Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas, Christianity and Culture - My question

Now that Christmas is over and countless number so of Christians, agnostics and atheists alike are racking up the 19-22% interest on their credit cards for things that will be broken or on the shelf with in the next 6 months (will you REALLY play Guitar Hero 2 after Guitar Hero 3 comes out in the spring or summer?), I have a question that has been bugging me the last few days.

Now, let me say this, I love being with my family this time of year. Especially this year since we were afforded the opportunity to appreciate each other more this year rather than focus on material gifts. That's why I did the 12 Days of Christmas posts. I'm not one of these anti-Christmas people (I think that would make me a Jehovah's Witness, right?) But allow me to ask a question: What holiday did Christians INVENT?

Most of the more important Christian holidays were not created Christian. Allow me to explain:
Easter - pagan celebration of fertility (hence the eggs and rabbits)

Christmas - pagan celebration of Saturnalia and Juvenalia. Didn't become a recognized Christian holiday until 400 AD when the church wanted to convert the pagans. It hijacked their celebration and tried to make it about God. Because the traditions of the pagan celebration continued into Christmas celebrations - drunkeness, reverlry, fights, sexuality (missletoe wasn't originally for kisses!) and other wild things - Christmas was originally banned in America. In fact, the 1st December 25th in America was just a regular day.

Now I know that Easter is SUPPOSED to be about the death, burial and resurrection of Christ - but its not how we celebrate it. We celebrate it with a rabbit that lays colorful eggs, which are pagan symbols of the goddess of fertility.

So we tried to reach the pagans by hijacking their holidays and changing their meanings - BUT WHAT DID WE INVENT? Is the climax of Christianity's impact on culture simply limited to the theft of pagan culture and rituals?

Christ did an amazing thing at Calvary. Did we lose our own sense of how we should honor him? Did we have to resort to seeing the way others honor their gods to get an idea of how we should honor the Everlasting Father who calls us His own?

What do you think?

Concluding my 12 Days of Christmas

Okay, let's conclude the series.
On the 11th Day of Christmas the gift given to me - My grandparents
There's something about being raised by your grandparents that gives you an interesting view of life. Love and parenting from people with experience allows to you get away with a little less (they've seen it all before) but it also gives you the benefit of learning from people who have the advantage of 20/20 vision. They've seen it, so they know where to point you. My upbringing was FAR from perfect, but my the people of my upbringing are gifts to me. I love you both, can't wait to see you again. I hope that my 27 years of life have made you proud (so far). My gifts, my grandparents.

Let's all sing along now: On the 12th day of Christmas the gift given to me - My wife
I can honestly say I married my best friend. She is the best thing to ever happen to me outside of birth and salvation. She's beautiful, witty, encouraging, sincere and full of love, wisdom, patience and kindness. I was made the luckiest man in the world when we met on November 4th, 2000 and the happiest man on Earth when we married November 27th, 2004. I love my wife more than any other human being, and the look in her eyes tells me that she loves me too. The words of her mouth say it, but the eyes say what the mouth can not. She's lovely. She's wonderful. She's perfect (for me). She's my gift. My most precious gift. She's my wife. I love you Nichole.

There you have it, the 12 days of Christmas. With that said - happy Boxing Day to all of my European/Canadian readers.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas Catch-Up...Again

So this 12 Days of Christmas thing required more than I thought. My attention span can be a little short, so when I want to write about something else, I just want to write about it. So, with that said, let's get up to day 10 of the 12 days of Christmas:

6th Day of Christmas: Anthony "Fedelity" Flagg
Watching him come up over the last 7 years has been a joy. I remember when he was in High School playing b-ball (he schooled me, not ashamed to admit it) and now seeing him and his wife Kelly is a real treat. We have really challenging and inspiring conversations. Dude may not know it, but he inspires me probably more than I inspire him. But that's assuming that I inspire him at all... Either way, he's a gift to me.

7th Day of Christmas: The Hall Family
Sid and his family came to the church for the first time the weekend Nichole and I married. We eventually met and they have been a true blessing to me and my wife. They encourage us and their kids are great. We get to spend Christmas dinner with them this year too. Great people and a real gift to me.

8th Day of Christmas: Alex Faith
He's doing some GREAT stuff with www.urbanmissionaries.com giving Christian Hip-Hop away for free as a means of outreach. Awesome! And, he designed some stuff for me and the Sungate family for free. Gotta love free, right. click the link to my Myspace to see some of work. My page and the Sungate page is great design stuff. he's been a gift to me. God bless ya, man.

9th Day of Christmas: My Youth Ministry Team
Great group of people. Sasha, Darcene, Adrianne and OF COURSE my wonderful wife (she's getting a special post). They've helped us become the ministry we are and they will help us become what I believe we will be. Hard workers, hard prayers. I;ve loved watching them mature as leaders and I look forward to more ministry with them

10th Day of Christmas: Erica and Jamie
This couple FINALLY got engaged. Nichole and I met through Erica (I'll give you the credit now). Jamie is an amazing musician and an all around great guy. I tease him occassionally with the Justin Timberlake references, but he knows he's my dude. His band is SICK and I can't wait to get live gigs going together in 2008. Erica is a sweetheart and most people don't know this, but Erica made my first non-fast food meal when I moved to Oklahoma. It wasn't that great but it wasn't Whattaburger (ugh!!!) so I was okay with it. LOL!!! Anywho, great people and gifts to me.

SOOOOOOOO, only 2 gifts left. Who will it be? One is obvious. Some will be left off, not because you aren't gifts to me or that I don't love you TONS, but if you don't happen to find yourself on this list then I may have already told you at least ONCE how much I love you. I need the whole year to blog about everyone that's a gift to me, and I don't have the attention span to write about all of you. But I will be talking to you.

Who's your gift?

Friday, December 14, 2007

The New York Yankroids?

WHOA!!!! I have a few Yankee fan friends and I know a few others that read this blog are also Yankee fans. So allow me to point out some of the things that startle me about the Mitchell Report.

22 current and former Yankees on the list - more than any other team! Some of the usage took place during the "historic" title run of 1998-2000!
Let's see the title winners on steroids during the title run:
-Denny Neagle
-Roger Clemens
-Chuck Knoblauch
-Jason Grimsley
-Glenallen Hill
-David Justice

These guys were on the juice during the championship years! So how does that sit with you regarding your "Got Titles" talk now? Where's their asteric? The conversations amongst Red Sox and Yankee fans just got REALLY interesting! So can we even COUNT those titles from 1998-2000? Those were juiced up records and a juiced up title.

Can't wait for the first Yankee/Sox match up in Fenway next year! And you think Barry Bonds got it bad? WHOA!

*Apparently Andy Pettitte got on it during 2002 to help heal an injury. That's not all that uncommon so he gets a slight pass from me on that one.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Christmas Catch-Up

Sooooo, lets play catch up on the 12 days of Christmas.

On the 3rd day of Christmas, the gift given to me - My In-laws Steve and Mary Robinson.

Now, I know in many cases its odd to speak highly of your in laws but not for me. I genuinely love my in-laws. They are wonderful people, great parents and fantastic pastors. They don't treat me like a son-in-law, they treat me like a son. Before my move to RI, I got laid off from my job and didn't have the ability to save for my move. Well, they thought it would be a great move to allow me to live with them when I move here until I got on my feet. WHOA! I was dating their daughter and they let me move in! Sound crazy? Sure. But I guess real love will make you do crazy things, and these people walk in real love. PLUS, knowing these wonderful people has allowed me to learn a very valuable lesson (well, lots of valuable lessons, but this on in particular) - get to know your girlfriend/wife's mother, it will teach you alot about your wife.

On the 4th day of Christmas the gift given to me - my friend Randy Ealy

I always say that I've known Randy for 13 or years, we've been friends for 10. Randy and I were roommates in Tulsa and that's where our friendship REALLY took off. Most people's relationships fizzle when they move in together but ours got stronger. He also helped to move our music forward while we were in Tulsa. Quietly, he helped to move the "Christian" hip-hop scene forward out there. We've been able to say in touch and it was a real treat having him out here to visit a few weeks back. Good times. Now, we just have to get him to step his Spades game up! (Inside joke, sorry)
From quasi-enemies (9-11th grades were BRUTAL! Cordial, but not very friendly with each other) to incredibly close friends. I was proud to have him in my wedding and glad he is my friend.

On the 5th day of Christmas the gift given to me - James "Cash Hollistah" Curtis

Cash and I met in a wierd way - on an online rap battle board. Here's the idea in a nutshell - emcees go on the message and battle each other with rhymes. Its like battling (for those not in the know - think the final scenes of "8 Mile") except its not verbal, its all typed. Kinda lame and kinda fun all at the same time. Well, I thought Cash was the best guy on the boards, but he let this subpar emcee beat him. I voiced my opinion, and he vehemently disagreed. ESPECIALLY after I mangled the same guy in my own battle. Well, when we finally met face to face at an event me and my partners threw, he was a little bitter about my assesment of the battle. But eventually we got cool with each other. I saw the guy as being super creative but the crew he was with at the time didn't really allow for his ideas to grow - so we took him in over at Sungate. Plus he was having a not so great living situation, so Randy and I (see the above post) took him in at our place. Since then, Cash and I have been good friends and he motivates me (even though he doesn't know it) to step my emcee skills up. The guy is crazy creative. He and I are working together on a few songs for my album. Those songs are going to be SPECTACULAR! Just wait and see.
Creative. Friend. My gift.

Now, I'm all caught up. See you tomorrow. For the next day of Christmas! Great gifts, great people!

