Category Archives: Media

A Godly Revolution

Adam Edgerly, the lead pastor for Newsong Los Angeles, spoke yesterday at a training session for young leaders taking part in the Love Santa Ana campaign this weekend. Looking at the civil rights movement in the 1960s as well as the current racial divides and ethnic concerns in society today, Edgerly suggested a radically different process for social engagement. He didn’t say that people just accept injustice. Yet he also cautioned that taking to the streets should not be the first action for followers of Christ. He also said that certain actions may help be a temporary release valve for social tension although they don’t do much to solve the long-term problems. Rioting in the streets and vandalizing businesses may go a long way to hurt a movement instead of help it.

As a black leader and pastor, Edgerly spoke with conviction about real reform coming through the spiritual discipline of civil engagement. This seeks to bring change to public policy through altering the spiritual and physical reality of the world around us. He pointed to the actions of Nehemiah in Nehemiah 1 as a model for social reform. Overcome by the state of his people, Nehemiah sat down and wept over the state of Jerusalem. Its walls had been torn down, and the city was defenseless. Those who lived in the city were vulnerable and in a poor state.

Edgerly commented that the first thing Nehemiah did was to stop and encounter the pain of his people even though they were a long way off back in Jerusalem. He allowed the pain of others to impact his heart and drive him to action. Then, Nehemiah moved from pain to prayer where the concern was brought before God. This released divine guidance, inspiration and power to help impact the situation. Nehemiah started to develop a God-inspired plan. Prayer positions our hearts and minds so that we can hear how God wants to change the situations we see around us.

Nehemiah went from pain to prayer to planning and then to action where he sought the proper time to petition the ruling authorities for access and support to make the necessary changes to bring relief to those who were suffering in Jerusalem.

This involved a substantial risk for Nehemiah. As the king’s cup bearer, he had access to the king, but his request could be interpreted as disloyalty or rebellion. Nehemiah might find himself at the wrong end of the sword by making his request known. And it was never a good idea to be downcast in front of the king. Everybody wanted to put on their best face in the king’s presence. But if you want to make major change, you have to be willing to take a real risk.

Edgerly suggested the following lessons and process from the civil rights movement of the 1960s looking specifically at the example of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
1.) Christians should investigate the situation and collect the facts. Rumor and accusation are not the same thing as true injustice.
2.) Then, Christians should try to negotiate a proper resolution with those in authority.
3.) As the situation escalates, Christians should go through self purification to make sure that they cut any ties or support for the injustice taking place.
4.) Finally, Christians should engage in non-violent direct action to raise awareness of the issue and show solidarity with those who are being abused, hurt, marginalized or negatively impacted by a particular injustice.

Is It Cool to Be Hip These Days?

Brett McCracken’s recently released a book titled Hipster Christianity: Where Church and Cool Collide. It details the stories and pitfalls of attempts to be relevant to the 20 and 30 year olds who have left church after adolescence not to return.

McCracken recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal, “If the evangelical Christian leadership thinks that ‘cool Christianity’ is a sustainable path forward, they are severely mistaken. As a twentysomething, I can say with confidence that when it comes to church, we don’t want cool as much as we want real.”

McCracken added, “If we are interested in Christianity in any sort of serious way, it is not because it’s easy or trendy or popular. It’s because Jesus himself is appealing, and what he says rings true. It’s because the world we inhabit is utterly phony, ephemeral, narcissistic, image-obsessed and sex-drenched—and we want an alternative. It’s not because we want more of the same.”

I agree with McCracken that attempts to play the hip game will always come up short for churches because they can’t out hype Hollywood or the latest must-listen-to band. And that shouldn’t be the goal. Being different in a good way is what will make a difference.

Young people want relevant, connected and authentic expressions of worship and journeying through life together. Attempts to market Jesus will only backfire. If you remember Jesus wasn’t big into marketing. He would do great miracles and then tell the recipient not to tell anyone. At the end of the day, it really comes down to helping young people feel connected to a story bigger than themselves that still seems relevant to the world in which they live.

