Archive for December, 2011

December 30, 2011

Christian Leaders And Pastors Craig Groeschel And Matt Carter Share Pics Of Christmas Presents (PHOTOS)

Popular speaker, author and Pastor of the uber-popular Lifechurch.tv which according to CNN boasts more than 4 million members, Craig Groeschel shared a picture of his Christmas present via twitter a few days ago.  Groeschel posted this picture below with a caption that read:

 

 

If I gain weight, this is why. Thx@tomdfrench!http://pic.twitter.com/2jt1vbBm

 

Also Pastor Matt Carter, pastor of the Austin Stone Church in Austin, TX and former pastor of Chris Tomlin’s home church and pastor of NFL Cleveland Browns quarterback, Colt McCoy, posted a picture of his Christmas present with a caption that read:

 

@_Matt_CarterMatt Carter
Got this as a Christmas present from my mother in law. It would be very useful if I start a church…..in Alaska.pic.twitter.com/u9w2VlVI

 

 

 

I don’t know which one got the coolest gift.

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December 30, 2011

CHRIS TOMLIN BAND’S Lead Guitarist DANIEL CARSON Gets Engaged! (PHOTOS)

Chris Tomlin Band lead guitarist and all-round musical genius Daniel Carson announced his Christmas engagement on twitter and facebook a few days ago.

According to reports the lucky lady is one Miss Bren Roberts who herself is on twitter here.

The announcement caption on Carson Twitter page simply read:

@carsondaniel daniel carson
“A VERY Merry Christmas this year! We’re engaged! @brencatherinesaid YES!!! twitpic.com/7yinfg

 

 

Congrats to the happy couple from all of us here at Awaken Generation!!!!

December 24, 2011

ROB BELL Speaks To Mars Hill Church For The Last Time, Reads Emotional Good-Bye Letter

 

Mars Hill Bible Church founding pastor Rob Bell has written a farewell letter to the members of his congregation – thanking and warning them, and also making a confession.

“This church, this place, this community, was once simply a hunch. A dream. A vision. A picture in the mind of a new kind of church for the new world we find ourselves in,” he stated.

According to Bell, it was through the congregation that he was able to experience the joy of creation. “I will never be able to fully, adequately explain what it has been like to have imagined you, conceived of you – this church – and then have you exist.”

“Thank you. Thank you. Thank you,” he added. Bell also expressed gratitude for the responses of grief and support over the news of his departure. He told the congregation that this was significant and meaningful.

“Any change, even if it’s good, is always a form of loss, and loss must be grieved. That’s the only way it works,” he revealed. “You expressed your grief and then went on to make it very clear that whatever we would be up to next, you were cheering us on.”

Bell said the congregation’s support is significant because it shows the “belief that God is big” and any steps to share this love with more “people is movement in a life giving direction and that this same big, loving God is fully capable of taking care of all of us, whether we are together or apart,” he shared.

With that message of thanks, Bell went on to share the lesson he had learned from his many years as senior pastor of Mars Hill. He thanked his fellow brothers and sisters for teaching him to “find God in the full spectrum of human experience.”

“You have taught me not to fear the full spectrum of human experience but to embrace it, to celebrate it, to wallow in it and soar with it. Many Christians are eager to point out that Jesus said he was the Son of God and that’s the wedge issue, the divisive point you have to take a stand on,” he said.

He added, “I believe he is and in the same breath, I remind you that he also referred to himself a shocking number of times as the ‘son of man.’ ”

According to Bell, the “son of man” means human and that is shocking. “Take a stand onthat,” he urged.

Bell also warned Mars Hill members to never forget that the “movement is word to flesh” and to be cautious of those who would “take the flesh and want to turn it back into words.”

He also spoke of a lingering question – one that hung in the air, asking: “What will happen to Mars Hill?”

“When people ask ‘what about Mars Hill?’ or ‘what’s Mars Hill going to do?’ It’s as if Mars Hill is a disembodied reality with a life of its own,” Bell revealed. But, “here’s the twist: the church is not an inanimate, impersonal product. There is no ‘Mars Hill’ in theory. There is no abstract, disembodied entity Mars Hill apart from the people in this room who ARE Mars Hill.”

According to Bell, when people ask this question they are really asking, “What are you going to do?”

“You are the answer, because you are the church. Mars Hill is not a product, it is a gathering of people. You,” he stated.

Bell closed his letter with a confession – revealing that despite his 12 years as Mars Hill’s pastor, with all the experiences and sermons – he is just getting started.

“I feel like I’m just getting started,” Bell shared. “Like I’m a rookie, a freshman. I believe that that God has made this day. That it’s good. And you can have joy in it, even if you’re limping.”

He urged the congregation to make a confession with him – to say, “I feel like I’m just getting started.”

Bell announced in September that he was leaving the ministry after more than a decade of service. He revealed that his new calling involved moving his family to Los Angeles within the year to undertake several projects, which include penning more books and undertaking speaking engagements. He also recently wrapped up his “Fit to Smash Ice Tour” in Canada and the U.S.

The 42-year-old author has also stated that he will not be starting a new church. As Bell departs Mars Hill, teaching pastor Shane Hipps will be taking over in his stead at the Grandville, Mich., church.