Friday, December 7, 2007

On the 2nd day of Christmas...

Continuing on my list of people given as gifts to me. On the 2nd day of Christmas the person given to me:

Gideon (Jean Alexandre) from Antioch Alumni

Gideon is a really down to Earth guy with a passion for hip-hop and ministry. I originally me Gideon at this guy Lamar Callahan's release party. I had the chance to meet and share the stage with Bobby Bishop, Antioch Alumni, Sev Static as well as a few others. Gideon was the only other person on the spot that lived in Rhode Island. So we exchanged info and went our way. Then, about 9 months later I found his contact info. I decided to give a call and then we just started kicking it from there.

He shared his heart of how he really saw what he does in music as a ministry and wanted to be a help to anyone who needed it in music. So out of his own pocket he bought the equipment necessary to run a decent recording studio out of his home and wanted to allow artists to record for free.

So, Gideon allows me (when our schedules don't conflict) to record my music for free and he is a blessing to record with. Though we have some varying tastes in music, we work well together and he doesn't let me record anything lazy. He even corrects me and helps me get the sound right. We've got some great stuff recorded together so far and I'm hoping for a lot more.

So my second day of Christmas gift is Gideon. God bless you. You are a real gift to me.

See you Monday for the 3rd day of Christmas - you never know, you might find yourself on here.

Feliz Navidad

Thursday, December 6, 2007

My 12 days of Christmas

Well, its the Consumer-mas...I mean Christmas season. I can see it now, Christmas actualy gets corporate sponsors. Imagine the commercials "Christmas 2009. Brought to you by Walmart - Microsoft - Macy's - Apple - and the number 5." Sounds far fetched but really, how far away are we from that?

Anyway, since I've never been one to get caught up in the holiday buying hype (and throw in the fact that this year I am flat broke :0( ) I thought that I would do my own 12 days of Christmas.

My 12 days of Christmas (the 12 weekdays left until 12/24) aren't going to talk about the physical gifts I've received like the song says. Instead I'm going to talk about the 12 people who have been gifts to me over the last few years.

These are in no particular order of importance.

On the 1st day of Christmas the person given to me:
Sabrina from Rhema and Brooke Ross

I can comfortably say I would not be where I am right now if it wasn't for her. Picture if you will: Tulsa, OK 2001. Because my roommate at the time decided he was ready to live on his own I had to buy a car, get car insurance and get an apartment a month before my money for registration was due for school. So the last day of registration came around and I wasn't there. Sabrina, who also worked at the ssame place I did, asked my how come I wasn't at registration. I told her because I didn't have the money. She then said "what if you got it?" I said because of my expenses I couldn't afford to make the monthly payments for school not to mention I wouldn't be able to pay it back. Then she said "What if you didn't have to pay it back" and Brooke chimed in and said "and what if I paid for half of your monthly tuition payments?" I said I'd praise God and be at registration tomorrow! She gave me the money the next day and Brooke paid for half of my tuition payments while he was still employed.

I wasn't able to keep in touch with Sabrina, but because she was given as gift to me I was able to finish my final year at Rhema Bible Training Center one time, which allowed me to move to Rhode Island in 2002 immediately following my gradutation. So if you're out there Sabrina aka Bree, I never forgot. Thank you and thank God for you. You're truly a gift.

See you tomorrow for the 2nd day of Christmas. You never know, you might find your name on here. If not, you should also ask yourself "who are my gifts?"

Feliz navidad

Friday, November 30, 2007

Aaaaaaaannnd we're back!

Welcome back folks! Took a blog break during the last few weeks. Glad to be back though. During the break I had a great Thanksgiving - even though my Lions lost on National TV. Good times with family and friends. I am STILL the reigning Scene It champion. If you haven't played Scene It yet, your are missing out! Didn't try my hand at Sequence this year but my Dad ran the table, so just as good.

I found myself rapping at the club on the 24th. Its always great to rap about God while people are half drunk and horny. What a dynamic! The band was strong! My dude Jamie was playing the bass and one of Prince's - yes Prince aka the artist formerly known as aka the artist known again as Prince - drummer was hitting on the drums. Good times. Bringing the gospel where its supposed to go.

My 3 year anniversary with my lovely wife Nichole was GREAT! We had a very low-key celebration this year. We spent the entire day together (yes I took the day off from work) and just hung out together. Then I turned into Chef Boyar-Steve and cooked up a great dinner! I made scallops over pasta with a butter, olive oil and garlic sauce, the BEST lobster I've ever eaten (the trick is to season the water you cook it in -WOW!), sauteed spinach and cresaints. We drank sparkling apple cider from the silver glasses we toasted with at our wedding (our annual tradition).

My dude Randy is coming in town this afternoon, I'm excited. He's one of my closest friends and we haven't seen each other in like 2 years. Should be good times. He's coming here to scope out the land, interview for a job and move to the glorious land of Newport, RI.

Got a lot of stuff on my mind, I look forward to sharing soon.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Monday Madness

Well, its Monday and there are all sorts of random things on my mind. Thought I'd share some:

- The Patriots are other worldly! 56-10? Upstate NY, was that an official burial of the Buffalo Bills? If so, I forgot to wear my suit and tie. Jeesh...

- Looks like Lowell is not going over to the darkside and joining the dreaded Yankees.
- The Celtics prove to be human after all. They finally lost. I still think they are capable of 60 wins this season. And next season, they will beat the old Bulls record of 72-10.

- Michigan lost to Ohio St. CRAP!!

- The Lions...ahhhh the Lions. Shaun MacDonald just flat out can't catch. I think he'll find himself a little lower on the depth chart. Doesn't he know we needed that win to compete with the NY "football" Giants for a playoff spot? Eeee Gad!

- But Detroit is #1 in something...the murder rate! Detroit was rated by Forbes as "America's Most Murderous City". Detroit had 43.7 murders per 100,000 residents. How does a city with, according to the Yellow Pagge listings, atleast 1,766 churches have a murder rate that high? And people wonder why I'm not moving back...

Okay, that's all the randomness for now.

End Transmission

Friday, November 16, 2007

Don't neglect God in your service to Him

I've been guilty of it and I've talked to tons of people who have done it: We get so busy WORKING FOR God, we neglect our own relationship WITH God. Its really easy to get so caught up with the work of God, we miss the one we are working for. We get so busy trying to connect people with God we neglect our own connection with God. We get so caught up with trying to find a message for others, we miss out on what God is speaking to us personally. We get so busy making sure the church is okay for others, we miss out on what God can do for us in corporate worship.

Here are some things I am doing (and starting to do) to make sure I keep my relationship with God vibrant:

1. Pray, praise and worship often by yourself
I'm not talking about Tuesday night prayer and Sunday morning worship. I mean personal Thursday morning worship on the ride to work or the prayer service Monday morning in your bedroom. Do the spiritual activities we tell others to do.

2. Read the Bible to get a word for you AND DON'T PREACH IT
Don't preach the word God has for you. Its for you. Let it take root, inspire and produce fruit in your own life. We should minister from our ABUNDANCE not our own supply. If you give all of your own food, then you will starve to death.Then, maybe after a year or 2 after its proven to be life giving for yourself - then preach it. Maybe. But don't give from your

3. Go to church somewhere else once in a whileSometimes its nearly impossible to BE the church when you are responsible for DOING church so that others can BE the church. (Take some time and dwell on that one.) For me its hard to get into worship when I have to make sure the tech, sound and room temperature are okay. Some I oversee directly. Others I oversee the people who do. So for my own refreshing, I go to church somewhere else once or twice a year. It gets me away from the grind and I can just get into worship and if the wrong words are on the screen, its not my problem. So freeing.

Remember, its about God FIRST then the people. Its like being on the airplane when those air masks come down; put your's on FIRST then help someone with their's.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Are you a prejudice pastor and don't know it?


Usually when we hear the word "prejudice" we think of of racial or sexist comments. Imigary of white hoods, burning crosses and swastickas or maybe Black Panthers come to mind. Or maybe you imagine interviews with women being prejudged in her ability to do a job because they are pretty blondes. But what ever you think of when you think of prejudice, get it out of your mind for the purpose of this post.

I'm talking about a different type of prejudice. I'm talking about Pastoral Prejudice. What do I mean? Allow me to explain. Most church leaders develop their ministry with a certain type of person in mind. This person is usually popular, out-going, nice looking and probably a person of financial means. If their a youth pastor, they probably think about the captain of the cheerleaders, football team, band leader, class president or some other "cool" kid in the local schools because they can SURELY add some credibility to our program. The captian of the football team is like the holy grail of youth ministry! If we get someone like that, we can REALLY make some noise, right? Then, we just kind of ho-hum our noses at the "ordinary" or even "odd" or "geeky" kids. But when the mayor's son comes in - WATCH OUT NOW! We've struck pay dirt! Its the ministry motherload! Or its one of the local millionares that get the special trips to lunch and your personal cell phone number while the normies get the regular handshake and God bless you. This is prejudging someone's significance based on their social or economic status.

That's ugly. Do we target, prepare for or program with the people who are normies? People of no significant financial or social status? Do we plan with the weird kid who wears all black in mind? We we program with the homeless person in mind? Do we get equally excited about the millionare walking through the doors as we do the dollar-menunaire? What about the no name kid from the college campus? Does he get as much of our emotional attention or as much focus in our outreach and disiciple programming as the basketball player from the college who EVERYONE knows is going pro? What about the introvert who wears second hand clothes on purpose and carries a container of humus in her handmade hemp bag? Do we focus as much attention on her as we do the outgoing pretty brunette with all the latest fashion and a huge social network?

