Monthly Archives: December 2011

Is Tim Tebow a missional millennial?

In case you haven’t already heard of Tim Tebow, the outspoken Millennial turned Broncos star quarterback, I’ll catch you up in three hundred words. Whether it is changing the improbability of winning, making a decision to wait until marriage, or having an ability to inspire a team, Tebow keeps upsetting odds and showing up rivals.

But…it’s his faith in Jesus Christ, not excessive success, that has created the most buzz. 

Tebow is well known for giving credit to Jesus for his football victories. He is constantly crediting his “Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,” while ending interviews with “God bless.” During a 2009 BCS game, he inscribed “John 3:16” on his eye-lids with black ink, eventually provoking the NCAA to create “The Tebow Rule” forbidding inked messaged on football players eyelids.

He prays publicly too!

Praying has been done by football professionals long before Tebow existed, and is nearly cliche, but what makes him controversial is the saturation. Tebow will actually get down on one knee while the rest of the stadium is doing something completely different in order to speak to God. This eventually sparked a phenomena called “Tebowing,” and has resulted in a bunch of satirical blogs showing people “Tebowing” in random places.

People either love Tebow or hate him.

Christians love him for his outspoken willingness to use his platform for the Gospel. What type of platform, you say? How about the 94 million people who Google searched “John 3:16” after his eyelid stunt during the 2009 championship game. That’ll preach.

Of course, some oppose Tim Tebow’s antics, not for reasons of faith, but for the way he wears his faith on his sleeve. While his Christianity has meaning, I do believe saturating a worthwhile platform with pithy sayings can have more of a door-to-door salesmen effect on most unchurched people. You can see this tension develop in a SNL skit that came out recently… (warning: some distasteful jokes)

What do you think? Is he being effective on mission, or is he doing more harm than good? Is he taking himself too seriously? Or do critics need to chill?

I suspect that both critics and evangelical supporters are taking themselves too seriously.

He’s a football player and a Christian, so let him live out both. Critics should spend less time tearing apart an upstanding player amidst all the scandals than normally plague sports. And Evangelical Christians should rely less on celebrities to see the Kingdom of God expand, and look at ways we can be on mission!

A demon’s Christmas

Last year, Adorn hosted a Christmas gathering for our college students and 20-somethings that seemed to strike a nerve for a few people. So I thought I should offer it here again. But first, a little background…

This is a short Christmas story, told from the perspective of a low-ranking demon. The events that transpire are taken from the context of Revelation 12:1-6.

“I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning.” -Jesus (Luke 10:18)

And Revelation 12:7-12… (it gets cut off prematurely, but you get it)

May you be filled with a sense of awe at the peerless wonder of Jesus Christ this weekend!

[Outline of both sermons are found here.]

When “Jesus’ Name” becomes terminology

I want to share with you five recent interactions that cause me to suspect that “Jesus” is turning into a byword.

Jesus’ name in prayer

Evangelicals are often reared to pray in “the name of Jesus,” or “in Jesus’ name.” What this sometimes equates to is a literal attaching of the phrase “Jesus’ Name” to the end of every prayer.

Jesus’ name in song

A few months ago, a well-meaning man approached me after I had led music worship at our church to tell me that none of the songs in the first set ever “mentioned the name of ‘Jesus.'” He suspected that a lack of verbally stating Jesus’ name would detract from the glory given to Him. Ordinarily, I would agree with such beautiful Christology for music—except that in this case, the songs he was referring to that morning were Come Though Fount and We Exalt Thee.

They didn’t mention Jesus’ name anywhere, but…how much more Christ-exalting can a song can be than these?

Jesus’ name in evangelism

Let’s get this straight: I believe that the Gospel must be proclaimed and lived out in unison, without compromise between either. Most Millennials resonate with this (especially the “living out” part). But on occasion, people will insinuate how important it is to bring up the name of Jesus is in every conversation that takes place between believer and outsider. It sometimes feels as though the verbalization is of more importance to the said believer—like a check mark on a to-do list—rather than a carefully established relationship and opportunity to witness, to the outsider. Once again, evangelism (sharing of Good News) is watered down into a formula in this case, called “Jesus’ name.” Read the rest of this entry

Using hashtags to bring Scripture into community

I posted three reasons Christians should use Twitter, as well as a litany of resources and links for how to tweet better.

Today I want to talk about how we can use Twitter hashtags as a way of fulfilling Paul’s command to let the “word of Christ richly dwell within” us as a community.

Many of us are reading through the Bible together in one year (You can get all relevant information, including the one year pamphlet PDF here, and we’re excited about it! What may seem disconnected is the “together” aspect of reading through the Bible. Obviously, we’re in different parts of California, and, well…I’m not coming over to your living room every morning to go through a minor prophet.

