Category Archives: technology

Lent 2011!

I have never done anything for Lent.  Never fasted.  Never sacrificed anything.  Nada.  Zip.  Zero.  Zilch.

I always thought Lent was some weird holiday for Catholics (just being honest here).  But it’s more than that.  Lent is simply a time of preparation.  It’s a 40 day preparation, leading up to the Holy Week (the week of Jesus’ death and resurrection).


I was out running tonight with a group of guys.  I get together with them once a week (at least).  We workout, run and even study together.  It’s a great group.  Tonight, we ended up on the subject of Lent.  One of the guys in our group basically said, “We should do it.  We should sacrifice something for Lent.”  So, we decided to go for it.

Since Lent is a time of preparation through sacrifice, we will each be sacrificing something to God for 40 days.  Each guy chose something that would be difficult for him to give up.  The idea being that it would be something difficult, a challenge, something that would really be a sacrifice.  One guy chose sweets, and another chose Mountain Dew.

What about me?  I wasn’t sure what to give up.  I was stuck.

So I went to my ever faithful wife and asked her what she thought.  When I asked her to make it tough, I had no idea how tough she was going to go.  Still, it’s a great challenge and I’m going to go forward with it.

For 40 days, I’m going to give up social media!  (Isn’t she brutal?)

I’m exempting my blog from this fast/sacrifice.  All other social media will go.  Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, Tumblr, Path, etc.  40 days.  All gone.  No comments.  No posts.  No status updates.  No picture posts.  Nothing.

My goal is to spend the time I would usually be on social media, reading Scripture, praying and clinging to God as Easter approaches.

So, there you have it.  Lent 2011 – no social media!

What do you think about Lent?

Will you be sacrificing anything this year?

Social Media Fast

Facebook.  Twitter.  Foursquare.  Yammer.  Tumblr.  LinkedIn.  XING.  Meetup.  MySpace.  And that’s just a start.  Social media is huge in our world.  In fact, it has changed hSocial Media Mapow we communicate, meet people, share photos and even do business.

Over the last couple of weeks, I have taken a break from all of it.  I logged off of Facebook.  I gave up tweeting.  I didn’t even yam on yammer.  In fact, I’m pretty sure no one even knew where I was because I cut Foursquare out of my life.  No blogs were written.  I deleted the apps off of my phone.  I literally went on a social media fast.  I had a very specific goal in mind.  There was something missing in my life.  All of the social media stuff had just become noise for me.  Time was being wasted.  And to top it off, I wasn’t hearing from the most important “social connection” in my life.  So I want to tell you a little about what I learned during my social media fast.

I would give you an accurate time frame, but honestly, I’m not sure what that time frame is.  What I can honestly say is, that this has been going on way too long.  So in the following examples, just insert “way too long” as a time frame.

For (time frame), I could tell you what the latest YouTube fad video was.  But I couldn’t tell you what God was up to.

For (time frame), I could tell you what was going on in many parts of the world.  But I couldn’t tell you how God was working in my world.

For (time frame), I could point you to blogs, websites and resources all over the net.  But I couldn’t point you what God was saying.

My goal was to get my priorities back in the right place.  I replaced all of my social media time, with time with God.  Instead of updating my status, I spent some time hearing from God.  And something amazing happened.  I began hearing from God in fresh ways.  Everything began to change for me.  Things were much clearer.  I began to have a very clear sense of the things I had to do as a campus pastor.  It was one of the best things I have ever done, spiritually speaking.

I’m convinced that we can fast from more than just food.  Fasting is a spiritual practice where we give something up in order to hear from and get closer to God’s will for our life.  For me, it was fasting from social media that is just what I needed.  My last update on social media was September 15th.  My fast began on the 13th.  I updated on the 15th to simply say that God was already showing up in a big way.  And what a great three weeks it has been.

So what did I learn?

  1. I don’t need social media to survive.
  2. I need God to survive.
  3. Social media is fun, but it’s not life.
  4. Time is precious and how I spend it needs to be watched, closely.
  5. God speaks to us when we are as intentional about listening to Him as we are about spending time on Facebook.

Many of you may be wondering; will I be back to social media?  The answer to that question is, “Yes.”  I will be back to social media.  But I will be back with a much clearer perspective on how and when to use it.  I will have a plan in place to make sure it doesn’t take over my life.  So for those of you who follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr or Foursquare, you don’t have to fear.  I’ll be back soon.

So, that brings us to you.

Do you think we need a social media fast?

Have you ever taken one?

What did you learn?