I think that any time we set out to copy what others have done in a church setting we have to be careful. There is nothing wrong with learning from others. But you have to first know who you are as a local body of Christ and what makes you unique. A church can’t steal the identity of another congregation and expect it to work.

In the end, a local church has to first know itself in relationship to Christ before it can truly benchmark from others. If you try to benchmark first, you will only end up copying someone else’s dream.

Here are two interesting articles on the book and topic of Hipster Christianity.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704111704575355311122648100.html

http://www.religiondispatches.org/books/atheologies/3142/cooler_than_thou%3A_will_hipsters_wreck_christianity/

Twitter Me This

Okay, I have joined the world of Twitter. I started this past weekend. To be honest, the entire blog, Facebook, Twitter phenomenon seems a big Narcissistic to me. Why do so many people care what others are doing?

Facebook is not a great way to really stay connected with close friends. It is a way to stay loosely connected with people that you care about but are not an active part of your regular life.  I would rather talk on the phone or meet face-to-face than connect online. Maybe I am old school.

I was not going to open a Twitter account until a friend explained why he used it. He basically said that Twitter is like Facebook without all the extra stuff that gets in the way like contests, polls, being poked or bitten by others, etc. All the little add-ons are killing Facebook. I don’t think that I have ever responded to one of those things.

Facebook has been kind of neat to re-connect with old friends from school or college. But it shouldn’t take up most of your life. Some people spend way too much time on this stuff.

My blog is nothing more than free therapy. I write so that my head doesn’t explode. If it benefits other people, that’s just the cherry on top.

Twitter does make sense from the perspective that it keeps comments short. My main problem is that brevity has never been a strong suit of mine.

I will be posting some random status updates as well as a daily Scripture verse and related questions on Twitter. These are questions that I am asking myself. My goal is to do this every day for 365 days. There may be some days where I don’t have a decent Internet connection or fail to post for some reason. But my plan is to be as faithful as possible.

What you won’t get from me is Twitter updates on everything in my life. I won’t be telling you what I had for breakfast unless it was something really unusual like fire ants and goat cheese. I won’t be making stupid comments about TV shows.

My desire is to post Twitter messages that add something to the lives of those who read it: either a quick update, a profound thought, question or Scripture verse.

You can follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/organicfaith1

Barack Obama – A Muslim?

I have received e-mails from a few well intentioned Christians about the “Muslim” background of Barack Obama. Some of the details in this e-mail are accurate yet completely misleading. Other details are exaggerated or completely untrue based on published news sources from reliable journalists.

The e-mail tries to paint a picture that Barack was raised a Muslim as a child and attended a radical school for several years while living in Indonesia. The e-mail raises the question about whether or not Obama is secretly a Muslim who is bent on destroying America.

As a journalist, I have seen many times where accurate information can be twisted to come to the wrong conclusion. I have also seen times where people believed lies because it was too difficult to check things out for themselves. Christians must be careful what we forward to others because it reflects back on us and Christ.

I have no idea if Barack Obama is really a Christian as he claims. That is between him and God. I don’t really know for sure about any person’s salvation other than my own. I will simply have to take Obama at his word. According to published news sources, Obama became a Christian years ago, long before he ran for public office. Thus, I doubt his faith is a marketing ploy.

Of course, someone being a Christian doesn’t impact my vote at all. I vote the person and his/her political beliefs. Obama’s political beliefs are far from my own. Thus, I won’t be pulling the lever for him.

I recently read a post by Mike Slaughter, the lead pastor at Ginghamsburg Church in Ohio. Slaughter wrote, “This email represents racism in one of its most subtle and evil forms. Racism demeans human beings by demonizing character and creating an element of fear…To disagree with a person’s ideas is American. To demean a person’s character is racist and un-Christian. It has no place in the church! ”

I completely agree with Mike Slaughter. Yet I do want to express my concerns about the ideas behind the Trinity United Church of Christ(http://www.tucc.org/home.htm) where Obama is a member. It focuses on black empowerment and African issues, which is fine. I am all for recognizing our roots and encouraging people to stand up for themselves and be proactive in life.

