Spirit-Led Worship

I got a chance to preach about letting the Holy Spirit invade our lives and church services at Revive Worship Conference this past week. Thanks to Spring Arbor Free Methodist Church for having the video available.

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The Pastor and the Hipster

I was asked to make a few videos for a young adult ministries conference awhile back. Here’s what I came up with after getting some hipster help from Cracked and Stuff Hipsters Say.

ORIGINAL SCRIPT

Black Screen:

In the future, young adult ministries will be full of hipsters…

Pastor: Hey man! Good to see you, welcome to “The Point” ministries! My name’s Jamin and I’m the pastor here. What’s your name?

Hipster: Hi, I’m Richard, but all my friends call me Pilgrim.

Pastor: Haha, well hey there Pilgrim! That is a sweet scarf!

Hipster: Uh… It’s actually a traditional columbian garment.

Pastor: Oh, well that’s fancy. You knit it yourself? Haha.

Hipster: …Yes.

Pastor: Oh cool. Yeah knitting is awesome and stuff. You knit that shirt too?

Hipster: No. It was a dollar at goodwill.

Pastor: Okay, well, why don’t you grab some food over there with the others and then join us in the sanctuary for worship.

Hipster: Is that vegan?

Pastor: Uh… no. That is chicken.

Hipster: Unamused look

Pastor: But the chicken was vegan! Haha!

Hipster: Unamused look

Pastor: Well there’s plenty of other food over there that’s not chicken. You can make yourself a nice salad.

Hipster: Is it organic?

Pastor: No. We don’t have that kind of money in the budget.

Hipster: Gluten-free?

Pastor: I don’t believe that salad really has gluten in it.

Hipster: Maybe not yours.

Pastor: Uh…okay. well I’m going to go meet a few other people, but make sure you get into the sanctuary quick! David Crowder happened to be in town today and agreed to lead our worship!

Hipster: Crowder’s here?

Pastor: Yeah man! You know Crowder?

Hipster: Meh. He used to be cool. Then he got famous and lame. Total sellout.

Pastor: You think so? I thought his music got way more unique and complicated over time. He never seemed to just go with the industry standard.

Hipster: I’d rather just go home and listen to him on vinyl.

Pastor: You mean like those old records?

Hipster: Yeah, everything sounds better on vinyl.

Pastor: Uh… okay sure. But you do realize we have the real deal here with us tonight right?

Hipster: I guess that’s cool if that’s your thing. I saw them at a really small venue a few years ago with Johnny and the Seagulls so… whatever.

Pastor: Johnny and the Seagulls?

Hipster: Yeah—now they’re amazing. They have a full time ukeleist in their band.

Pastor: Huh, sounds made up to me.

Hipster: They’re not. I know lots of bands you’ve never heard of.

Pastor: Oh, wait! I have heard of Johnny and the Seagulls before!

Hipster: Yeah. They’re alright I guess.

Pastor: Yeah that’s, I thought. Alright, I’m gonna head in. Oh, here’s a bulletin before I go.

Hipster: Ugh… arial.

Pastor: Uh oh, ex-girlfriend here?

Hipster: No. This font. It bugs me deeply.

Pastor: You bug me deeply.

Hipster: What?

Pastor: Nothing.

SCENE CHANGE:

Hipster walks over to another hipster.

Hipsterest: Hey.

Hipster: Hi.

Hipsterest: Sigh… This sucks.

Hipster: Really?I think it’s pretty cool.

Hipsterest: I guess it’s alright.

Hipster: No, I hate it.

Beating the High

Yesterday I headed to the movie theater to see The Cold Light of Day out of boredom. Most people must have read to the reviews online because I was literally the only person there (that and it was 7:30 on a Monday night).

And while it wasn’t the greatest movie I’ve ever seen, it definitely had quite a fill of action in it. So much action actually that the movie was entirely unbelievable—my kind of movie! Yet, despite all of this, I sat there with my head in my hands, waiting for the movie to come to an end. Here I was, watching a pretty well-done 90 minute action movie, and I really wanted to go home.

And I’m not actually writing this to dis the movie, I’m writing it to dis myself.

I began to realize during my time at the theater (and came to more of a fuller realization of it tonight), that we Americans are really quite addicted to highs in all kinds of forms.

  • If it’s a movie, it better be the best.
  • If it’s a video game, it better be groundbreaking.
  • If it’s a new technological device, it better do things that nothing else has ever done.

Thus, a reference the iPhone 5. We waited a long time for this and heard lots of crazy rumors about it, and yet the big differences between it and the iPhone 4S are not all that important to your average consumer because they can’t see the inside of the device. Despite the amazing work Apple has done to shrink all of their technology into a phone a few millimeters thick, we yawn and frown that there wasn’t more.

We have a sickness and it comes from trying to jam all of these things into that God-shaped hole. Our favorite movie gave us a high that we compare every other movie too. Our favorite game gave us a new standard for future games. That awesome piece of technology must be far surpassed by the next model. We look to all different kinds of things and we battle the high that we experienced from all of them. That’s why we can turn on a good movie and yawn our way through it.