 

READ:

BELOW IS COPY OF BELL’S FAREWELL LETTER:

dear mars hill,

 

to all the brothers and sisters of this church

 

to those who have been here from the beginning—who remember the old building, who braved that one

ten foot wide hallway, clogged shoulder to shoulder with people leaving the hangar to pick up their

children who had spent the previous hour packed into oxygen deprived classrooms

 

to those who hiked through the snow and slush and mud that first day to sit on the floor

who idled in long traffic jams to listen to sermons from the book of Leviticus on blood and guts and fire

and then to those of you who showed up for the first time last week

 

to those who have complained for ten years that there’s no sign out front and heard me respond time and

time again ‘yes, but you found it’

 

to those who were baptized in that nearby lake in those early days—especially those of you who were

baptized that one sunday when we didn’t know that all of those  hundreds of fish had died earlier that

week and washed up on shore and so before you got baptized, you watched  in horror as your fellow

church members wearing waders collected the dead, rotting fish in black trash bags and cleared out

enough space for you to wade in and celebrate your new life—

 

and then to those of you who have been baptized in this room, in an old former mall, standing here

soaking wet, surrounded by friends and family, cheered on by your tribe, not sure how to put it in words

but absolutely convinced that you in some way were tasting heaven on earth

 

to the young and to the old

to the hunters in your trucks who can’t grill it if you don’t kill it,

to the vegetarians in your prius’ wearing hemp underwear

to those on the right and those on the left

and to those of you who never removed your ron paul bumper sticker from the last election,

to the Dutch, and to the not much,

to Lions fans and to infidels,

to all of you wherever and however you find yourself

whatever size, shape, color, perspective, history, and background you bring to this gathering

 

grace and peace to all of you on this day.

 

kristen and i were out to dinner with some friends in october for a last meal before we moved. they have

been beloved friends of ours for ten years and at the end of the meal one of them took out several folded

pieces of paper as she told us that she had written us a letter, which she then read. in the letter she took

us back through our ten years together, remembering events and people and places and moments we

shared, several of which i had forgotten about. many times she would pause when she read about a

particular experience we had all shared together, and we would look around the table at each other as we

found ourselves visiting that day long passed. when she was done, there was not a dry eye around the

table. it was a sacred moment. a glimpse of the eternal in the now.

 

so as i’ve been thinking about my sermon here today, i found myself returning again and again to the

power of a good letter. someone may text you or ping you or email you or direct message you or contact

you on facebook—but none of those particular mediums of communication can begin to compare to a

letter in which the person has labored over every word, going back over it again and again and again,

crafting the phrases and searching for just the right word and turn of phrase to capture precisely what

 

 

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you want to say. technology has given us a wide array of methods to communicate and because of this

variety, it’s important we remember that there is a distinction to be made between diversity of form and

depth, significance, and soul.

 

so, i’ve written you a letter.

 

i’ll start with some thanks,

then a lesson you’ve taught me,

and then some warnings,

and then a confession.

 

first then, some thanks.

 

there is a pattern to the creative process. you start with an idea, a hunch, an image, a vision, a picture of

the thing you want to create. it may be a business or a painting or a mission or a cause or a new way to

empower people to help themselves or a basic need that is unmet or a song or a new way to landscape

your backyard or a product or a project for school or a piece of furniture or a new color for the walls of

your downstairs bathroom because you just can’t stand that awful shade of pale mustard that for some

unfathomable reason the previous owners thought looked good.

 

and so you set out to make it, create it, change it, fashion it, form it, organize it, and arrange it. and it

takes something out of you. you have to sweat, exert, and expend yourself. you have to gather or purchase

or harvest the materials. you make a plan, you design it, engineer it, make sketches, have meetings, do

research. you study how others have done similar things.

 

and then you get at it. as you work away, what was once just an idea, an abstraction in your mind, begins

to become a reality. whether it’s wood and nails or words or paint or a new flow of  resources in a new

direction, at some point it begins to take shape. what once existed only in your mind begins to exist in

actual time and space. you can see it, taste it, hold it, admire it. and because it cost something, because it

only exists as a result of your sweat and blood, you have a visceral attachment to it. it came out of you.

and when it’s completed, you may be exhausted, spent, and ready for a rest, but you are exhilarated.

 

it’s late sunday night and you’ve been painting all weekend, and you’re sitting there on the floor in the

hallway outside that downstairs bathroom and you’re exhausted and it took way longer than you expected

and you smell and you need a shower and you have a bit of a buzz from all of those fumes, but you are the

king and queen of your empire because those walls are no longer that putrid shade of pale mustard.

they’re magenta.

or cranberry.

or sea foam green.

 

you have taken part in the mystery at the heart of creation. we’re here, somehow. our existence itself

continues to be a profound mystery. being itself raises more questions than it answers. this mystery takes

us deep in to the heart of the divine. when we create, we are participating in that mystery in a real and

tangible way.

 

this truth about the creative process brings me to you because

you

were

once

an idea.

this church, this place, this community, was once simply a hunch. a dream. a vision. a picture in the mind

 

 

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of a new kind of church for the new world we find ourselves in. a church that was fearless in confronting

the injustices and systems of oppression that lurk around every corner and at the very same time deeply

committed to the personal, intimate experience of following Jesus, of experiencing the joy and peace that

transcends space and time. a church that found the stale, old categories of liberal and conservative

boring and irrelevant because we’d experienced resurrection, which includes and affirms anything and

everything that brings liberating, new life wherever it’s found, irrespective of whatever labels and

categories it’s been given because of an abiding conviction that the tomb is,

after all,

empty.