But in an age where technology allows people all over the world to be unified on current events as diverse as the Occupy Wall Street movement to the downfall of a regime, why not use (redeem?) the same technology to unify each other in the living word of God? What if I didn’t have to come over to your living room for a Bible study, yet we had access to each others devotional insights and well as theological quandaries?

Twitter hashtags allow scattered people to converse with one another.

Try it for yourself. Do a Twitter search on a niche hashtag like #Millennials.

What popped up? An endless list of content regarding Millennials! People all over the world are pumping out blog posts, articles, and Retweets about 18-30 year olds, and they “brand” their content with the hashtag #Millennials. That means anyone who searches for that hashtag will pull up a stream of that content.

Imagine reading through the Bible together while creating a collaborative environment for it on Twitter.

This would mean that a continual stream of Scriptural content would be produced by THIS community of people for THIS community of people! (depending on how many people chose to give it a shot)

How do we start?

Very easy.

All of us begin to tweet questions, insights, or quotes about our daily readings, while include the hashtag #1YearBible” at the end of the tweet. Check out what it already looks like by clicking on the stream here.

What do you think? Want to experience the Word together? Absolutely I do.

Imagery for monotony: “Morning Star Rise”

And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. ~ 2 Peter 1:19

1 Year Bible!

Our church is going through the Bible in a year starting in January. I don’t use exclamation points in my writing often, but last night at Adorn (college/young adults), I asked if anyone was going through the 1 Year Bible reading, and a couple hundred people responded! Gahhh, I can’t wait!!

There is something riveting about reading Scripture in community. I think Paul had this in mind when he exhorts to “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another” (Col. 3:16). I can gladly imagine so many of us digging into the Word of God, mining the depth of his thoughts, and retrieving treasure beyond comparison to speak about to one another.

Of course, the Bible is a big book, and there are some difficult areas to navigate. I say this, because if you are unaware of how or what to navigate, this journey can quickly grow tedious. We will have to keep consistent, frequent conversation with one another about the readings, including questions, dialog, insights, prophetic, etc. I want to extend the invitation to read through Scripture to any of you who do not attend Adorn, to be bound together with us by the Word of Christ instead of proximity.

Let’s start the conversation now, shall we? Below is a short outline of the Bible, Old Testament first, followed by the New Testament. These are compartments of Scripture that will help us to digest the whole…

Old Testament

  • Pentateuch (1st five books of the Old Testament, aka O.T.)
  • History of Israel (1&2 Samuel, 1&2 Chronicles, 1&2 Kings, etc)
  • Major Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel)
  • Minor Prophets (The twelve short books at the end of the OT)
  • Poetry (Psalms, Songs, Lament)
  • Wisdom Literature (Proverbs, Eccless, etc)

New Testament

  • Gospels (The first five accounts of Jesus’ life in the New Testament)
  • History of the church (The book of Acts, chronicling the beginnings of a worldwide movement)
  • Letters to the church (epistles by Paul, Peter, James, and John)
  • Apocalypse (John’s vision, also known as Revelation)

When you see these soaring themes, what comes to mind? What do you think about? What do you struggle with? What are you excited about? What are you most looking forward to? What are you most apprehensive of? What do think about all of this? Are you excited? Just talk! I want to talk to people about the Word of God!

There are bad things that come in life, and there are good. This is one of the good things. Let’s soak it up together, and in it, encounter Jesus.

Your turn.

We SHOULD care what others think

Typical scenario:

Christian #1 enters a room filled with several outsiders. Making a b-line for the unholy huddle, he immediately engages them in conversation while aggresively diverting all available subjects to matters of faith. Upon religious dialog, #1 begins to make short work of everyone who disagrees with his airtight logic. What a stud. After this, he drops the conversation and makes his way to the grocery store where he badmouths his landlord while griping about the holiday checkout lines. Before scanning his Martinelli’s, the cashier greets him with a friendly “Happy Holidays!” to which our stone-faced Christian rejoins with “You mean, Merry CHRISTmas, right??” As he exits the building euphoric over another missional encounter with bad people, everyone else around aisle nine goes back home more disillusioned with Jesus and less loving of his Church.

The End.

There is one side of most of us that will recall the verses warning us that we will be hated by the world (Matt.10:22), that we should not be ashamed of it (Rom. 1:16), and that committed Christians care only about what God thinks. Then there are those on the fringe who care only about his nomination of us as the greatest thing that happened to the planet, while everyone else can either get out of the way or bow down before our brilliance.

We use Jesus’ promise of being hated for the gospel as a sweeping cop-out for ALL of our silly behavior.

