Wow... What a day. Tonight 25 or so people from our church community made a public profession of their faith in Christ by participating in water baptism.
The coolest part was seeing entire families being baptized together.
Diverse people, diverse journeys, common commitment. Lots of "stories" represented tonight. Another chapter completed.
UPDATE: CLICK HERE FOR PICTURES!
Sunday, February 29
Saturday, February 28
All day long I've been smelling Bengay. I keep turning around looking for my old lady stalker and she is no where to be found. But then I remembered something - earlier today I hugged a woman who was probably wearing Bengay and it must have gotten on my clothes.
THE MYSTERY IS SOLVED!
Now I'm going home to take a shower.
THUMPING IN MY EAR
Ok - this is really weird... I'm sitting on my couch in my office right now doing some writing for a message and I notice that as I'm typing on my laptop there is a thumping type sound in my right eardrum. When I stop typing the thumping noise stops. Plus, I type really fast so it's like a constant thumping. It's driving me nuts and I think I'm going to go crazy. It's like Chinese torture. It almost sound like something moving around in my ear. Somehow the movement of my fingers is reverberating in my ear canal or something. I've never noticed this before - probably because I usually have music on or something.
Any ear doctors out there who can offer a good explanation or theory?
Thursday, February 26
My VCR jacked up tonight and I missed FRIENDS & THE APPRENTICE. SO - if you live somewhere in the vicinity and you recorded it - LET ME KNOW!!
THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST - TAKE TWO
I’ve had a lot of people email me asking me my feelings about The Passion of The Christ. As most of you know, this is the 2nd time I’ve seen it. The first time was at Willow Creek Community Church for the private showing. Mel Gibson was there and was interviewed live. You can read my review of that experience by clicking here.
Yesterday, I attended the movie with most of our staff and a few friends. The question that everyone asked me was, “Did the movie impact you differently the second time around?” The answer to that question is yes. And I say yes for a few reasons.
For one, seeing the movie in wide screen format was very moving (the premier was not on “film” – it was on “video” – big difference in quality.). The sound effects, music, etc… was much louder and clearer. The first “version” of the movie that I saw was a much rougher cut with not as good of effects. BUT – it still impacted me greatly.
I was moved emotionally quite a bit more yesterday than the first time I saw it, but in a different way. I cried more. My stomach was tied in knots during the entire second half of the film. I felt a slew of emotions: anger, sadness, guilt, love, joy, perplexity.
I was perplexed. Mainly because of the unbelievable amount of love seen in His (Jesus) eyes. Even in the midst of being tortured, beat and killed, he still loved. It is an amazing thing and so beyond my “human” ability to love.
Someone asked about the “ugly baby” scene. Mel explained that scene when he was interviewed at Willow Creek.
**WARNING: This is a semi-spoiler coming up!**
In one scene where Jesus is being fiercely beaten (with the cat of nine tails), he is lying on the ground and it shows Satan walking around with a little baby in her arms. When the baby turns its head, you see the ugliest looking baby you can imagine – with an old man’s face and horrible teeth. (Plus, even before the baby turns around, the hair on the back gives you the hint that something isn’t quite right here…)
Mel Gibson explained this scene as his attempt to portray evil. On the surface, evil can look pretty good and even innocent, but when you look at it straight in the face for what it is worth, it is ugly as hell.
That’s the creative artistry that is seen over and over again in this movie.
Here's a link with more info on this specific scene
Gotta go – more later…
CALGON TAKE ME AWAY....
I am beat and absolutely exhausted tonight.
My day today:
- 6:30am - woke up (physically awake anyway)
8:30am - arrived @ Starbucks for staff mtg (field trip today...)
11:00am - lunch @ Red Robin w/ staff & a few friends
12:15pm - drove across the street to the movie theatre to get a good seats (with the staff...) for the new movie, The Passion of The Christ
1:00 - 3:15pm - subjected myself to over 2 hours of absolutely gruesome and shocking film footage about a man who displayed the most unbelievable love ever known to mankind(Note - this was my 2nd time seeing it - first time was @ the private showing @ Willow Creek about a month ago - I'm still asking myself why I went again today...)
4:00 - 6:00pm - charted out some new songs for our worship team, got really frustrated.
6:00 - 6:45pm - quick breakaway to Starbucks for a caffeine injection & a little work
7:00 - 9:30pm - music rehearsal
9:30 - 10:15 - phone call to my dad to vent, cry and complain.
11:30pm - 12:00am - talk w/ amanda to vent, cry and complain.
