Random Thought of The Week (That Was Too Large to Tweet): “Child Care”

Most of the time when I have random thoughts that have no value what-so-ever, I do what every good Christian should do. I take those thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ… and then I tweet them. But occasionally, these random thoughts are too long to tweet, so I think I will begin posting them here in a new segment called "Random Thought of The Week (That Was Too Large to Tweet)."

This week's randomness:

On the way to work this morning, I saw this van (you'll need to click to enlarge it so that you can read the text on the back of the van):

Photo 

What you might not be able to tell from the photo is that the words "child care" on the back of the van are in quotation marks. Why would you put "child care" in quotation marks??? It makes it sound like you don't really provide child care at all. Whenever you put something obvious in quotation marks it usually implies that it's not true. For instance, note the following quotation mark changes to the same sentence:

  • Maxwell House is a good cheap coffee.
  • Maxwell House is a "good" cheap coffee.
  • Maxwell House is a good cheap "coffee."

The first sentence is straightforward (even though it's wrong). The second sentence implies that it isn't really good coffee at all, only that some people say that it is. The third sentence implies that it actually isn't even coffee at all. 

So I return to my original question. Why would you put "child care" on the back of your van that provides transportation for your daycare? It's as if they are saying: Come bring your kids to our daycare center, we provide "child care." 

Ha! No thanks.

 

First Impressions Teams: 02/10 # 2

Important Things to Remember:

  1. Return to Your Post
    Whenever you serve, we need you to return to your post immediately after the service is over. Our Job as a First Impressions Team doesn't end once everybody has entered through the doors. We want to send them on their way, the same way they came in: with joy and enthusiasm.
  2. Be Dependable
    If you are scheduled to serve, we need you to show up. Obviously there are extenuating circumstances. If you can't make it, please contact Tom or Stephanie to let them know so that we can plan accordingly. Don't be a shameful individual like Wes! (Don't worry, he's used to me picking on him. It's all in good fun.)
  3. Team Meeting
    We have a VERY IMPORTANT team meeting coming up. We messed up the timing of it, so we had to reschedule. We are in the process of figuring out when will work best for the most amount of people. We will let you know when it is, as soon as we know. Please make your best effort to be there.
  4. I really do love you! (and Wes probably does too, but not as much as I do!)

Holy Hangover

I've never had a hangover, but I can imagine what it feels like because of how I feel every Monday morning. I call it the "holy hangover." I don't know exactly what causes it, but every Monday after weekend services, I feel completely wasted, spent, and well… hungover: headache, body aches, fatigue, irritability, dizziness, loss of appetite. 

If I had to guess at what caused this, I would say it's a combination of physical, spiritual, and emotional exhaustion. I have a lot of responsibilities at Journey, some technical, some directorial, and some pastoral. These three responsibilities keep me constantly switching gears all day long. Yesterday during the second and third service alone, I probably had 15 – 20 people stop me for some of my time regarding one of those three areas. I'm not asking you to stop doing that. I love what I do, and I love it that people feel that I am approachable enough to ask for some of my time on the weekend. I'm just trying to analyze what wears me out so much and leaves me with this holy hangover. 

On a typical weekend,  I go from 6:30am to 10:00pm on Sunday (I'm not even including my entire Saturday). I show up early and oversee worship and tech rehearsal, double check the building to make sure everything is in order and looks nice for the weekend, check in with my host team and greeter team, back to the tech booth to ensure cues are being met, meeting, talking and praying with people between services, checking in with the next set of host team and greeter teams, back to the tech booth, meet, talk, and pray with people in between the next two services, stop in and visit my middle school students in M.S.O and hang out them for a little while, try to sit with my wife during the third service, meet, talk and pray with people after the service, lead a some kind of team meeting, head home for a an hour or two, head to the student center for 3:12 or Uprising, hang with students, pray with students, counsel students, teach students, then finally head home and crash like the train wreck that I am.

Again, I'm not complaining. I love what I do. But if you've ever wondered why I unplug on Monday's and you can't seem to get a hold of me, now maybe you understand. Now on top of all that, three days ago I gave up coffee for Lent. If you're a coffee addict like me and you've ever stopped drinking coffee, then you know that day three is always the worst day! So today, my usual "holy hangover" is magnified by the fact that I am on day three with no coffee!

