That Was Smooth Eating a Leaf

This "That Was Smooth" video debuted over a week ago, but I didn't have a copy to post. I finally got my hands on the copy today so that I could put it up. Thise weekend is our special Uprising Superbowl, so there will be no "That Was Smooth" this weekend. However, you don't want to miss out on next weekends episode. It's going to be amazing.

Love God. Hate Sin. and Religious Affections

Jonathan Edwards, the great philosopher theologian of the Great Awakening is probably most known for his famous sermon, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." In my opinion, however, his greatest contribution to the Church (beyond bringing many souls into the Kingdom) is his work entitled  A Treatise Concerning Religious AffectionsIn a time when "religion" was stale and placid, God raised up this man (and others) to show the world that worshiping the God of the Universe is anything but stale and placid. 

Almost without warning, those who sat under Edwards' preaching began experiencing powerful moves of the Spirit, which they expressed through their emotions which he called "religious affections." Of course today emotional responses during worship are somewhat commonplace. But during Edwards' day, this became a huge controversy, and he found himself having to constantly defend himself from petty preachers and stuck up skeptics. Eventually, he put it all into one book, mentioned above. 

This morning I was reading an excerpt where he is proving from Scripture that God always intended for us to respond to him with our emotions. That's when I came across this statement that pertains to the "Love God. Hate Sin." revolution.

The Scriptures place religion very much in the affection of love, in the love to God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and love to the people of God, and to mankind. The texts in which this is manifest, both O.T. and N.T. are innumerable.
The contrary affection of hatred also, as having sin for its object, is spoken of as part of true religion.It is that by which true religion may be known and distinguished: "the fear of the Lord is to hate evil," Prov. 8:13. The saints are called upon to give evidence of their sincerity by this, "ye that love the Lord hate evil," Ps. 97:10.

The bold section above is where it really hit home for me this morning. Edwards says that true religion (by which he means true spirituality or true love of God) can be distinguished from false religion (false spirituality or false love of God) by whether or not someone hates evil. This is revealed by the proverb: "The fear of the Lord is to hate evil." In an earlier section, Edwards established that those that fear the Lord, love the Lord and vice versa. If that is true (and obviously I think it is), then to love God ISto hate evil. You cannot have one without the other. If I don't hate evil (the sin in my own life) then I don't love God. 
Ouch. I have to admit, sometimes I like the sin in my life. I like holding grudges, being spiteful, etc. Chances are that you have some sin in your life that you like as well.
Perhaps we are much more dirty than we ever imagined. Perhaps we don't love God as much as we think we do. Perhaps God is much more gracious and merciful than we ever imagined, that he would save us anyway. 
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
- 1 John 4:10

Great Daily Prayers – Spiritual Discernment

Here is another great prayer from Thomas a'Kempis. I know, I know, you're wondering if I'll ever post prayers by anyone else. The answer is: yes, I will. But a'Kempis happens to be the only one I'm reading right now who gives a glimpse into his prayer life and close walk with Jesus.

This is a great one. I prayed it this morning:

Grant me, O Lord, the grace to know what is worth knowing, love what is worth loving, praise what is most pleasing to you, value what is precious to you, and despise what is contemptible in your sight.
Do not allow me to judge according to what I see, or give sentence according to what ignorant people hear, but enable me to discern with true judgment between things visible and spiritual, and above everything to always search for the good pleasure of your will.

Love God. Hate Sin. and the Social Gospel

Right now, I'm reading the book "The God Who Shows Himself" by Carl F.H. Henry. I hope to be reading quite a bit of his stuff throughout this year, so if you don't know who he is I'll write more about that at a later date. I'm only about a fourth of the way through this book, but I've already found many "gems" which will probably make it into my blog. I not only enjoy most of the subject matter he writes about, even when I don't care about the subject matter, I like the way he writes. So you can probably expect to hear much about him and his writing over the coming year. 

Anyway, on to the point at hand. In the first chapter, I noticed a rather interesting remark that fits in with the "Love God. Hate Sin." revolution. Check it out:

Strong love is impossible without also strong hate. Not to hate evil, therefore, means being a traitor to God and to virtue. It must be indicated, however, that Christianity's context of hate is never ultimately anti-anyone or anything. Whatever hate the Christian religion sanctions simply reflects love for God and man, and consequent disapproval of whatever refuses to be pro-God and pro-neighbor.