Are you going to take one now?

SOAP – John 1

SOAP stands for Scripture, Observations, Application & Prayer.  As our church studies through different SOAP passages, I will be uploading videos every now and then to talk about some of my own observations.  I hope this turns into a great way to connect with a lot of people as well as share insight into Scripture.  Looking forward to reading your comments.  I would really like for you to subscribe to our YouTube channel.  Leave me some comments there as well.

Who’s Building The House?

One of the things I have been praying about recently is that God would show me what He wants to do with His church.  In my specific case, His campus.  My prayer has been simple; “God, who do you want us to be?  What do You want us to accomplish?  What can we do to bring You glory?”Traditional Church Building

As I was doing some reading and studying to try and prepare myself for what God might say, I found my way to 2 Samuel 7.  This was a big deal to me because for so long, I have been making the same mistake as David.  Prior to verse 5, David makes an assumption that he will be the one to build God a big, beautiful house.  He assumes that his plan is right and that God will bless it.  In fact, he was so confident, he told the prophet of God, Nathan, about his plan.  David has decided that because he lives in such a beautiful palace, there’s no reason why God should dwell in a tent.  He wants to build God’s house.

So often I have prayed that way.  Have you?  I have prayed, “God, bless what I’m doing.  We’re doing ‘this’ ministry, bless it.  Make it work for You.  I’ve read the demographics.  I’ve done the research.  I’ve prepped the team.  Please bless our efforts, so that You get the glory.”

We make the same mistake that David made.  He wanted God to bless his plans with the ulterior motive of bringing God glory.  He justified making his own plans by assuming God wanted his plan.  The church as a whole is in the middle of something similar.  Should we be attractional (let’s do a bunch of big events)?  Should we be missional (let’s have church in a coffee house)?  Can attractional and missional be blended?  Maybe we should be more traditional?  Maybe we should start house churches?  The internet and technology are there.  Let’s launch an internet church.  Or should we do video church?  So many questions, so little time.  So many “houses” to build.

Starbucks SpiritualityI believe those questions must be answered.  I believe those questions are legit and shouldn’t be ignored.

Here’s where I believe we get hung up.  2 Samuel 7:5 says, “Go and tell my servant David, `This is what the Lord has declared: Are you the one to build a house for me to live in?'”  In other words, we often think we are the ones with the master plan.  We read the books, go to the conferences and even wear the right clothes.  We begin to believe that we have the plan.  We will build God’s house.  We will make His name great.  He will bless our efforts.

That’s when we must hear the voice of God saying to us, “Are you really the one to build a house for me?”  God says, I have this planned out.  I know what I want my house to look like.  And I even know who I want to build the thing.  Our mistake is not that we work hard for God, our mistake is that we look to the wrong source for the plan.

How much different would church be if every single follower of Christ and church leader, went to God to find out what God wanted?

What if we asked God His opinion before we start to build?

How much greater would the effectiveness of the church be if “we” weren’t building God’s house, but we were allowing God to do the building?

How much stronger would the church be if church leaders and pastors were humbling themselves under the hand of God?  Fasting and praying for His lead?  Waiting on God to make the first move?  How much stronger would we be?

The question I want to ask you is this, “Who’s building the house?”

Are you building and hoping God blesses your plans?

Or are you allowing God to lead the way and working where He blesses.


Free Give Away!

Hey everyone.  One of my favorite blogs, CPF, is up to some good stuff.  They have been around for 3 years and have posted over 1000 articles.  They are my favorite resource on Christian finances.  I have used them as a resource for many lessons I have taught and preached on money.  They have truly been a blessing to me and my ministry.

Right now, they are doing something amazing.  They are giving away a free iPad, as well as a few gift cards.  So, you should head over there and check them out.  Read their stuff.  It’s among the best I’ve found.

Exponential – Day 2!

Today was an amazing day.  There are some of the most gifted speakers in the church here in Orlando, right now.  It is an electric atmosphere.

It started around 9.  Finished up the day one, intensive pre-conference with Tim Stevens.  He had fantastic thoughts strategic planning relating to volunteers.  God’s Kingdom relies upon the amazing work of volunteers.  And I can’t thank the volunteers at New Life Haymarket Campus enough for all they do.  I will be showing them a lot more love when I get home.

Then it was off to lunch.  Before I got there, I bumped into a man you may have heard of.  His name is Francis Chan.  That was really cool.  P. F. Chang’s was fantastic.  If you haven’t eaten there yet, I highly recommend them.  I even bumped into a friend of mine and his wife, Chad & Kara Simpkins.  I came on at New Life as the Haymarket Campus Pastor and had two months of transition time with Chad.  He is in Chapel Hill, North Carolina planting a church now.  I consider him a good friend and it was good to see him again.