12:00am - 1:00am - return emails
1:00 - 1:06am - blog (good therapy)
1:30 - 7:00am - sleep
Tuesday, February 24
WHAT SEX IS YOUR WRITING?
Click here to find out if you write like a man or woman.
I write like a man. (Not sure if that's good or bad...)
(Thanks Viral Marketing Blog)
THE DEATH OF A MOLE
Friend & fellow blogger, Troy Hatfield, had a run in with his mole. Read all the details here. (See 2/23 post)
God bless the mole.
Monday, February 23
WHERE THE BUFFALO ROAM...
A few weeks ago, I linked a story about someone from Harlem who had a tiger and a giant lizard living with them in their apartment. Oh yeah - and they had a couple of kids living there for a while too.
Well here's a guy in Canada who shares his home with his wife and buffalo. This is true.
Saturday, February 21
My wife, Amanda (who is pregnant) and I just saw a trailer for "The Passion of The Christ" on TV and she said:
"I'm gonna be a mess when we go to that movie because I cry when I watch a tuna fish commercial."
Ahhh... The joys of a pregnant wife.
LATE LATE FRIDAY NIGHT
It's 1:08AM and I've done nothing for the past 2 hours except watch The Nick & Jessica Show. Now I'm flipping between MTV's Unplugged featuring Nirvana and The Food Network.
I'm happy because I get to sleep in tomorrow.
Friday, February 20
Thursday, February 19
Took a trip up to Schaumburg today to get away and focus on some things. This Starbucks is probably the coolest one I've ever seen (although there were some nice ones in NYC). This one easily seats over 100 people, has meeting areas which can be curtained off and even has very large bathrooms - which is nice, should you decide you want to do calisthenics after you pee.
CHRISTIAN TV ALMOST MADE ME BACKSLIDE TONIGHT
I just watched the most repulsive Christian TV show I think I’ve ever seen. It was a show featuring 2 individuals – one, a former celebrity and the other guy, an evangelist.
While I’m sure that their motives and hearts are in the right place, their approach to reaching people for Christ is, in my opinion, completely judgmental and tacky. They were street witnessing, using the Ten Commandments as a tool to help people see how sinful they are so that they could “sell” God to them.
For example, they were making the point, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain” and they were doing a street interview asking a woman if she had ever done that and after finally understanding what she was being asked she replied with, “Yes, I’ve done that.” The evangelist’s immediate response was, “Well then you blasphemed God!” She immediately looked perplexed.
In other scenes this guy was street witnessing and he wouldn’t even give people a chance to respond – he wouldn’t shut his mouth! He kept shooting out his “Christian” one-liners and “selling” his message. These people looked more confused after being approach then beforehand! My guess is that these people won’t be visiting a “Christian” church for a while.
What’s interesting is that they didn’t even actually show anyone “converting” on the show. Hmmm… I wonder why?!
What the @#*&$@*#&$ is wrong with people? This is why the unchurched of America think that Christians are a bunch of judgmental weirdos. To a large degree, they’re right.
I have to go now and get some Tums and then apologize to my TV for screaming at it.
Wednesday, February 18
How to never lose Pepsi's iTunes giveaway
A website has magically revealed how to never lose the Pepsi iTunes giveaway.
Is this about the equivilent of someone forgetting to proof the cover of Time Magazine?
Gotta run - lots of Pepsi's to buy.
EMERGING CHURCHES IN NEW YORK TIMES
The New York Times is writing about some emerging churches in Minneapolis and a few other places. Good article... (you have to be registered to read it. )
NEW INTERNET WORMS SPREADING
MSNBC is reporting about a new email worm rapidly making its way to a lot of people.
Please do not send it to me. Thanks.
Fontifier lets you design your own custom font based on your own handwriting for only $9. Pretty cool.
CHURCH'S FOCUS ON URBAN MISSIONS
I spent a couple of hours today in good conversation with two friends – Jim Larson (those are his feet...) and Matt Hook (nice meeting you Matt!) at a new coffeehouse downtown Aurora. Jim and Matt are involved in a local house church in Aurora. It was interesting and educational for me to hear how they are working at creating community in the urban environment of Aurora.
We talked about a lot of stuff, but the part I enjoyed discussing the most was our response (actually total guesses) to a question posed by Jim. The question was, “How do we help the modern/postmodern/emerging/etc. church become (or remain) globally minded, specifically towards missions (and in their case, urban missions)?”
Good question. Is it just a matter of educating? Exposing? Story telling? Maybe all of those things?
One of my thoughts was, "How do we help people develop concern for someone half way across the world when perhaps they’ve never taken interest in developing an authentic relationship with their unchurched next door neighbor?"
