Archive for May, 2011

May 16, 2011


This morning I woke up feeling different
Wondering how many years I’ve been asleep
How many precious moments passed me by
Trying to hold on to what I could not keep
And lately I’ve been looking in the mirror
I can barely recognize the man I see
I’ve been trying to forgive myself
For all those years I’ve wasted in defeat

But this is not who I am
Not who I’m meant to be
I’ve been living a lie
Truth come and set me free
Set me free

Deep down we’re all searching for something
That we know this world can’t provide
Still we try and try again
To fill up what is empty inside

This is not who we are
Not who we’re meant to be
We’ve been living a lie
Truth come and set us free
Set us free

We fix our eyes on athletes and entertainers
Watch every single move that they make
We’re so quick to criticize
The moment that they make a mistake

This is not who they are
Not who they’re meant to be
They’ve been living a lie
Truth come and set them free
Set them free

May 16, 2011


Every great story that’s ever been told has a hero
Who would’ve been ordinary except for they endured the impossible
Maybe this moment that we’re in isn’t really that much different
One day we’ll look back from afar
It will have made us who we are

Maybe this flood that’s crushing in
Will be the very thing that makes us feel alive when we’ve survived

I know how the story ends and it’s good
It’s good
So much better than the way it all began
Oh but, I know it gets rough in the middle
Swimming up a stream, surviving seems impossible
But I know that’s what makes the end so good

At the end of disaster it’s so hard to imagine
That we’ll stand again
Underneath all these ashes it’s so hard to breathe in
‘Cause the air’s so thin
Maybe this tragedy will find us
Spared from it’s hands in the nick of time
We’ll come out on the other side
Like gold through the fire that’s been refined

Maybe this flood that’s crushing in
Will be the very thing that makes us feel alive when we’ve survived

I know how the story ends and it’s good
It’s good
So much better than the way it all began
Oh but, I know it gets rough in the middle
Swimming up a stream, surviving seems impossible
But I know that’s what makes the end so good

Hold on, these momentary troubles they won’t last always
Oh, hold on
The Author of your story had the end in mind when He wrote this page
This overwhelming fight and adversity
Is the very thing that could make heroes out of you and me


May 16, 2011

MADE FOR MORE LYRICS B.REITH (ft Lecrae and Lisa Gungor)

Verse 1- B. Reith
6 A.M., she hits the snooze button
The thought of wakin’ up makes her numb, she can’t move nothin’
Pops a couple pills, thinkin it might ease the sufferin’
Numbs the pain but leaves the disease untouched
Plus now she’s cuttin
Try’d to live for what the world told her to, but ended up empty in the gut
Now she’s cravin’ for more
Sick to her stomach
Hate’s how she looks so she overeats and vomits
And that’s just a half
‘Cause her mom and her dad won’t
Give her the attention that she needs ’cause they’d rather
Focus on their jobs and climb the corporate ladder
Which basically tells their daughter that she doesn’t even matter
Her heart’s shattered
Glass is half-empty
Try’s to find a reason to live, can’t think of any
But deep underneath the confusion and lies
She knows she was made to live for more than suicide
It’s do or die time, she chooses option one
Rises up, sings this anthem from the bottom of her lungs

Chorus- Lisa Gungor
We were made to be more than this
Oh, and we weren’t made to fight wars like this
Something’s gone wrong
We’ve been broken
Who can fix us now, fix us now
We were made out of love not hate
Oh, and we weren’t meant to to give up on faith
Something’s gone wrong
We’ve been broken
Who can fix us now, fix us now

Verse 2- Lecrae
Johnny started getting pushed by the bigger kids
To mamma’s closed fist for every little thing he did
When he was younger, used to punch his little brother
Johnny’s mad at the world and the pain that he was under
It got worse when momma’s boyfriend was over, who was way beyond sober, with a chip up on his shoulder
Fightin’ Jonny’s mother so he try’s to help mommy
Now he’s in the hospital, broken limbs on his body
He hates people, hates family, hates school
He’s plannin’ more hate crimes to make him more paid dues
Who can he trust
Is everybody out to hurt him
He’ll just make them hurt first so he ain’t got to wonder
This pain, deeper than the joints in his body
He planned to go to school and let it loose in the lobby
Missed the hugs from his mommy
Needed love from his daddy
Never knew that there was hope to end the pain in his family
Then someone told him ’bout the risin’ of the son
Now Johnny quit lookin’ for a gun. Done.

Chorus- Lisa Grungor
We were made to be more than this
Oh, and we weren’t made to fight wars like this
Something’s gone wrong
We’ve been broken
Who can fix us now, fix us now
We were made out of love not hate
Oh, and we weren’t meant to to give up on faith
Something’s gone wrong
We’ve been broken
Who can fix us now, fix us now

Who can save us now (who can save us now)
Who can save us now (we’re running out of breath, the end is counting down, oh)
Who can save us now
Who can save us now(who can save us now)
The one who conquered death can raise us from the ground, oh
We were made for more than this, oh
We were made
We were made(x8)

May 14, 2011


I take 2 steps forward, 5 steps back
Lately I’ve been lazy like the way Mase rapped
Or lazy like the way Johnny Cash used to sing
Maybe lately that’s the reason cash ain’t been comin’ in

