AND THIS IS HOW YOU DO ME?? Part 2 – “Buying Bananas 24/7″

Appreciated the feedback from the first post. Thought I would go a bit deeper on this one.

Though the blog world is always filled with surprises, I feel that I have some sense of my audience here. I know that some of you reading were really bothered and did not want to comment for whatever reason ranging from not wanting to get a lengthy debate or lack of time to articulate your thoughts or whatever. Having had this conversation a few times now, I’d like to offer the following parameters.

First, I do believe God is sovereign. I believe in His Divine Foreknowledge. I believe His Omniscience contains every detail.
Second, I do not believe that God is arbitrary and that life is random and incidental (I think it’s much, much more complicated than that).
But Third, I do not believe that God is an All-Mighty Micromanager. I do not believe in Foreordination. And I do not believe He manipulates every detail. But I do believe that in providence and that He intervenes (but it is complicated, unpredictable, and beautifully mysterious; a true reflection of His character).
Fourth, To put it simply, I think God “outsources” a lot to free will, that our lives are dramatically altered by a sin-stained world, and that we can learn beautiful truths about God, and the pains, joys, hardships and triumphs of life.
Fifth, EVEN IF, God has a “reason for everything”, I do not believe our finite minds could systematically understand it, predict it, or figure it out.

I know that does not satisfy some people’s concerns but that’s an adequate start for me.

I do not want to make a strawman out of the Steve Johnson tweet but one of the things that frustrates me the most is the lack of consistency in applying this motto. The energy it would take to find the reason in everything would be endless. Sure, in some sense there is a lesson in everything, if you twist long enough and become satisfied when you feel like being satisfied.

But my problem is when we take something random, “I went to the super-market today to get bananas and ran into “so-and-so”. And I wasn’t going to get bananas but I remembered that they are rich in Potassium and I have always felt depleted in that area and so I went and boy am I glad I did! Because I bumped into “so-and-so” and I had a great conversation and “so-and-so” said, “I’m glad I saw you, I needed that.” (For the record, this is based on a true story. In fact, numerous stories. I’m not kidding.)

I am happy for you and “so-and-so”. But what is the lesson here? For one, it may be to always go to the store on a whim to get whatever is needed or to patrol the aisles for acquaintances (yes, acquaintances; if they were friends you could call them rather than wait to ambush them at Shop Rite). The lesson to another is that God’s favorite fruit is the banana and is most glorified by our consumption of it. And the lesson to me may be you should get a job at the grocery store. What is the lesson here? What did God want you to learn from going to the grocery store? And what happens on the day when you go to the grocery store to pick up bananas and nothing really happens? Are you in sin (banana gluttony)? Are you purchasing the wrong products? Do you exit the store, heave the shopping cart and exclaim, “I buy bananas 24/7 and this is how you do me??”

I submit that sometimes God doesn’t expect you to learn anything from the grocery store outside of living your life in the manner He has called you. As fun as this is for me to write, if I understand people correctly, this is how they live … if they were being consistent with “everything has a reason” motto. While I certainly believe that God wants us to learn, meditate, pray, and seek wisdom, knowledge, growth, virtues, love, etc., I think it’s much more of a macro, broad view of being human then the analyzing of selective minutia of life. To put it more simply, as Christians, if we live seeking to follow Jesus, not only will we find “reason” but find communion with God and with each other.

“…AND THIS IS HOW YOU DO ME??” – A Flawed Theology – Part 1

Primary Audience – Those who believe that there is a “reason for everything”.
Secondary Audience – Buffalo Bills fans. This post may be the best part of your season.

Last Sunday, Buffalo Bills wide receiver, Steven Johnson dropped the game winning pass in a near overtime upset against the mighty Pittsburgh Steelers. Not only is Steven Johnson a highly talented rookie with a bright career in front of him, he is also a player on one of my fantasy teams. If you thought QB Ryan Fitzpatrick was upset, imagine how I felt as a fantasy owner. Sometimes you break loose and score 3TD’s and sometimes you drop “the most important pass of your life”, that’s life in the NFL and the reality of fantasy sports.  Later, he tweeted his hurt.

