My Pop Weakness

If you know me, you know I am a man of many theories. As a musician and someone who has listened and played many different styles of music over the years, it has refined my musical palette.

I am a self proclaimed music snob. For one to keep up with one’s musical snobbery, you have to talk bad about mainstream music because only cool people with good taste who are real musicians listen to the stuff no one has ever heard of. (Hopefully you are picking up on the sarcastic overtones)

But here is my theory, every musician and music snob has at least one pop weakness. That artist, that when you hear the sugary sweet sounds of that pop music, you just can’t help but smile and enjoy the music. Now most musicians and especially pastors would never do this, but I am secure in my musical taste and my identity in Christ, so I am going to share my pop weakness.

Who is this pop artists that captures my ears every time I hear them? Katy Perry! I must confess, I love Katy Perry’s music, I know its not all Christian, and this is not the time to talk content, but she is my official pop weakness.

Maybe one day she can be one of our worship leaders at SouthCoast Church!

Jesus & Obamacare

Today, the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare. I have opinions for days on Obamacare and the role of the United States government in the role of its citizens lives. I have spent much time studying and forming opinions about how best the government operates and how what role it is to play in our lives according to scripture. But today, I am not here to talk about Obamacare. Old Ross would have done that, but not the new and improved version, but that’s another blog post as to why. If you ever want to have an off the record discussion about politics, I’m wide open, send me an email and I’ll stick it in my calendar.

I want to talk to you about how to see real change occur in our country and in the world. If you study movements in history, spiritual movements, social movements, they always come from the bottom up. Major social movements never start from the top and move their way down. They may eventually move their way down if they get in power, but they started small.

If you want to see real change in our country or in the world, IT WILL NOT COME FROM WHOEVER YOU VOTE FOR!!!! If it came from the top down, Jesus would have been a president, but He wasn’t. Don’t give into the political machine that feeds you about this person on the right or the left is going to be the savior of our country. It is a massive lie!

Isn’t it funny how every election is billed as the most important one. I hear it every year. If you want to see REAL CHANGE in this world, as a Christian, pray, reach the lost and make disciples. Why does it come this way? Because no government law has the power to change the hearts of men. Only Christ does that. When Christ changes hearts, then the laws of the land will reflect the reality of Christ in people’s lives. Give your life to what really produces change, the gospel and the advancement of the Kingdom of God.

I’m not here to make a political statement, just an exhortation for believers of Christ and leaders to put their hope in the right things.

Catalytic Moments

Excited to head up to DUUUUUVAAAALLLLL, as the locals say, with a few other fellow SouthCoasters to a men’s conference hosted by Southpoint Community Church, our Every Nation church in Jacksonville.

Conferences and events like this many times provide the catalytic moment we need to jumpstart our faith. As my pastor in Washington DC, Mark Batterson, says, “A change of pace + a change of place = a change of perspective.” I’ve found this little maxim to be so true in my life.

Sometimes we just need to get out of the pattern we are in, out of the rut we may be in and do something a little bit different. It makes a big difference in our spiritual lives.

What was a moment that God used an event to jolt you or to ignite something inside of you?

Entitlement

Entitlement is something that plagues our culture. I have witnessed it in so many levels in so many different places, businesses, churches, non-profits, the public sector, the list goes on and on. It crosses age, ethnicity and socio economic status. The ramifications of a spirit of entitlement are very detrimental to us as individuals. The massive deception is we don’t realize its destroying us. 

Opinions abound, everyone has them. The problem is people feel a right to share their opinions when they haven’t done anything to actually deserve a voice. For example, I don’t have a say in the future of Facebook because I am not a shareholder and I didn’t get in on that IPO, thank God. If I want a voice in the future, I need to buy stock, and then I can go to shareholder meetings and make my voice heard. In the same way someone who does not live in my house doesn’t tell me what color to paint my walls, I pay the bills, I name the color.

This spirit of entitlement is a big problem for a few reasons.

1. People with a spirit of entitlement will inevitably complain, get bitter, and offended. They will blame it on the leader and just say they don’t listen or don’t make me feel important. It begins a pattern where everything is someone else’s fault and never my fault.

2. Small problems cook and turn into bigger problems in their own mind. Most of the time people don’t actually verbalize their opinions, they just internalize them, they let them fester in the crock pot of their souls. They expect that leader to be a mind reader and know everything that is going on in their head. This view begins to distort everything and in that persons eyes, the leader cannot do anything right and they are criticized constantly.

3. Entitlement inhibits our growth as individuals. The longer we don’t serve, the longer we sit and consume without giving, the more toxic, myopic and self absorbed we get, because we believe its all about us and getting our needs met. Its not about the organization soaring to higher heights and the good of others.