No excuses I’m learnin’ how to lose ’cause
That’s the only way to fine tune and make improvements
Critics keep on chippin’ in their two cents
But they got their record for free- shoot-
Nowadays music’s like sewage, nasty and polluted
Over saturated I don’t want nothin’ to do with it
So when they ask the question who my influence is
I go back to the 90s and tell ’em Brand Nubian
Gave radio a shot but got fooled again
All it is is a bunch of hootin’ hollerin’ hooligans
Cryin’ like babies, actin’ like they two again
Pardon my rudeness but ya ruined my mood I don’t just
Do this for food there’s more to it than the music
So I got be intuitive to use this
Gift, it’s like fluid when it oozes
But writers block will gridblock and leave you clueless
My ambition’s to use and not abuse it
Me without grooves is like mechanics without their toolkits
Can’t work without my tools, man

I take 2 steps forward, 5 steps back
Lately I’ve been lazy like the way Mase rapped
Or lazy like the way Johnny Cash used to sing
Maybe lately that’s the reason cash ain’t been comin’ in
[ Lyrics from: ]
Industry tried to play me, left me with some bruises
Must have thought I was stupider than the Three Stooges
They tried to hang me I slipped out of their nooses
So I pulled a Chris Brown, I’m throwin’ up my deuces
Downsized like rice to couscous
Spit that lightweight bullet-proof truth in the booth
Cooped up for months tryin’ to spit fiyah they can ride to
Pull up to that drive thru, tell ‘e this dat new dude!
True, can I really get more clear?
Make it boom so loud shake your rearview mirror
Unless you got car speakers like the ones I owned
Had to pain it to left ’cause the right one was blown
You ridin on chrome? I was ridin’ on plastic
Two of ’em were cracked ’cause I hit a curb distracted
Yea, but it ain’t no big deal
I may not have a nice whip but I still have whip appeal

I take 2 steps forward, 5 steps back
Lately I’ve been lazy like the way Mase rapped
Or lazy like the way Johnny Cash used to sing
Maybe lately that’s the reason cash ain’t been comin’ in

Alright alright I write raps for a livin’, perhaps I’ve been given
A gift that is envied by mathematicians
But are we that different? We both work in labs
While they dissect formulas I dissect rhythms
But I don’t get paid much and that’ll keep you humble son
Radio won’t play me much, that’s causin’ me trouble some
People wanna nay-say, play me like a dumby-dumb
Tried to shut me down so I Dikembe Mutumbo’d ’em
Backhand it right back at ’em like Wimbledon
That’s for trying to tell me what I shouldn’t have or should have done
Anyway my time it will come I can smell it from a mile away like

May 14, 2011


Lonely hearts everywhere
We pretend like we don’t care
Disregard the pain inside
Masquerade it with our pride
But we know
The love we felt was real
It cannot be concealed
Can’t explain it away
Another Lonely Day

Call me the blue eyed bandit
Tried to steal your heart but you caught me red handed
Instead you captured mine, and now I’m stranded
On an island all alone, while you’re on another planet
Man it hurts to be this candid
Tried to stay quiet but my heart couldn’t stand it
Kept beating fast I’m trying not to panic
You’re the iceberg and I’m the Titanic
And I got the nerve to think
That I could never burn or sink
All I did was blink and you were gone like a bird, extinct
Took me out quicker than a hit from Murder Inc.
Your face is all I remember
Thought you’d be back by September
You’re still gone, it’s already December
Lonely Hearts Club got a brand new member

But we know
The love we felt was real
It cannot be concealed
Can’t explain it away
Another Lonely Day

Lonely hearts everywhere
Searching for a love affair
Disregard the pain inside
Masquerade it with our pride

Now look at all these poker faces
Faking like their hands full of jokers and aces
When all we got are failed hearts clubs and spades and
Lonely Hearts Club knows us on a first name basis
We all got friends in high places
Stay preoccupied with the occupations
We’d rather be complacent and stay evasive
Lonely hearts always stay vacant

Welcome to the Lonely Hearts Club
Make yourself at home in here
Cover up your broken heart with
Trendy fads and souvenirs
Tell the, tell the world that
You-you-you don’t need them
Pre-pre-pretend love’s not
Wor-wor-worth believing in

But we know
The love we felt was real
It cannot be concealed
Can’t explain it away
Another Lonely

The love we felt was real
It cannot be concealed
Can’t explain it away
Another Lonely

The love we felt was real
It cannot be concealed
Can’t explain it away
Another Lonely Day

May 14, 2011


Intro: I just wanna get back to the way things used to be (be)

You remember when we had nothin’ but that was more than
Good enough for you and me
‘Cause our love it was so strong
All we needed was each other to be happy
We would always say there’d be no way we’d see the day when
Anything would drive us apart
You would always be first place
Be the captor of my heart

All we’ve accumulated
Oh, it’s so overrated
What happened to the fire that sparked when we first met?