Its sad but it happens... a lot. Let's not evaluate people on what we think they can do for us, but rather let's evaluate people on what we can do for them. I used to have pastoral prejudice. And don't get me wrong, I know there is an arguement for taking those people as an opportunity. But I'd rather view them as an opportunity to vessels for God and not bragging rights for my ministry. I'd rather help the fringe people draw close to God. There are a lot of normies or fringe people or what ever demographic segment they fall in. To me, they are people and honestly, there are too many of them for me not to get excited at the prospect of seeing all of them as dedicated disciples of Jesus Christ.

So please, let's end pastoral prejudice and let's love people - period.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Its been SEVEN YEARS!!

No, I'm not talking about how long its been since my wife and I met. Even though it has been that long, but I'll post on that in the week leading up to my anniversary. What I'm talking about is the 7 years that its been since the birth of the record label I helped start, Sungate Records and the release of our first group project United Souls "Play It By Ear: Vol. 1." WOW! 7 years.

It was me - back then I went by the name O2 aka The Czar,now its just The Czar - King Ray and 7th Element forming the group called United Souls. Emcees to highest level with a ministry mindset, we ripped shows all around Tulsa, Detroit and did some stuff in Atlanta. It was crazy. We released our album Play It By Ear, because we felt like the Christian hip-hop genre was pretty weak in the skill department so we wanted to help raise the level a bit. Here's a track listing for those of you unfamiliar (I'm running this from memory so I might forget a track)

C'mon
Therefore
Repentin'
U or Nothin'
Dial For God (feat. Fuzz Scoota and B-Flat)
Live It Up
United Souls Coming Through (ft. JT Flex)
Inspiration
Holy Ghost Party
United Souls Alliance (ft. Red Suhn, JT Flex)

C'mon and Inspiration were worth the cost of the CD. Definately crowd favorites. Those two songs brought the most testimonies and praise reports of miracles and life change. There were stories of people not giving up on God and life all together because of what God was doing through those songs. I even remember a story of a student who needed $2,500 in 1 hour to be able to go on a missions trip he had been preparing for. So he put on the music, started praising God and at in the nick of time - the money came in!

So tonight, as I do my 1st ever 30 minute solo set in Warwick,RI I will remember the ministry that happened then and the ministry God is still doing now through us here at Sungate Records.

By the way, if you haven't done it yet, go to Cash Hollistah's myspace page and purchase a copy of his mixtape. DO IT NOW!!!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Blogroll hall of fame?

During my daily blog reading, I discovered something fantastic and mind boggling - I was on the Swerve blogroll! I jokingly call Swerve (Craig Groeschel and Bobby Gruenewald at LifeChurh) the Starbucks of the ministry blog world. Those guys influence and encourage THOUSANDS of leaders and Christians with their blog. So I went on there today and I was on the rotating blogroll.

Disclaimer: They did a post about a week ago to see who was linking to their blog and if you responded they said they'd put you in their blogroll.

I'm just surprised they actually did it. The small things amuse me, what can I say? But the fact that these guys would use their blog (did I mention they have a HUGE church in Oklahoma AND in online world Second Life?) to point people to other people's blogs FOR FREE! Great guys over there, they just made me "passionate users" of their blog.

So if you are here from Swerve - welcome! If you haven't checked them out yet, go check out my "Folks I Dig" section and click on Craig's link. Their blog and Mike Servello's blog are two of my favs.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Popping the Christian Bubble


When I lived in Tulsa, OK I experienced a sort of faux-Christian-eutopia that I did not experience while growing up in Detroit. Christian music playing in WalMart AND the grocery stores, bars not allowed to sell liquor 400 feet away from a church (long story on how I know this), mega churches every 10 miles, Christian concerts all the time. Tulsa is so Christian, its jokingly called Tulsarusalem by some. Others called it "the bubble." You could almost live a life full of Christian fellowship and NEVER have to engage people who were not of the faith.

Even more so, I encountered people who didn't really grow up in Tulsa, but they grew up in their own bubble. They had never been around people who smoked, drank or cussed. They had never had a conversation about sex or drugs and had no idea how to handle themselves without being COMPLETELY judgemental of people who have lived a lifestyle opposite of their own. Funny, fast foward a few years and those same people were some of the wildest people I met. I've either seen them or heard the stories from credible people about how wild they were. And these are people that if I named their parents, 90% of the church world and 75% of the non-church world would know their names. They never lived outside of the bubble, then they lost themselves when the bubble builders were no longer around.

Why do we choose to live in our Christian bubbles? Why do build our bubbles? Something that was wild to me was the parallel I noticed in our Christian bubbles and the Tower of Babel. Now on the surface, the Tower of Babel didn't seem so bad. They wanted to build something that could reach heaven and touch God. Not so bad, right? Well, The Tower of Babel was being built for 2 reasons: 1. As a testament to the people's greatness and 2. So that they wouldn't have to spread all over the world - Gen 11:4. The problems with attempting to accomplish this: 1. God wants stuff for HIS glory, not our own and 2. God said to fill the whole earth (Gen. 1:28).

Our Christian bubbles honestly look to do the same thing. We want to have the pride of having created something that doesn't seem that bad but doesn't really fulfill God's will. Our job is worded slightly different that what God originally planned but the premise is the same - go engage the whole earth. We can't do that in our bubbles because I bubbles let's no one AND definately lets noone who isn't just like us in.

There are things we can do to help burst our little bubbles and engage the world:
1. Don't just use the perspective of church in our communication
Too often we communicate from the perspective of our church to do what God has said. Want to make disciples? Be a small group leader. Want to serve God? Volunteer in the ushers team. Want to evangelize? Pass out church flyers (and that has to do with evangelism I will NEVER know. Sounds like marketing to me). Want to be generous? Give to the building fund. Are all of these SOME ways to live the biblical mandates? Sure. Are they the only ways? Heavens no! So let's start communicating in a way that allows us to execute the message not only inside, but also outside the church walls. This way, we see the connection between life and God and how it exists outside of Sunday morning and Wednesday night.

2. Engage people who are not like you
It might be a stretch, but make a friend out of someone who is not a believer. Notice I didn't say make them your evangelistic mission, I said make a friend. Not best friends (there are some scriptural and personal downsides to making a nonbeliever your closest friend), but make them a friend. Besides, our goal shouldn't be leading someone in "the sinner's prayer", but leading someone to being a disciple.

Let's break the bubble and engage the world, they're waiting...

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Preachers confuse me sometimes

I must admit, preachers confuse me with some of their inconsistencies. And its not the Bible's fault, just their use of it. Allow me to explain.

Church. Is it the building or the believers? The "house of God." Is the building our our body? I'm confused. Not because of what the Bible says, but because of how preachers use it. When preachers get mad at a groups religiousity, we say "the church is not the building, its the people that are the church. We don't go to church, we are the church." Then when we talk about honoring God with our bodies (sexual purity, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, etc.) preachers use 1st Corinthians 6 and say "your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit." Which is all true, can't read New Testament scripture and disagree with that one bit. But when people aren't showing up to church and attendance is decreasing, the first thing preachers say is "You need to be in the house of the Lord." They pull out Psalms and quote "I was glad when they said let us go in to the house of the Lord." When volunteerism is low and we need new ushers, preachers pull out the words of David and say "if I could just be a door keeper in the house of God." And when there is a building fund, many pastors start talking about donating "to build God's house." They pull out scriptures about Solomon and other Old Testament people to drive the point home. Isn't that contradictory? Isn't that manipulative?

Are the latter comments taken staight from scripture? Sure. But let's contextualize them a bit. In the OT, God's presence and place of dwelling among men was in the temple. In the NT, His presence and place of dwelling among men is IN men (for those who accept Christ). So if God no longer dwells in buildings of bricks made by the hands of men, but now lives in "living stones", why do we continue to reference a time when God lived in the temple? Sure David was glad when they said let's go into the house of the Lord, but that was before God's house was on every corner. Is the local church important? ABSOLUTELY - WITHOUT QUESTION! Is it necessary? ABSOLUTELY WITHOUT QUESTION! Is the local church God's house? ABSOLUTELY NOT! If so, the people who live in places that the church is persecuted in NEVER experience God's house because it can't legally exist. I guess you'd have to be American or European to experience God's presence, huh?

Then I have to ask, is this an error based on neglegence, ignorance or manipulation? I believe it depends on the pastor. Some pastors have NO Bible literacy and could use a basic course on hermaneutics. Others don't think out what they want to say, they just say it. While others knowingly manipulate people to get what they want. Unfortunately, all 3 are dangerous for the people who are listening.

So preachers, please be consistent in your use of the Bible. Stop sending mixed messages to the flock and genuinely consider your words before you say them. You're job is make matters of spiritualiity clearer not more confusing.

unChristian


WOW! I finished reading this book over 2 weeks ago, I'm still in awe. The subtitle to unChristian says exactly what the book is about "what a new generation thinks about Christianity...and why it matters."

The book is written by John Maxwell's former top executive Gabe Lyons and the leading Christian stats guru David Kinneman of The Barna Group. They embark on a mission to discover what people in America between ages 16-29 (the church forgotten group) thinks about Christianity and why. The findings were not necessarily new to me, but they were definately eye opening.

