Watch. Change. Be free.
We have plenty of stuff about Jesus, but do we really have Jesus? I'm sure the world cares less about our buildings, our programs, our camps, and our statement of faith than they do about really seeing Jesus among us. Jesus in us. Jesus through us.
Don't get me wrong. I appreciate buildings, programs, camps and even statements of faith (some less than others…), but unless it oozes Jesus, it's just religious works. Unless it becomes missionally and incarnationally the hands and feet of Christ, it's nothing more than a Pharisee handing Jesus a bloody tampon saying, 'I made this for you'. (Isaiah 64:6)
Here are some great thoughts that may surprise you from friend/thinker/writer Len Sweet. (via theworkofthepeople.com)
I don't know where you may fall on the whole 'Halloween Thing". I have friends who love Jesus who sincerely believe it's solely Satanic and part of the downfall of our
family-values bubble world. On the other hand, I have other friends who passionately pursue Jesus and still approach Halloween with all the vigor of Quentin Tarantino and Rob Zombie.
Regardless, October 31 officially begins Chocolate Season in TomLand.
So, today I am officially declaring today 'Opening Day'. As any zit-marked, diabetic teen knows, Chocolate Season begins at Halloween, runs through Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year's Day, Valentine's Day…and doesn't officially conclude until Easter. And, in most cases, it's extended through June, to cover Mother's Day and Father's Day!
Sa-weet Lord….Gracias a Dios!
I realize Chocolate Season makes it hard to prepare for Swimsuit Season, but with all the talk these days about skin cancer, overexposure, and the damaging rays of the sun, Chocolate Season is a much better (and healthier!) option.
I hope you'll join me! Let the games begin.
Whether you attended David Crowder's Fantastical Church Music Conference or not last week, come join us Thursday, Oct 14 at Chuy's in Austin!
Thanks to @mrcrum for the graphic!
It’s official. On Tuesday, September 21, 2010, the word ‘awesome’ officially retired from colloquial English. Although we are (not really) sad to see her go, everyone here at tomcottar(dot)org would like to thank her for her 20 years of faithful service to our culture. It seems that everything has a shelf life, and the cold, hard fact is that milk expires sooner than frozen peas. Sometimes you just have to throw out the milk that's gone bad.
The problem came when we started using ‘awesome’ in ways that were far less than the speechless, jaw-dropping moniker deserved. Certain things are definitely awe-inspiring, awe-worthy, and awe-giving. Like the birth of a child. A U2 or Rolling Stones concert. Like killing a yak from 1000 yards in high winds…using only mind-bullets.
But when the Chick-Fil-A guy says he won’t charge you for your large fries, it’s not life-changing. It’s not jaw-dropping. And it’s not ‘awesome’. It’s…well…it’s just….nice.
And when someone asks you ‘how are you doing?’, you need to be actively doing something that is awe-inspiring to others before you answer, “I’m doing awesome”, like painting the Sistine Chapel. Creating your own sunset as you rotate the Earth on it’s axial tilt of 23.5 degrees. Or immaculately conceiving your first-born child. Otherwise, you’re doing fine, great, or even wonderful…but you’re not really awesome. Sorry.
So, let’s come up with an alternative.
Personally, I’m lobbying for legit or righteous. But feel free to use the equally-expressive gnarly, excellent, frigtastic, or bodacious.
If you absolutely have to use ‘awesome’, please follow the following guideline: ‘awesome’ now implies ‘some awe’ (in the same way ‘burdensome’ is something that implies ‘some burden’ and ‘worrisome’ implies ‘some worry’). So, in a literal way, ‘awesome’ can be used to describe something mediocre and something with only ‘some’ awe. If something is truly amazing, and truly ‘full of awe’, you can say it is ‘awe-ful’ (just as someone who is ‘careful’ is ‘full of care’ and something ‘fearful’ is ‘full of fear’). So, perhaps now your life is ‘awful’.
But, please, no more ‘awesome’ unless you are carving out the Grand Canyon or walking on water. After all, it may have been Jesus who said, ‘Without Me, it’s just aweso’.
I know. I know. It's an easy target. They tell you 'be yourself'. Then they tell you to 'color inside the lines.' They say 'discover who you are'. But then they make you walk in a single-file line like everyone else.
But it's deeper than that for sure.
Sir Ken Robinson makes a compelling case and challenges the way we challenge our children. He wants us to rethink an environment than cultivates (rather than undermines) creativity. But the BIG question is how this affects creativity in your own life, ministry, etc.
