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!


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!


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

Chocolate Rain
History quickly crashing through your veins
Chocolate Rain
Using you to fall back down again

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


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.


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!


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 the death!