I am obviously very humored by this and honestly,  I truly felt bad for Steve Johnson and I know how he feels. I worry about officiating a funeral and saying the wrong name or performing a wedding and accidentally use the same message that I used at the funeral and therefore getting all the names wrong. Along with our one year old, this is something that keeps me up at night. But THIRD and most surprising and the reason for this post, I cannot believe the number of people who have told me they could really  relate to Johnson!! I heard one person say, “Yeah, sometimes God does stuff like that.” and another hoped that he would change his mind regarding the tweet “You expect me to learn from this???”

First, God doesn’t care about the NFL. The entire season is anchored by mocking the Sabbath – trust me, He doesn’t care.

But second, Johnson’s tweets and post-game interviews reflect a flawed theology called, “There’s a reason for everything.” I have withheld for years blogging about this motto because it tends to do more damage than good but when people connect with the terrible theology behind dropped football passes, then we should reconsider some long-held assumptions.

I am not sure what Steve Johnson was to learn from his dropped pass. Virtues from failures? He’s an NFL player, he’s been playing football his whole life, I’m sure he’s encountered failure before. Some point to humility. Football fans know he’s a bit cocky and recently received an excessive celebration penalty. I just have a hard time believing that God was up in heaven last week and suddenly decided to shine a cosmic flash light in poor Steve’s eyes or have an angel spray a bit of baby oil on his hands and arms just enough for a pigskin to slip through. And if God really wanted to make a statement, why not zap his jersey and padding off with a blue lightening bolt as he celebrates. I’m telling you if God cared enough to do that, there would never be another profanity uttered on the line of scrimmage. Those 300 pound linemen would be quoting the beatitudes and blessing their opponents in fear of their big butts be aired on network television.

Too many have this “cause and effect” expectation of God. Meaning if they pray or read Scripture or praise him 24/7 then God has to bless. Life is not only filled with missed opportunities, sadly it’s marked by tragedies, and defiled by evil. When we read the Scriptures, we see the righteous destroyed by evil. The same sun that gives us life can sometimes give skin cancer. Even water, that is so essential to our survival, can drown us. It’s not cause and effect. Though I wish it were as simple as “Do good, get good”, there are no guarantees in a flawed world.

So then how do respond to this? The short answer is to trust the Lord who is at work in the redemption of all things. I’ll try to elaborate later this week.
Feel free to comment, disagree, or I dare you, defend Steve Johnson’s tweet ;-).

The Cleveland Crucifixion of LeBron James

Having given up watching sitcoms (yep even Community), last night I watched Lebron’s return to Cleveland. Even if you are not a sports fan you probably know the basics. LeBron James, an NBA superstar (2-time league MVP), became a free-agent this summer and signed with the Miami Heat to join forces with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in hopes of winning an NBA Championship. To put it mildly, Cleveland did not take it too well.

Some disclaimers here:
1. I am not a LeBron James fan, but I do think he is extremely entertaining and an amazing athlete (but he’s not a winner like Kobe, or Michael or Magic or Larry).
2. I am not a LeBron-hater. I kinda hope he wins an NBA ring so Charles Barkley would shut up.
3. I am not a Barkley-hater but I do think he is extremely annoying though he is somewhat entertaining.
4. I don’t have a favorite NBA Team, but I admit, I do follow some of the story lines.
5. If David Stearn shut down the NBA tomorrow, I’d be ok.

I was on our mission trip to New Orleans when “LeBron decided to take his talents to South Beach” (still one of my favorite lines. I await the day when I hear a “John Piper type” say, “God has foreordained me to take my talents to San Diego“). Anyway, I was among those that were surprised. I really thought he had allowed all that hype to make his return to Cleveland more dramatic. I only feel that way because of how I want great sports legends to be told but he has every right to weigh his options to pursue his desired goal(s).  For the record, I was also wrong about Zach and Kelly breaking up on Saved By the Bell.

Consequently, December 2nd was circled on ESPN’s calendar immediately. What’s going to happen when LeBron comes back? Even though security was beefed up and various precautionary measures were taken, they were praying for something that would humble The Malace in the Palace. And if there was no physical confrontation, the crowd emotionally crucified him the entire game. It didn’t matter that their team allowed LeBron to score 38 on them as the Heat thumped them. It probably wouldn’t have mattered had they won. Their real goal was to make sure LeBron knew they hated him.