Theire 3 year researched discovered that people outside of the church, and even some people inside the church believe the Christian church in America is:

Anti-homosexual
Judgemental
Sheltered
Too Political
Hypocritical
"Get Saved" focused (without actually caring about people)
Closed minded to new ideas

There were some great commentaries in the book from some of my personal ministry favorites: Andy Stanley, Louie Giglio, Rick Warren, Mark Batterson, Jeff Johnson and Mike Foster as well some great commentaries from people I am not familiar with. Great stuff though.

There were two things that got me going about this book. The first: I agreed with some of the "outsiders." Some of the perceptions of Christianity in America today that are held by people who are not Christians - I agree with. The second: In some cases, I learned that I was part of the problem. People don't embrace Christianity not because of a lack of belief, they reject them because of those who believe giving God a bad rep. In some of those instances, I was part of the problem. In some ways, I was unChristian.

Its not one of those "how to do church for this age group" type of book. Its not necessarily a church book. Its a book not to only influence the thought and behavior patterns of preachers, its a book to influence the way CHRISTIANS encounter people. Its not a church growth book. But, if Christians stop being unChristian (which means being nothing like the way Jesus said we should be) the book could have have a huge impact in Kingdom growth - and that's what's important.

If you work with and/or care about people between ages 16-29, go read this book NOW! Its a life changer.

If you work with youth...

...you MUST read the articles on this page. They are about the things that make youth happy. Good stuff.

And unChristian review coming later today

Monday, November 5, 2007

Retro Night (and other things)





- These are pics from The Mix's (the youth minitry) retro night. Went fairly well. Had ALOT of 1st timers who came because of our flyer blitz. The message seemed to hit home with some people. My wife's friend came to check it out (even though she's too old, but that's okay) and she came up to me in tears after the message. Even with the crazy hat and old school leather jacket, it didn't distract people from the heart of what I believe God had to share with us. AWESOME!

- GroundZero (Youth ministry of New Life Worship Center in Smithfield, RI) came and did the worship - IT WAS AWESOME! Loud, but awesome. We even did a little weaving between their praise songs, my rap songs and their worship songs. Great flow and some heartfelt worship. These guys are good musicians and they have a heart for God. 5 Stars from me. AND they are a bunch of teenagers! Well, except Drew - he's 21. Awesome group, if you need a youth band for your event hit them up at www.atgroundzero.net

- Kicking off our series about Generousity - its called "GeneroCity." Using a city metaphor to talk about how generousity should be at the core of every Christians life. Should be interesting teaching a bunch of jr. and sr. high school kids about being putting the needs of others first. Looking forward to this one.

- Pat's are still undefeated! Colts fans and/or Pat's haters take note. The Pats are for real! Even with 100 yards of BOGUS penalties, we still won. Gotta love it. Hey Peyton, put that in one of your one trillion and one commercials. Is there a more over-exposed sports figure right now? He's like the 50 Cent of football. Ugh!

- Looking forward to the show I'm rhyming at this Friday. I've never done a solo set for 30 minutes before. It was tough as a group, but now SOLO!? Pray my strength.

Check back tomorrow for my post on the blog ubiquitous book, "unChristian."

Thursday, November 1, 2007

New Segment - Christians Say the Darndest Things

Well, I figured after I heard this one - along with the SCORES of other crazy things I've heard Christians say - I figured I'd add a new segment to the blog. Its a segment called "Christians Say The Darnedest Things." Its a segment where I highlight some of the foolery some preacher has said about culture from the Bible.

For the innitiation of this segment, I'd like to highlight something I heard this weekend from a preacher on Christian talk radio (a well spring of inspiration for this segment can come from there). Since we were approaching the "pagan" celebration of Halloween (check out Mike Servello's post on that, FANTASTIC!), the preacher took some liberties and began to preach about it in a way that would make American Christians want to reject the celebration of Halloween and not participate. So how does he do that? With the Bible? NO! He does it by equating Halloween with something NO good Christian, and probably registered Republican, would want to EVER be associated with - Muslim Jihad!

WHAT?!?!?! That's right folks, according to this guy on the radio, Halloween is the equivalent to Jihad! "How" you ask? Because Halloween and Jihad have a fixation with death, so the two are equals. And if anyone participates in the celebration of Halloween, then they ALSO participate in Jihad. And we all know Jesus doesn't like Jihad. So not only is Halloween anti-Christian, its also anti-American because no self respecting American should want to be apart of Jihad.

So folks, if your kid dressed up as Buzz Lightyear and went door to door to get candy and other childlike pleasantries, you are particpating in Jihad, the destruction of the West, the destruction of Israel and converted to Islam.

I won't even justify this by getting all scriptural. This doesn't even require turning to the pages of the sacred texts to know that somebody has been sipping from the chalace of stupidity! Halloween and Jihad? Give me a massive break! The practice of Halloween wasn't even started by anyone who believes in Allah! Cue the music - "duumb da-dumb-dumb, duumb da-dumb-dumb-duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuumb!"

Halloween is like Jihad, Christians say the darndest things...

Monday, October 29, 2007

Pray for us

I'm soliciting your prayers here. After absorbing and intense amount of information about church, ministry, christianity and leadership lately - I am soliciting your prayers for clarity. I've come across so many good ideas on how to make a significant spiritual where I live, I need clarity on how to execute the right stuff at the right time. I believe we are about to embark on something seriously significant in our ministry and I need focus and clarity.

This Wednesday, I'm doing a message like I have never done before. In fact, from here on I'm embarking on a path I've never done before and never really seen modeled in a youth ministry before. It may cause a great spiritual breakthrough in our community. It may not. But whatever it does, that's what its going to do because I am going forward with what is in my heart. It may land me some enemies, it will grant me some new allies in the quest to change lives on an individual and community level. Whatever it does, that's what its going to do. I am going to go after God completely in this endeavor. I am going to impact the existing local community and impact the culture while creating a specific culture in the context of a church gathering.

So please, pray for us here in Newport. We need your prayers so that God will hear you and direct us to do what He wants. I've never seen the things I want to do in a youth ministy before. I'm not saying they aren't being done, I'm just saying that I've never seen it.

What type of ministry are we going to build? I'll tell you later. Love ya!

RED SOX WIN!!


If you haven't heard by now (ahem) THE RED SOX ARE THE 2007 WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS! I know there are some in Yankeeland that are grieving today (Mike, I'll get you a Sox hat for Christmas ;) ) but all of Red Sox Nation is rejoicing over our 2nd championship this decade. Is the Red Sox Reign beginning? One more in the next 3 years and I would have to say yes!

Congrats to the boys of Beantown! Another ring, another celebration!

And what did they Yankees get? They got A-Rod's resignation and Joe Girardi. Not that Girardi is a bad manager, but would you pay a guy you think is going to take you into winning a championship $2 mill a year? He's getting in 3 years what they offered Torre for 1 year! Doesn't look like winning a title in the next 3 years is on the Yanks mind. BUT in the meantime - BOSTON and DETROIT can duke it out for the titles. This year, I'll enjoy the Sox!

Cheers!

Friday, October 26, 2007

24 Season 7 Trailer!! YEEEEEEEAAAAHHH!!!

What if we're wrong?

What if the way we do church is wrong? This question struck me the other day as I read Ephesians 4:11-13

Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.



It seems as if the systems and practices in most churches don't really allow for this. It seems most churches don't really EQUIP God's people to do His work and to build up the church. Most churches are designed for the apostles, the prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to do God's work and build up the church. Sure, we "allow" people to volunteer by ushering, singing, doing youth ministry, children's ministry,etc - but is that fullness of "God's work and building up the church?" It appears the only vehicle churches offer to let others do "God's work and build up the church" is the vehicle of small groups. But what if you're not a small group leader? What if your church doesn't even offer small groups, then what?

I'm not saying I have the answers or that I've even fully explored the issue, but it seems as if our church system is flawed. It seems we look to create cultures and systems that empower church leaders and minimizes the power of the entire flock by midigating "service" to volunteering at church. Is there more? Do we have it wrong?

How do we really equip and empower people to do God's work BEYOND a Sunday morning experience? How does doing God's work translate to Monday morning? And is that summarized by "Friendship evangelism" or is there more? Sure, the church is the living expression (or it least its supposed to be) of the hope of the world - Jesus Christ. God placed the responsibility of building up that church not in the hands of the "ministry gifts" but in the hands of people who have other gifts outside of those referenced in Ephesians. I guess maybe we have to clearly define what God's work is. Making disciples is not just the job of the local church, its the job of EVERY believer. Jesus didn't want pastors making disciples, He wants DISCIPLES making DISCIPLES. The local church does a decent job and teaching people methods to reach the people they know, but what are we doing to equip people to do the work of making disciples?

Maybe I'm dead wrong and I'm just not seeing it. Or maybe, we're missing it. Maybe our systems support our leaders and not empower our congregations.

What do you think? What, if anything, can we do differently?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Kirk Franklin does it AGAIN (and other random thoughts)!!




-Kirk Franklin is THE guy! He's not relevant, he sets the standard!! Awesome new song, listen above.

- HOW'BOUT DEM PATRIOTS!!! Tom Brady is going to SMASH Peyton's record, and the Pat's could very well go undefeated. It looks like somebody's playing John Madden against a 5 year old! Brady has 27 touchdowns in 7 GAMES! He had 24 TD's all of LAST YEAR!! Can't wait until week 9 - Pats v Colts. The showdown!

- HOW 'BOUT DEM SAWX!! The Boston Red Sox off to another World Series! And to all my Yankee fan friends (i.e. Mike, Cash, etc) I'd like to offer my most professional statement yet... nah-nah- na- nah-na! FIrst the pennant, now the Series! History made, AGAIN.