I just wanna get back to the way things used to be
When it was just you and me
Everything was so simple
Said, how in the world did it get so complicated?
Everything I have I would trade it
Just to go back to the days when it was only you and me (me, me)
Only you and me (me, me)

Used to sit at night under the stars up in the sky and
Stare into each other’s eyes
Deep inside we knew we had everything we’d ever need to survive
We were younger then
Our future was so bright ahead of us
We made some wrong turns along the way
What we gained stole our attention
And it cost us our affection (yeah)

All we’ve accumulated
Oh, it’s so overrated
Wish I could trade it in for all the time we’ve lost (now)


Let’s forget every single thing we’ve known
Go back to the days when everything was beautiful and simple
Let’s throw away everything that we have gained
‘Cause it’s only gotten in the way of what I loved in the first place
You are the first place

(Chorus 2x)

May 14, 2011

B. Reith Next Move Lyrics

May 5, 2011

The Not a Fan worldwide webcast event from Pastor Kyle Idleman to broadcast online, live, Sunday, May 22.

Pastor and author Kyle Idleman will hold a live webcast and audience event from the well-known, 29,000-member Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY, on Sunday, May 22, 7:30-8:15 p.m. EDT, at

to share the message of “Not a Fan,” which has been made popular through his messages, DVD teaching series and new book releasing on May 31 through Zondervan. The event is in reaction to a growing movement in churches across the nation as congregations declare that they are “Not a Fan” of Jesus. The night will also include a personal message from New York Times bestselling author Lee Strobel, and a special performance of “Until the Whole World Hears” by Mark Hall of the GRAMMY Award-winning band, Casting Crowns.

With the “Not a Fan” movement, Kyle is addressing the celebrity-driven fan culture that is permeating Christianity. The word “fan” is defined in the dictionary as “an enthusiastic admirer,” but Kyle preaches that Jesus isn’t interested in fans that push the ‘like’ button on Christianity – Jesus wants completely committed followers. Using the passage in Luke 9:23, of Jesus’ invitation to follow Him, Kyle challenges his audience to ask themselves, “Am I a fan or a follower?”

“Fans may be fine with repeating a prayer, attending church once a weekend and slapping a Jesus fish on the back of their bumper, but Jesus wanted a deeper relationship that that,” preaches Kyle. “Fans don’t mind Jesus making some minor change in their lives but Jesus wants to turn our lives upside down. Fans don’t mind him doing a little touch up work, but Jesus wants a complete renovation.”

Worldwide webcast event of “Not a Fan” presented by Pastor Kyle Idleman. Special guests include New York Times bestselling author, Lee Strobel, and Mark Hall from the Grammy Award-winning band Casting Crowns. Matt Bayless Band to lead worship.

Youth groups, families, Sunday night small groups and individuals are invited to log on to on Sunday, May 22, at 7:30 p.m. EDT to hear this powerful message that is already moving through churches across America. The “Not a Fan” Web site will grant access to the entire event as well as an interactive chat room where viewers can discuss their thoughts live at the same time.

May 1, 2011

The Movement Behind Jesus Culture

How this worship collective is turning a generation’s mind to Christ.

Jesus Culture’s multiple albums, numerous conferences and viral international impact is the result of a few ordinary teenagers and twentysomethings with one very simple motivation: to encounter God’s presence.

This should be no surprise; the explosive combination of raw passion and youthful idealism seems to be the genetic makeup of movements throughout the years. Jesus Himself chose average young people to lead His ministry—outcasts that society had given up on, headstrong kids brimming with unrefined passion and energy. Following suit is Jesus Culture, an international movement incubating revival among countless thousands through its unique worship experiences.

In 1999, the thought came to Bethel Church youth pastor Banning Liebscher to put on a small youth conference for their community in Redding, Calif. At a time when phrases like “subculture” and “counterculture” were becoming popular catch-phrases in many churches, Liebscher and his leaders (including worship leaders Kim Walker-Smith and Chris Quilala) desired a generation whose culture didn’t reflect an institution, music style, bracelet or T-shirt, but rather the attitude and posture of Christ Himself. They named the conference Jesus Culture, with the hope that God would show up, worship would transform and revival would begin.

Over the next several years, Liebscher and his band witnessed the growth of a movement that surpassed their expectations. In 2005, the group came up with enough funds to record a CD, hoping album sales would allow them to do a conference on the east coast. “We didn’t even know if the CD would sell,” Liebscher says. “We had no idea what we were doing at all, but we felt God was telling us to share what He was stirring in our community with an entire generation.”

Liebscher didn’t know it, but Jesus Culture was about to become an internationally recognized movement. And it would happen through YouTube.

Many people’s initial encounter with Jesus Culture came through a YouTube video featuring worship leader Kim Walker-Smith performing John Mark McMillan’s “How He Loves Us” at a conference. The video now has more than 4 million views.

“We didn’t even stick that up,” Liebscher says. “Some kid put that up. We didn’t even have the idea. None of us even knew about it until someone finally got a hold of us and told us it had gotten 250,000 plays.”

Walker-Smith remembers first hearing the news. “My little brother, who was only 10 years old at the time, called me and told me I was on YouTube. I didn’t even know what YouTube was. It was crazy because none of us expected anything like that to happen at all. In fact, the night that video was taken, I walked off the stage and felt embarrassed. There had been this really awesome presence of God in the room unlike any night prior, and I felt like I couldn’t find the words to convey the magnitude of what was happening.”

Hundreds of thousands of people later, the movement’s mission remains the same.