Back at the main conference site, they were gearing up for the first main session.  Worship from the crew at Mosaic Church was off the charts.  Then Mark Batterson gave us the toughest 10 minute sermon I’ve ever heard.  He was immediately followed by a slightly well known author and church planter, Louie Giglio.  He gave the best, most passionate message on the power of the Holy Spirit I have ever heard.  I was speechless and very convicted when he was done.

My day could have ended there, but it was off to two afternoon workshops.

First, I went to a workshop on social media and the church.  Should the church be afraid of social media or utilize it to help bring the amazing message of Jesus Christ to where people already are.  I’m all for social media and I use it like crazy.  I only hope to be able to use it effectively.  Kem Meyer taught and she was great.  Then it was off my second workshop.  It was all about keeping your marriage healthy in the context of when you are church planting.  Dan & Shannon Smith, formerly on staff at New Life, did a fantastic job.  Their talk was designed to help couples keep their marriages healthy and fresh in the context of church planting.  I was inspired to be a better husband.  The afternoon was unbelievable and I’m stoked for the rest of the week.  Can’t wait to hear what God has to say to me through these people.

Just put me to bed now.  My day was complete.  Until, our crew stopped at Cuba Libre for dinner.  I don’t know enough words in the English language to adequately describe how delicious my steak was.  I’ll leave it at that.  If you’re ever in Orlando, you need to head south on International Drive, past Sea World.  There are some out of this world, places to eat.  I’m going home at least 5 pounds heavier, and I don’t even care.

Now, I’m chilling in the room, hanging with the guys, decompressing from a great day.

I’ll be back tomorrow night for a Day 3 recap!  Night!

Are You LOST?

For a long time, I have refrained from putting onto “paper,” my thoughts about LOST.  Probably the fear of getting it wrong and looking like a complete dork, has contributed to this.  LOST is now beginning the big descent.  They are within 10 shows of the finale.  I am very torn at this point.  I don’t want it to end, but I also want the answer.  I want to know the intricacies of what made this show tick and what made it such a national phenomenon.  I want the answer to the numbers and what they mean.  Will anyone, ever, be able to create a show with such depth and amazing character development?  Highly unlikely in my opinion.  For those of you who are already confused, I suggest sitting down with Netflix, begin at season 1, and just start watching.

I wish I could say with 100% accuracy that there was a “Christian” undertone to the show.  My guess is that ultimately it won’t be as much “Christian,” as much as “spiritual.”  Having said that, this past week’s episode, not bothering to mention countless others, really drives home some deeply “Christian” thoughts to me.

Jack Shephard

Jack Shepherd

Take for instance the scene with Jack and Richard.  (Spoiler alert – if you haven’t seen this week’s episode, don’t read any further)  So Richard is this immortal character.  He never ages and apparently, can’t die.  He walks into this giant ship in the middle of the island.  He tells Jack he is going in there to die.  Jack follows him in, along with Hurley.  Richard tells Jack that because of Jacob’s touch, he can not die.  Apparently, he has tried to kill himself before because he says that it won’t work.  So he is going to have Jack do it.  The conversation leads to Jack lighting a stick of dynamite, sitting on a table right next to Richard.

The fuse is lit and begins to make its way toward the stick of dynamite.  One character has already met his Maker from this dynamite and Hurley is still picking pieces of him out of his clothes.  :)  Anyway, Jack sits down and begins to have a conversation with Richard while the fuse is burning.  Jack is now convinced that Jacob has brought him here for a reason.  Apparently, seeing his childhood home in a “magic” mirror has him convinced he was supposed to be there.  Remember, Jack and Locke had debated many times about how they ended up on the island.  It was Locke who was originally in the camp of faith and destiny.  Jack was in the camp of science and gravity as to why they were there.  Through many episodes and a lot of pain, Jack is beginning to realize, he is supposed to be on the island.  So he tells Richard that there’s no way the dynamite is going to explode because he can’t die either.  The fuse gets right down to the last inch (or less) and goes out.  No explosion.  Richard goes on living, as does Jack.  Richard is now convinced and will most likely become Jack’s new right-hand man.

