  You can check it out on the Our Message page of the CrossRoads Website).  I will say this though, with all the sports game wins, family or scholastic or job achievements we celebrate, surely, the birth of Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, deserves a joyful remembrance by comparison.

Praying everyone has a safe, blessed, and very merry Christmas!

You Know You’re Holiday Ready If…

Posted in Christian, Christmas, Community, Culture, Dining, Entertainment, Family, Food, Fun, Holiday, Life, Real Talk, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 20, 2012 by BigPhatPastor

Even though for some of us it feels like just last weekend we were biking and wearing shorts (we literally were) the holidays are already upon us.  So for those of us in denial, despite the fast approaching Black Thursday (gotta call em as I see em), here are some ways to tell if you are ready for the holidays:

  1. -Your refrigerator is full of food that no one can eat because it all for Thanksgiving
  2. -You postponed all diets, diet plans, and gym memberships until the 2nd of January
  3. -You do all of your tweets and status updates in the theme of the 12 days of…
  4. -You started ranting against, or listening to, or ranting against whilst listening to Christmas music more than 12 days ago
  5. -You just wrapped all the Christmas gifts for others that you purchased and have been playing with since July
  6. -You already made a list of which New Year’s Resolutions you intend to break
  7. -You started DVR’ng everything off of Food Network Channel and Lifetime Movie Channel (they are holiday favorites aren’t they?)

7 Christmas Blind Date Tips

Posted in Bible, Celebration, Christian, Christmas, Community, Culture, Fun, Global, Life, Real Talk, The Church, worship with tags , , , , , , , on December 21, 2011 by BigPhatPastor

This year, literally thousands of people will be heading out on blind dates on December 24th and 25th.  These are the people that will be visiting your local places of worship for the 1st time.  As with any 1st date they’ll be bringing their preconceived notions, bad experiences and history of heart break (although this time it will be with church and religion) with them when they walk in the doors.  You don’t have to be the pastor or a ministry leader to help make their first date with you and your worship community a good one.

1.  Take the time to say hello.  You have no idea how far just a simple hello from someone not wearing a greeter tag goes (and if possible, do it before the scheduled greeting time).

2.  Engage them in conversation.  If time allows, talk to them.  If they took the time to show up you can take the time to talk to them.

3.  Invite them to sit with you or ask if you can sit with them.  You’re not trying to make them uncomfortable, but you are trying to make them feel welcome.

4.  Watch for warning signs.  Don’t be too pushy; if they give any signs you are moving too fast be ok in backing off.

5.  Don’t shuush them!  If this is their 1st time they may have questions, be ok with giving answers.  It should be ok to quietly answer questions in your local worship community (if not then re-read, or read the books of Acts and Hebrews to fully understand what it means to be the Church).

6.  Introduce them to others.  Feel free to introduce them to others, but don’t make a big show of it…you’re not showing them off.

7.  Invite them into your life.  After all that, surely you can invite them out for coffee or find another opportunity to connect with them.  The next contact they receive should not be a letter, call, or email from the pastor or greeting team.  It should be from you, or someone you introduced them to inviting them to hang out, have coffee, or do life.

Bonus tip: Feel free to wish them a Merry Christmas.  I mean seriously, they came on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day…I don’t think they’ll be offended.


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