Perhaps we should have a more honest view of ourselves?

And by honest, I mean sobering rather than inflated, and considerate rather than selfish. We should care about what others think about us…at least to some extent.

Don’t forget THAT part of the Bible…

  • “For we aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of man.” (2 Cor 8:21)
  • “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18)
  • “Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.” (1 Peter 2:12)
  • “Behave properly toward outsiders” (1 Thess. 4:12)

K…I’ve belabored the point.

Unfortunately, whether it’s our Socratic conversations, satirical Christian t-shirts, the change in facial demeanor when speaking about evolution, our Christianese “code” language, the spiritual gossip, double-standards, lack of empathy, or the silly things we say in the name of evangelism, the ways we stunt our image in public is endless. Nay, it is humorous, but on a depressing level…yeah, it’s “depressing” humor. Irony is another good word for that, and John the Evangelist employs it often in his rhetoric against Pharisees. Oops. (#belabored)

The Scriptures strike a tension between persecution and acceptance that Christians can expect. There should be a mixture of reactions by the world to our faith and practice. So if everybody outside the church likes us, maybe it’s because we’re soft on the Gospel. But if everybody hates us, maybe it’s because we’re a jerk. And if that’s the case…we shouldn’t blame our bad behavior on Jesus. We should blame it on an inability to survive in a worldly setting.

Maybe a higher view of non-believers would help?

Changing it up: When expression grows stale

I’ve been listening to Future of Forestry a lot.

There’s something charming about carefully crafted music.

Perhaps it’s the eerie melodies, or the way they’re able to dominate space and rhythm. Maybe it’s the emotive themes, the joy behind the sadness, or their addiction to the Glockenspiel. But when one of their tracks is playing, my soul begins to resonate.

Unfortunately, much of the music that I’m expected to listen to as a worship leader is not this way.

Popular worship tunes will sometimes have catchy hooks, but “catchy” doesn’t move my soul anymore than “popular” does. Eric Owyoung and FOF keep the beautifully arranged music coming, even back in the Something Like Silas days—Hume anybody?—but when I turn on the rest of Christian radio, it feels as though many worship leader/song writers are being arranged by the music itself (or the “worship” industry). Some worship albums sound like something I listened to—and vaguely tolerated—in the early nineties. Truth be told, I don’t drive down Highway 101 pumping worship music. If I’m on a road trip, I’m probably listing to a lot of synth-pop, heavily-layered electronic music, rockabilly, crooners, experimental, etc., because that’s the music that deeply affects me.

A typical worship album doesn’t cause the endorphins to make a mad rush for my head, just as reading the Spark Notes version of The Brothers Karamazov will cause me to feel the spiritual drama of modernized Russia. I need artistic, authentic expression, not a Dove award nominee. But this is generally what happens when music starts sounding like a Xerox of everything that’s been done before, packaged with the same lyrics, rhyme schemes, pop hooks, and arrangements…yet adulated as “worship” because the lyrics fit a stencil of what can be sung along to by the majority of Christians. My burning question: When did worship move from being an expression of music to a style of music?

I am bit reluctant to accept mediocre music just because the lyrics say something true about God.

That being said, I have heard a few Christian bands begin to stretch the boundaries of music for something beautiful—FOF’s haunting acoustic ballad, “If You Find Her,” Elevation’s strangely handsome rendition of “All Creatures,” and the creative dance that Aaron Keyes engages his instruments with on the song “Dwell“—and that makes me excited.

But I’ve also come to grips that I’m finding more honest expression in secular arts by virtue of their musicality, while praying for more Christians, who like J.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, will lead the artistic charge rather than follow it. Unfortunately, I do not have that gift, so I will find inspiration where it exists, and reclaim it for the glory of God.

Abraham Kuyper once said,

There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’

Well, there’s my que.

Sometimes you gotta go out to the barn to find the right kitchen tool.

But who knows—maybe after an hour of scavenging the barn, you’ll realize that when you were last in the kitchen, you were defiantly using grandma’s cookie cutter for the perfect Crème brûlée of foie gras.

What does all of this have to do with missional millennials?

Well, I’ve shared about enjoying Jesus through the lens of music. But all Christians enjoy Jesus through a variety of ways, and therefore, we have a lot of opportunities to grow stale in what we sometimes call “spiritual disciplines.”

How do YOU keep it fresh?

Let’s read through the Bible together!

What happens when people don’t get healed?

Sometimes people don’t get healed.

I don’t have an answer for you without sounding patronizing, pat, or overly-simplistic. I do have a way of viewing things that may be helpful. Listen to this podcast…

Any thoughts? Objections? Insights? Experiences?

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