Richard Alpert

Richard Alpert

So why bother telling you all of that?  Here’s the spiritual parallel to us.  Jack has made many mistakes; so many in fact that he has attempted to run away from his “destiny,” his purpose for being on the island.  His running took him clear back home where he experienced nothing but misery.  Yet, as Jacob continues to work behind the scenes, Jack finds himself being drawn back to the island, to his purpose.

I see this in many instances, probably the most popular being the story of Jonah.  A guy running from everything he knows deep down is right, but has too many other issues to pursue what is right.  So he runs, runs as far as he can from his purpose, that being a trip to Nineveh.  As he runs, he experiences nothing but misery.  A major sea storm, a bunch of sailors who chuck him overboard and from there, nothing but a bunch of large fish mucus and vomit.  Not really a thrilling picture.

But this is exactly how God works in our lives.  We butcher the plan.  We run from God.  We call it anything in the book, anything other than a purpose or destiny.  We invent reasons to run away from our calling.  We do our best to get away from it in pursuit of what we actually think is best for our lives.  So we run from God.  We leave the island.  We throw our purpose away.

It is at this point that many people start getting confused.  This is not the part where God’s wrath comes into play and He starts smiting people.  This is the part where God’s grace comes into play.  This is the part where, even though Jack experiences some rough times and so do we, God begins to draw us back to His purpose for our life.  “We have to go back, Kate.  We have to go back.”

And while we run, God in His all sufficient grace, uses our experiences in life to redirect us back to His purposes.  He brings us back to the island.  Through all of our mistakes, God redeems us and uses our lives to accomplish His will.

LOST might just be another TV show to some of you, but to me, it’s one of the most beautifully constructed, images of the battle between Good & Evil and how God will ultimately accomplish His purposes.  The LOST producers don’t even have to go that far or even come out and say that.  But I am beginning to take something away from the show that is ultimately deepening my faith in the God who loves me, has a purpose for me, has given His all for me and is continually redeeming me and bringing me back into His will.  Now that’s exciting!

You can’t kill Him.  You know the rules.”

Question of the Day! (QOTD)

So I had an idea the other day about this blog. I’m thinking it might be time to mix it up a little bit, throw in some fun stuff every now and then. So I’m going to institute a “Question of the day” as well as some “Top 10” lists. Feel free to comment or add ideas for future QOTD’s or Top 10 lists.

So today’s QOTD is, “Do you text and if so how many texts do you send in a day? Week? Month?”

Glo Bible

Let’s all be honest with ourselves and confess that we are now living in a technological world.  Almost everything is done through either a computer or electronic advice.  There is probably little argument that atop the list of modern day gadgets sits the iPhone.  Download an app (application) for nearly anything you can possibly imagine.  Use your iPhone (or other smart phones) to look up recipes for dinner, download music lessons, stay connected to friends and family through facebook or twitter applications.  Grab the app that shows you step-by-step how to make your own espresso at home.  And there are thousands more; everything from home design to catching your favorite teams score.

Now, step into a “typical” church.  Sit down in “your” pew (no cafe or Starbucks here).  Listen as someone tells you to pick up a book from the shelf in front of you called a him, hem or hymn book.  You’re not sure which it is but you do as you’re told.  Turn to page number 264.  Turn a page?  You have to be kidding me.  Is there an app for this thing?  Now listen as the man in the front begins to preach a sermon.  He says some things that you aren’t too sure about.  You would really like to ask some questions, but judging from the looks and demeanor of those around you, it is either really a bad time to interrupt with your question or that just isn’t accepted here.  When the service is over, one in which there was no Starbucks or app for the hymns you just sang, you head to the church library looking for something that might be helpful in your search for answers.  Blow the dust off of an old commentary set or get lost in a book that is full of symbols.  It’s all Greek to you though.  Again, there’s no app for this.  There’s no current, modern or up-to-date way to get the information you want.

Better yet, there doesn’t seem to be a way to get the info your soul craves.

What your soul needs.

So you give up looking there.

Perhaps, you give up searching entirely.

What if there was an easier way?  What if there was a way to get the Bible out into the hands of millions of spiritually hungry people in a way they can understand?  In a way that is modern, quick and yes, even cool.  Can the Bible be cool?  Is that possible?  Or is that some form of heresy that must be rejected?

There is a great new resource available to people who are interested in searching the Bible in a whole new way.  It is called Glo Bible.  It is an entirely new way to explore the Bible and find the answers you are looking for.  I included a short video that briefly introduces this great new product.  If you like what you see, head over to their website and buy it for yourself.  I promise, you won’t be disappointed.  Maybe, just maybe, the church has found a way to get the Bible into the hands of people in a 21st Century way.

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