“Everything we do is meant to send people out to their own community,” says Chris Quilala, the worship leader whose voice threads through each Jesus Culture album along with Walker-Smith’s. “We want this generation to be Jesus to those right in front of them. There’s always been a strong focus on local outreach and there always will [be].”

While many are quick to label this generation as apathetic, Quilala and the Jesus Culture team hold up a mirror to a different kind of tribe made up of young, motivated revivalists passionately pursuing Christ’s call and mission. Liebscher, who has encountered hundreds of thousands of young people through Jesus Culture, views this generation as one massively marked by passion, creativity and innovation. “This generation is growing up in the smallest world ever,” Liebscher says. “The world has become so connected that they’ve been given permission to dream bigger. Back in the day, the thought of changing the world was somewhat hard to wrap your brain around. Now, the ability to impact the nations through something as simple as a website is perceivably tangible.”

Liebscher adds that these qualities extend to young people globally, refuting rumors that the spiritual climate in regions such as Europe is bleak and decaying. “We were doing a conference in Berlin where 2,700 people showed up and sold out the entire venue,” Liebscher says. “We had to turn away hundreds more. The passion in these young people’s worship and pursuit of God that night was inspiring. I didn’t even have time to preach because they were pursuing God so passionately through worship. Hope is alive and well in Europe, and it’s alive and well in the States. The generation we are seeing rise up is honestly embracing a lifestyle of holiness that is willing to consecrate fully to the Lord.”

Jesus Culture is defying expectations of this generation, as thousands of young believers attend their new breed of “Christian” conferences, and numbers continue to increase every year. “Young people are on the search for the genuine,” Liebscher says. “I think the American church hasn’t been the best representation of authentic, genuine Christianity. In many churches, community and acceptance is based on looking and acting a certain way all the while presenting a very controlling, angry God. I believe if we can bring people into a true encounter with the God of the Universe, they will encounter a God who is passionately in love with them, not angry with them, and they will give Him their lives. That’s what Jesus Culture tries to do.”

So, why do people disregard this generation as spiritually detached? Liebscher suggests that while passionate and idealistic, this generation is also very entitled. “They’re not like the World War II generation who understood what it meant to sacrifice in order to save a nation, or build a company. They’ve grown up in a world where things are given to them … fast. We encourage students to start revivals, and when it doesn’t happen in a week, they’re thrown off. There’s a short-term mentality.”

Walker-Smith and Quilala also offer a desperate plea for mentorship inside and outside the Church. “We’re fortunate to have [spiritual] mothers and fathers who have a very influential voice in our lives,” Walker-Smith says. “They’re the kind of people who aren’t just going to sweet-talk us all the time and tell us how awesome we are. The moment we get out of line, they’re the first ones there with a strong voice to help steer us back on track.”

“We desire the same for those we influence,” Quilala adds. “We’re living in the midst of a motherless and fatherless generation who need the guidance and direction to maintain focus on what’s most important: pursuing Christ.”

Maintaining focus on what’s important isn’t always easy as Jesus Culture’s impact expands. “When all of a sudden money is coming in, there’s a staff relying on me or when iTunes doesn’t launch our album like we thought, it’s evident to a lot more people,” Liebscher says. “I find myself constantly wrestling and processing, reminding myself this is God’s deal. If He wants to dismantle this whole thing, then that’s up to Him. I’m going to do the best I can. I’m going to keep pursuing Him. I’m going to continue carrying out my assignment from Him. But if He wants to take this whole thing away, that’s OK. I’ve found an immense amount of freedom in that.”

While they’re ready for whatever God has in store, Walker-Smith is also looking to the future and how Jesus Culture can grow—both personally and musically. “As worship leaders, I’m looking forward to becoming more established in our own songwriting,” Walker-Smith says. “I think it’s pretty incredible that God has brought us this far doing songs that are other people’s voice. I can’t even imagine what it’s going to be like when we really find our own voice and sing the songs that are coming out of our hearts.”

The group is helping give a voice to other worship artists through their record label, Jesus Culture Music, which they started a few years ago. “Another thing we’re working toward is expanding the label to bring in other worship artists we believe in and want to support,” Walker-Smith says. “We recently added Jake Hamilton and Kristene Mueller-DiMarco, who are like family to us. I want 
to see Jesus Culture grow in raising up worship leaders.”

Eleven years since they began, Jesus Culture has more than 70 conferences and nine albums (their most recent, Come Away, released in November 2010) under their belt. It seems the more they abandon, release and give to others, the more God moves, reveals and gives to them—a colossal response to a couple of kids who set out to “encounter God’s presence.”

May 1, 2011

Francis Chan Takes On Hell In Rare Interview

The popular author and speaker returns with Erasing Hell.

Teacher and author Francis Chan made waves recently for leaving his megachurch and heading to Asia to follow God’s call. He’s now returned, and has entered one of the most controversial debates in modern Christianity—what are Christians supposed to think about hell? His new book, Erasing Hell (due out in July), takes on the current conversation with Chan’s characteristic grace and candor. Chan recently sat down with RELEVANT to discuss the new book, how Christians can unify and if he thinks there’s a chance he could be wrong.