Watch and give me your thoughts! VIDEO NOT DISPLAYING CORRECTLY? Click here…
Below are the top albums of 2009 that have impacted me. Some of them may make someone else's Top Ten list…but some will go relatively unnoticed. They are all very different from each other. So, in no particular order, here they are.
1. The controversial Stockholm Syndrome, from Derek Webb. Perhaps one of the craftiest lyricists of recent years, Webb is known for his blatant allegiance to Scripture and his scolding of white, middle-class Republicans for appearing to love the GOP more than Jesus.
Most impacting tracks:
What Matters More, which charges contemporary Christianity with hating homosexuals instead of loving them. ("if i can tell what's in your heart by what comes out of your mouth, then it looks to me like being straight is all it's about."), The Spirit v. The Kick Drum , and Freddie Please (an address from Jesus to the infamous pastor Fred Phelps and his commentary on homosexuals).
2. Backspacer, by Pearl Jam. If you're a Pearl Jam fan, you've gotta have this one. If you're not a Pearl Jam fan, then you've really got to have this one. With matured lyrics and tones, PJ have released one of their best projects to date. The post-punk grooves in The Fixer and west coast riffs in Johnny Guitar make this a pretty amazing soundtrack. The Impact Track has to be the heart-wrenching Just Breathe: the deathbed confession of a man recounting the love he's been blessed with in life. When I die, I pray someone plays this at my memorial service.
3. Kind of Blue , by Miles Davis. While it's not new (1959!), it's relatively new to me. Jazz historians divide jazz music into two periods: before Blue (pre-1959) and after Blue. For many jazz musicians, blue was a watershed moment when culture, history, and art collided to forever change the course of human history. I'm beginning to appreciate and understand that more, largely due to Kind of Blue.
Impact Tracks: The title track, So What., which is not followed by a question mark (‘so what?’), but by a period (‘so what.’) as evidence to the cultural climate of segregation in the late 1950s, and the groovy Freddie Freeloader. (HT to Robert Gelinas for pointing me to it!)
A playful and organic vibe (‘Canada’)..yet almost anthem-esque (‘Staring Out a Window’). One part Paul Westerburg telecaster, one part shoulda-been-the-Juno-soundtrack, and two parts soulful vocals and deeply rooted lyrics. Absolutely great stuff.
Impact Track: ‘Let Us Know You’, which is worth the price of the album alone.
5. Big Whiskey and The Groo Grux King, by Dave Matthews Band. After the passing of long-time bandmate, friend, and saxophonist LeRoi Moore in August 2008, DMB produced their heaviest album to date. Both emotionally and musically. 'Nuff said. Impact tracks are Funny The Way it Is and Why I Am.
6. Glorious (Paul Baloche). I've been a fan of Paul's since the early days of 'Open the Eyes of My Heart'. IMO, much of today's worship music seems to be worshipping a God who's concerned with my well-being. Glorious breaks that trend with some genuinely God-focused worship. Impact Tracks are the title track, Glorious, and We Will Hold On.
What music have you run across this year that has moved you? Inspired you? Healed you? Changed you?
I'd love to know!
Many of you know I deal with periodic insomnia. As aggravating as it may be at times, it's amazing what our bodies can endure without going completely bankrupt. So until it becomes something debilitating, I try to just enjoy the ride and see where it takes me.
Some nights I just can't sleep. Some nights I enjoy being awake while everyone else is asleep–it's by far the quietest slice of 24 hours that I ever experience. But sometimes its just something on my mind. Maybe I've read something or had a conversation I just can't shake. Or a song I'm working on (actually, the song is working on me.) . And my mind is buzzing until almost 3am, I doze off… until @babymakayla wakes up around 4:30. And once I'm up…I'm up for good.
Most recently, it took me back into Fight Club, a movie I’ve seen at least a hundred times. (Happy 10-year anniversary, btw..) “When you have insomnia, nothing is real. Everything is a copy…of a copy…of a copy.” So states Ed Norton’s unnamed character in the movie. He has no name because he is Everyman.
The truth is every one of us was born an original. From our fingerprint down to our DNA, there is no one else exactly like any other one of us. We are each remarkably and wonderfully made. You were born an original.
But most of us will die a poor, pathetic copy. Society’s relentless pursuit of squeezing us into a mold never quits. We look like everyone else. