Archive for contemporary

#NOMORE

Posted in Bullying, Community, Culture, Faith, Family, Life, Love, Real Talk, Taboo Topics, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on December 5, 2013 by BigPhatPastor

I had to go back before I wrote this and try to search how many posts, blogs, and tweets had come my way but I did nothing about.  Let’s just say there was an extremely embarrassing amount.  Every time someone sent me a tweet, or img_6747_bw_3posted on their blog about bullying I was angry about the act, but I still did nothing.  Maybe it was because my kids are no longer kids.  Maybe it was because even when they were they didn’t bully people or get bullied (my oldest son is a professional cage fighter so I could be wrong on this one).  Maybe it’s because I haven’t heard about any of the youth in our congregation being bullied or bullying others but for whatever reason I somehow didn’t think the posts, tweets, or social media groups applied to me…until December 1st 2013, the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend.

A friend sent me a text which I was only able to read part of at the time.  Our praise team was taking part in a community choir festival involving multiple congregations and musicians from various communities.  I didn’t want to be that guy reading text messages during the event (although I was that guy taking pictures and posting them during the event).  The only part of the text I saw was: ‘call Popeye, his daughter hun’.  I consider myself a pretty smart guy so I figured I could determine the full message by just what I read but nothing seemed to make sense.  And the thing that did make sense didn’t make sense…so I read the rest of the text whilst standing with everyone at the festival to sing Silent Night.  Unfortunately, I was right.  Popeye, a friend, part of a motorcycle ministry called Michael’s Marauders, had a teenage daughter named Faith.   Some of the Marauders and their family members had visited CrossRoads for a weekend in mid-September, their third annual visit with our CrossRoads congregation.  Many of the Marauders I knew from when we were all part of the same congregation in Northern, VA where they are based.  I had just met Popeye’s family including Faith during the September visit.  Although I did not know Faith that well, it was still painful and shocking to read the text in its entirety: ‘call Popeye, his daughter hung herself and died. I just got off the phone with him.’

FaithIt turned out that Faith took her own life as a result of bullying.  I can’t imagine how bad a teenage girl with a loving family and friends has to be treated to be pushed to the point where she feels she cannot live another day.  I cannot imagine what Popeye, his wife, Faith’s siblings, or her friends are going through at having lost someone they loved so much.  For me, every time I look at her picture my heart literally breaks with pain for Faith, what she must have went through, and for her family, what they are going through now.  But I have to be honest.  I also get extremely ticked off! I feel like I am boiling with rage!  All over the world children are dying from curable and incurable diseases, from hunger, from adults that want to hurt them and do unspeakable things to them.  They should not be dying because of the way they are treated by other children.  #NOMORE

One thing I have always felt strongly about and still do is that with all of the national and global resources available, no child, or adult, should ever have to die from hunger.  Now I can add to that, that no child should ever be treated in such a way that they feel their only recourse is to stop living.  So from now on, I will not just read, but will retweet and repost everything that comes my way that will help put a stop to bullying.  I will aggressively respond to those who feel bullied and even more aggressively call out children who do it, and parents and school districts who allow it.  This isn’t a church thing, this isn’t a race thing, this isn’t a political thing or a separation of church and state or separation of 99% and 1% thing.  This is a pure and simple “have some freaking decency and respect for human life thing”.  #NOMORE

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Twitter – isms…

Posted in Christian, Church, Culture, Digital, Fun, Global, God, Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, Real Talk, Social Media, The Church, Uncategorized, worship with tags , , , , , , , , on February 5, 2013 by BigPhatPastor

Photo Feb 05, 7 45 21 Twitter seems to be making more and more strides to became not just a social media site, but an expected part of everyday life.  Take note, during Super Bowl XLVII, over 24 million tweets were sent.  That is almost 3 times more than during the last super bowl.  Twitter is also changing the way we interact with others.  Prior to twitter (and maybe Facebook but mostly Twitter) there was a huge wall between celebrities and common folk. Twitter broke down that wall by allowing everyday people a vehicle by which they could reach out to and connect with celebrities without getting tackled by body guards. Even celebrities with millions of twitter followers will engage in dialog with their fans via twitter or give them a shout out or retweet every now and then. I was excited when I received a tweeted response from a favorite Chef of my wife and I, Robert Irvine, pictured above with my wife Christi.

Thanks to Twitter, there is now a way for people to connect daily and regularly with those with whom it was previously impossible. This is exactly what Jesus Christ’s death on the cross did for humanity, created a way for man to connect daily and regularly with the creator of the universe.  By dying on a cross, Jesus removed and eradicated forever, the wall, caused by sin, that separated mankind from God. And just as some people don’t understand Twitter, or refuse to tweet because they thinks it’s silly, there are those who don’t understand the significance of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice or refuse to accept what He did because they think Christianity is silly. Either way, believe it or not, the wall has come down and millions upon millions are connecting with God regularly and daily.

Do you tweet regularly to celebrities expecting a response?  #thinkaboutit

I Will Worship God…But Only if I Can Do It My Way!

Posted in worship with tags , , , , , , , on September 30, 2009 by BigPhatPastor

Awakeningfest 2009Today professes to be a pretty exciting day. Some friends of mine started a music festival called Awakeningfest and my wife and I get to check it out again. The first time we went a few years ago it had just gone main stream with several thousand attendees. Last year it had tens of thousands; this year, who knows. Music festivals have popped over the last few decades as an evangelistic effort to invite people to worship God outside of the four walled setting of the Sunday morning experience. I just read an bloggers article on worship and I really felt compelled to respond; in an explanatory way, not a negative shoot back at you way. If you can imagine someone writing a blog about the way you experience intimacy with your spouse and in the blog you felt like “hey, that’s not true at all, you’ve got it all wrong…here is the truth!” Then you can understand why I feel compelled to respond. Some of you may already feel the old “oh no, not the contemporary vs traditional worship” conversation coming on. This is more like the “will I worship God my way…or any way possible” conversation.