Is there any coincidence that you have a book coming out right after Rob Bell’s book on hell, or is this a specific and intentional response to what he’s written and put together?

Chan: Yeah, you know, it definitely was spurred on after reading his book. [It raised] some new thoughts for me, and praying through those. You know, [I] just [had] a range of emotions as I read the book. But one thing, for sure, it made me study again and go, “Gosh, I’m not so sure about some things anymore.” As I studied and as I got into it, I just felt like: “You know what? I need to write something to this issue.” So that definitely got the ball rolling for me as far as thinking, and so I’m very grateful for that, because hell isn’t something I normally think about—I almost try not to think about it. But then as I was thinking through these thoughts [and] I realized, “This is a topic we avoid, and there really isn’t a lot written on the topic, at least to the mainstream.” So I just felt like God wanted me to write something about it.

Do you find the topic of Hell has been a difficult thing for you to dig into in conversations with friends, or even as a pastor? Is it something you feel like you haven’t emphasized enough, or emphasized in the wrong way in the past?

Man, this whole study has been so sobering to me. It’s hard to talk about right now, honestly. There’s so many emotions that run through me whenever I even say the word “hell.” So, I think it’s healthy, and it’s good for my soul to discuss and to study, but it’s very difficult—it’s always difficult.

Why do you think it’s so difficult? Why is it so emotional?

[Long pause] I think about … friends … I think about … this is eternity—friends, relatives. Just people I care about, that I love. It’s that area that I really struggle with. You know, I had some friends die, and immediately after I want to just take the Bible and trash it, in some ways, because in the flesh it’s very hard to accept. Just to have a discussion about, or just kind of talk about it in everyday conversation, it’s hard to separate my emotions.

This topic over the last several months seems as though it’s exposed a lack of unity in the Church. What do you feel like it’s exposed within dialogue and conversations that you’ve been around related to people’s thoughts on Hell?

Gosh, I think it exposes a lot. I think you’re right: It shows a lot how unhealthy we are as believers and as a body, especially here in the U.S. We don’t know how to disagree well. I think we revert to name-calling or labeling, belittling, versus really getting into the Word and loving each other, and saying, “Hey, let’s study this together a little bit more” or, “Let’s talk through the issues a little bit more.” So I think it’s exposed some of that. Everyone just kind of runs to their camp and I don’t know how open they are to just really listening or to just studying the Word deeply for themselves.

Did your opinions or your belief systems about hell change during the study and process and research related to the book at all? Or did it solidify what you felt like you already believed?

Yeah … some things changed. Some things I feel more strong about, and other things I realized, “OK, I always thought that was a lot clearer than that,” and it wasn’t. So yeah, some of my views have changed.

What conclusions have you come to after the research and the study you did for the book specifically on the topic of Hell?

That it’s very real. It is a place we need to avoid at all costs. It is a terrifying thought to fall into the hand of the Living God as Scripture tells us. But I was also surprised that these passages are really written to people who call themselves “believers.” Usually we only talk about Hell in this evangelistic, “I’m going to preach the Gospel” and “Hell, fire and brimstone” to these unbelievers, but these passages really were written to those who called themselves the Church. It’s a very sobering thought, and a very interesting warning.

Do you feel a holy responsibility to be a voice of truth about Hell, right now, based on the cultural conversation that’s happening in the Church?

I do. I do. And maybe that’s some of this. This is not something I wanted to do. It really felt like a weighty responsibility where I really couldn’t sleep at night. It literally would wake me up. I’d wake up in the morning thinking about it, go to bed thinking about it, think about it all day. Again, really sensed like the Lord wanting me to approach the subject. And part of me wonders: “OK, Lord, why did you want me to do this? Is it really that you wanted me to be the voice for this?” And some of me wonders if it was for me. Like the Lord saying: “OK, you don’t think about this enough. You need to repent of some of these things.” And that certainly has happened, and continues to happen. I mean, it’s a really humbling process. And so, yeah, I do feel a calling, I guess you can call it, a burden, a sense of responsibility. That’s what led me down the road.

If the texts are so clear, why are we all still disagreeing about it?

I don’t want to guess at anyone’s motives. I know my own, and I know there are certain things I really, really want and wish to be true, and I know that gets in the way. I mean, I—I’m not … you know, I don’t want to look for, like, an obscure detail, or try to find some nuance in the language. I’m a pretty simple guy. I just read the Bible and go, “OK, if I read this 50 times on an island, what would I come up with?” Pray, fast—I’ll study. I’ll look into the language, but I think I really don’t try to bring up some strange thing that a 15-year-old couldn’t come up with. It’s just [like], “Gosh, this seems like the obvious teaching of Scripture.” So that’s where I hang my hat.

Do you think there’s any chance after all this research that you still could be wrong with the position that you’re taking?