 

a church where the main thing was actually the main thing.

 

a church that understood that there is a simplicity on the other side of complexity, aware of all of the

various interpretations  and theological perspectives and complicated systems of thinking and analyzing

and yet with a clear, resolute sense that Jesus is doing something in the world, bringing water to the

thirsty, food to the hungry, peace to the restless, presence to the lonely and we are invited to join his

movement. that Jesus is ultimately not a proposition you intellectually assent to but a person you say

‘yes’to.

 

what matters then, is your ‘yes.’ with whatever you have, and whatever you don’t have. with whoever and

however you are or aren’t, wherever you’ve come from. what matters is our ‘yes.’

 

you,

my friends,

through you i have experienced the mysterious joy of creation. i will never be able to fully, adequately

explain what it has been like to have imagined you, conceived of you—this church—and then have you

exist. from those earliest discussions kristen and i would have in our early twenties, eating lunch at the

taco bell on colorado boulevard in los angeles, imagining what a church could be, to this very moment,

you have brought me the joy of creation.

 

thank you.

thank you.

thank you.

 

and then a second thanks.

 

in september when you learned that i would be leaving you, for many of you it was like a bomb going off.

you didn’t expect it, you weren’t looking for it, you got an email on a thursday and on the following sunday

you heard it directly from me. i have, since then, had the chance to personally interact with a large

number of you and you have been across the board extraordinarily consistent in your responses, which

have been two:

one: grief

and

two: support.

 

this is significant, and meaningful, for a number of reasons.

first, any change, even if it’s good, is always a form of loss, and loss must be grieved. that’s the only way it

works. stuff it, deny it, repress or suppress it and it will come back to a haunt you, it will lurk in the

shadows and it will resurface later.

 

your grief then, is a sign of health. it demonstrates an awareness of your interiors, your heart, and your

 

 

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desire to face and embrace what’s actually going on inside of you.

 

and then secondly, you have been supportive. at times, shockingly so, at least from my perspective.

some of you only had that thursday email and still, when you saw me, with no details, you expressed your

grief and then went on to make it  very clear that whatever we would be up to next, you were cheering us

on. this is significant for a number reasons, namely, your belief that God is big and that any movement to

share this love of God with more people is movement in a life giving direction and that this same big,

loving God is fully capable of taking care of all of us, whether we are together or apart.

 

a story, to tell you why this means what it does to me.

 

several years ago there was a well known pastor who openly, publicly had a number of issues that he was

against, both morally and spiritually and politically. he was loud and outspoken about these particular

issues. it turns out that one of the issues he was most vocally opposed to was something that he himself

had been engaged in. upon this being revealed publicly, his church released him from his leadership

position. shortly after this, a friend of mine happened to meet him while visiting the same city and when

they began conversing, this pastor-in-exile expressed a great deal of stored up venom for his former

church that he had started, venting about how they had shot their wounded and they hadn’t extended him

grace and love and all that. he was shocked that they had treated him like they had.

 

here’s what i find so startling: he was complaining about how they dealt with him, but he’s the one who

shaped and taught and molded them. he merely found himself on the receiving end of how he had trained

them to be. he created and crafted the system to behave a particular way and then it behaved in that exact

way.

 

it’s easy to form a circle and pick up stones, taking turns quoting bible verses the whole time, ready to

unleash those stones on the one who’s guilty. it’s another thing to be the person standing in the middle of

that circle, desperate for one person, just one, to say “is any of you without sin?” those who have ears to

hear, let them hear.

 

so that’s the question you have as a leader, pastor, teacher,

the question you live with day in and day out: “are they getting it?”

 

i have tried to teach you about a big God, who holds all things, including us, in an unconditional, loving

embrace. i have tried to teach and model for you an unswerving hope and trust, that change and risk and

leaps of faith are normal and at times absolutely necessary for our growth and the continued expansion

of our hearts. so when, in this change, this loss, this transition, this departure, you have responded time

and time again with largeness of spirit and bigness of heart, with confidence that the God who got you this

far is fully capable of taking you the rest of the way, deeply attuned to your own emotions and responses

and at the very same time convinced that everybody will be just fine because what could possibly separate

us from the love we’ve tasted and experienced, the love of Christ that holds and sustains us all?

 

oh my. it’s so moving to me.

thank you.

thank you.

thank you.

 

with those two words of thanks, then onto a lesson that you’ve taught me.

for many people, the simple dualisms of right and wrong and good and bad are the sole prism, the lens,

through which they look for God in the world. so if things go well, then ‘God is good’ is how the thinking

 

 

5

 

goes, and if things don’t go well, all kinds of questions arise about God and hope and faith and was it all

just  a grand illusion in the first place?

 

the life we’ve found together, however, is far more  subtle, nuanced, and complex than those simple

dualisms, and i’ve seen you discover this deep well of insight as it shapes you in profound ways.

 

i’ve seen you get cancer and struggle with infertility and attend funerals of people you love and get let go

from your jobs and lose tens of thousands of dollars and get sued and find out your kid is using drugs—

and at the same time i’ve watched you find God in the mess. in the tension. in the chaos. i’ve seen you find

peace and joy and calm and rest in situations in which everybody else is convinced that peace and joy,

much like Elvis, have left the building.