As I read the article the blogger stated by discussing the order of worship and how sacraments and tradition were being forsaken in favor of “flow”. Also, ancient and traditional practices were being “modernized”. The author also stated that he had been in churches were no scriptures were read and in at least three churches in as many years where sermons were preached based on the internet or children’s books but no reference was made to the Bible. I must say that what the author experienced is not the church. The church is the literal body of Christ and where the church is gathered true worship exists. I must also say that to judge all contemporary worship celebration or those that use modern means to experience and worship God based on the three bad churches the author visited is on par with those who have walked into one traditional service and left claiming it was extremely boring and devoid of true worship. If God really only had one way or one style of worship which He preferred He surely would have communicated it to us in His Word. Instead, He allows us to come to Him old school, new school, traditional, with drums banging, or with tambourines clanging. At the CrossRoads we have committed to using every single resource available to worshipping God: we use a band, a choir, dance, drama, video, poetry, candles, communion, spoken word, or anything we have at our disposal. If we could really hear the rocks crying out…we’d put them on stage and worship God right along with them.

The author also claims that based on his research too many pastors claimed that worship is about making people feel good. On this point I agree with the author that worship is about experiencing God. In my humble opinion, at every Celebration the goal should be to effectively communicate the word of God and to experience God in a corporate setting that we might draw closer to Him as the body, and that those who don’t know Him might experience Him as Lord. Seriously, you could word this 1,000 different ways and if you ask 1,000 different pastors who were called into the ministry by God you would get 1,000 different variations of the same answer.

Next the author criticizes the time spent in a service, especially the carefully orchestrated full blown TV productions. Are you kidding me? God has provided a vehicle to take the Gospel across the globe in an instant and we are criticizing it? We should be praising God that Christians are allowed to preach on TV instead of criticizing the way they do it. Granted there are some televangelists that are more about the production and their minute of fame than they are about providing an opportunity for people to worship God but does that mean that every preacher on TV is a glory hound? Of course not. Again, don’t kill the medium because of a few TV hacks. And who cares if worship services are limited to an hour. Each pastor should know their flock well enough and their community well enough to determine the proper length of a celebration. Obviously, some have to end the services quickly because they have to rush to another celebration since some pastors hold celebrations for more than one congregation. Others have to limit time because they have multiple Celebrations in the same location. Truth be told, if they are like me, they have a set starting time and stopping time but they start when God starts and they stop when He stops.

And then of course there is the paragraph on music. Here is the short and sweet on that: many of the hymns at the time were considered “contemporary” when they were written. New hymns were added over a period of time as well. Some of the hymns are slower and some are faster. Some denominations include hymns that other denominations do not allow. The reality is that we are not going to get to heaven and have a hymn section, a country gospel section, a gospel section, and a contemporary section. We’re just going to have worship. And if we all believe what the Bible says, which I hope we do, we’re going to see and hear things in heaven that will make our heads spin. So don’t get caught up over what type of music we worship to…just be glad we worship. Would someone really be in heaven and say “sorry Jesus, I will not worship at your feet while that music is playing, can we change the station?

On the authors point about the messages being delivered I would have to agree…if you are not going to use the Bible to deliver your message why should people attend your celebration? In my just over two years at CrossRoads I have shared one message where I did not have people open their Bibles and that was a time of me having a personal talk about our vision and values after a merger. I think I did reference scripture but did not have everyone open their Bibles and turn to the scriptures I was referencing. At CrossRoads we often teach verse by verse or chapter by chapter through specific book of the Bible while also doing topical teaching based on the needs of the congregation and the direction God is taking us at the time. The main reason we use so much scripture…it’s the Word of God…and we want everyone to know we are not just making this stuff up.

The author’s last point of saying you cannot have community in a setting where the message is broadcast is difficult to comprehend. If Jesus said where two or more are gathered there His is in the midst, and He can gather with us while we read His word, or watch a clip for a Bible study why can’t He show up when we gather in front of huge screen where the pastor if giving a message via video feed? To me, this is akin to what the Israelites did…they limited God by putting God in a box and saying God could only act, could only be present in a certain fashion, in a certain way, or in a certain venue. To those who say that or think that, I would ask why? Why can’t God show up in a coffee house setting, or in a traditional setting, or in a video venue setting, or in a contemporary worship setting, or in a mega church stadium setting…why? I believe God can as long as we are worshipping Him with all that we have and all that we are. Having true worship and a spirit of community and fellowship is not dependent upon where we are, but who we are. This is why the New Testament church learned to worship in houses, in prisons, under bridges, in upper rooms, and wherever they could gather. They worshipped God with songs, with praises, with instruments and without them. There was no limit to how they worshipped or where they worshipped or when they worshipped or with whom. If we truly want to be the church, we won’t allow that to limit us either. If using a drum verses a tambourine or a full blown band verses an organ allows an entire generation of people to come into contact with the King of Kings, does it matter if they don’t sing the songs I sang growing up? The burden of responsibility is on this generation of church leaders to ensure that the people understand that God is looking for, searching for people that will worship Him in spirit and in truth.

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