While the Trinity United Church is a multi-ethnic church, it appears to be more focused on race than Jesus. That was my impression after reading its Web site and community magazine. I have never met anyone from this church. And I may have prejudged the community. But I am concerned when a church points to Louis Farrakhan (read the Trumpet magazine) as an honorable community leader. And I also believe that the focus of any church should be Jesus and not people or race. I wonder if what started out as good intentions has quickly become idolatry.

Now, I have no idea where Obama stands. Is he a black man first? Is he democractic first? Is he an American first? Is he a disciple of Jesus first? That would be the first question I would ask Mr. Obama if I ever met him.

Here are some interesting things that Obama has said about religion.

Thoughts from Watching the News

A number of things occurred to me while watching NBC news tonight. First, we are a nation of druggies. It seemed like every single advertisement was about some drug that would help with everything from getting a good night’s sleep to high cholesterol to weight control. There are some conditions that require medicines to fix. But I believe that many Americans have turned to the pill just because it is easier than personal discipline and making tough choices on a daily basis. The ads we seen on TV is a good indicator of what people are buying and what companies are trying to sell.

Second, TV newscasts are a horrible medium for covering complex issues. NBC reported on the social unrest and political corruption issues in Kenya. While the reporter did an okay job, there wasn’t enough time to really get into all the nuances that Americans just don’t understand. As someone who has been to Kenya and knows active missionaries in the country, I am somewhat familiar with the tribal factions and internal division. I felt the like the news told us that there was a problem without really explaining much about it. The report showed some pictures of bodies and rioters in the street. That was about it.

Third, NBC talked about why it didn’t cover secondary candidates instead of really tell us much about them. If I want to know NBC’s editorial criteria, I will check its Web site not tune into the nightly newscast.

Kudos to NBC in how its election coverage explained the caucus system in Iowa. I found that interesting.

On a completely unrelated topic, I want to give my horrible coaching job in a major bowl game award to the VA Tech staff. The Hokies did fairly well when the team ran the ball. I think that Beamer and Co took the Jayhawks too lightly. Instead of run the ball, which is Tech’s specialty, Beamer tried lots of passes in situations that ended up leading to turnovers and eventually Kansas points. When the TV announcers criticize your coaching throughout the second half and make sense, maybe you should try a different strategy. Now, I will have to hear story after story about how Kansas belonged in a BCS bowl game. Missouri wasn’t good enough…. blah, blah, blah.

Kansas had a good team this season. But I still don’t know if it belonged in the game regardless of the outcome.

Looking Back at 2007 – A Reality Check

The last year has been a reality check of sorts for most Americans. We have learned that indeed the economic laws of the universe have not been suspended by our lust for more (aka the mortgage crisis/housing bust). We have seen that extra low prices (aka cheap toys from Asia) has its price (think toy recalls and outsourced jobs).

Record oil prices point to a world where energy will become the battleground for the future. The world is facing ever increasing demand with a limited supply. How we respond in the next few years will have a profound impact on the next 100 years. I hope we see more than just political photo ops about this issue in the years ahead.

War is messy and you should count the cost before ever engaging in one. All you have to do is see the increasing number of war casualties and injuries to realize this historical reality. The Iraq surge reminds us that war is seldom over quickly.

The U.S. immigration debate in Congress reflects a divided country that is facing difficult issues to solve. All sides have valid arguments. But what we really need are imperfect solutions that we can all embrace.

The drama surrounding the 2008 presidential election has produced some surprises and revealed a high degree of voter discontent boiling beneath the political surface. The question remains, “Are we dissatisfied enough to demand revolution or just a different suit on the same ole political process?”

The Va Tech shootings remind us that even the young are vulnerable to tragedy. We can never take tomorrow for granted. It points to deeper fundamental problems in society where breakdowns in self identity, family health, community and morality have created an environment where young people don’t know how to process through their rage, fear and personal struggles. The story also reminds us that we are responsible for our own actions. Sometimes we can become the enemy if we listen to the wrong influences and walk down dark paths. The Omaha mall shootings point to some of the same concerns.  