- Had a guest speaker this Sunday at church - Dr. George Kutty. He's a missionary to India and Southern Asia with a Bible college established in India. When he starts quoting entire chapters of scripture VERBATIM and in King James English, it makes me feel like I need to read my Bible more. Great man, very humbling to be around him.

That's it for now...I'll do a post about the book I just finished "unChristian."

Friday, October 19, 2007

Chocolate Rain!!




This is probably the worst song in the history of music. And I've heard some BAD songs (ask me about the WORST demo I received)

This has been a Youtube sensation and I don't know why. Its bad...just see for yourself.

But...its actually DEEP! Once you get passed the extremely suckiness ("I move away from the mic when I breathe"...CLASSIC!), its actually a deep song about racial injustice. Chech lyrics (yes I found them...)

Chocolate Rain
Some stay dry and others feel the pain
Chocolate Rain
A baby born will die before the sin

Chocolate Rain
The school books say it can't be here again
Chocolate Rain
The prisons make you wonder where it went

Chocolate Rain
Build a tent and say the world is dry
Chocolate Rain
Zoom the camera out and see the lie

Chocolate Rain
Forecast to be falling yesterday
Chocolate Rain
Only in the past is what they say

Chocolate Rain
Raised your neighborhood insurance rates
Chocolate Rain
Makes us happy 'livin in a gate

Chocolate Rain
Made me cross the street the other day
Chocolate Rain
Made you turn your head the other way

(Chorus)
Chocolate Rain
History quickly crashing through your veins
Chocolate Rain
Using you to fall back down again
[Repeat]

Chocolate Rain
Seldom mentioned on the radio
Chocolate Rain
Its the fear your leaders call control

Chocolate Rain
Worse than swearing worse than calling names
Chocolate Rain
Say it publicly and you're insane

Chocolate Rain
No one wants to hear about it now
Chocolate Rain
Wish real hard it goes away somehow

Chocolate Rain
Makes the best of friends begin to fight
Chocolate Rain
But did they know each other in the light?

Chocolate Rain
Every February washed away
Chocolate Rain
Stays behind as colors celebrate

Chocolate Rain
The same crime has a higher price to pay
chocolate Rain
The judge and jury swear it's not the face

(Chorus)

Chocolate Rain
Dirty secrets of economy
Chocolate Rain
Turns that body into GDP

Chocolate Rain
The bell curve blames the baby's DNA
Chocolate Rain
But test scores are how much the parents make

Chocolate Rain
'Flippin cars in France the other night
Chocolate Rain
Cleans the sewers out beneath Mumbai

Chocolate Rain
'Cross the world and back its all the same
Chocolate Rain
Angels cry and shake their heads in shame

Chocolate Rain
Lifts the ark of paradise in sin
Chocolate Rain
Which part do you think you're 'livin in?

Chocolate Rain
More than 'marchin more than passing law
Chocolate Rain
Remake how we got to where we are

Thursday, October 18, 2007

That went well!

Last night at The Mix, the youth ministry I lead, was great! As I mentioned in yesterday's post, we were going to do a round the room OPEN discussion. Yes, an OPEN discussion with teenagers and WHATEVER they wanted to talk about concerning things of the faith. We've done these things before, but not in the way we did it last night.

Usually, the people would write down questions and I would answer them. YAAAWWWN! So this time, we let them ask the questions then we ALL got to talk about the question. It was really designed to see what were the ways they REALLY felt about an issue. All were encouraged not to give the "church" answer if that's not how they really felt.

Anyone wanna guess what the first question was about? C'mon, don't be bashful..What? What was that you just said? That's right - the first question was about SEX! So one guy (of course) asked the question and away we went. Lots of different views. Only a few of our people are "church" kids. Most of them have been recently introduced to the faith or they just began to explore the issues of faith for themselves. It was good to see their point of view. Of course, I brought it back to what the scripture says and even brought out some other tid bits about the benefits of waiting. I ACTUALLY said there are benefits of NOT waiting (had to be "real" or "authentic" or "transparent" or whatever you call it) but I cleaned it up with the benefits of waiting.

Then it got deeper. After covering a few other topics (friendship and music), someone brought up the issue of bi-sexuality and should that person change because people don't like it. Off they went. Again, some great insight on both sides. Did I mention that we currently have people in our YOUTH MINISTRY who are exploring and involved in bisexuality? Figured I share that. Good discussion. Again, we closed the discussion with the balanced, Biblical perspective of homosexuality (they aren't demon possessed!) and change - change in general. Everyone - even our biggest sceptics - said it was vey informative and they enjoyed it.

I like doing those type of sessions every few quarter because it gives the people who don't have an outlet to discuss these issues with their parents or other adults to have that outlet. If we don't think out, discuss and wrestle with some of these issues out loud for ourselves, we never really own the ideas. We just adopt what somebody else says until someone convences us of something different. Then we wonder why people leave the flock after they graduate high school. I encourage discussion and free thought in the issues of faith. I encourage people to ask questions and even challenge what they've been taught. If there is no challenge, how do we know what is a greater way? I encourage the challenge because I know scripture endures and defeats the challenge everytime!

Lastly, I know I lifted some eyebrows when I said we have people who engage in bisexuality. They have always known where we stand on the issue - its sin. Just like fornication is sin, or lying is sin or stealing is sin - its sin. No greater, no less. It STILL requires Jesus' shed blood for redemption. Our stance is clear on the activity, but our stance is also clear that we STILL love them. They keep coming back, we keep believing that they will partner with God and change for His glory. I also let it be known that the activity is not tolerated in our settings - but the same goes for hetero stuff, too. This isn't the place for you to go hunting for sex partners - straight, gay or bi. We love people, period. Our stance is to come as you are, and through God and God alone will you leave different.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Sharing Lives - STRMW part 2

Here's another scripture that has rocked my world recently: 1st Thessalonians 2:8

We loved you so much that we shared with you not only God’s Good News but our own lives, too.


This chapter has been a big eye opener for me in the light of building relationships to share the gospel and make disciples. Reading this chapter, I saw how Paul described his time with them during his visit and how he cared for them and was not a burden on them. He shared his life with them, then he was able to share the truth with them - and they accepted it as God's Word (vs. 13)

These people became people who continued in the faith or, better said, they became disciples. This led me to ask myself, who am I sharing my life with? I share the Good News with people all of the time, but who am I sharing my life with. Discipleship, not just conversion, is made in relationships.

Honestly, I wasn't really interested in sharing my life with people. They gossip to much, they take take take and never give back. They use you for what they want and then just leave without a thank you. In fact, they leave and talk about you negatively. Sharing my life wasn't high on my priorty list - its DRAINING to share my life. But that's where we make disciples. Isn't that what Jesus asked His followers to do - make disciples? I've done a bang-up job at making converts. I could tell you probably 10 different ways to evangelize people. Friendship evangelism, prayer evangelism, the "SHARE" technique and many others. But what about making disciples? I have been TERRIBLE at making disciples. Mainly because I've tried to make disciples from the front of the church with the lights and video screen. Instead, I should be making disciples in the gritty uncomfortableness of life. Its easy for me to put together a message series and pray and share the truth, but who am I sharing my life with? I can honestly say, outside of my wife, I only have 1 person I am sharing my life with. I think that needs to change.

Messages don't make disciples nor do small groups make disciples - disciples make disciples. Disciples are made by sharing the truth AND our lives with people, even when its not convenient.

So I challenge you to ask yourself the same question, "who am I sharing my life with?" Someone is counting on you to share your life with them.

World...rocked! AGAIN!

Wednesday Randomness

- Tonight's youth service is going to be great! We're going to do a group wide chat session called "iBlog." We're ACTUALLY gonna engage our youth in discussion about a few topics. Some will be questions they ask and others will be questions I ask. The goal is to get them actually thinking through issues concerning their faith AND to discover what the prevailing "world view" is in our setting. Open questions from teens...pray for me!

- The Sox are falling apart! Pray for them!

- Barak Obama and Dick Chaney are distant RELATIVES! The irony

- unChristian is a PHENOM of a book! Unfortunately, while being a little bit more that halfway through it, I left the book at a friends house just north of Boston. (Erica, send me the book PLEASE!!)

- Having trouble focusing at work...hence I am blogging...

- I REALLY can't wait until the church can afford to bring me in full time. Being bivocational is HARD WORK! But, its the life I chose so I do it.

- I love imeem

- The Office is funny and Heroes is STILL my favorite show on TV

- WHY OH WHY does the former female hip-hop sensational group "Salt-N-Pepa" have their own reality show??? I still don't know how I feel about them performing at Salt's church.

- Am I the last person in the blog world who still drinks Dunkin' Donuts coffee?

- Looking forward to recording music again...soon...hopfully

Oh well, back to work. I'll post Scriptures That Rocked My World (STRMW) part 2 during my lunch break.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Scriptures that rocked my world part 1

Lately, there have been some scriptures that have shaken me to the core. Literally life change changing stuff. I'll share a few of them over the course of the next few days.

The first one I'll share with you is Gal. 2:6-10. Check it out:

6 And the leaders of the church had nothing to add to what I was preaching. (By the way, their reputation as great leaders made no difference to me, for God has no favorites.) 7 Instead, they saw that God had given me the responsibility of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as he had given Peter the responsibility of preaching to the Jews. 8 For the same God who worked through Peter as the apostle to the Jews also worked through me as the apostle to the Gentiles.
9 In fact, James, Peter and John, who were known as pillars of the church, recognized the gift God had given me, and they accepted Barnabas and me as their co-workers. They encouraged us to keep preaching to the Gentiles, while they continued their work with the Jews. 10 Their only suggestion was that we keep on helping the poor, which I have always been eager to do.

