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)

U or Nothin'
Dial For God (feat. Fuzz Scoota and B-Flat)
Live It Up
United Souls Coming Through (ft. JT Flex)
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.


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:

Too Political
"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... 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

- 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...