A vision of greatness for 2011

This past year, I have been meeting with a small group of friends every Wednesday morning for breakfast, to dialog about life, and most importantly to discuss God’s purpose for our lives. This was in affect the third or fourth small group, life group, Bible study group, or whatever the cool kids call it, that I’ve been part of. If you are currently not engaging with other believers, or not a part of a community of friends. I highly encourage that you seek one out.

We, as Christians, and as human beings, are not meant to live a sequestered life. In fact, that is at the heart of the Christian life. You cannot do life alone. Apart from the atoning gift of Jesus, we are forever condemned, remaining in our sin. We are meant to experience life with others, bind our hearts together, and rely on God and encouragement of our confidants.

With this in mind, I feel the LORD positioning me for something different. Something that I need to be ready for. Something that I need to work for. Something bigger than a Bible study, per se. So, today I drafted an email to the men who are a part of this morning group to make them aware that i’m going to take some time off from our regular prayer breakfasts.

With text messages, twitters, status updates, and the like I find myself writing much less. So, when what was supposed to be a simple, curt email turned into several paragraphs, and when tears started to well up under my eyes, I knew that this message was one worth saving.

I recall writing a letter to my parents for Christmas as a kid. I read it aloud to my older brother, Matthew, to practice before I read it in front of family at gift-time. As I read it to Matt, and when it was read to the family, tears flowed uncontrollably. I had no idea why. But, at the time, my big brother said something that has always stuck with me. He said “That’s when you know your feelings are heart-felt.” As a young, insecure kid – this was just the validation that I needed.

For a guy who constantly sticks his foot in his mouth all the time, I find my thoughts are fully satisfied when I write them down. This is how I felt this morning as I drafted this email to my friends. There’s a mission embedded in this letter – a calling not just meant for me, but one for us all. It is my prayer that this year is one of transformation in us all. It’s a calling to believe fully in a God who will make himself known to you, and to live courageously daring to be great.


What a great year it has been. And what a great year 2011 is poised to be. I can’t wait to see what God has in store. If I had to summarize 2010, it would be the year that God wouldn’t let go of me. Even though I didn’t have a full-time job, he provided. Even though, I struggled with relationships he protected me. Even though at the start of the year I wanted nothing to do with Jesus, he knit me into forming this morning group and spoke to my heart throughout the year. As much as I try, I can no longer doubt his presence.

Words cannot express the gratitude I have for the commitment we all made to meet and to start our days talking about our LORD and our lives.

As I look forward to 2011, I am going to be taking a few months off from our breakfasts to pray about what the LORD has next for me. I feel God preparing me for a transition, something big. I’ve been praying that the LORD moves in ways that there would be absolutely no doubt that my actions are in line with His will.

I feel God’s big moves will go well and beyond the normal. It’s not another Bible study, not another book to read, but a path that only God can open. I’ve had these feelings for a while, and know that it’s not something limited to me, but a generational calling. Please join me in praying that this vision be fully transparent for each of us in our own ways.

Our God is big, good, and is He is calling. With this common prayer and common desire, we are bound together as brothers in Christ as we pursue greatness for His glory. As Shakespeare once said…

“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother…”

I pray that those wanting to continue the morning meeting, do. I leave this up to you, and hope that you don’t mind me joining you from time to time. Most importantly, I pray that we not just pray big prayers but LIVE with BIG FAITH, confident in the promise that is Jesus Christ.

You are my brother,

Ps. For you LOST fans… these videos are great summations that hit home for me.

Jacob (God) explains why He speaks to us in different ways.

Jacob (God) asks us to have faith to be a leader for His kingdom.

Jack, through faith, realizes his purpose and encourages Hurley to lead.

Are we becoming more righteous?

I just wrote this email to a good friend of mine and Biblical genius, James-Michael Smith. It seemed well thought out enough (and I rarely have these moments) that I figured I would repost this as a blog to open discussion for everyone.

This is an idea for a really conceptual, in-depth blog piece. If anyone can pull it together, you could.

I went to Forest Hill yesterday and David Chadwick recited several statistics about marriage and divorce, and morality. Some of it sounded right, and the audience was mostly amazed and nodded. But, some of the stats were hard to believe for me.

• 53% of Promise Keepers visit porn sites weekly
• 33% of Promise Keeper pastors visit porn sites monthly
• 1/3 of committed Christians don’t believe Satan exists
• 1/3 of Christians believe Jesus sinned while on Earth
• 40% believe they have no responsibility to share their faith
• 41% believe that the Koran and the Book of Mormon are all different expressions of the same God
• Committed Christians give away 2% of their income.

It reminded me of the below page of charts (Divine Law Rejected) I received in Sunday school while in high school. As I have always been a numbers guy, these charts always stayed with me, and I’ve kept this piece of paper for now nearly 20 years. The charts basically try to depict how horrible the world has gotten since abortion was legalized in the US.

A few weeks ago I watched “Freakonomics, the movie”. In the movie there was a section on how abortion is a key factor in the reduction of crime in the last decade. This made me think of my chart again. Ok, crime is down, but at what cost? Where are we today? Where are we in respect to the rest of the world? Where are we morally in respect to our ancestors?

Are we getting dumber? Has divorce increased? Are we a less religious society?

I’m not doubting the rise/fall of these moral indicators. I just wonder where we as a society in 2010 stack up against world history morally. I recall your stories of the pagan worshipers having to have sex in the temples to appease the rain gods, or something to that affect. That seemed really bad to me.

If we give an arbitrary weight to moral corruption (sleeping with prostitutes to appease the rain gods would probably be a 6.5), would it be possible to take these graphs and extrapolate backwards of where we stand against the sexual deviants of 1000 BC? Would the graph show that we are much more morally sound as a society today? Or would it show that we really haven’t changed much?