The only suggestion the pillars of the church could give was to keep helping the poor. Not to make sure you take an offering, not to make sure you baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Spirit and not Jesus name only. Not to make sure you stay seeker sensitive. Not to make sure you are relevant. Not to make sure you use the right font on your business cards. Not to make sure you use the right small group materials. Not to make sure your worship isn't too traditional. One can only come to the conclusion that the pillars of the church wanted to share something essential to bringing the message to the Gentiles. The only advice was to keep helping the poor. Not to make sure you target the rich people so that you can have the money to fund your ministry. But to make sure you help the poor.

That was life changing for me because its not something I make a focus. I do it occassionally, but its not at the core of my Christian expression. In fact, I will never forget when I heard a pastor say "don't give to the poor. Its a bad investment." He supported this foolishness and falsehood by using the scripture where it says something to the effect of if you give to the poor, God will return what you give. So if you give a dollar, you'll get a dollar. But if you give to people who are blessed you'll get blessed. Sow it into good ground and receive 30, 60 and 100 fold. I'm blessed so give to me! WHAT A CROCK OF GOOSE CRAP! I never accepted that, but I still never made it a priority to help the poor. if I did it, I did it. If I didn't, I didn't. If I made it to the nursing home or the food bank or the soup kitchen - then give me a pat on the back. If I didn't, well, get off my back. I didn't make it a priority to help them. This scripture (along with many others, but this one as the plainest scripture to make the point) changed my focus. Based on this scripture, its easy to draw the conclusion that helping the poor isn't an additive or elective of the faith but rather is essential to the life of faith. It became even more clear for me when I pair this scripture with "love God and your neighbor as you love yourself." Then, I was even more wowed - and convicted and humbled - when Jesus began His public ministry by addressing what group of people first? THE POOR! "He has anointed me...preach the good news to the poor..." WOW! It was the first section of society Jesus addressed. Not the lost, but the poor! Not the hurting, but the poor! Not the sinner, but the poor! I'm not saying Jesus doesn't put SENSATIONAL emphasis on those groups - He did say "I came to seek and save that which was lost." Don't get me wrong, God wants extraordinary amounts of emphasis on those groups. But I viewed it like this:
The lost, the hurting, those who need to be discipled. And oh yeah, the poor too...whenever that is convenient. But as I live the gospel message and I share the gospel message, helping the poor should be HIGH on my priority list.

But I admit, the poor has not been a priority. People in dire financial straits have not been a priority for me. Maybe its because I don't feel like like I'm rich. Andy Stanley's message "How to be rich" helped me dispell that idea. Maybe its because I felt like many people who were poor were that way because its their own fault. But isn't that being incredibly prejudice and judgemental? Even if it is their fault, are they beyond my help? Sin was my fault but Jesus still died for me. Aren't I supposed to "love like Jesus?"

So now, my priority is to help the poor. I believe its an essential part of living our my faith. Not just an additive, but an essential.

World...rocked.

Did you catch Joel Osteen on 60 Minutes?

I did! First off I was HEATED because the braodcast cut out on me TWICE! I guess you gotta love WPRI 12 - the local CBS affiliate. (Sarcasm abounds in that comment!)

Now, on to the interview. It was pretty interesting to see the interview because the reporter was OBVIOUSLY biased based on the look on his face while interviewing Joel. He was not a Joel "supporter" but he didn't go in obviously bashing him. Maybe slyly, but nothing over the top.

Check out the interview for yourself here

The highlights of the interview: They kicked off with Israel singing one of his jams (he's performed on CBS before). Another highlight was when Joel started crying - again. But this cry was pretty amazing. He responded to his "critics" (more on that in a minute) by talking about the stories of life-change he's heard that has happened through his ministry. Marriages salvaged, lives turned around, amazing stories. As he began to share those stories he BROKE into a flood of tears. The interviewer asked him what was happening, Joel just told him he was humbled and in awe of what God was doing through him. Stuff of legend right there. The MONEY issue was actually a highlight. They mentioned the amount of money they brought in every year (around $73 million) and that it was a "cash cow" for them. Then, they tried to corner him about how his ministry never asks for money on TV. That worked in his favor. He said he didn't ask for money on the broadcasts because he didn't want it to detract fromt he message because he knows people are leary of TV preachers. He just wanted the message to be the focus. In return, $30mill of the $73mill they bring in comes from TV, WITHOUT ASKING! Awesome!

The low-lights: Joel was OBVIOUSLY uncomfortable when asked why his church didn't look like a "church." He looked like somebody asked him why was that weed found under his matress or something. It was a VERY uncomfortable moment that Victoria, his wife for those not in the know, came and bailed him out of by saying "hopefully more churches will look like ours." She's quick on her feet but it was a visibly uncomfortable moment. Another low-light came when the reporter asked him about his new book (that his the shelves today according to the interview) and why there was no mention of Jesus and how it sounds like a self help book. Joel responded with a "hey, there's some scripture in there." HUH? Not "Jesus is the center for all I preach" but "hey, there's some scripture in there. I see myself as a life coach." WHAT? There was the perfect opportunity to do the one thing that he gets criticized most about - not putting Jesus at the center of the story - and he didn't do it. Forget even the critics, he had an opportunity to put Jesus at the center of the story - and he didn't! A little let down by that. I get excited when I see "Jesus followers" in the media and when they can put Jesus in the lime-light i get excited. When they blow that opportunity - whether its the BIG preacher or the "small" Christian (not labels I adhere to by the way) - I get let down. Not to please me, but because of the opportunity to let our lights shine so that they'll praise our Father in heaven (Matt 5:16).

Then they had somebody on there calling his ministry "cotton candy gospel" and called him a heretic. He even said he uses the Bible "as a fortune cookie." I wouldn't go that far AT ALL! But, I guess he's entitled to his opinion.

Overall, I like Joel. I AM NOT on the list of Joel bashers. I don't think he's a heretic. I don't think he's doing this for himself, his ego or to get rich. Do I think he shares some important aspects of scripture? Sure I do. Do I feel like he doesn't cover the other important topics of the gospel - like sin and redemption - sure I do. Do I listen to him and get encouraged occassionally, sure I do. Do I wish he was a little more "Jesus" based and less "self help?" Sure I do. Do I think he's a help to millions of people around the world? Sure I do. I don't listen to Joel for the deep issues of Scripture, that's not his gift and he even says that's not his call (That's why I read the bible for myself...and listen to Charles Stanley!) But if I went to his church, would I feel equipped to do the work of the ministry (Eph 4:11-13 - that's what pastors are for)? Probably not. But why do I get the feeling his small groups are POWERFUL and sometime deep?

What do you think?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Its okay to be white...really


First, disclaimer: I have a genuine passion to see people of all races, colors, cultures, socio-economic backgrounds and creeds united as one under the banner of Christ. My heart is for reconciliation for all peoples. My wife is a living example of that being someone who is Black, Irish, Native American and Portugese. I love all people.

Now, let's begin.

If you are a Caucasion, let me tell you something you don't usually hear from us people of color: Its OKAY to be white, really! Allow me to explain.

It seems that EVERY, and I mean EVERY, job I've been at there is the one white guy who feels the need to "act black" (notice the quotations. I don't think the actions truely reflect the actions of black people, but its the way they see us act...I guess). Keep in mind, I left Detroit when I was 19, from there I lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma and now Newport, RI - two places with Caucaisian populations greater than 80% of the total population. BUT, in all of these places, there is the ONE guy who sees the need to switch his style up COMPLETELY and starts to throw around words like "Hey brotha!" and "What's hapnin man!" or "Waddup!" Meanwhile, he begins to walk with a quasi urban swagger somewhat of a blend of how Ice-T walks on Law and Order:SVU and the way George Jefferson from The Jeffersons.

And usually, its the whitest of white guys that do it. They usually are one step away from wearing horned rim glasses, short-sleeved buttonup shirts and Member's Only "leather" jackets. Its never the white guy that grew up in urban areas around people of color their whole lives. Its always the one's from places like Bangor, Maine or Plaino, Texas (for those not in the know, Plaino is a REAL town in TX. But don't mess with Texas! I mean that! Except for when the Pats beats up on Dallas this Sunday ;-) )

And it never happens when I look my most "hood" either. Like when it happened to me yesterday. I wasn't wearing my Tigers fitted hat or my Timberlands or my really baggy jeans. I was wearing an Express Men's polo shirt, Express Men's jeans (NOTHING baggy about those by the way) and a Gap sweatshirt because it was cold in the building. And yes, I wore express. My wife gets a KILLER discount there and the stuff is pretty decent. I may be one of a handful of heterosexual, african american males under the age of 30 to wear Express jeans, but I dig 'em! WHAT!?!?! There is NOTHING "hood" about Express jeans. But here he comes, "waddup brotha?" Immediately I cringe and respond in the corniest stereo-typed nerd voice I could muster and just say "I'm doing well today. And yourself?"

So let me go on record to say, while it may be "cool" to be black (I know I love it!) ITS ALSO COOL TO BE WHITE...REALLY! Be yourself. Don't put on heirs for me. I won't like you more and I won't think you're cool just because you gave me a "pound" by the water cooler. If you listen to Big and Rich and doing anythign more than a handshake confuses you - THAT'S FINE! REALLY! We can talk sports, coffee, art, music (I like stuff other than rap. I think John Mayer is the MAN and Citizen Cope is criminally slept on.) and whatever else floats your both. Just be you. If you try to be someone you're not, I will probably respect you less and I may have to repent for poking fun at you with my friends.