What is interesting about this quote is that the context is concerning social responsibility: why and how Christians ought to be concerned with social justice and caring for the less fortunate. Henry reveals that the motivation for social responsibility is neighbor love, agape love. During the day in which he was writing (the 1960's), however, the so-called "social gospel" was rampant. The social gospel focused only on social justice and caring for the less fortunate and tended to neglect the true good news of salvation for sinners. Furthermore, the social gospel also tended to be morally liberal, ignoring areas of Scripture where godly lifestyles are outlined. Writing in this context, his point is that in order for us to properly care for the less fortunate of society as God desires, we must have the proper love: a strong agape love. In order for us to have this strong love, we must also have strong hate: hatred of evil or sin. The social gospel, then, falls short because it does not hate sin. And because it does not hate sin, it does not have the love it needs to carry it over time. 
So there you have it. Even for us to genuinely care for the less fortunate and to be socially responsible, we must love God and hate sin. I'm telling you, it affects every aspect of our lives.
Love God. Hate Sin.

How to be a Hero to Your Kids


I just finished reading an oldie but a goodie: How to be a Hero to Your Kids by Josh McDowell and Dick Day. This is one that that I remember on my Dad's book shelf. I probably would have stolen it from him if I had seen it recently, but I picked this one up from Edward McKay for like $3.

This is a great book and an easy read. It's definitely not the best "dad and family" book I've ever read but this one is extremely practical. Almost every chapter left me with some practical ideas on how to be a better dad. Probably the biggest take-away is the books discussion on rules vs. relationship. Your rules are only as good as your relationship. The mistake that many parents (in church life) make is being completely authoritarian: "These are the rules, and you WILL follow the rules, or else." Even at Journey, I recently heard a parent of a teenager say, "I'm not your friend; I'm your dad!" This dad has shifted too far to one side of the scale. Rules will only work as far as your relationship will carry them. Of course, as long as your kids are younger, you can continue to simply enforce rules. But when your kids are older, they will rebel against your authority. Teenagers and young adults want relationship. Those who are open to relationship with them will be the ones they allow to have influence in their lives. 

The other side of that scale is where many other parents fall. It's all about relationship and never about rules or authority. These parents are able to have influence in their kids lives, but no authority. The problem with this is that influence is only passive. The only control you have is through a kind of peer pressure. But peer pressure doesn't always work, especially when your kids are teenagers. Teenagers are developing minds of their own, and they are going to make their own decisions regardless of whatever influence  you are trying to have. Then when you try to enforce a rule, they reject it and still do whatever they want because they don't respect you as an authority figure in their lives. 

The goal, then, is to have the perfect balance between rules and relationship. Rules are necessary and good. But they will only work as far as your relationship will carry them.

It's a good book. At times, it's a little outdated, but still recommended. 

What I’m Up To

I've decided to start "twittering." Man, for some reason there is not way to say that without it sounding gay. Anyway, I have officially started, and I'm trying to bring the rest of the staff on board as well. You'll notice the new section in the left-hand column called "What I'm Up To." I'm using Loopt as my client on my iphone which updates my twitter which in turn updates my blog. The advantage to this is that you will not only know what I'm doing, but where I am at (because of Loopt's GPS function), and I can also post a picture. 

So enjoy. I'll try to keep it updated as often as possible.

On a side note: it seems really arrogant and prideful to assume that people actually care what we're up to every minute of every day. Then again, people really do seem to love this kind of junk.

Hell and Horror Movies

I have a confession to make: I like horror movies. But not the ones that you’re thinking of. I’m not talking about movies like the Saw series. In fact, I’ve never seen those movies. I like the cheesy B movie made-for-tv horror flicks that come on the SciFi channel! I love ‘em. These type of movies usually always follow a common pattern. A group people (usually college age) are on some kind of trip together. They encounter a strange place or situation. Through the coercion of one or two of the members, they decide to investigate the situation or explore the place. The group either gets separated or they decide to split up, until all or most of them are all alone in the dark with some creature out to suck on their insides! Here’s what happens: they’re all running around in a hopeless situation while they are getting picked off one at a time. Inevitably, a lost girl runs into a lost guy and she says, “Oh thank God! Thank God I found you!” Now, they are both still hopelessly lost while some monster is out to have them for dinner. And deep down inside they both know that they are going to meet a very gruesome and painful death. But nevertheless they are just happy not to be alone anymore!

The reason horror movies are "scary" is because they play off of our fears. I think these movies follow this common pattern because it hits at the core of our deepest darkest fear as human beings. We were made for community. We were not made to be alone. To be completely and utterly alone is the essence of hell. Whether we want to admit that hell exists or not, I think all people are born with an innate sense that hell does exist. When we think of hell we usually think of fire. Indeed, Scripture does describe hell (or at least the final hell: "the lake of fire") as a place of fire. But there are many other scriptural descriptions of well, most of which depict pain, torture, fear, darkness, and utter isolation. This is hell, that having once died and appearing before the throne of God, and seeing the face of pure goodness and holiness, seeing the very face of that which your heart has longed for (perhaps unknowingly) all of your earthly life, only to hear him command his angles concerning you: "Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth." 