I like sports rivalries. I like sports fans getting into it with their signs, shirts, and trash-talk.  And I think for millions of fans, these types of things are fun distractions and I am grateful for  things like sports and entertainment and silly escapes. The problem becomes when we see  these trivial things as important and we live our lives in a superficial bubble that shields from  the sufferings around us.  And I think that’s what sunk in to me last night – they really  do hate  him, more than Philly hated McNabb. Had you told me Cavs owner Dan Gilbert had  local  churches praying the Heat’s plane would crash on their return home, it would not have  surprised me. In fact,  it  may not be an exaggeration to believe that the fans of  Cleveland hate LeBron  more  than Christians hate Judas because I am now  wondering if they loved him more  than Christians love Jesus.

I’m ok with sports fans seeing their favorite athletes as “sports messiahs”, but it’s clear that he  was so much more than that. Frankly, I am not as troubled as others regarding the role  entertainment plays in our lives. I dismiss them as the opiate of the masses. And unless you are a real Philadelphia sports fan, most people see sports, movies, television as a means of escape. My problem has always been when the escape becomes mistaken for the path of life and last night’s celebrity crucifixion.

Now if you will pardon me, it’s my turn to lead the vigil for Jeter to sign back with the Yankees.

Advent Conspiracy 101

Primary Audience – Our local evangelical congregation, especially those who have lost the joy of gift buying.
Secondary Audience – Compassionate people ;-)

I mentioned the Advent Conspiracy in my sermon this past week, posted a link on Facebook and have received a decent response (and one or two confused ones) so I thought I would elaborate further.

Here’s the 101 – So many of us have a heightened anxiety during the Christmas Holiday season. From the gift-buying, the traffic, the coming credit card bill, parties and the complexities brought upon by family dynamics. Clearly, this is not what God had in mind when He decided to dwell among us.

A couple pastors, Rick Mickinley and Chris Seay, got together and asked what if we could get our churches to conspire to celebrate Christmas the way we as Christ-followers should? What would that look like? And as they ask on their website, “What if Christmas became a world-changing event again?” (You can read a fuller story at Collide Magazine).

Taken from their website, here are their “four simple ideas”:
Worship Fully.
Christmas is about Jesus. Full worship isn’t about more church services. It’s about everything, everywhere.
Spend Less.
Christmas is about turning love into a human, not a thing. Americans spend $400 billion on Christmas—we think a better party is possible.
Give More.
Christmas is about God giving himself away to the people he loves. Why don’t we do the same?
Love All.
Christmas is about love without borders or boundaries. We’re here to help your love be the same.

I echoed in Sunday’s message that we will spend $400 billion on Christmas gifts this year. And according to the World Bank, it would take between $10-30 billion to provide clean water and adequate sanitation to people (The $20 billion dollar difference is a measure of quality). AC has partnered with Living Water International to help bring clean water to people.

Why water and what does it have to do with Christmas? Because 1.1 billion people don’t have access to clean drinking water. “At Living Water International, we are addressing this most basic of needs by helping deprived communities acquire safe, clean water. Our goal is to substantially ease the global water crisis while addressing root causes such as injustice, oppression, and abject poverty. As this happens, communities and worldviews are transformed—both among those in desperate physical need, and among those who have been blessed with much.” read more on the water crisis on their website.

Some of my friends and our youth group have been participating in the Advent Conspiracy for a few years now. Along with a couple other practices, this has changed the way we celebrate Christmas, including gift-buying. For those we love and don’t know what to get, we’ve decided to give fair-trade items (such as coffee from places like One Village) or shirts/dvds of worthy causes like Invisible Children and use the money that we save from buying say a $20 gift instead of a $40 and donate the difference. As you can see, it adds up. Further, it creates conversation with our loved ones about why we choose to give them a dvd about human trafficking. Last year, one recipient said, “This is good because I don’t need another action movie.”

Every so often someone will ask me “But what does this have to do with Jesus?”. In all honesty, I think a lot and frankly a lot more than giving a tie or a Applebee’s Gift Certificate. But watch this video and hear from the gift recipients themselves.

Christmas [is] changing the world from Living Water International on Vimeo.