Just be you. Its okay. Its okay to be white. So just shake my hand and say "how's it going?" Now shut up and pass the David Crowder CD, please!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Sometimes you got it...

...and sometimes you don't. "Got what" you ask? A connection when you communicate. You just seem to know when you've made the connection with the audience (you nailed it) and when you don't make the connection (you blew it). Last night, I felt like I nailed it. It seemed like the message hit home with the listeners and was applicable for them. Not bragging AT ALL, it just feels reassuring to know when you've nailed it.

The same goes for music. You know when you've nailed the connection while you're performing and when the crowd is either waiting for the next song or the next act. My favorite time of musical connection was when I did a song with the choir on a Sunday morning at RHEMA Bible Church (to you anti-faith camp people - go ahead and be a good Christian and start your divisive jeering now...are you done yet? Okay, keep reading). We did the song "Shackles" by Mary Mary and the worship leader at the time wanted to infuse some rap with it. So, me being me, I said "sure!" It was awesome! The people - at RHEMA - on a Sunday morning - in September (the beginning of "church season") connected with it so strong that God just began to move on their hearts something FIERCE! It was one of those services where there was no "preaching." We kept doing the song, I kept rapping, they did a healing line (with CONFIRMED healings - I knew one of the people that got healed) and did an alter call. That was it! 22 people responded to the alter call! And at a church mostly made up of preachers -that was HUGE!

I get another chance to connect with people using music when I perform on November 9th in Warwick, RI. Rumor has Bishop Paul Morton is supposed to be there that night, too! WHOA! No pressure though. I'm praying that the people putting the event on has a budget so I can bring my band in. I will do it with tracks if I can't get the band, but its a better show when I can get the LIVE BAND going. Its a bunch of PROFESSIONAL musicians (I mean professional like I've seen some of the dudes in the band performing on Jay Leno, Regis and Kelly, etc.) in a band called Last Straw. Dope musicians, I hope we can do it. It'll be fun! If not, it'll be fun anyway!

Done with the randomness for now...

Monday, October 8, 2007

Curt Clutch



That should be his new name, Curt Clutch! He's a clutch game pitcher! Curt Schilling is another one of those manimals! The sweep is finished and the Boston Red Sox wipe out the Angels to move on to the AL Championship Series. If the Tigers can't go, the Red Sox will be just as sweet! Ortiz continued his homerun hittin' ways and Manny has to life at the right time. I love it! I smell a World Series coming (sniff...sniff)Yep, that's definately a World Series ring I smell.

Honestly, I want the Yankess to play the Sox - it would make for good baseball. Roger Clemens back in Boston for a playoff game, Johnny Damon here for a playoff game, Andy Pettit v Josh Becket. Mieng-Wang v Matsuzaka. It would be fantastic baseball. BUT IT WON'T HAPPEN! The Yanks will be punished tonight at the hands of the C.C. Sabathia and the Cleveland Indians (remember game 1 of the series, Yanks lost 12-3).

Well, let's look at the bright side. When the Yankees lose, Joe Torre will be fired (poor guy, I kinda like him - maybe not) and A-Rod will become a Red Sox - again. This time for longer than 15 minutes. Most don't remember but A. Rod was signed to Boston before he went to NY. He actually restructured his contract to take less money to come here. But the leage said he couldn't change his contract to take less money - so the Yanks took him. He STILL wants to be a Sox player and Theo Epstien still wants him. Imagine that line-up. Ortiz-A Rod-Manny as your 3-4-5 hitters! WOW!!!! Cue MercyMe - "I can only imagine, what it will be like..."

Well, The Sox roll on and wait for their next foe. And how 'bout those Patriots? And Celtics - With KG-Ray Allen-Paul Pierce - start the preseason this week. WOW!
New England sports - gotta love it!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Change of Approach

Why do church leaders ask people to "accept Jesus?" Or say things like "we need God in our lives?" Isn't it the other way around? Don't we need our lives in God? We treat the idea of salvation not as a life change, but a life additive. Its almost like we say "you've added everything else you need, now just add a pinch of God in there and you're all set." We don't just need God in our lives, we need our lives in God. Its not adding God to our life, its giving our whole life to God.

Didn't Jesus say something about "abide in me." I mean, look at the phrases used in in Romans 10:9 - "if you confess with your mouth 'JESUS is Lord'..." LORD? That means supreme boss! That means you confess He is in charge of your life. Then why are we portraying this image of Jesus needed to be accepted? He doesn't need to be accepted, He needs to be lived for!

2 Corinthians 5:15
He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.

I think that says it all. So I'm done asking people to "accept" Jesus. I now will ask people to give their lives to Jesus, He gave His for you!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Let the battles begin


So, my new friend Mike has reminded me that the baseball playoffs have begun. The Yankee jabs have begun to us Sawx fans. I have even learned, much to my dismay, my boy Cash is also a Yankee fan! I was surprised because he's a Patriots' fan. Pats and Yanks? Sacrilige! Anywho, allow me to bring you Yankee fans into the 21st century (since all they seem to talk about is the 19th and 20th century). Since the turn of the century, the Yankees have been the most historic team in all of sports. THEY BLEW A 3 game AND 1 out lead on the Red Sox. Need I bring up A-Rod's literal HACK JOB! (I won't knock A-rod too hard because he will be in a Sox uni next year...)

Last Yankee Championship - 2000. Last Sox Championship - 2004. Last Yankee MELTDOWN - 2004. Last Red Sox meltdown - ?

Well Mike, Cash and all you other Yankee fans - you are all living proof that God still uses us despite our bad decisions.

Cheers and we'll see you in round 2 (I hope).

Best commercial ever

Random thoughts of the day

First - Josh Beckett in a manimal! That's right, manimal, part man part animal. Complete game shutout! Sox 1 game down, 10 more to go to be crowned "World Series Champs!"

Next - How did Stephen Jackson get to be named captain of the Golden State Warriors? ESPN reported the news and I was amazed! What's next Ron Artest president of the NBA players association? Geesh!

Also - I hope my boy Fedel wins the Tulsa Spotnik Award for Best Christian act. He's up against...gulp...PILLAR! GO VOTE!

Oh yeah - HEROES IS BANGIN'!

Lastly - I hoping to glean from some bloggers at Catalyst Conference this year. I REALLY want to go next year. Until then, I will live vicariously through some of the bloggers

There, finally, a short blog from me! HA

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Making Friends

I have been a little jealous of my wife. She has FRIENDS and I don't. Well, wait...let me explain that. She has friends, near her age, that she can call and hang with. People that she can easily relate to without having to continually search for common ground - that live locally. Being a transplant from Detroit via Tulsa, my friends are scattered around the country. I've got the 3 R's in Detroit - Ray, Randy and Russ. I've got my dude Fedelity in Tulsa. I've got Cash out in Atlanta/Salina (who REALLY knows which one he lives in?). I've got my dude Mo Christmas up north in New Hampshire. I've got other people I'm cool with on the leadership team at the church (I'm the youngest person on the team by ATLEAST 15 years by the way - BUT I LOVE THE WHOLE TEAM!) and I have people I've met through doing music...but noone close to my age who I can relate too. Nobody to say, hey let's get together and watch the game. Or to say "hey, let's link up in NYC over the weekend." The only person I can say that about is my friend in Boston Erica, but that's my WIFE'S best friend (yes, she STOLE my friend! J/K! They met in college and became great friends. We actually met through her.)

Anywho, I've honestly been eagerly anticipating the day I could link with some people who who either rhyme or are in ministry that I could link with, talk to, chill with, etc. My wife has even been like "you need some people to kick it with!" My father-in-law is the person I "hang" with! I love him to life, but, when you father in law is who you decide to "chill" with, there is an issue looming over head.

Well, the time has come and I have made some GREAT people who I think we'll be really close with over the long haul. First, was Mike Servello, Jr. I met him while he was speaking at the "Awakening" youth conference in Smithfield, RI. I really felt the need to connect with him - even though he lives in Utica, NY. While speaking, he said something about the best restaurant in his home town was Outback. I figured I needed to get him down here to NPT and get him in a decent restaurant. Long story short, I invited him and he and his wife Melissa along with their cute daughter Daniella came down and we had a BLAST! It was one of those times when you go "I think we'll be friends for a looooong time." He's really good people. Genuine, down to Mars, good people. Him and his dad pastor a few churches in NY so he's also got a WEALTH of information I can grow from. We accidentally coined a new phrase "Leaders are breeders" - more on that topic later, though.

Then, while hanging out with Mike, I finally got to link with this guy Marco Debaros. (all of my ministry friends' names start with M - Mike, Marco and Mo. I can't WAIT until I start calling them the wrong name :) ) Marco is the youth pastor at the church that hosted the youth conference Mike was speaking at. Again, good people! He also rhymes too so we got a two-fer in that relationship - he rhymes AND is a youth pastor. Him and his wife Lindsey along with their daughter Grace, came down and we got hang out at the Taste of Rhode Island festival. great convo and good times together (despite the missing purse :( ). Again, another time of "we're going to be really cool for a looooong time. Genuine, good, down to Mars people. He lives only about 15 minutes away too!

So now I have friends who don't live in different regions of the country that I can chill with, talk to, vent to and pray with. AND talk smack about sports! HOW 'BOUT THEM SOX AND PATRIOTS! AND DON'T FORGET MY LIONS!!