 

there’s an ancient midrash about jacob who wrestles the angel. they say that he walks with a limp

afterwards, but at least he’s experienced God.

 

i’ve watched many of you walk with a limp.

 

it’s a deeper wisdom you have attained,

a higher level of consciousness,

a more refined and ultimately more enduring way of seeing that you have acquired.

 

it’s a spirituality that doesn’t need quick and easy answers, it shuns the trite and cliché,

it understands Christ is here somewhere in this mess, and no matter how dark or foreboding it gets,

we will at some point see him,

friday will give way to sunday

and while there are blood and tears and heartache

and at times we’re barely holding on by our chiny chin chin

when we do stumble into the daylight, when we do find a little respite, a sliver of shalom,

when we eventually do meet the resurrected Christ

it will be real and it will matter and it will be true and

it will satisfy.

 

i’ve seen you lament and laugh,

cry and celebrate,

 

weep and wail

and then whoop it up,

 

pull your hair out from pain and frustration

and then dye it bright colors because someone’s throwing a party.

 

you have taught me not to fear the full spectrum of human experience but to embrace it, to celebrate it, to

wallow in it and soar with it. many Christians are eager to point out that Jesus said he was the son of God

and that’s the wedge issue, the crux of the faith, the divisive point you have to take a stand on. i believe he

is. and in the same breath, i remind you that he also referred to himself a shocking number of times as

the ‘son of man.’ you know what ‘son of man’ means?

 

human.

 

now that’s shocking.

take a stand on that.

 

 

6

 

 

what he stressed, what he thought was a big deal, what he called himself time and time again, was son of

man. it is a big deal for a human to be divine, but if you’re looking to provoke, and if you want to focus in

on astounding claims he made about himself, how about the mind-bendingly revolutionary claim of the

divine being human?

 

weeping,

spitting in mud,

eating,

drinking so much he’s accused of being a drunk,

letting people clean his feet with oils,

inviting people to touch his wounded sides.

 

humanity, now that’s interesting.

 

Jesus invites us into the full spectrum of human experience,

from lament to exhilaration and everything in between.

from basking in the presence of God,

to cursing at the top of your lungs from the rooftops

because God is nowhere to be found,

shrieking till you’re hoarse ‘my God, my God, why have you screwed me’

now that’s life.

that’s real.

that’s divine.

 

you’ve shown me how to find God in the full spectrum of human experience.

so, there are some thanks,

and a lesson you’ve taught me.

now, some warnings.

 

first, there is a meta-movement in the scriptures, an arc to the unfolding story of redemption. it is the

movement from word to flesh.

 

think of the ten commandments. one of them is ‘don’t kill.’ it’s absolute base level requirements here:

could you just not murder each other? but then the story progresses, it evolves, and so later Jesus says

that greater love has no one than to lay down their life for another. and then he gives his life, out of love.

so the earlier ‘could you try not to kill each other?’ grows into ‘could you love with such fidelity and

devotion that you’d actually give your life for another?’

 

the command, the words, to protect and preserve life take on flesh and blood, to the point where it’s an

entire pervasive pattern of life, second nature, in which you seek the well being of others ahead of your

own.

 

word takes on flesh. this is the story of Jesus, the word, the creative life force of the universe, taking on a

body and moving into the neighborhood. so when Jesus talks about the kind of life God has for us, he talks

about us experiencing in flesh and blood a whole new way of being. serving, caring, discovering, thanking,

forgiving, loving, tasting, embracing, doing whatever we do for the least of these. it’s an embodied faith,

one that’s dirty and bloody with sleeves rolled up and sweat on the brow. it’s one where there’s plenty of

wine at the party.

 

 

 

7

 

i write this to you because of how many of you have been challenged about your participation in the life of

this church, often with the accusation: but what do they believe over there at mars hill?

 

as if belief, getting the words right, is the highest form of faith.

Jesus came to give us life. a living, breathing, throbbing, pulsating blow your hair back/tingle your

spine/roll the windows down and drive fast/experience of God right here, right now.

 

word taking on flesh and blood.

 

and so you’ve found yourself defending and explaining and trying to find the words for your experience

which is fundamentally about a reality that is beyond and more than words.

 

so when you find yourselves tied up in knots, having long discussions about who believes what, a bit like

dogs doing that sniff circle when they meet on the sidewalk, do this:

 

take out a cup

and some bread

and put it in the middle of the table,

and say a prayer and examine yourselves

and then make sure everybody’s rent is paid and there’s food in their fridge and clothes on their backs

and then invite everybody to say ‘yes’ to the resurrected Christ with whatever ‘yes’ they can muster in the

moment and then you take that bread and you dip it in that cup in the ancient/future hope and trust that

there is a new creation bursting forth right here right now and then together taste that new life and

liberation and forgiveness and as you look those people in the eyes gathered around that table from all

walks of life and you see the new humanity, sinners saved by grace, beggars who have found bread

showing the others beggars where they found it

and in that moment

space

place

remind yourselves that

this

is

what

you

believe.

 

remember, the movement is word to flesh.

beware of those who will take the flesh and want to turn it back into words

 

flowing from this, then, a second warning.

there is a question that lingers in the air,

the question that people actually talk about

the question, of course, is ‘what will happen to mars hill?’

now please don’t be deceived by this question,

thrown off by it’s ubiquity,

misled by the way that it is freely, commonly asked, as if the answer is somehow out there somewhere

waiting to be discovered.