I guess it all ties in together.
Tuesday, February 17
WHERE ARE WE GOING WITH THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST?
Spencer Burke, founder of The Ooze, wrote an interesting article about the church's promotion, marketing and attitude towards Mel Gibson's new movie, "The Passion of The Christ." He shares some very good perspectives... Check it out here.
A few quotes from the article:
- "First of all, I want to applaud the church for its boldness in supporting an R-rated movie. I don’t know about you, but I’ve heard plenty of sermons over the years on why Christian adults shouldn’t see R-rated movies. To discount a film purely because of its rating has always seemed a bit shortsighted and narrow to me. So I’m thrilled to think that perhaps we’re finally moving past a policy of blind abstinence."
- "After years of opposing popular culture and non-traditional art forms, I’m encouraged that we’re moving forward. I’m pleased to see that we’re attempting to address culture in the movie house, not just the “house of the Lord.” At the same time, however, I’m nervous that we’re attempting to shrink wrap the gospel and turn art—Mel Gibson’s personal vision of the crucifixion of Christ--into something it was never meant to be: propaganda.
The church marketing machine is strong. (Been to a Christian bookstore lately?) We can do bracelets, mugs and T-shirts with the best of them. But is it right? Are we interested in engaging with culture, or simply trying to convert people? When we invite friends to see the movie, will we feel that our night was a waste if we don’t get a chance to share The Four Laws? Is our agenda to buy people tickets so that the whole night feels like an awkward first date—you know, the “Well, he bought me dinner so I guess I have to kiss him,” scenario? Are we interested in people’s honest questions about the film, or only their response to the film (i.e. did they pray the prayer)?
My sense is that all our enthusiasm could actually backfire and keep people away from what may or may not be a great film. At the same time, however, all our efforts will no doubt demand a payoff. You just know that elders somewhere are going to be counting how many people attend post-February 25 services and trying to calculate how many people came to Christ because of this film."
We are encouraging people in our church community to invite someone to the movie and series with whom they have already begun establishing a relationship with. I think it will be odd for people to go up to complete strangers or their neighbors and invite them to this movie - ESPECIALLY if there has never been an attempt at developing a relationship with them. CHRISTIAN PEOPLE: Please do not do this. Let's quit living up to our stereotype that we are "selling God" to people. Let's work on relationships. (i.e. 'earning the right to be heard', 'people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.', etc...)
So as far as I'm concerned, I'm going to think about those in my life whom I have connected with and taken the time to get to know and maybe invite them - because it's a story that I want them to experience - for a lot of reasons. But I'm not going to look at this as a tool to "win" them. If that happens, great. But if not, that's ok too - I'll still be their friend, because I'm not their "friend" so that I can fix them or make them better. I'm their friend because I truly and authentically care for them. Besides, I have a lot of fixing that needs to be done in my life and no one but God has the ability to do that.
So I agree with Spencer when he says, "I’m interested in seeing people’s personal experiences and struggles with Jesus. I’m also interested in seeing films that go beyond blatant religious themes." Such a good statement...
Sunday, February 15
SUNDAY NIGHT LEG ACHE
I have a leg ache.
In fact, almost every Sunday night I suffer from leg aches. It's weird, I know. I'm not sure why this happens, but every Sunday night I find myself laying on the couch flipping through lame, late night TV wondering why my leg hurts. I'm not sure if it's the way I stand when I'm speaking publically at church on Sundays or what, but it's driving me crazy.
Someone once told me that they thought it was stress related, but if that was the case my legs would be hurting all the time.
So, I do what I do every Sunday night - pop about 800mg of Ibuprofen and go to bed.
Beats a headache I guess.
p.s. Is it just me, or is Tom Cruise looking worse the older he gets?
Saturday, February 14
Tonight, I began reading Boundaries Face to Face: How to Have That Difficult Conversation You've Been Avoiding by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend in preparation for an upcoming message I'm doing on handling conflict.
In chapter 5, they give some great tips on confrontation and three specific things to keep in mind when discussing "issues". Here they are:
- 1. Clarify the nature of the problem.
- Be clear and focused as to what the problem is really about.
- Make the issue as understandable as possible to the other person.
- BE SPECIFIC!
- Include not only the facts and realities about the problem, but also what it does to you and the relationship. (How does this make me feel?)
- Avoid the mistake of stopping with the negative aspects of the problem.
- Let them know what you would like to see that would change the situation and solve the problem.
2. Clarify the effects of the problem.
3. Clarify your desire for change.
Friday, February 13
Apparently, it's up for grabs. Yep - the number (212)867-5309.