Are there any indicators in history that we can say “Ah, see after Moses/David/Jonah/Jesus/Paul/Martin Luther/Billy Graham there was a severe drop in crime, sexual immorality, etc.” ?? I understand it would be completely arbitrary, but I think it’s a good exercise to stake claim of where we stand in society.

It seems painting the world in a dark light is a very good way for pastors to make a point, and give the congregation a reason why they should repent. But, I’m curious if in the grand scheme of all time, is the world all that bad?

More importantly, are we (humans) becoming more righteous? Or less righteous? I think this is a very important question to ask. …Did God’s plan of sending Christ to Earth work?

To me, it seems that politics and old habits of fire-and-brimstone styled sermons skew the goodness of what God has done. I mean, aren’t there millions more of faithful believers today than there were in the time of Noah, Moses, Paul? Since the death of Christ, hasn’t the population of “heaven” (or those awaiting the new Jerusalem) exponentially grown? Has not Earth become more righteous?

A bunch of questions, I know. But, was wondering if you thought it would be a worthwhile exercise to quantify.

LOST thoughts

So, i don’t blog much any more. I simply don’t have the time. All my pent up thoughts seem to have found a release on Facebook and much more increasingly on Twitter. But, what do you do when you are encapsulated in a very moving TV series and want to deconstruct it for the rest of the world? You can’t do this all on Twitter… You write a blog.

[Blowing dust away from the keyboard!] Does this thing still work?

So, I will try to scribe some of the back story later. For now, I just want to get these thoughts out there, and will come back to follow up with some more complete thoughts on LOST and how it has affected my lost in future posts. HINT: God is SHAKING MY WORLD UP by this TV series, like only God can do. If you want to know a little more about LOST and it’s Biblical ties, I suggest you watch all of Chris Seay‘s Video Blog Series on Youtube. He’s a pastor in Houston, TX and has written a great book called “The Gospel According to LOST”. Check it out!

So now to this week’s episode…

A friend asked the question: What was the significance of Sawyer offering an apple to Kate? Was this Biblical? Symbolic?

My response:
I think the analogy you can make of the apple, is that it is proof of Sawyer making an unwise decision.

As I’ve always said, LOST is genius with its Biblical references… but they are never a 1:1 ratio. When a character seems to fit a certain Biblical role, you always get confused when they do something else. Which is ok, because the Biblical narratives are used in a hodge-podge manner. Which gives us a great opportunity to fuse them together in conversation to find the over arching theme.

So, in case of the apple in the garden of Eden… When Eve tries to convince Adam to eat the apple, she has already made an unwise decision… and it ultimately results in her (and Adam’s) exile from Eden.

Likewise with Sawyer. It’s clear he’s made a selfish decision to leave the island. I think Kate not taking the apple foreshadows that she has yet to be all-in on Sawyer’s plan – and ultimately will chose to go back to the island.

This is key… because ultimately this is a story of redemption. Eventually, all those bad decisions can be absolved when each character finally reaches the right one – being obedient to God’s (Jacob’s) calling for their lives.

So, Kate not taking the apple provides her an opportunity to witness to the crowd on the boat, whom we hope ultimately will all be redeemed.

Seacrest. Out.

Bonus: Listen to this song, and see if it applies to LOST and to us all…

Christian Hosoi – Rising Son

This weekend I was flipping channels and ended up on Current TV. I was working on the laptop simultaneously, so I didn’t have the volume up too much. But, I stopped on Current TV because they apparently were running a set of skateboard themed pods. One of the coolest things to have on TV in the background, in my opinion, is skateboarding and surfing videos. Something about it that just soothes the soul, even just having it on in the background.

In this reel of endless skateboarding pods, one caught my attention (embedded below). It was a highlight on Christian Hosoi, skateboarding’s first real super star.

This clip got me interested in his documentary, and I found it on Youtube. It’s a great story of redemption. This man was on top of his world, tempted by drugs and women, and eventually fell so low that he was arrested and sent to federal prison for a 10 year sentence.

“I don’t need God, I need a lawyer.”

It’s amazing how God made himself known to Christian Hosoi at the moment he breathed these words. Watch the movie below to see how.

“It’s a movie about second chances. It’s a movie of hope.”

Jesus Christ’s death was a fulfillment of Scripture

As I continue to read the passion story of Christ’s crucifixion and death, I’m reminded of a sermon I heard a few months ago, preached by a friend of mine, James Micheal Smith.

In this sermon JM paints the picture of how John 19:28 is actually a “fulfilled Scripture” as the text calls it. It’s a beautiful imagery of Christ’s fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy.

John 19:28 reads…

Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.”

JM’s sermon takes us through this story and tells us of what this meant to the people who were actually there witnessing the death of Christ. When Christ uttered these words, someone in the area must have known his Scripture and knew what Christ was asking for…

Looking back at Psalm 22, we see David paint a horrific, yet prophetic, story.

14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted away within me.

15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me in the dust of death.

16 Dogs have surrounded me;
a band of evil men has encircled me,
they have pierced my hands and my feet.

17 I can count all my bones;
people stare and gloat over me.

18 They divide my garments among them
and cast lots for my clothing.

19 But you, O LORD, be not far off;
O my Strength, come quickly to help me.

20 Deliver my life from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dogs.

When John states that “so that the Scripture would be fulfilled…” John is referencing Psalm 22. This is powerful! This is God fulfilling his promises right in front of peoples eyes. This fulfillment had to be what Christ was talking about when he last uttered “It is finished.”

If you are interested in hearing JM’s full sermon, I have included the sermon below.

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