As you may know, today is World AIDS Day and by the end of today at least 6000 will have died from the complications related to it. Approximately 40 million people around the world have it, 25 million are in Africa, majority are women and children.This year’s theme is No Child Born With Aids by 2015.

A few years ago while we were getting ready for our mission trip to serve at an AIDS camp in Nassau, Bahamas, I shared some of these statistics at a coffee shop and one person said, “40 million isn’t that bad considering the world has 6 billion people.” And had I not cut him off, I fear he would have continued by saying something like “And we all die of something”. Yep, but let us not die from stupidity or apathy or preventable diseases. I did manage to explain that the number would be higher but almost 3 million die from it a year but I think he stopped listening.

Some of you know me and you hear me talking about supporting clean water campaigns, fighting human trafficking, and among other things, sharing the good news of Jesus and I know some people get tired of that. Our world has problems and I worship a God that is loving and read a Bible who among its major themes is the idea of redemption. I know that sounds so self-righteousness and while I seek forgivness and humility, may we be united in sharing hope and goodness to others.

Because of my faith, these problems and crises are heartbreaking to me and this brings some motivation and frankly, I need more and I pray that I can be found in my community. Further because of Jesus, we as Christians must be among those who lead the way to help those in need, those in pain, and those that are dying.

I used to think these types of days required me to donate a lot of money or that in order to truly support these types of causes, one must leave their profession and get directly involved. And that may be your calling, I don’t know, but I do believe that even if you are not conducting clinics on the prevention of AIDS in places like Kenya or working on a vaccination, you can still be involved. Here’s where you can begin:

Seek a heart that truly loves people and allow it to be broken by the pain of others. The compassion of Jesus is so obvious in the gospels and we as believers must reflect that.

Destroy the Excuses – “What can I really do?” and “It’s not going to make a difference” and my favorite one, “Didn’t they already try to solve that?”. At the minimum, everyone has a part to play.

Educate and create awareness. There are so many sites, books, and resources. Here are a few:
Blood: Water Mission particularly this page.
World Aids Campaign
One – You can check out Bono’s special message here.
The Red Campaign

Watch Documentaries like Pandemic: Facing AIDS. (Available on Netflix).

Even Do Some of Your Christmas Shopping Through the Red Campaign

Give What You Should. For my family, it’s a prayerful question that begins with, “What is our part in this?”

Why Believers Should Observe Advent

Primary Audience – Our local evangelical congregation
Secondary Audience – Evangelicals everywhere

As you probably know, Sunday was the first day of Advent. As I joked in a post last year, Advent is not a new thing. If you are among those who see it as a “trendy thing the kids are doing”, among your New Year’s Resolutions should be to stop underestimating X’ers and Millennials ;-).  Many younger evangelicals are trying to connect back to the ancient church and observing the church calendar is among the many practices that many evangelicals were not raised with. I am grateful that our church dedicates a portion of each service to light the candle(s) of the Advent Wreath but I fear that some worshippers may not see its significance and even worse, see it as something novel or cute.

Advent means “arrival” or “coming” as my friend Evan explains in his Advent Booklet (you should download it because it gives an excellent and easy overview) and it invites the Christian community “to enter into the story of Jesus Christ. During this season one meditates on the coming birth of the Christ but also on His future Second Coming …”. For those who have been raised observing the liturgical calendar, you have come to realize that everyone observes it a little differently. Further, as you click around and do your own research, you will see a lot of disparity regarding practices, meanings, interpretations, etc. As a fan of plurality, this makes this observance less legalistic and also exciting for me.

They key piece for why Advent became so necessary was celebrating it allowed me to reclaim the beauty and wonder of Christmas. I remember one Christmas in particular after aimless gift-buying, an underwhelming cantata/musical/singing Christmas tree and nearly overdosing on Christmas music, the first time I paused to meditate on the holiday’s significance was Christmas Eve night. There were feelings of unpreparedness and “missing out” stung my soul. Preparing my heart before Christmas was key and I became so thankful for the historical church’s practice.

Here are some links for you to check out but I’d like to encourage you to commit to observing this beautiful season of expectation of our Savior’s birth.