The owner of this Manhattan, NY phone number is auctioning it off on eBay. The bid is currently at over
$4,500.00 $6,000.00. $20,400.00 $40,000.00 $200,100.00 OUCH.
Someone is getting ready to make a big buck, thanks to Tommy Tutone.
CAMILLE'S CAFE WiFi
Bloggin' via the free WiFi @ Camille's Cafe in Geneva, IL. Cool place - similiar to Panera Bread but a little more "eclectic" - still has a little too "commercial-y" feel to it. But hey - it's Geneva - it's the suburbs - what do you want??
Food is pretty good - eating a Turkey Habenero Panini. It's not the best Panini I've ever had (by ANY means...) but it's not bad.
They have a nice leather chair seating area w/ a nice array of magazines & newspapers.
Good to know it's here, I'll probably be back.
Monday, February 9
HOW TO MANAGE SMART PEOPLE
In any given week, I receive via email, fax, snail mail, blogs, various websites, magazines, etc... all kinds of business, leadership, relationship and financial related articles. Usually after sifting through what looks good and what doesn't (and the 'doesn't' category is usually about 90% of what I receive and ends up in the garbage or shredder) I sit down at night and read, read and read.
Well tonight, I ran across an article that had an interesting title: "How to manage smart people". And well, since I happen to manage and lead a group of VERY smart people, I thought I should read it. So I did. And did, and did, and did, and did. Holy smokes - what a great article!
It's from a website called UIWEB.COM which describes itself as a website containing "Essays on web design interaction usability experience architecture etc." I'm not even sure how I found the site, but the article that I read tonight was excellent, so I wanted to link it here and also share a few tidbits from the article that really stuck out to me. So, here are a few of them...
First of all, the article is written by a guy named Scott Berkun and he is talking about managing people and how to do a great job at it. The article is very practical and beneficial to anyone leading a company, staff or even volunteers.
A few thoughts...
(Speaking of a manager he once worked for...):
- "Arguments always centered on some problem that needed to be solved, and what the best approach would be to solve it. If there was a disagreement, he'd restate the goals and expectations, make sure everyone was still on the same page, and then lead a discussion of possible alternatives.
He didn't care if he was right or wrong, only that the best ideas survived...
His authority, though obvious since he was my boss, was rarely something he had to exercise or use as a tool to get things done."
- "They (managers) have more to do with enabling the happiness and productivity of the people that work for them than anyone else in the organization.
(They)...have an emotional responsibility to their reports, or to the people who are dependent upon them.
A manager sets the tone for dialog(sic), enables or prevents a fun work environment, and interprets (or ignores) the corporate rules and structure, into a daily practice of shared work."
- "...he hired people very carefully, trying to find people that would work within his management philosophy. He chose people that were self motivated and confident enough that he didn't have to expend much energy figuring out how to get them to work hard. Then he created an environment where good ideas rose to the top, further encouraging smart people to want to contribute.
Even if you don't have a team of rock stars, it's your job as manager to either work with the people you have to make them better, define their roles to match their strengths, or to manage them out of your group/team/company.
In the end, good managers know how to use as little hierarchy and authority as needed for the group to be effective, regardless of the domain."
Again, the link.
Saturday, February 7
It's a snowy Saturday. Elise and her cousin, Aly, are playing in the snow having a heck of time. I did some shopping at my favorite Italian grocery store - Amici Deli and the organic food castle known as Whole Foods.
Friday, February 6
It's Friday night and I'm sitting in my dimly lit office with some serious candle burning going on. I'm reading through the FANTASTIC responses that I've gotten from all of you the past couple of days.
If you haven't taken some time to read through the comments from yesterday's post, you should! There are some seriously funny comments in there (a.k.a. the one about Elvis!!). If you're going to be at The Orchard (short for Orchard Valley Community Church) this weekend, you might even hear me quote your comment!
Also - it's not too late to post. If you think of anything good to say, go ahead and post it!
Back to my candles & studying...
Thursday, February 5
HELP ME WRITE MY MESSAGE...
This weekend we are beginning a new series on relationships and community. The title and concept of the series is based on a book written by John Ortberg entitled, Everybody's Normal "Till You Get to Know Them. (By the way - if you are looking for a great read on the topic of relationships and how to improve them, I HIGHLY recommend his book.)
As I put my "talk" together for this weekend, I want to pose a couple of questions to you for feedback that I think will be very helpful to me and perhaps others.
Use the "Comments" section to leave your thoughts. Here they are:
- 1. Think about the weirdest person you ever met or saw - why did you label them as "weird?" (Perhaps you didn't know them - but just saw them in public doing something crazy...)