 

the way advertising works is you try and associate the impersonal, inanimate product you are selling with

something personal and embodied. sometimes famous people are paid large sums of money to endorse a

product, in the hope that whatever this person is known for, whatever they’ve accomplished or achieved,

 

 

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will, in essence, rub off on the product. so that you’ll think ‘michael jordan, the greatest basketball player

ever, is talking about this plain white t shirt that manages to keep its shape around the neck after

multiple wearings, so this must be the greatest plain white t shirt ever.’ that sort of thing. the effort, then,

is to associate the tangible product  with an intangible value or concept embodied by a person. several

years ago apple began running those annoying/clever  ads in which the nerdy pc has a stilted

conversation with the cool guy mac. microsoft took a beating in those ads, so they began running a series

of counter ads in which groovy hipster folks look at the camera and say ‘i’m a pc.’ once again, trying to

associate an inanimate, impersonal product with actual flesh and blood, breathing, living people.

 

you, my friends, have the opposite problem. when people ask ‘what about mars hill?’ or ‘what’s mars hill

going to do?’ it’s as if mars hill is a disembodied reality with a life of its own.

 

here’s the twist: the church is not an inanimate, impersonal product. there is no ‘mars hill’ in theory.

there is no abstract, disembodied entity mars hill apart from the people in this room who ARE mars hill.

 

so when people say what’s going to happen to mars hill? they’re asking what’s going to happen to you.

what are you going to do? how are you going to respond?

 

you are the answer,

because you are the church.

mars hill is not a product,

it is a gathering of people.

you.

 

that’s why there’s no sign.

how does a person find mars hill?

well, you have to meet one.

 

remember when woody yelled at buzz: ‘you are a toy!!!?’

i’m woody, yelling at you, buzz: you are a church!

 

you are the answer to the question what will happen to mars hill.

and so please,

i ask of you,

i plead with you,

to answer well.

 

prove them wrong.

bring your friends,

give money,

get more involved.

believe.

trust.

practice hope.

 

there is an essence to this place, a spirit. that’s how organizations and institutions and movements and

causes are: they develop patterns and energies that manifest themselves in fairly consistent ways over

time. and you know it the moment you walk through the door. you size a place up, you catch what’s in the

air, you read the body language of a place. you’re here because of the essence and spirit of this place.

people are welcome here, and they know it. Christ is alive here, healing people and liberating people and

giving new life. there is mission here, cause, purpose beyond these walls. and you know it. i know it.

 

 

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it’s a reverent hum just below the surface of everything we do here. you can taste it, feel it, smell it.

don’t mess with that.

protect that, preserve that.

 

you know what i’m talking about.

if you grumble and complain and become agitated and divisive you will ruin the pure, sweet, humble,

captivating essence that is present in the midst of this community.

when in doubt, stop talking and start praying.

breathe.

stay calm, be cool, be nonreactive. breathe some more.

once again, mars hill is going to be in new territory, trying things, experimenting, learning together where

the new life is.

it’s what we’ve been doing from the beginning.

if you want this church to be some other church,

then please leave this church and go to that church.

this church has it’s own unique path,

it’s own particular dna

and you must be true to it,

or you will lose something vital to who you are,

and why God brought you together.

 

in the coming days the question for each of you is: are you bringing hope and creativity and life here

or are you using your voice and power to cut it down? are you destroying something beautiful?

 

do you believe that this church’s best days are ahead of you?

if your answer is anything other than yes,

you are already answering the question.

 

this leads me to a universal truth:

people whisper sweet nothings to their lover

but they yell ‘fire.’

 

reflect on this with me.

love, whispered.

danger, yelled.

fear, it turns out, is often louder than love.

sometimes fear is good, and yelling even better,

especially when there actually is a fire.

but other times fear is toxic, destructive,

the opposite of love.

 

remember that.

look for it.

and call it out, confront it when you come across it.

fear has no place in this place.

when you’ve leaned over and looked into the tomb,

when you’ve ran huffing and puffing to your friends,

 

 

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insisting in between breaths, ‘he isn’t in there!’

fear is no longer the game you’re playing.

you’ve been seized by hope.

and hope has it’s own rules.

 

and now for a confession.

 

i have tried my best to live at peace among you.

i have done everything i could to the best of my awareness to keep my side of the street clean.

i have tried to be a voice of hope, help, healing, and truth to you, year after year, sunday after sunday.

i have tried to apologize whenever i wronged you,

i have knocked on some of your doors,

asking for your forgiveness,

and you have been gracious,

and kind,

every time.

 

and so,

with all of these years here,

all these experiences,

all those sermons,

i confess to you today

that i feel like i’m just getting started.

 

like i’m a rookie, a freshman, a newb.

i feel younger than ever.

i feel like the world is big and wide and open and things are possible that if they were revealed right now,

we’d turn to each other to say ‘no way! that’s awesome!’

 

i believe that God has made this day,

that it’s good,

and you can have joy in it.

even if you’re limping.

 

can you make this confession with me today?

can you say with me ‘i feel like i’m just getting started?’

 

you can be old,

you can even be over 40,

you can have a lot of life behind you,

and yet you’re being renewed,

you’re being reborn,

you’re wide eyed and filled with wonder,

you’ve tasted and you’ve seen in such a way

that you realize

you’re just getting started.

the past and the present and the future begin

to meld into one giant eternal now

and you understand in that moment

what Jesus was talking about when he said

he came to give us that kind of life.