We’re addicted to finding the new high beyond the high we’ve already experienced. And I think that often times, when we’re bored, we decide to set out in search of a new high rather than fill ourselves with God, who truly is the only one that we’ll find total satisfaction in.

Hellbound Documentary

Along with Rob Bell’s book, Love Wins, has come quite a bit of discussion on the topic of Hell. After that book was released, Francis Chan and many other authors started writing on the subject. I’ve even written on the subject here on my blog many times as well as in my book The Prophetic Jacket. And now a documentary on the topic is coming out that I’m quite interested to see… (click to see exclusive clips)

Along with Rob Bell’s book, Love Wins, has come quite a bit of discussion on the topic of Hell. After that book was released, Francis Chan and many other authors started writing on the subject. I’ve even written on the subject here on my blog many times as well as in my book The Prophetic Jacket. And now a documentary on the topic is coming out that I’m quite interested to see, especially knowing that interviews with people like Greg Boyd are in it. Check out Hellbound’s webpage for more info and Kevin Miller’s Vimeo for more clips.

This is An Illegal Operation

No, I’m not talking about that stupid Windows error that never actually let me exit a window myself—I’m actually talking about stealing music, movies, TV shows, software, video games, and really anything digital. I imagine most everyone in today’s generation has been guilty of this crime in some way or another. We just don’t ascribe any meaning to something we can’t physically hold in our hands. Heck, we don’t even have to feel the guilt of holding a burnt CD in our hands. We just dump a few megs of info on someone’s iPod and forget all about it. So many of us are guilty of stealing and we don’t even care.

That is they don’t care until their TV show gets cancelled. Or the band gives up because they’re not making any money. Or game developers have to charge people extra for online services just to make a few bucks off of a legal selling of a pre-owned game.

See, I used to be like that. And then I got convicted. And then I became like that again. And then became convicted again. And now here I am, writing this post.

Let me just be frank with you for a second: we have absolutely no reasonable excuse whatsoever to steal anything—whether it’s digital or not. I’ve heard every explanation. In fact, I’ve made every explanation! But eventually I was convicted of my error and have done my best to turn away, though I realize now that there are plenty of places where I haven’t even realized I was probably doing wrong. For example, I might want to hear or preview a song really quick that I don’t want to buy, so I might go stream it on someone’s YouTube channel really quick.

Yes, I’m trying to go the extra mile with this situation. The story inspiring this post is that I finally decided to pay the ten bucks Spotify was asking for to enjoy all the music I could. No more annoyingly loud ads! And now I could even download the songs to my phone and take them on the go with me! All of the music in the world was at my finger tips. And then just a few minutes ago I learned a few things and immediately canned my subscription and have decided to wait for their service to look up.

Do I love the idea of Spotify? Yes. Does it benefit me immensely? Yes. Does it save me money? Definitely, yes.

Unfortunately, I’m just not willing to give so little money to the artist. Musician Derek Webb points this out in a blog post of his:

I am paid $0.00029 per stream of a song on Spotify, and even this amount depends on whether the song is being streamed by a paid user or someone using the service for free.  This means it will take upwards of 3,500 streams of a single song on Spotify to earn $1.00 versus that same revenue for one iTunes song purchase (not to mention the fact that Spotify refuses to pay the same amount to independent artists as they pay major labels, unlike iTunes).

Or to put it in another light, it’s rumored that 1 million streams of Lady Gaga’s Poker Face earned her a whopping $167. Whether that’s true or not, I don’t know, but it’s a fairly popular rumor.

Plenty of you will read this article and be ticked off at me. That’s fine. I’m really just trying to push your buttons, which, despite what you may think, is not always easy for me. I don’t care to get negative feedback anymore than the next person.

I’m calling you to at the very least live legally. The next step after that is to start thinking more deeply about some of the things that are legal, but sketchy. For example, perhaps you’ll feel as though you shouldn’t buy pre-owned video games.  Or perhaps like me you will want to wait until Spotify changes their ways a little bit before you really start using it. Take some kind of a stand for something.

I’m not trying to condemn you or look like some kind of holier-than-thou kind of person, but I am trying to convict you. For many, illegal downloading is an addiction. Break it.

Lessons from Haven: The Deck

This is going to sound weird, but I have a prophetic cat. I’m serious. I truly believe that God gave me this cat to teach me some lessons by way of analogy. For that reason I could write a lot in this post, but I won’t. I just want to zoom in on something that happened last week.

I was sitting on the couch in my PJs thinking over some of the passages I had just read in my Bible. My mind was focused on grace. How can God be so good, so forgiving, and so merciful, especially when we can sin so greatly? It’s just so crazy that it’s hard to understand at times. With this on my mind, I walked out on the deck of my apartment and stared into the forest in our backyard. I also let my cats come out and enjoy the fresh air.