God Is… Overwhelming in His Presence

Today, God has overwhelmed with the very magnitude of his being. First, he allowed me to feel and experience his presence in such a powerful way that I became inexplicably emotional. Then only a few moments later as I was studying and reading, he added knowledge to experience to help me begin (and only begin) to understand how it is that I experience him.

Regarding the omnipresence of God, Hildebert of Lavardin wrote:

 "God is over all things, under all things; outside all; within but not enclosed; without but not excluded; above but not raised up; below but not depressed; wholly above presiding; wholly beneath, sustaining; wholly within, filling." 

A.W. Tozer explained that this doctrine of the God's omnipresence is central to all other doctrine. In order for man to relate to God, at some point he must experience that "God is present, near him, next to him, and this God sees him and knows him through and through. At this point faith begins, and while it may go on to include a thousand other wonderful truths, these all refer back to the truth that God is, and God is here."

Tozer goes on to tell recount a story by Canon W. G. H. Holms of India:

[He] told of seeing Hindu worshipers tapping on trees and stones and whispering "Are you there? Are you there?" to the god they hoped might reside within. In complete humility the instructed Christian brings the answer to that question. God is indeed there. He is there as He is here and everywhere, not confined to the tree or stone, but free in the universe, near to everything, next to everyone, and through Jesus Christ immediately accessible to every loving heart."

For reasons unknown to me, today has been a time when God allowed me to experience him above, below, beside, and within. For me this morning, the doctrine of the omnipresence of God was not simply some grand theological concept, but a very basic and practical truth. I know that God exists. I've known that for a very long time, and my life belongs to him. But this morning, I experienced that God is, and God is here.

Dr. Allen Fleece said, "The knowledge that God is present is blessed, but to feel His presence is nothing less than sheer happiness." 

When is the last time you really and truly experienced God? Maybe it's time to get alone with God and simply ask him to allow you to experience his presence. God is here, near to you, and through Jesus Christ, he is immediately accessible if you will only open up your heart.

Daddy Date Night

For those of you who don't know, I am the proud daddy of three beautiful girls! God has blessed us so much. I grew up in a home where my parents had four boys and one girl. Needless to say, we were a pretty rough bunch, and I've never had much sensitivity training. In fact, I'm convinced one of the reasons that God has given me three girls is to teach me some sensitivity. My wife often as to say to me, "Baby, you can't speak to her like that. She's a sensitive little girl. You hurt her feelings." Well, I'm learning. Maybe one day I'll have this thing down.

Even though I may not be great at sensitivity. I think I do pretty well at treating them like princesses. I want the way I treat them to be an example of how they should be treated as they one day seek out boyfriends and husbands. I want to treat them in such a way that sets the bar so high, that they will never want settle for anything less than that. 

Along those lines, this month marks the beginning of a new monthly tradition: "Daddy date night." On the second Monday night of every month, I will take one of my grils out a date. I don't share much personal family stuff on this site, but I thought this was important to share. So, below you will find pictures from our first ever official "Daddy date night."

Photo 

I let Cana choose whatever she wanted for dinner. She was adamant that she wanted a cheeseburger. So I took her to the best burger joint around: Five Guys

 Photo (1)
After dinner Cana specifically asked if she could have "candy AND ice cream" on her "special date." Of course I couldn't resist. We started with the candy.

Photo (2)
Once her candy was carefully selected, I took her to Caribou where I enjoyed a coffee while she enjoyed her candy.  

Photo (3)
Cana wanted to take a picture of me too.

Photo (4)
True to my word, after she finished her candy we went to get ice cream.

Photo (5)
We finished up the evening at a book store where we read books together and played with a train set. 

We had a great time. I think I may have enjoyed it even more than Cana. This is definitely a good thing we've started. I know I'm going to look forward to it every month!

You’re either on mission, or you are the mission.