Of course. I mean … I could be wrong about salvation. I could be wrong about a lot of things. I think that’s what has made me sick through the whole process, because I realize that I don’t want to—when I put something in print, that’s a big deal to me. I’ve said things that are wrong, and I want to be very, very careful. Because if I tell someone that there’s a hell and there really isn’t, I’ve really ruined their lives. They carry this unnecessary burden for the whole time they’re on Earth. I slander God. And at the same time, if I say there is no hell, and there is, then by the time people figure it out, the ones I’ve convinced … I don’t even want to think about the consequences. Really, I don’t know of a better word than sickening or sobering. This whole process I’ve tried to do my best. So, could I be wrong? Absolutely. Do I feel like I’ve done everything I can? [Long pause] Obviously we can all try harder. But I worked pretty hard on this one. I prayed pretty hard. And I’m praying that this is right. The whole time, every day: “Lord, don’t let me say anything, don’t let me write anything that’s not true about you. I don’t want to get anything wrong. Please, please don’t let me say anything about you that’s not true.” All I know is that’s been my prayer, and that’s what I’ve been pursuing, and I’m trying to get rid of any human desire or want of anything. “God, I want this. I don’t want to communicate anything about you that’s not true, especially in this area.”

May 1, 2011

Featured Article: Look, But Don’t Lust

by Jake and Melissa Kircher.


Back in college when we were dating, Jake had this idea that he shouldn’t find other women attractive because he was in a relationship. Regularly, he would firmly state that nobody but me was beautiful. It used to drive me crazy!

One afternoon, I assured him that it was perfectly normal for him to find other women attractive. To which he replied with a sigh: “Fine! So-and-so is hotter than you.” Which wasn’t quite what I had expected. In addition, “hotter than you” wasn’t some random actress or model, it was a girl on campus … with a twin sister.

The icing on the cake came one afternoon two weeks later when we were at the beach playing catch and guess who decided to walk by? Hot co-ed and her twin sister. As they passed us, I missed a throw and was smacked in the face with a baseball. My glasses fell off and my face burned as the twins giggled and walked away. Needless to say, we didn’t stay much longer at the beach.

Since then, we’ve learned that being attracted to another person while in a committed relationship of any kind is, unfortunately, inevitable. Humans are wired to appreciate the bodies and appearances of the opposite sex. This hard-wiring doesn’t disintegrate when we begin dating someone, become engaged or get married. The issue isn’t if we are attracted to other people, but how we can handle attraction appropriately when it does occur.

Attraction Vs. Lust

Many Christians believe attraction and lust are synonymous. Jake recently had a conversation with a friend who was concerned that he noticed a couple of cute girls even though he’s currently dating someone. Jake himself has struggled with guilt about finding other women beautiful. However, attraction and lust are very different things.

Attraction is simply the acknowledgement that another person looks good. They have certain features that catch your eye and draw your attention. Attraction is what causes us to do a double take or mention how great that person looks. There is nothing wrong with this. In fact, it actually affirms the creativity and beauty that God displays when he created humanity. All kinds of people, with all kinds of shapes and attributes, can be attractive. There is a common phrase, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” We must first behold in order to find the unique beauty in people.

However, attraction can cross over into lust when gazes or comments become purposeful, continual (as in you keep thinking them) and/or sexualized. Notice in Matthew 5:28 that Jesus says, “anyone who even looks at a woman [or man] with lust has already committed adultery.” It’s not wrong to look at or notice an attractive person, but it can become lustful when we can’t look away, stop the thoughts or allow ourselves to fantasize about that person. Let’s be clear: While it’s much more mainstream to expect lust out of men, women are equal culprits. Women might dwell on the physical, but also fantasize about what being with that rich man would be like or how this certain man would treat her better than her husband. This too is a form of lust.

So, if it’s not wrong to be attracted to other people, should we tell our significant others when we are? How do we go about doing that in a healthy and non-destructive way? Here are a few helpful thoughts in answering this question.

1) Every couple is different.

At some point in your relationship, it would be a great idea to talk about what each of you feel in regards to attraction and what you expect in terms of sharing this within your relationship. Some will want to know every time you find yourself attracted. Others won’t want to know at all. It’s really important to understand both people’s expectations in this area.

2) Beware of details.

When sharing, it can be better to leave out details. Your significant other doesn’t need to know that specific woman has great boobs or that guy has large biceps. Sometimes knowing details can lead to insecurities and comparisons, which cause unnecessary stress in a relationship. After all, your loved one is more attracted to you than anyone else!

3) Choose your words with care.

Being attracted to an actor or actress is much different than being attracted to a close friend or co-worker. The closer a person is to you, the wiser it is to choose your words carefully. Saying that an actor or actress in a movie you just watched is “really hot” goes over very differently than saying the same thing about your neighbor.

If you’re attracted to a friend or co-worker, we would counsel being open about this with your significant other in a sensitive way. It is also better to communicate about it sooner rather than later. Being honest about your feelings allows the attraction to be less serious almost immediately, as it is no longer hidden. It can also provide some accountability for how you interact with the person as well.

4) Understand your proximity.

In situations where the attraction is someone of close proximity, be honest about your motives for interacting with them. Why do you regularly want to stop by your co-worker’s office just to say hi? Or why do you want to check that friend’s updated Facebook photos so often? If your motives aren’t purely relational, you could find yourself quickly slipping from attraction into lust and on into cheating. We’d also advise lessening (as much as possible) interactions with the friend/co-worker.

5) Be open to space.

Another thing that can be helpful, although difficult at times, is to be sensitive to your significant other’s desire for boundaries in how you interact with a person you are or have been attracted to. This could be a simple thing like not driving in a car with them by yourself or making sure lunch meetings are in a public place. It could also mean de-friending them on Facebook or cutting off contact altogether.