 

 

11

 

 

i feel like i’m just getting started.

i feel like i’m just getting started.

i feel like i’m just getting started.

 

from quantum physics, we’ve learned that when two subatomic particles are bonded, attached, together,

and then they’re separated they exhibit fascinating behavior. they demonstrate that they are aware of and

affected by that particle they were once attached to. this is called quantum entanglement. we’ve been

together for a number of years, and now we’re parting, but forever we’ll be entangled.

 

and i celebrate that.

 

and so i stand today in your midst,

happy, satisfied, anticipating magnificent tomorrows,

feeling like i’m just getting started,

and i say, until next time, with as much love as i can possibly muster:

 

grace and peace be with you.

 

your brother rob

December 15, 2011

NEWSBOYS To Start There Biggest Tour To Date, THE GOD’S NOT DEAD Tour

 

 

On the heels of releasing their highly acclaimed rock worship project, God’s Not Dead, Newsboys will embark this spring on their biggest tour yet, the “God’s Not Dead Tour.” Kicking off Jan 12th and running through May 5th, the tour will run in over 60 cities across the U.S. The tour is presented by Compassion International, continuing their partnership with Newsboys to raise awareness for child sponsorships. Additionally, a special VIP Pre-Show Meet & Greet Experience will be held nightly with a portion of its proceeds going to support Compassion International’s child trafficking initiatives. Other major sponsors supporting the tour are I Am Second and Interstate Batteries.

Joining Newsboys on the tour will be special guests The City Harmonic (winners of GMA Canada’s New Artist of the Year award), the high-energy pop foursome Anthem Lights, and the rock-driven group Abandon. A special emphasis has been placed on outreach and evangelism, with youth evangelist Bob Lenz joining the tour to share a message of hope. Lenz’s non-profit organization, Life Promotions, will be building a network of supporting churches throughout the tour to facilitate the post-concert evangelistic efforts of the tour, with additional support from I Am Second. I Am Second, a movement meant to inspire all people to live for God and for others, is designed to help people discover their purpose in life.

Newsboys’ God’s Not Dead Tour Dates:*
January 12 – Holland, MI
January 13 – Anderson, IN
January 19 – Sheboygan, WI
January 20 – Port Huron, MI
January 21 – Menominee, MI
February 02 – Amarillo, TX
February 03 – Longview, TX
February 04 – Abilene, TX
February 09 – Temple, TX
February 10 – Carlsbad, NM
February 11 – Phoenix, AZ
February 12 – Tuscon, AZ
February 17 – Oceanside, CA
February 18 – Brentwood, CA
Feburary 19 – Sacramento, CA
February 21 – Layton, UT
February 23 – Anaheim, CA
February 24 – Redlands, CA
February 25 – Fresco, CA
February 26 – Bakersfield, CA
March 02 – Farmington, NM
March 03 – Lubbock, TX
March 09 – New Bern, NC
March 16 – St. Charles, IL
March 17 – Quincy, IL
March 22 – Barre, VT
March 24 – Lynchburg, VA
March 28 – Yankton, SD
March 29 – Indianola, IA
March 31 – Spencer, IA
April 05 – Edna, TX
April 06 – McAllen, TX
April 14 – Valdosta, GA
April 21 – Springfield, OH
April 22 – Wabash, IN
April 26 – Knoxville, TN
April 27 – Evansville, IN
May 03 – Menasha, WI
May 04 – Oak Creek, WI
May 05 – Flint, MI
*Dates and supporting acts are subject to change

December 15, 2011

FRANCIS CHAN Asks Are You Praying The Right Way

 

Are you praying the right way? If you aren’t sure, you might want to take a lesson from Francis Chan.

The author of Crazy Love and other best-selling Christian books argues that some Christians aren’t praying the right way—they are too focused on their own needs rather than God’s mission. As Chan sees it, it’s no surprise that there are so many ineffective prayers that don’t get answered. Scripture, after all, warns about this.

“James 4 says a lot of times you’ll ask and you don’t receive because what you’re asking for you’re asking to spend on your own passions and no one warned me about that,” Chan said in his latest video in the Basic series.

A seven-part film series produced by NOOMA filmmakers, Basic is Chan’s response to his frustrations with the modern-day church. In the video, Chan challenges believers to examine the roots of the church and get back to the basics of prayer.

An always transparent Chan shared how he once thought he could just ask God for anything, as if He is a big genie in the sky. Now, Chan realizes he has to be more careful about his prayers, and he encourages other Christians to be more careful also.

“I would just start opening my mouth and talk to God about whatever, and there’s some truth to that. But I noticed in the Bible there are also some warnings that we have to be very careful how we approach God,” says Chan, former pastor of Cornerstone Community Church. “For example, Ecclesiastes 5 says guard yourselves, guard your steps when you go near to the house of God, and it says draw near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools who do not know that they are doing evil.”

As he looks at the way the disciples prayed in the days of the early church—and as he looks at the way Jesus taught us to pray—Chan says he realizes it’s a lot different from what he was taught. In response to this revelation, Chan has been diving back into prayer studies for the past few years. In the video, he shares insights from the Lord’s prayer.