Swing by Mike's blog and check 'em out. Tell 'em Steve sent cha. (I've always wanted to say that.)

Monday, October 1, 2007

No More American Christianity




Let me start by saying, I love the lost and I am dedicated to seeing the lost saved and giving their lives to God. But not in the American sense of "accept Jesus." (I'll blog on that topic later)

Also, I genuinely want to see people who are without God come to know Him initmately. I genuinely want to see people who are already growing in their relationship with God become dedicated disciples of Jesus Christ. Not just church goers, but dedicated disciples displaying authentic faith. Seeing people go from casual Christians to being dedicated disciples. I'm always amazed when I hear stories from people who live or reach out to foreign countries and live trying to just make it to the next day because of their Christian faith. I have a kid in my youth ministry who is originally from Pakistan. He lives here in Rhode Island to go to school and lives with friends of his parents. His dad is a bishop in Pakistan and he lives with his mom and dad for the summer in Pakistan. When he's here, he lives freely and enjoys the freedoms of beign a Christian in America. This summer in his return to Pakistan, he was on the run the entire summer. Not because his parents are criminals, but because he and his family serve Christ. LITERALLY praying in the name of Jesus Christ on his own front porch could cost him his life. Meanwhile we have spend advertising dollars to "beg" and "bribe" people to come to a "see you at the pole" rally.

When I talk to a missionary friend of mine who travels to southern Asia (India and places around there), I'm always inspired and challenged. He has established a Bible college in India - mind you, its illegal to convert to Christianity from Hinduism in Inda - and his stories are amazing. I remember when he told me about the time some of the students in his school (all of whom are Hindu converts) went into the shopping square and began to preach Jesus and His gospel message. Well, these men were met with the joyfl appearance of the local police officers who politely began to BEAT the men - WITH BICYCLE CHAINS! After their public thrashing and ensuing imprisionment, the men returned REJOICING! They rejoiced because they suffered for the sake of the gospel! WOW!! Meanwhile, we have to convince people to talk to people about Jesus and to get rid of their fear of being "rejected." Rejection in the sense of not being invited to watch "Monday Night Football" at a friends house because you might be labeled "the religious guy." C'mon!

I'm not really interested in American Christianity. A friend of mine, Marco (shout out to Marco and Lindsey...not Leslie but Lindsey...ha!) he called in ME-anity. Its all about me in American Christianity. Its about me, me, me. What about When Jesus said "take up your cross and follow me." Or what about when Jesus said "they will hate you because they hated me." Or what about when Jesus "he who tries to keep his life will lose it, but he who loses his life for my sake will find it." Why are we trying to be so much about us when Jesus already told us that's a pointless cause! In America we talk that easy talk of "I'd die for Christ!" when there is no threat. But do we really love God enough to DIE for him? I actually get the opportunity to see people who LITERALLY put their lives on the line everytime they travel. its a challenge. Its counter-cultural. Its honestly un-American. But if I have to be unAmerican to be like Christ and to be a dedicated disciple - then so be it. Being Christian doesn't make me American (or Republican for that matter) and being an American doesn't make me a Christian. Being a Christian, makes a Christian...to the death!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Jon Kitna is the MAN!!

This is the best article I've ever read about an athelete who is a Christian! Jon Kitna, bring us to the promised land!! Or atleast the friggin' playoffs! (And please, no Jim Mora "Playoffs?" quotes.)

I'm tired of being relevant!

If you look around the church world today, the new buzz word is "relevant." Christians active in church building, music and leadership are all talking about being "relevant."

First of all, this term carries a different connotation than its true meaning. If you talk to Christians about being "relevant" they'll tell you all of this stuff about using video, how wearing suits are unnecessary, you HAVE to have a website and a blog and some really creative signage, using cool lights and having a great band, etc. So when I leave the conversation or the seminar, I automatically see being "relevant" as being "cool." So quickly, my mind goes to "I need to make stuff cool around here." But, can I really be relevant without all of that stuff?

Here's how the dictionary defines relevant:
rel·e·vant - adj. Having a bearing on or connection with the matter at hand.

So does lighting give me a "connection with the matter at hand?" For the church, is the matter at hand marketing or the hearts of men and women? Don't get me wrong - WE NEED MARKETING! The church has to find a way to cut through the cluttered noise that American culture is today, so I know we need marketing. Not minimizing that one bit. But what I'm not doing is over stating its need. We talk the talk of marketing and get people in the doors with our cool signs and clever marketing campaigns - but then what? People are in the door but have we made a bearing on the matter at hand? We've been seen as "nontraditional" but are we touching their hearts for the cause of Christ?

If to be relevant means to be cool, I don't want any part of it! If I want to be cool, I'd throw parties with half naked women and distribute free alcohol and drugs. I'd be "cool." But I want more than that - I want to influence! I want to encourage and create change!

Usually, when people or movements that are about CHANGE being their journey - they are COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT! For Martin Luther to leave the Catholic church, that was not relevant. When the great evangelists of the world came, they were not relevant. Abraham was in a polythiestic society and he began to believe in a monotheistic God, he was irrelevant. Nehemiah wanted to rebuild the walls of destroyed and hopeless city that was once an enemy to the government he served, he was irrelevant. Jesus came to fulfill the law and offer grace and love and to bring salvation in a time of strict adherance to the law and obedience to the religious leaders. He was irrelevant. Martin Luther King, Jr. wanted to use non-violent protests to fight against violence and force used against people of color, he was irrelevant.

People who lead widespread change are not relevant. Relevance doesn't create impact. Relevance gives you market share. Relevance give you publicity. Relevance gives you popularity. Trailblazers aren't relevant. Trailblazers create change. The end result of what they do creates relevance. Relevance is merely the byproduct of a great change. Cheese is a byproduct of milk that comes from cows. If i were to own a farm, I wouldn't want to own cheese or even milk - I would want to own COWS! I wouldn't want to own the byproduct, I would want to own the thing that makes it. My goal isn't relevance, my goal is change. Relevance is just trying to catch up to the change. I'd rather create than catch up.

Agree? Disagree? post a comment.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A journey of Culture

Well, my world has OFFICIALLY been rocked! Not like Wanda from "In Living Color" but my world has been rocked in a different way.

I've recently become a fan of Erwin Raphael McManus. I like his communication style and all that. Plus, anybody chill enough to refer to himself by his FULL name is worthy of some attention. Not his 1st two initials - but his full name - he's a "g." (Retro 90's hip-hop term for those not in the know. To be a "g" is a good thing, just trust me.)

Anywho, I read one of his postings about broken people and he mentioned the concept of our "ethos" in our local churches. So I got to researching the word ethos and found a profound definition of the word.

e·thos [ee-thos, ee-thohs, eth-os, -ohs] –noun
the fundamental character or spirit of a culture; the underlying sentiment that informs the beliefs, customs, or practices of a group or society; dominant assumptions of a people or period: In the Greek ethos the individual was highly valued.

WOW! The fundamental character or spirit of a culture! That REALLY got me thinking "what is the fundamental character of the culture in my church? What is the culture of my church?" Now, when I say culture, I don't mean color or economic background. In the context of my church and youth ministry, those barriers aren't there. Our church and youth ministry has bypassed the barriers of color and even denominational history to allow people to come together under the banner of Jesus! So when I mean culture I don't mean black or white or even hip-hop or rock. I mean the values, the closely held beliefs that influence the regular decisions. Is the culture of our church inviting for people who are messed up with tons of baggage and want help? Or are closed to just the people who already have it together? Are we a culture of authentic expressions of faith or do we as whole promote the ideas of just going through the motions? Do we genuinely love people or do we just tolerate them until they cross us? Are we a culture of servitude and generosity or are we selfish Christians and the world can suffer for all we care? Can people come in with problems and see people getting free and being whole or are we just a gathering place for hurting people making no progress? What kind of culture do we promote? What kind of culture do we live in and (as leaders) create in our church?

For me, this was earth shaking. So, I have begun to explore my own culture. As a leader, its my job to create the culture that I want see in my setting. If I leave it to the people, I may have a culture that I don't want. A culture that doesn't promote the fullness of God in the lives of people. A culture that doesn't encourage people to "get into the presence of God, to grab hold of His plans, purposes and promises and to go show every race and culture a living picture of God's love."

The next year will for me, my leaders and my youth ministry will be a year of a journey. A journey of culture. A journey to define culture and in many ways defy culture at the same time! This will be exciting!

My blog innitiation

Hello blog world.
It is I Steve Patton, known to the followers of my music as "The Czar." I guess I should start by telling you a little about myself.

- Born and bred on Detroit's West Side
- Rhema graduate (Class of 2002! But DON'T just dismiss me a "faith guy." I'm sssssssoooooooo not.)
- Emcee with SERiOUS mic skills. We'll that's what they tell me.
- Youth Pastor at New Beginnings Praise & Worship Center - The Mix is our name. We WILL be a voice of hope to wherever our light shines!
- Married to the most wonderful woman in the world -Nichole.
- I love all things Detroit (yes, even the Lions) and all things New England. My love is not equal though. I will route for The Sox, Patriots and Celtics UNLESS they are playing Detroit.
- My passions are culture, music, leadership, ministry and God. Ministry and God ARE NOT the same, that's why I list them separately.

Well, I guess you'll discover more about me as time goes on through these posts. I look forward to sharing my thoughts with the world. Enjoy.

By the way, I called this blog "Veracity Chat" for the obvious reasons of the definition - here we will discuss truth (because if I say it - ITS TRUE!!! Just kidding).