6) Find an accountability partner.

Lastly, it would be wise to find an accountability partner of the same gender, who knows both you and your partner. They can provide wisdom, discernment and advice that stems from personal experience. Having another person involved in our thought-life helps to keep our attractions as simply attractions. And nothing more.

May 1, 2011

Christianity Needs a Better Story

How to share the Gospel in a way that connects to people.

I’m walking the littered streets of San Francisco’s Chinatown, each storefront a flurry of activity and improvised commerce. Through the chaos, night is falling and I hear the familiar sound of preaching. The distinct pitch of street-corner preaching that isn’t uncommon in this sort of urban scene.

I know it’s preaching. You would’ve known it was preaching. Anyone within earshot would’ve guessed. I can make out the sense of urgency, the air of religious lecture. I know without seeing the man’s face that he’s spreading the message of Jesus, but I also know he’s going about things the wrong way. Granted, there’s no right way to preach, but clearly something isn’t working. No one’s listening and no one’s going to. Why is this man so easily cast aside and into the backdrop and ambiance of the night? He has the perfect platform—a lively sidewalk in one of the country’s most densely populated cities—and a soulful message: the good news of Christianity. What’s going wrong?

It’s simple. There’s no connection. No connection between speaker and audience, between audience and message. There are no emotional bonds being formed and it comes down to this: the man’s not telling a story. He’s lecturing. He’s moralizing and reprimanding. His sermon is devoid of any narrative or storytelling qualities. His words are brash, one-dimensional and inflexible, with no room for interaction or interpretation.

This is where his message has gone awry.

Without storytelling, there’s no way for him to meaningfully connect to the passersby, and there’s no way for them to truly internalize his words. There’s a one-way line of communication that falls flat before it can reach even the few receptive listeners making their way past. And at some time, somewhere, we’ve all seen this street corner.

All great, truthful messages rely on narrative techniques to persuade, influence and encourage. Stories, whether true or fictional, break down personal and societal barriers to reach the essence of pure, universal human emotion. In this way, storytelling is a profound equalizer. And few messages can benefit more from storytelling than those contained in the Christian faith.

We’ve all seen the (seemingly) crazed street preacher. We’ve heard the too-direct Christian come across as conceited and disparaging in their delivery. The street preacher, the zealous-bordering-pompous Christian—these have devolved into negative archetypes and, unfortunately, clichés. Watching Christianity’s message falter on a public level, then, is a nearly universal experience.

This man represents a larger struggle in the campaign to spread the word of Christianity effectively. The most public evangelistic outlets—television stations, radio programs, to name a few—use hard-and-fast approaches that are, at times, more willing to incorporate scare tactics over stories and parables into their sermons. Even if they are “telling it like it is,” they aren’t always telling it in a way that persuades non-Christians to take the next step in learning more about the message.This type of ineffective publicized preaching is then chastised for being too brazen, and in an instant, a whole new audience is put off, unwilling to explore a religion that’s just a bit too pushy and self-righteous. As a result, Christianity continues to suffer from its deeply rooted PR problem. It’s undeserved, yes. But like it or not, the credibility of a message is often tied to its presentation.

So when the presentation fails to connect, the same fate awaits the message itself.

Televangelism is a prime example. Messages from even the most genuine of televangelists can come across fruitlessly when they appear to approach Christianity as a business, trading storytelling for persuasive sales tactics. This is hardly reflective of the close-knit, earnest Church communities that make up the Christian faith, but this is what the general public sees.

Perhaps one of the few ways to solve this problem, or at least minimize it, is to present the message of Christianity through a mode of expression that may be better perceived. This isn’t watering down beliefs or principles, nor is it sugarcoating or avoiding certain topics. It’s about learning how to craft a Christian delivery that exudes sincerity, legitimacy and truth.

One example, Mumford & Sons’ debut album Sigh No More, not only takes inspiration from the Bible, but near-direct quotes. Let the dead bury the dead, they will come out in droves, sings Marcus Mumford in the song “Thistles & Weeds.” Even the narrative arc of the album reflects a literary work of art that is ripe with storytelling and (Christian) imagery. And in spite of their focus on God and spirituality, Mumford & Sons has become one of the most popular bands in today’s music scene, admired by millions of Christians and non-Christians alike.

Entire books can be written on the decline of storytelling in Christianity. I tend to think it coincides with a more literal interpretation of the Bible, a result of the Enlightenment period’s furious pursuit of factual truths, as noted by biblical scholar Marcus Borg. At this point, though, it’s not about where storytelling went.

It’s about how to bring it back.

Why should we emphasize storytelling when spreading the messages and beliefs of Christianity? The reasons are plenty and grounded in the Bible itself. When Jesus is asked why He speaks in parables, He tells us: “Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand” (Matthew 13:13).

Jesus knew that relaying messages through stories does a number of things that an overt and dogmatic argument can’t accomplish. If we expect to be successful conduits of the Christian message, we too must harness the power of emotional and spiritual connection and forget the temptation to use logical persuasion.