“Think about these phrases now that we’ve been saying for years that maybe we didn’t mean, We used to say ‘Give us this day our daily bread.’ We’re asking for our daily provision. Truth is, I think, if God just gave us our daily bread, many of us would be angry,” he says. “That’s all you’re going to give me? You’re just going to give me enough to sustain me for today? What about tomorrow or next year or 10, 20, 30 years from now? I want to know that I’m set up. And yet Jesus says just pray for your daily provisions.”

Chan also explored Jesus’ next petition about temptation and deliverance from evil.

“Haven’t you prayed that at times in your life when you were actually still holding on to some temptation? Maybe you weren’t even ready to let go of all of your sin and yet you’re saying it,” Chan says. “It’s like your words weren’t matching up to your heart.”

Chan says the verse of Scripture in the Lord’s prayer that scares him has to do with forgiveness.

“We’re saying ‘God forgive me in the same way as I have forgiven others.’ That scares me because I know I’ve prayed that while being angry at other people. I know I’ve prayed that prayer while I was still unforgiving,” he says. “So now when I’m telling God forgive me in the same way as I forgive other people, see, we need to be warned about this kind of stuff.”

December 15, 2011

The Story Bible Remains On Top Of Bible Bestseller Lists

 

 

With The Story tour making its rounds in venues across the country, The Story Bible from Zondervan continues atop the Bible best-sellers list for weekly sales ending Nov. 26, according to Pubtrack Christian data from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA).

The remaining Bibles in the top five are: 2. NIV Life Application Study Bible, Italian Duo-Tone, carmel/dark carmel (Zondervan); 3. NIV True Images, Italian Duo-Tone, chocolate/bubble gum (Zondervan); 4. NIV Life Application Study Bible, Italian Duo-Tone, honeysuckle pink (Zondervan); and 5. NIV Faithgirlz! Bible, Italian Duo-Tone (Zondervan).

The Top 20 General best-sellers are: 1. Heaven is for Real, Todd Burpo (Thomas Nelson); 2. Longing, “Bailey Flanigan Series” No. 3, Karen Kingsbury (Zondervan); 3. Jesus Calling, Sarah Young (Thomas Nelson); 4. Heaven is for Real for Kids, Burpo (Thomas Nelson); 5. Nearing Home, Billy Graham (Thomas Nelson); 6. The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven, Kevin Malarkey, Alex Malarkey (Tyndale House Publishers); 7. Not a Fan, Kyle Idleman (Zondervan); 8. Coming Back Stronger, Drew Brees (Tyndale); 9. A Log Cabin Christmas Collection, Wanda E. Brunstetter, et al. (Barbour Publishing); 10. Jesus Calling: Large Print Deluxe Edition, Young (Thomas Nelson); 11. Crazy Love, Francis Chan (David C Cook); 12. Courageous, Randy Alcorn (Tyndale); 13. The Resolution for Men, Stephen Kendrick, Alex Kendrick, Randy Alcorn (B&H Books); 14. Every Day a Friday, Joel Osteen (FaithWords); 15. Through My Eyes, Tim Tebow (Harper); 16. Jesus Calling: Deluxe Edition, Young (Thomas Nelson); 17. Learning, “Bailey Flanigan Series” No. 2, Kingsbury (Zondervan); 18. Live Loved, Max Lucado (Thomas Nelson); 19. Christmas Stories, Max Lucado (Thomas Nelson); and 20. One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp (Zondervan)

Top 10 Fiction: 1. Longing; 2. A Log Cabin Christmas Collection; 3. Courageous; 4. Learning; 5. A Lancaster County Christmas, Suzanne Woods Fisher (Revell/Baker Publishing Group); 6. Leaving, “Bailey Flanigan Series” No. 1, Kingsbury (Zondervan); 7. The Tehran Initiativeby Joel C. Rosenberg (Tyndale); 8. The Wonder of Your Love, “Land of Canaan” No. 2, Beth Wiseman (Thomas Nelson); 9. The Christmas Shoppe, Melody Carlson (Revell/Baker Publishing Group); and 10. Her Daughter’s Dream, “Marta’s Legacy” No. 2, Francine Rivers (Tyndale).

December 15, 2011

Sherwood Pictures’ Latest Movie COURAGEOUS To Be Released On DVD Jan 17

 

Sherwood Pictures’ latest movie, Courageous, will be released on DVD Jan. 17, with a special edition for Christian retail.

The Exclusive Collector’s Edition will include more than an hour of extra content not available in the general market version and will retail for $24.99. Also available only in CBA stores will be a DVD/Blu-ray combo pack with the additional material, retailing for $34.99. Both editions will be distributed by Provident-Integrity Distribution.

Details of the DVD release had been eagerly awaited by Christian retailers who reported strong sales for the filmmakers’ previous Fireproof when it was released for home viewing. Some credited the DVD and the accompanying book, The Love Dare, with helping them stay in business.

Opening in 900 theaters across the country Sept. 30, Courageous was among the nation’s top 10 box-office earners for three weeks. Stores will be offered a display that can carry the DVD and Blu-ray/DVD combo pack, the soundtrack and related book releases.

“We are very excited about Courageous—its box office, and even more importantly, its ministry impact,” said Randy Davis, vice president of sales & marketing at Provident-Integrity Distribution. “We believe that families across our country, and around the world, will be positively affected by this film. And similar to Fireproof, retailers across the country expect the Courageous brand, and specifically the DVD, to be the top-selling product in CBA over the next 18-24 months.”