Hell is real. Many of us do not want to admit it intellectually, but we know it in our gut. It is our deepest darkest fear to be lost and completely alone in a hellish situation. There will be no moment when you cry out "Oh Thank God! Thank God I found you!" Your only cry will be "Oh God! Oh God!"

Wow. Thank God we have someone to rescue us from that nightmare.

Discipline Without Desire is Just Duty

Right now, all Journey small groups are going through the same curriculum that coincides with our current series: Last night during small group, we were discussing issues of change like, how to make and keep the change, and why so many people's "changes" seem to be short lived. One of the reasons we discussed is that many people make changes for the wrong reasons. Some people want to get in shape not so that they can be healthy but so that they can look better (vanity & pride). Likewise, many people make commitments to read their Bible more, or pray more, or to just generally "grow closer to God." But many times these commitments are made out of a sense of obligation or duty rather than a genuine desire to know God and to please him. 

This discussion led to the question of whether there was any place for sheer discipline. For instance, maybe a new Christian reads the Bible because he knows he is supposed to, but the more he reads, the more he enjoys it, and before you know it he is reading the Bible out of desire rather than simple discipline. Well, the answer to that question is multi-faceted. Discipline, by itself, is not enough. Likewise, desire, by itself, is not enough. They both must work together in your life.

Disciplining yourself to read and pray out of a sense of obligation does not please God. Doing anything for God out of a sense of duty, actually does not make any sense. God does not need anything from us. God doesn't need your praise, your prayer, or your devotion. God has given us these things for our own benefit, for our pleasure. God is honored when we take pleasure in him. He is not honored when we do these things out of duty or obligation. In fact, he hates it. As a student pastor, my goal is not to teach students to read their bibles and pray or to have a consistent quiet time. I believe everyone needs those things, but until they desire to have them, there is no sense in pursuing them. God does not want his relationship with you to be a habit, he wants it to be your heartbeat. My goal then, is to reveal to students how incredible God is and how amazing is his love for us, so that they will fall in love with Jesus. Once you fall in love with Jesus, you begin to desire things like prayer and studying God's word. Discipline without desire is just duty (Also, discipline without desire is just doodie).

On the flip side, desire by itself is not enough. I love my wife, and I desire to do things for her (and TO her, but that's another story). However, many times because of my lack of discipline, I neglect doing things for her that I desire to do. Every Tuesday night is Kelly's night off. When I get home from the office, she is free to go and do whatever she wants while I take care of the girls. Or at least, that is supposed to be the case. I'm doing pretty well now, but there was a period of time when she was not getting her nights off. Why not? Because I wasn't disciplined enough to plan my calendar accordingly. Every Tuesday night "something came up," that I would have to take care of, and she wouldn't be able to leave. These lapses of mine didn't happen because of a lack of desire, but because of a lack of discipline. It's the same in our walk with God. Most of us desire to know God more. We desire to know and understand his word, but we lack the discipline to follow through on our desire. Desire without discipline just doesn't work. 

So you must have both. It starts with desire, is carried through by discipline and results in deep and meaningful relationship with God. Discipline without desire is putting the cart before the horse. Desire without discipline is like having a cart but no horse to pull it (okay, enough with the analogies already). 

That Was Smooth – Pink Nails

I'm introducing a new segment. This weekend marks the launch of our brand new youth service called "Uprising." This service is amazing. It's a service for youth by youth. If you see this blog before Sunday night at 5:30, and you're in the Raleigh area, you need to go ahead and make the decision to come check it out in our student center. You can find more about here:

Now, onto the new segment. Each week in Uprising will feature a segment called "That Was Smooth." In our student center there is a box, and our students can write an idea, any idea (as long as it's not immoral or unethical), and I select something every week to do. I will probably post them on my blog after Uprising each week. But this week, I'm giving you guys in the blogosphere a special sneak preview of the first ever "That Was Smooth."

This weeks selection: "Have your daughter paint your nails hot pink and leave it there until it chips off."

Cell Phone Fun – Quarter Sleeve

On Tuesday nights, when I get home from work, I give Kelly the night off. As soon as I walk through the door, she is free to go do whatever she wants, wherever she wants. That means, at home, it's just daddy and the girls. You can imagine what this means. The girls love their daddy time, and we usually find some daddy-time-only fun (or trouble) to get into.

Last night Cana asked if she could have a tattoo after dinner (she received two full pages of temporary tattoos for Christmas). Well, one thing led to another, and soon enough we were digging through the remains of her stocking to find every last tattoo. What resulted was Cana's first "quarter sleeve." You can see the results for yourself. She's my little 3 year old rocker chick!