As I gazed at the forest I had a thought come to my mind. “The trees die every year, but I still bring them back to life.” I saw the truth there. I could even see a little bit of green growing here and there on the branches. I began to wonder if God was speaking to me, trying to reassure me of how great His grace truly was, but I figured the thought was just one of my own.

So then God made sure I understood.

I looked down at Haven as she was scooching her butt back and forth, peeking her head over the deck more than usual. Neither of our cats have ever jumped off the deck so I didn’t think I had to worry, but the next thing I knew, she was on the ground.

I freaked! By the time I could get outside she could be gone forever! “That did NOT just happen!” I yelled as I ran inside, slamming the screen door behind me. I then flew down the stairs, still in my PJs and ran out to the spot where she had landed.

And there she was, panicking just as much as I was. She started walking my direction, but she would never leave the side of the house. She stayed as close as she could to every wall, following it every way it curved. “Yes! Yes! Come here Haven!” I yelled, trying to sound as gentle as possible. Afraid that I was mad at her or going to punish her, she wouldn’t come straight to me. She ran up to our door, saw it was closed and continued to walk towards the apartment parking lot. “No, no Haven! Come here! Let’s go inside!”

Still no luck. She was afraid of me. She ran back to other side of the apartment where she had originally landed and then looked back at me. “Come on Haven! Come on!” She headed back towards me the same way she had before, keeping as much distance from me as possible. I threw our door open and she immediately ran inside.

I walked in behind her, heart pulsating like crazy.

“Interpret it,” God whispered.

“What!?” I asked. “Give me a moment to catch my breath!” I thought I would have to make up some kind of far-fetched analogy to make anything make sense, but then the gears in my mind starting moving.

We named this kitten Haven because we became her safe place. One day my wife opened the door to bring in some groceries and (strangely enough) a new kitty litter box when out of nowhere, this stray kitten ran in the house. I actually have footage of that moment:

Incase you’re wondering, yes, the two get together fine now. Also, Moe was a cat that treated him the same way he is treating Haven in this video. Ironic? Now back to the interpretation:

In a moment of disobedience, Haven left her haven. She turned against me and jumped away from her safe place. And despite what you might think, I wasn’t really angry with her, but rather I was scared. My initial reaction was to run out to her, scoop her up and take her back inside her haven, but she wouldn’t come to me! She was too scared—scared that I was mad and angry at her for what she had done and that I wouldn’t be loving. And despite the fact that it was out of love that I wanted her back, she couldn’t see it past her perception of me. Yes, she wanted back inside, that’s why she was looking for the door. But she didn’t notice that I was her ticket back inside and that I also wanted her back inside. She was too panicked to think straight.

“Ah…” I thought to myself. “Maybe I should have just listened the first time about the trees.”

It’s sad when your cat pays more attention to the voice of God than you do.

Now for some more unmanly pictures I’ve taken of my cats. Scroll over for fun captions.

The Sounds of Spring

I woke up at 7:00 this morning for two reasons:

  1. It was surprisingly too hot for me to sleep comfortably.
  2. My cat, Joktan wouldn’t stop pacing around my body.

After tossing and turning for about 5 minutes I finally threw Joktan off the bed in righteous anger (okay, maybe “righteous” isn’t the right word). Unfortunately, Joktan is a cat and is therefore unaware that a human may find it annoying to be awakened so early. That being the case, I threw him off the bed a second time. By his third attempt I set him outside of our room and closed the door and went back to lie down.

And then my ears were open. It was a sound I had not heard in months and I think it was more beautiful in this particular case than it had ever been in my entire life. It was so beautiful I recorded a few minutes of it so I could throw it in some future ambient song or something.

The birds were back from their winter break:

Even Joktan and Haven seemed captivated by their song:

God always seems to get me when it comes to nature, as He does with many believers. How beautiful and loud these birds were. I opened a few more windows and let their song fill the house. And after being trapped inside from such a bitter winter, I kept with the nature theme and headed up Falling Water Trails to enjoy some music, see more nature, snap a few pics, attempt (and I use that world loosely) a work out, and work on my message for Sunday.

It wasn’t long before I realized that all of the animals and insects seemed to be waking up from a cold winter’s sleep:

Somehow all of this noise reminded me that St. Francis of Assisi used to preach to birds. I was tempted to run down the trail: “HEY ALL YOU BIRDS! JESUS LOVES YOU! CHIRP CHIRP TWEET TWEET COO!”

However I did not do that. For I do not speak their language.

I also may also have been taken in for testing just to find out that much like Shawn Spencer, I like mental hospitals.

In the end, the theme of this post is God’s beautiful nature. Just praise God that He is awesome and creative and made seasons for us to enjoy. Here are a few more pics I took of His creation waiting to come back to life:

In other unrelated news, download my new free album, check out our new church app, watch this video, and buy All Sons and Daughter’s latest release.