Everyday Liturgy, Thomas Turner has some excellent links and introductions for the longtime observer and for the newbie.
Evan Curry’s Advent Booklet
Jr Briggs (a church planter in Doylestown) is posting daily advent readings for his congregation on his blog.
The mobile Bible App YouVersion has an advent reading plan as well.

Thanksgiving Reflections

Our family had a beautiful Thanksgiving this weekend. My sister, brother-in-law and niece flew in from Arizona and we spent the holidays with our parents, cousins and with many of our wonderful relatives. Aside from a possible knee injury sustained at our annual youth group football game, “Turkey Tackle”, (those junior high girls are tough), I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend. I even received encouraging words for the sermon I preached this morning (not sure if/how I will post about it but the feedback is surprising when you preach on the rich young ruler in such an affluent area. I mean that it’s surprising in a good way).

I admit to being pretty sentimental these days. For the most part, things are good. I don’t just mean that things are good because God is good (though that is of course true) but I mean to include circumstantially – things are pretty good. I mentioned in today’s sermon that we have “good problems”. Everyone has problems, among ours are kids that wake up at 4 am and if they don’t, they sleep in til 5. Praise the Lord, they are healthy though that isn’t something we take for granted.

A year ago we had to take our 6 week old Dylan to the ER and he was admitted into the infant ICU. Thankfully, he was only there a week and has been healthy ever since. We have had a couple of ER visits since (two with 2.5 year old), and have grieved the loss of a dear uncle and I have a few family members that I pray for throughout the day. Further, we have close friends and know of many others who are facing financial challenges, seeking employment, and trying to figure out the dynamics of certain relationships. May the Lord give us all grace.

I don’t know anyone that lives a perfect, pain-free life – not one. I would also add that with the explosion of social networking and the new-found access into each other’s lives, again, I know of no pain-free lives. If you factor in round the clock, cable news coverage, twitter alerts, google news, (the only guy I know is that Dos Equis’ “Most Interesting Man in the World”). And so this gives me perspective. In your college years, you’re quite the idealist, in your mid-twenties there is the possibility of getting pretty jaded, now in my thirties, it seems that the two are balancing.

In addition to our little growing family, here are a few things that I am thankful for.
Some dear friends having kids this year – The Hickoks, Currys, and now the Turners. Within a month, 4 more couples that we love are going to have kids – going to be an awesome Christmas.
A couple dear friends getting married – like the Peterhoffs!
Our Sr. High Youth Group had a great mission trip to New Orleans this year and we are off to a great start for the year. I could go on and on but I am really grateful for our leaders, our students and their families.
Grateful that I am making some quality friendships through our Second Mile Gathering.
Our church’s prayerful search for vision. Some important changes need to be made in our hearts, ministries, and methodologies. Grateful that we have the courage and the motivation to address this.
Finishing Seminary – I miss my cohort, miss the required reading in a weird way, miss the brilliant moments in a lecture but so glad I’m done. I’ll go for the Dmin when I really start missing that stuff. (Also loved our ‘Nambodia trip!)
And again, I am grateful that God is there in the moments of pain, tragedy, need and among other places, confusion. Like everyone I hate the difficult days, and I grieve when others go through them (some dear friends and some I only know through things like twitter). I acknowledge that sometimes our attempts to comfort may fall short and sound trite but I am confident that the Lord is near the broken hearted.

Reflecting on Phil Cooke’s Presentation at the Collyde Summit Part 2 – #Collyde

This was my first time hearing Phil Cooke. From all that he said, I was a bit surprised that I had not heard of him before but it’s a big world I guess.

Here’s his bio from his blog:
Phil Cooke is a writer, speaker, filmmaker, & media consultant who’s work focuses on helping clients create platforms for influencing culture and getting their voice heard. According to former CNN journalist Paula Zahn, Phil is rare – he’s a working producer in Hollywood with a Ph.D. in Theology. Christianity Today magazine calls him a “media guru” and his Change Revolution blog at is considered one of the most honest and insightful resources on the web on issues of faith, culture, and media.”

Phil does a fantastic introduction. First, he said, “My passion is to share the gospel more effectively.” In a room full of conservative evangelical leaders, that’s a winning line. Then to demonstrate evidence of a rapidly changing world, he drops this little stat, ““5 days of the NY Times is more information than people knew 100 years ago.” People at the table next to me smiled in disbelief and expressed their amazement.