The forest fires, snow storms and natural disasters around the world point to a planet that is constantly in flux. We as stewards must do a better job of protecting the planet and using natural resources in responsible ways.  

Unrest in Pakistan remind us that global issues are important. The world has many hot spots. USA is not the center of the universe. We should be aware that our actions and the actions of other countries  can have worldwide impacts.

At the same time, we see that our infrastructure at home needs to be addressed. Overcrowding of U.S. ports and congestion on highways points to future growth and trade limitations. The collapse of the Interstate 35 bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis raised questions about the safety of U.S. bridges and roads. Many of these structures were built years ago and were designed for less traffic than they accommodate today. Can we really afford to pay for necessary infrastructure repairs at home if we are off saving the world?

collapsed during the evening rush hour on Aug. 1, killing 13 people and injuring about 100. The disaster fueled concern about possible structural flaws in other bridges nationwide.

Okay, maybe not everyone has nuclear weapons in the world. A U.S. intelligence report concluded that Iran stopped its nuclear weapons program in 2003. This has raised questions about what other things politicians and military leaders are paranoyed about that might not be a problem in the future.

America always new it had some bad apples in politics. This year the scandals, resignations and mudslinging left even more voters apathetic about Congress and the Bush administration. Just so we don’t forget that greed and desire for an edge extend beyond politics, there was the Mitchell Report that confirmed the degree of drug abuse by professional baseball players, including some of the biggest stars in the sport.

Of course, there was this year’s slew of celebrity stories that received far too much attention in my opinion. From rehab problems to the bizarre events surrounding the death of Anna Nicole Smith, America seems obsessed with news about famous people. Why? I think this reality is just as much an indictment of America as its celebrities.

I agree with what one journalist wrote. Mike Bailey, managing editor of the The Courier Newsin Elgin, Ill., wrote, “Anyone who picks the Anna Nicole Smith story in the Top Ten should be beaten with sticks.”

Then there are the stories that should have received more exposure, such as, the military crackdown in Myanmar. One of the problems is that these stories are so far from our understanding as Americans that we don’t even know how to process through them even when we do hear about horrible atrocities going on around the world.

AP’s Top News Stories of 2007: http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5jn5ezyBjgKHdk7p9Hh79JddC6wvQD8TLBI4G1

Top Discoveries of 2007: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/12/071213-top-discoveries.html

Best Songs of 2007: http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/17601363/the_100_best_songs_of_2007

Top 10 Missed Stories of 2007: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=4101

Time‘s Top 10 Lists from 2007: http://www.time.com/time/specials/2007/top10/article/0,30583,1686204_1690170_1691130,00.html

Most Peculiar News Stories of 2007: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22218865/

Mute Math

Mute Math has a new DVD out. I just watched it. And although it is not as good as a live show, it is the next best thing if you want to see this innovative band in action. Mute Math’s songs have daring lyrics filled with profound truth. The band’s music is high energy with tons of creative nuances thrown in for good measure.

Below are the lyrics for Control.

Take control of the atmosphere
Take me far away from here
There is no better loss than to lose myself in you
In a parachute to glide, I am captive in your sky
Surrender has somehow become so beautiful

Take control of the atmosphere
Take control of the atmosphere
You can take my world you can fill the air
Take control, take control

It’s such a beautiful surrender
It’s such a beautiful surrender
It’s such a beautiful surrender
It’s such a beautiful surrender

Move me up through the darkest clouds
Till I’ve lost in the sun every shadow of doubt
There is no better find than to find myself with you
In a fog you are all I see
I’m inviting you closer with each time I breathe
Surrender has somehow become so beautiful

Take control of the atmosphere
Take control of the atmosphere
There is no reason I should breathe unless you’re in the air
Take control

Its such a beautiful surrender
Its such a beautiful surrender
And I’m calling out
would you take control
And I’m calling out