Lately, I've noticed that I've gotten a lot of similar comments from different people. Some of these comments have been leveled at me, while others have been leveled at other staff members at Journey. These comments (by the way, "comment" is just a polite way to say complaint in this context), vary in a lot of ways, but the gist of all of them is this: either myself, or another staff member, or all the staff have distanced ourselves, act differently toward, keep at arms length, or are just generally less available to the person who is making the comment.

When these comments have been leveled at me, here is how I have responded. "What do you mean? Don't you have my cell phone number?" (yes) "Have I avoided your phone calls or failed to call you back?" (no) "When you have asked for some of my time, have I ever told you I didn't have time? (no) "Have I ever failed to make time for you?" (no) "Do I avoid you when I see you at church?" (no) "So, I don't get it. What's the problem?" The answers at this point vary widely, but no one ever really has a solid answer to that question. So I shrug it off and move on, until the same scenario happens all over again with someone else.

I haven't been able to figure out what this was all about until this past weekend. I met a guy who came to Journey for the first time. I introduced myself, let him know who I was and chatted with him a little before the service. After the service was over, I connected with him again, wanting to know how he enjoyed the service, etc. We talked for a bit, and then I gave him my cell phone number and told him to call me sometime and we would go get coffee and hang out. He seemed genuinely appreciative and maybe even a little impressed that I gave out my number so readily and offered to hang out some time. It was after that conversation, that it dawned on me why I have been receiving these strange comments.

All of you who have made these comments to me were at one time in the shoes of the guy that I met this weekend. You were new to Journey, and I (or another staff member) was pursuing you offering to meet with, get coffee and hear your story. You see, we did this (and continue to do this) because we care about you and genuinely want to connect you with Jesus. When you first come through those doors of The Warehouse, we don't know who you are. We don't know what your story is. We don't know where you stand with Jesus, and our hearts desire, our mission, is to help you follow Jesus. So we pursue you and seek to help in any way that we can. You were the mission.

But here's the deal: at Journey, we fully expect that you are going to join in on the mission with us. We will NEVER turn inward. It's not about us. As a church, we exist only to further the mission, to reach more people and help them follow Jesus. Once you've been coming to Journey for awhile and begin to call Journey home and we know that you are following Jesus, you are no longer the mission. Yes, we still care about you. Yes, we still have time for you. Yes, we still want to walk alongside of you and continue to help you follow Jesus. But no, we are not pursuing you anymore. I will challenge you to try this: if you pursue me, I will always find time for you. I'm not too busy for you. But you are not the mission. You should be ON MISSION with us. You should be pursuing people who are new, giving them your number, offering to hang out with them, finding out their story, and seeking to help connect them with Jesus! You are either on mission or you are the mission. If you are no longer the mission, but you don't want to be on mission, then quite frankly, you probably need to find another church.

Recently, I heard a statement that might be the stupidest thing I've ever heard. Someone said, "I get you're all about the mission, but I feel like you're too much about the mission. I feel like you focus too much on reaching people for Jesus and not enough on those of us who are already here at Journey."

I honestly, didn't even know now to respond to that. All I could think was, "Did you seriously just say that out loud? I mean, even if I ever felt that way, I would be too ashamed to actually say that out loud." 

Listen, if you're not the mission, then be on mission. Let's keep doing what God has called us to do. Let's help people follow Jesus. Let's make Jesus famous in Raleigh.

First Impressions Teams: 02/10 # 1

Important notes to remember:

  1. Stay focused on the mission. Our mission is to help people follow Jesus. Our job as a FI team is to help remove barriers and distractions. Be focused on our guests making them feel welcome, loved, and accepted.
  2. New series driven card. If your job is to hand out these cards, please help us inform our people that they should take these home and put them up where they will see them.
  3. iJump: 100 leaders in 50 days! Who do you know that is not serving anywhere? Invite them to come hang out with you one week when you are serving and then connect them with your director to get them involved. Everyone snag someone!

Bungee Jump Over The Nile River

In case you didn't know, one of the things I do here at Journey is oversee the production of our creative elements which mostly involves videos, graphics, etc. We attempt to stay three sermon series ahead so that we can plan and prepare appropriately. Everyone once in a while we get even further ahead than that.

We've known for about 4 months that we were going to do this series called "Jump" in January, which allowed me to get some pretty unique footage for a video. When I was in Uganda back in October, we captured footage of me bungee jumping over the Nile River. In case you missed this weekend, here it is again.