Ben Franklin said: “If you would persuade, you must appeal to interest rather than intellect.” That’s the power of storytelling: it builds interest and separates emotion from the mental clutter of intellect. And that’s where we need to turn. Storytelling achieves several things:

It Suggests Deeper Meaning

Expressing a message through story suggests a deeper meaning of both the message and the story. When the audience realizes a greater significance lurks beneath the surface, they may be more willing to explore the message, considering it to be potentially worthy of their time and mental effort.

It Makes Your Message Relevant

Stories do a wonderful job of creating relevancy between message, audience and messenger. In the time of Jesus, many of the people who heard Him speak were farmers, shepherds and the like. With parables relating to agriculture and nature, then, He was able to create direct relevancy, His message seeming credible and pertinent.

It Offers Freedom of Choice

Storytelling creates an immediate freedom of choice. Your audience has the choice to listen, to hear the message and to act upon it. If I told you an indisputable, proven fact, there would be little choice involved. You could choose to believe the fact or not, but this would be irrelevant.

If I told you a story, however, you’d be faced with myriad choices. What does the story mean? What are the themes driving the story? What lessons can I learn? How does the story relate to my life? Providing this choice also shows respect for the audience, acknowledging their ability to make choices independent of the messenger.

It Creates Personal Connection

This same freedom of choice creates personal connection by establishing a heightened level of interaction. When someone makes the choice to invest themselves in a story, he or she is interacting with the message and the messenger, exploring the meanings and motives of each. For the audience, a connection and interactive discussion shortens the distance between curiosity and understanding.

It Makes Your Message Memorable

Just minutes after passing by the preacher in Chinatown, I couldn’t recall a single thing he had said. I can’t say for certain, but had he began his sermon with a parable, from the Bible or his own imagination, he most likely would have had my attention. It’s the old writing maxim, “show, don’t tell.” Show what you mean to say and it’ll stick. Tell and watch it fall on deaf ears.

Today’s fast-paced, high-tech, high-stimulus world requires us to reexamine the way we present Christianity. In a world of automated convenience, short attention spans and endless distraction, we must be able to create real, immediate emotional connections with those willing to hear our message. But we can’t do this with force, by pounding others over the head. What we need is the subtly powerful, intimate touch of storytelling and narratives.

Evangelizing without storytelling suggests insecurity, that we don’t have enough faith in the meanings behind our messages to convey them in a less aggressive manner. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s time we showed it, so that the message of Christianity doesn’t fall to the wayside, lost in the white noise of modern life, like debris collecting in the streets of a swarming city.

May 1, 2011

David C Cook acquires Integrity Music from Integrity Media Inc.

David C Cook and Integrity Media have reached an agreement whereby Integrity Music became part of the David C Cook family. The decision to acquire Integrity Music was motivated specifically by David C Cook’s desire to expand its global impact in the area of worship. Per the agreement, David C Cook has acquired only those assets specific to Integrity Music. Integrity Media, based in Mobile, AL, will still exist consisting of Integrity Direct, Integrity Worship Institute, and the international companies in the UK, South Africa and Singapore. Industry veteran C. Ryan Dunham, formerly David C Cook’s senior vice president of sales and marketing, will serve as president of Integrity Music, effective immediately.

“At David C Cook we are committed to the Great Commission. Our mission is to ‘Equip the Church with Christ-centered resources for making and teaching disciples who obediently transform today’s generations.’ We are delighted to have Integrity Music join the David C Cook family in serving the body of Christ,” states Cris Doornbos, CEO of David C Cook.

“The acquisition of Integrity Music makes sense from both a ministry as well as a business standpoint. Both organizations are widely respected for their international reach and their worship music catalogs,” states Ryan Dunham, Integrity Music president. “David C Cook is no newcomer to the worship music ministry. In 1993 Cook acquired Kingsway, a worship music company in Eastbourne, England, and partnered with EMI Christian Music Group to produce the Thank You Music song catalog. Kingsway artists include Matt Redman, Tim Hughes, Brenton Brown, The City Harmonic, and many others whose original songs are shaping the way a world-wide generation of Christians experiences worship,” continues Dunham.

Integrity Music has profoundly influenced the worship music culture over the past 24 years. “Cris Doornbos and I share a deep passion for serving the global church and for the role worship music plays in making disciples around the world,” says Integrity co-founder and CEO Michael Coleman. “As Integrity prepares to celebrate 25 years in ministry, I look forward to seeing the expanding impact of Integrity songs and products around the world.”

The acquisition benefits David C Cook by adding an even greater variety of worship titles to the organization’s current offering. It will also benefit Integrity worship artists and writers by providing a fresh perspective and an ownership structure as part of a nonprofit with an expanding realm of influence. Most importantly, it will provide the global church more options than ever for meaningful worship.

“I am honored that Michael Coleman, a man whom I highly respect and who has meant so much to the worship music movement, has chosen to entrust us with Integrity Music’s worship catalog,” Doornbos says. “Our vision for Integrity Music songs and recordings is to see them sung by people in their native languages in churches all over the world.”

Integrity Music will operate independently within David C Cook as a Strategic Ministry Unit and be relocated to the company headquarters in Colorado Springs after a transition period of three months. Distribution of Integrity Music products in the U.S. will continue through Provident-Integrity Distribution and Columbia and Sony Music Distribution.