From their he segued to how many churches do a poor job in articulating their identity and message. He put up pictures of bad signage and other weird Jesus moments:

Clearly, the Church has not always been clear or helpful with our great message.

Later he said, the first buildings to reopen in Afghanistan were not schools, hospitals, churches, – movie theaters. And so to cut to the chase, if we are going to have a voice to today’s generation (all across the world), we need to speak social media.

Further it is not just in articulating our message but then it has to fight all the clutter surrounding it in society. He identified clutter as the greatest thing we fight in relaying our message. From Nelson Research, the average American is bombarded with 5000 media messages a day, is connected to either television or the internet for 8hrs and 18 mins a day and sleeps 6hrs 40 mins. He then asked, who is going to win that battle? That fits so well in the sermon I am preparing at the moment (i think I’m using it.)

He discussed the difference between the Boomer and Millennial Generation (and as an X’er this is always fascinating to me). The Millennial sees the interconnectedness of media. For example, they help pick the next American Idol by sending text messages. This is hard for the Boomers to understand. I immediately thought of Doug Pagitt’s sermon collaboration/giving at Solomon’s Porch. They may be seen as odd to some now but for similar churches and youth groups that are already experimenting with this, well, church and the idea of the sermon is going to look quite different years from now.

Phil spent the second half of his presentation talking about “branding”. Even to me that’s a scary word, maybe another time, I can get into why but to cut to the chase, I think I have a fairly decent understanding of it from my time reading and discussing it at Biblical Seminary (Cohort 10! ;-) and agree that everything is branded. Whether branded poorly or well (and the many degrees in between). Everything carries a perception. And because of that – we brand in our youth ministry, our church, we even brand ourselves. I think this is an area that we need to be better stewards of and be more intentional about. (Yes, the website is an example and we all are in agreement that it needs to be radically changed professionally. Praying for change …).

Cooke gave an excellent introduction to the need for social media in the church. I need to check out some of his books to get to the deeper things. I am curious of where he agrees/disagrees with the guru of it all, Marshal McLughan and what he sounds like in comparison with people like Shane Hipps.
If you are interested in reading more from Phil, follow him on Twitter, put his blog on your RSS reader (or subscribe via email) and check out his books:
Branding Faith: Why Some Churches and Non Profits Impact Culture and Some Don’t, The Last TV Evangelist:  Why the Next Generation Couldn’t Care Less About Religious Media and a new book coming out Jolt! Get the Jump on a World That’s Constantly Changing.

Reflecting on the Collyde Summit Post 1 #Collyde

On the heels of posting on Doug Pagitt’s Church in the Inventive Age, I thought I’d post a couple thoughts on the Collyde Summit that I checked out this past Saturday. First, I am still not quite sure whose Twitter feed I found the summit through but I thought that was kinda ironic since the theme was on the use of social media in the church. It gathered about 100 or so church/ministry leaders in north Jersey. Second, Collyde is an organization started by Jinu Thomas. He shared briefly about the launch of the Collyde network and you can read a little of his story here. In short it “is a “Socially-Conscious” social network for Christians, concerned citizens, churches and ministries around the world. Collyde is a non-profit organization that is committed to channeling 100% of net profits directly to fight social and economic causes around the world”.

My first impressions of Collyde were pretty positive. Website looks great and the lineup was very impressive for such a small organization. Carlos Whittaker led a set of worship, Phil Cooke was the plenary speaker, an excellent panel discussion that I wished would have gone longer (and would have liked to have heard more from Joan Ball, she sounds like someone I’d really like to listen to).

The event began with a presentation from Lloyd Pulley who is the senior pastor of Calvary Chapel of Old Bridge. He spoke on speaking the truth in love, how society gives an incomplete truth and the role of Scripture in our lives. Most in the room probably were not hearing anything new but his presentation set the tone and was a solid anchoring point.

As mentioned, I enjoyed the panel discussion with Mike Leahy (Liquid Church’s New Brunswick Campus Pastor) Joan Ball (author of Flirting with Faith: My Spiritual Journey From Atheism to a Faith-Filled Lifeem>), Tim Abare (CEO of Big Fish Media), and Carlos Whittaker (whose daughter just broke her wrist, so please pray for her recovery). Whittaker is among the better examples of using social media. He is a gifted worship leader with a widely read blog called Ragamuffin Soul, a huge twitter following and has a personality that lends itself to social media.