2. On a scale of 1-10, how important is "community" to you? And why? (What pushes you towards connecting with others?)
Thanks for your help!
Wednesday, February 4
HELD HOSTAGE BY GIRL SCOUT COOKIES
What is it about Girl Scout cookies that seems to hold me hostage? I seriously have a HUGE weakness for both Thin Mints (preferably frozen) and the Peanut Butter cookies. Pair those up with a TALL glass of ICE COLD milk and you've got a product that will make you slap your grandma.
Wait! This isn't a part of the Atkins Diet! YIKES!!
DELL BATTERY UPDATE
Got my replacement battery from Dell today. Charged it up and it has given me about 4 hours of juice (SO FAR...).
Monday, February 2
BATTLING DELL IN THE SNOWSTORM
I emailed Michael Dell tonight. Yes, the CEO & founder of Dell Computers - that Michael Dell. I wrote him to tell him how turned off I am by the customer support response that I've gotten that last couple of years when calling. I've held off for a long time thinking that it might get better, but tonight my call into Dell turned into the straw that broke the camel's back.
I called for 2 reasons: 1) The small rubber thingies on the bottom of my new laptop fell off and my computer became lopsided and now slides around on my desk while I'm typing, and 2) My battery went from lasting 5-6 hours to about 2 hours (if even that...).
So, I made a call to Dell customer support and after being on hold for a considerable amount of time, ended up being "helped" (word used lightly...) by an individual who spoke very little English and was VERY difficult to understand. Not only did I have to ask him to repeat himself numerous times, but I also had to repeat myself several times. (an "accent" is one thing - even a STRONG accent is fine - but this was beyond both of those...)
After arguing with the support "tech" about the battery issue for almost 45 minutes he finally decided to send me out a new battery to see if that would take care of the problem. His opinion was that the battery life I was experiencing was accurate and that most batteries don't usually last for more than 2 hours. This makes absolutely NO sense - especially considering the fact the SAME battery in this SAME computer was lasting 5-6 hours for the first 2 months that I owned the computer!
About an hour later I was driving with my family through a snow storm and my cell phone rang and it was the "tech". He told me that he needed to know the bar code numbers off of my current battery. I told him that I was driving in several inches of snow and asked him to email me the info that he needed and I would send him whatever he needs. This confused him immensely.
After trying to explain to him what "email" means I decided to pull the car over and get my laptop out of my bag and read the numbers off. So that's exactly what I did.
18 minutes later I was still repeating the numbers to him. He would read the numbers back and they would be wrong EVERY TIME.
I will give him this - it may have been hard for him to hear what I was saying since my wife was yelling in the background, "TELL HIM YOU WANT TO SPEAK TO SOMEONE WHO SPEAKS ENGLISH" and "MAYBE HE DOESN'T KNOW WHAT A SNOWSTORM IS!"
Finally, several minutes later he got the numbers right and told me "drive safely."
So I finally put my laptop away, put the car in drive and my 4 year old daughter Elise says, "Mom, why can't dad speak English in the snowstorm??"
I NEED A PORCUPINE
I need a porcupine for an illustration I'm working on for this coming weekend. If anyone has one, let me know.
THOUGHTS ON THE EMERGING CHURCH
From the Worldwide Faith News archive:
- CHARLOTTE, NC - Most of the evidently successful "mega-churches" and church-growth movements have actually been failures because they have watered down the "radical gospel message of transformation of individual and community lives," a leading religious innovator told a crowd of nearly 1,000 Presbyterian leaders on Jan. 23.
The Rev. Mike Slaughter, the lead pastor of Ginghamsburg (United Methodist) Church in Tipp City, OH, near Dayton, said during the opening plenary session of the annual Churchwide Transformation Conference that "the mega-church has failed as a reproducible model, because the Biblical measure of strength is not size, but faithfulness"...
He said his studies of "the emerging church" have revealed that all successful 21st-century churches are:
Post-moderns don't want to be put on a committee," he said. "They want to be equipped to make a difference in the lives of others."
Some good thoughts here.
For some reason I am really hating this weather. Don't get me wrong, I've never been real fond of snow and a cold climate, but this seems worse for some reason. It's almost like I feel entitled to only maybe 2 snow falls per winter and anything beyond that is super annoying.
Several years ago when I worked at a car dealership in Minnesota, we would spend hours and hours after a snowfall removing snow from the lot and cars. I was miserable. I got to a point where I absolutely couldn't take it anymore. I sort of think that it might be those memories that bring this anti-snow attitude to bear.
So I'm heading to bed where I plan on dreaming about warm weather...