#christiancrapfail

One of my biggest annoyances with the Christian sub-culture is Christian merchandising. Rarely does my wife ever take me into a Christian bookstore anymore for fear that I will embarrass her in front of everyone. The scene usually goes something like this: 

  1. I see some cheesy Christian merchandise that either takes advantage of naive christian consumers (i.e. "Runts" candy taken out of it's box and put into a plastic bag with a scripture verse taped on it, and then charged more than double what it would cost in it's original box), or is just plain offensive (i.e. an action figure Jesus who has "real hand waving action" when you squeeze his legs, complete with 5 loaves and 2 fish).
  2. I take said merchandise to the counter and begin harassing the poor sales clerk, or I just get real loud and begin making a scene about it while everyone in the store tries their hardest to act like they don't see or hear me: "REALLY!? 'Real hand waving action?' Does it also come with real miracle working action? If I squeeze his legs will he wave his hand and these loaves and fish will multiply? Where's the baskets? What am I going to carry all of this extra food in if the toy doesn't come with baskets?"
  3. Kelly chases me down and sternly 'asks' me to quit embarrassing her, while simultaneously apologizing to anyone she thinks I may have annoyed or offended.
  4. Kelly manages to get us out of the store as quickly as possible before any more damage can be done.

That's pretty much a regular scene in our family. Anyway, the other day on Twitter, my brother and awesome guy Josh Via started a the following hash tag: #christiancrapfail, and pure hilarity ensued. Check it out, and add your own to the mix. Be sure to tag it so we can all follow along. Before I go, I'll leave you a short video of one of my all time favorite #christiancrapfail items. One of my daughters found this in an egg at a local church's annual Easter Egg Hunt. It's a suction cup popup Jesus! How appropriate for Easter. "Up from the grave he arose!"

Naked and Hiding – Part 3 of 3

The presence of God can be a terrifying thing. How much more terrifying when we realize that we stand before him completely exposed and laid bare. Naked. There is nothing that we can hide from his all-seeing eyes. He knows every thought, every intention, every motive. 

Standing completely naked in front of someone is one of the most fearful things you can do. Today, the world has cheapened nudity and sex, making them commodities to consume. Even so, for just about everyone, one of the most frightful and scary things you can do is to stand naked before someone, waiting for that one person to accept you for who you are.

I was  a virgin when I got married, and I still remember how I felt on my wedding night (besides horny). For the first time in my adult life, I was going to stand before someone completely naked not attempting to hide anything. I remember how self-conscious I was because I had recently been through a surgery in a sensitive area that left a scar and changed the way my body looked. But as terrified as I was, I also remember feeling safe. I knew that the woman I married accepted me unconditionally and that she would never turn away from me or leave me. Marriage made it safe. That's why I don't understand the current mentality where people basically sleep with whomever they want. Sex has become more a part of the dating ritual rather than something to be experienced in the safety of marriage. Unconditional love and acceptance aren't even in the picture. True intimacy (as opposed to just sex) requires unconditional love and acceptance. I can be truly intimate with my wife because I know that there is nothing I could do that would make her leave me. She's in this thing for the long haul. Therefore, I'm uninhibited in my intimacy with her and she with me. Even sometimes today, true intimacy can be scary, but it's safe because of our relationship.

I don't think it's a coincidence that Scripture likens the relationship between Christ and the Church to the marriage relationship. The church is the bride of Christ. In the beginning, Adam and Eve had this perfect, uninhibited relationship with the God of the Universe, but sin screwed everything up. Once sin entered the picture, standing before God in his presence became a frightful thing. That relationship was marred, and all of history ever since has been about repairing and restoring that relationship. That's why Jesus came. And that's why we don't have to hide anymore. 

It's no less of a terrifying thing to stand before him knowing that we are completely exposed, but in Christ it's safe. If you are a follower of Jesus you are the bride of Christ. Your sin has been dealt with, forgiven, and forgotten. You are accepted unconditionally and there is nothing you can do that will make him turn away from you or forsake you. You are loved. You are accepted. It's time to come out of hiding.