Mike asked him about one of his youtube clips that made his one year old son cry – you can watch it below, over 4.5 million people have. As the story goes, it went viral, the family ended up on morning talk shows, and they promoted the beauty of adoption and allowed other Kingdom-oriented opportunities. The takeaway was in what he said in response. He said he and his wife, Heather, post constantly, blog posts, tweets, videos on youtube and of the last 5 years, that was the one that blew up. It was the result of the platform and a number of other factors, not just a funny yet sad clip. He emphasized the importance of consistency in social media.

Later Mike asked if Jesus would have used social media? (Franky, I hate this question but I suppose it needs to be asked). Joan had an excellent answer where she said, “That’s like a painter asking would Jesus use the color red? I think Jesus would simply say “Paint”. I know this is a concern for many people like the pastor who believes married people should not be on Facebook because it leads to affairs (great logic dude – what’s next? Married people shouldn’t work outside of their homes, travel, or ever leave their spouse’s side? This Thanksgiving, I am grateful that you are not a part of my local church. I know that sounds harsh and I have my own shortcomings and misstatements but I’m still recovering from a year of ridiculous comments made my pastors regarding Haiti, Obama, Muslims, and a few other topics.) Side note – Tim Abare suggested that you need to be a bit controversial in social media. If you know me, you know I say some outlandish, in border-line appropriate things regularly, I just prefer to do it in person so you can hear my the sarcasm in my voice and so I can read your body language and respond from there. I am going to experiment with Tim’s advice more ;-)

Back to the panel discussion, as it moved along, there was a lot of humility (almost a “reverence”) to the topic and I really appreciated Joan’s comment, “No one really knows how to do this – we are all figuring it out, so use it, experiment, engage …”. I admit a bit of my reticence when it comes to my social networking. I blog a few times a week, tweet a few times a day and try to overpost and comment on Facebook for a number of reasons including, “This pastor is on his computer all day when he should be with people, praying, teaching teens, being more missional, with his family, waxing the steeple, etc.” And being a multi-tasker I do all those things simultaneously despite that we are a church that doesn’t actually have a steeple. But like everyone has said repeatedly, this is where people are many hours a day and pastors need to have a presence on here as well.

Phil Cooke was fantastic and I’ll have to blog about him another time.

A Review of Homeless for the Holidays

I was given the movie Homeless For the Holidays to review and my post is due this week. I am not required to give a positive review but rather an honest one and so here is the basic plot with my thoughts:

Jack Baker is a self-made executive who lives an upper-middle-class life–until he loses his job, and finds himself working at a burger restaurant to make ends meet. To make things worse, ends are not being met, and, if something doesn’t change soon, his family could lose everything by Christmas. (taken from this Wikipedia entry)

This is a very family friendly movie. I think many will easily relate to the “rat-race” and the tensions that are created in a marriage and a family from over-working at the expense of the family. It has a great lesson, stacked with morals and values and offers valuable takeaways to all viewers.

That said, I do not think this this movie is targeted for people like me and my demographic. In all honesty, I had a hard time watching it for a number of reasons. One, I did not appreciate the protagonist (Jack Baker). I didn’t really care for his acting, the writing was very cliched, and after a while I just kept being annoyed. Second I had a hard time with the dynamics with the Baker’s marriage. Almost as if it were stolen from a sitcom, the husband was a stubborn, weak loser which forced the wife to be more like a football coach trying to get her husband psyched up for the big game of “job-hunting” in this case. I didn’t really see them pursuing the solution together.

Though I don’t think I have really ever watched one, it seemed like the type of family-friendly movie that would go on the Hallmark channel and if the husband cheated on his wife and abused her, then the Lifetime channel. You will have to pardon my bias towards these movies, I simply don’t watch them.

STILL, for those looking for a family friendly movie and hate everything coming out of Hollywood, you may be in luck here. There is no cursing, no violence or inappropriate situations. And there is a great lesson to be learned here – that life is not all about great careers, a nice home and good-living but about much more.

For those interested, I encourage you to click on the movie’s homepage and watch the preview.