Among the extras in the Exclusive Collector’s Edition will be the music video for Castings Crowns’ soundtrack song, “Courageous” and featurettes on the history of Sherwood Pictures and members of the volunteer production team at the Albany, Ga., church where the company is based. There are also episodes A Church of Prayer and The Importance of Fathers.

Other features include a making-of documentary, deleted scenes and bloopers, and a commentary by Sherwood Pictures co-founders and filmmaking brothers Alex and Stephen Kendrick.

Family Christian Stores is offering the DVD for a pre-buy price of $19.98, with a free copy of Building a Courageous Home (a $9.99 value), featuring the Kendricks and including family activities.

December 7, 2011

Author Janet P. Eclkles To Share Her Story Of Loss Of Sight On Life Lessons Radio

 

 

Three Judson Press authors are taking to the airwaves to share their inspiring stories. Janet Perez Eckles, author of Simply Salsa: Dancing without Fear at God’s Fiesta, shares the heart-wrenching story of her loss of sight and the murder of her youngest son.

Upcoming interviews include:

Also a frequent radio and television guest, Anita Mellott, author of School is Where the Home: 180 Devotions for Parents, has been speaking on the topic of homeschooling.

Anita’s upcoming interviews include:

 

 

December 4, 2011

Christian Rock Band THOUSAND FOOT KRUTCH Leaves Record Label To Release Next Album Independently, Starts Kickstarter Campaign To Fund Next Album

 

Fans of Thousand Foot Krutch most likely already know about the band’s anticipated 2012 new studio album, The End Is Where We Begin, but what they might not know is that TFK will be releasing the record completely on their own for the first time in over ten years. To help finance the completed record and the production of new CD pressings and shirts and such, the band has launched a Kickstarter campagin in support. They have until the end of the year to raise $40,000, but are already close to breaking that goal as this report goes to print. Check out the band’s announcement below…

 

We are just finishing up our new album “The End Is Where We Begin” and we want you to be a part of the journey! We will be releasing this new album on our own—with your help! We can not thank all of you enough for your support so far. We could not be here without you and now you can play an important part in helping us launch our new album. 

This is a great way for us to connect more with you, by offering some exclusive and unique packages related to the new album. We couldn’t be more excited about this. We will keep you up to date here as much as we can – everything from the tour, to the artwork, to the ideas and everything in between as our plan begins to take shape. And of course…the music! We are most excited to share some of that with you as quick as we can! And there are some cool ways for us to do that. We hope that you find the support pledges exciting, as we had fun dreaming them up! Please make sure that any of your friends that are fans of TFK are aware of our new adventure.

P.S. We know that our fans are the best. Let’s show the world the strength of the TFK community. If we hit our goal in 1 day, then we will make one new song from the new album available to everyone (for free!) by Friday December 2nd!

Thanks so much for taking part in this journey with us,

TFK

 

Visit the band’s Kickstater page here and join us in supporting TFK!

December 1, 2011

God Have Mercy Kyrie Eleison Lyrics David Crowder Band

Oh Lord have mercy
Oh Lord have mercy
Oh Christ have mercy
Have mercy

Oh Christ have mercy
Oh Christ have mercy
Jesus have mercy
Oh have mercy

Oh God have mercy
Oh God have mercy
Jesus have mercy
Oh have mercy, mercy

Oh my God what have I done
Oh my God what have I done
What have I done

Oh Lord have mercy
Oh Lord have mercy
Oh Christ have mercy
Have mercy

Oh we will bend and break
In such a fragile state
We won’t be here long
No, we won’t be here long

Kyrie eleison

December 1, 2011

Come Find Me Lyrics David Crowder Band

The one who I’ve searched for
For so long has come
With open arms
Today is the day of glory
Today is the day I’m home

Oh day, what a day
Oh day, I’m yours
Oh day of resurrection

You come and find me, find me and I
Oh I come alive
Oh I come alive
What can I do but offer my life
And I come alive
Oh I come alive
Again

Today is the day I rise like the dawn
Up out of death
To a Son, to a Son
Oh day, what a day
Oh day, I’m yours
Oh day of resurrection

You come and find me, find me and I
Oh I come alive
Oh I come alive
What can I do but offer my life
And I come alive
Oh I come alive

Beat the drum and say no more
The heart and mind and soul have flown
Oh what am I to do
Oh what am I to do

Beat the drum and say no more
Drift away with you my love
Oh what am I to do
Oh what am I to do
But surrender
To you

You come and find me, find me and I
Oh I come alive
Oh I come alive
What can I do but offer my life
And I come alive
Oh I come alive

December 1, 2011

Oh Great God Give Us Rest Lyrics David Crowder Band

Oh great God give us rest
We’re all worn thin from all of this
At the end of our hope with nothing left
Oh great God give us rest

Oh great God do your best
Have you seen this place it’s all a mess
And I’ve done my part to well i guess
Oh great God do your best

Could you take a song and make it thine
From a crooked heart twisted up like mine
Would you open up Heaven’s glory light
Shine on in and give these dead bones life
Oh shine on in and give these dead bones life

Let it shine, let it shine
On and on, on and on, come to life

December 1, 2011

Requiem Aeternam Dona Eis, Domine David Crowder Band Lyrics