4. Its the antithesis of the gospel. When has it ever been about us? Ever? The gospel frees me from my compelling need to share my opinion and be proved right because I realize Jesus is always right and He is the one who promotes. If anyone ever had a right to be served, it was Jesus, but He never took advantage of His position even though He earned it. The gospel frees me from entitlement, because Jesus never took advantage of His right even when He had it. 

As a leader and pastor, I will listen for days to people who are deeply invested in our church. Their concerns carry more weight than someone who comes and just consumes. I’ll still listen to the consumers opinion, it doesn’t mean they don’t have something valid to say, but if you are a consumer you’re advice is given through the eyes of a consumer who doesn’t own the vision and cares about yourself first.

If you serve and are a shareholder, meaning you have bought in to what we are doing and are personally invested in it, your perspective comes from someone who is deeply invested and someone who cares. The dichotomy is that you can’t really care about the organization until you stop caring for yourself first. 

In conclusion, if you want a voice, in your job, in whatever church you attend, in your non-profit, earn it. You do this by serving, putting the needs of the organization before your own comfort and putting others first, then you will get a seat at the table. 

Podcast Preaching, A Double Edged Sword

I used to be a sermon junkie. I would listen to preaching all the time. I still enjoy listening to some messages here and there, but honestly, I do not have the time to listen to as much preaching as I used to.

Podcasting is an amazing technology that we now have access to some of the best preaching in the world at the click of a button. We can grow closer to God, we can listen to the message from our church if we were gone that weekend. A world of information and growth has been opened up to us. You can even listen to many seminary courses via podcast and get the equivalent of a seminary education for free. Its pretty amazing.

Here is the flip side. I see a disturbing trend developing among Christianity in America. We are more excited about listening to a “famous” preacher than we are concerned about actually doing the work of God. In a sense its kind of like watching some reality TV shows. You simply sit and observe other people achieving something great in a show like The Biggest Loser or Extreme Makeover Home Edition. You are not actually achieving anything, you are just watching other people do great things.

I feel this is what some people in churches do. They are more content on actually watching and observing other great teachers and preachers do ministry than they themselves are actually doing it. This is a dangerous thing for American Christianity. We need to get out of the pew and actually do the work we watch other people doing. It creates a lazy, self centered, me first Christianity. Its easier to listen to a podcast than it is to actually minister to our friend who has serious issues.

God did not call us to listen to other people teach and do nothing ourselves, he called us to make disciples. Listen to podcasts, but do not let it substitute doing actual ministry. There must be a balance in our lives.

The Christian Conscience

There is a very popular thing for Christians to say, including myself at times. “Well you know, my conscience is clear, even if everyone says I’m wrong, my conscience is clear.” I feel I’ve done the right thing.

I am not saying there is no truth to this, there is lots of truth. Our conscience must always be clear before God. I am speaking to the person who uses this statement as a crutch as an excuse to justify their own bad attitudes, to justify their own dysfunction even when its been confronted.

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 4:4, “My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent, it is the Lord who judges me” Wow, ouch. Just because our conscience is clear doesn’t automatically we have done everything right.

Brings a good reminder to the exaltation of the “Christian Conscience.”

Cancer, FSU Football, Excuses & Coach Bowden

Last week we were all surprised when Coach Bobby Bowden revealed he had been fighting a private battle with prostate cancer in 2007. As an FSU alum and devoted Seminole Football fan, I’ve always had a great admiration and respect for Coach Bowden. As a Christian and pastor I love the fact that Coach Bowden oozes character and is an incredible ambassador for Jesus here on earth.

I know he would never remember but I’ve run into him a few times over the years along with his wife Ann and they have always been very kind, courteous and genuine. No one would argue, even a die hard Gator or Hurricane fan that Coach Bowden is a great man whether or not you agree with his faith in Christ or not. 

If you follow FSU Football at all, the last decade was not on par with the previous decade and up to FSU standards. I was struck the most after hearing Coach Bowden share about his bout with cancer was that it happened in 07. 2007 was a tough year for FSU. We went 7-6, 0-6 according to the NCAA because we had to “vacate wins”…….ridiculous.

Anyways, Coach Bowden never once mentioned, as he was getting lampooned by sports analyst talking heads, catching heat from Boosters, about his cancer. He could have easily pulled the cancer card and shut up the mouths of the haters and lowered the heat level on him and his job. 

My question is what are you using to make excuses for you? Inevitably all of us are feeling some pressure in one area of our lives. Do we make excuses for it, or keep our mouths shut and handle it with integrity like Coach Bowden?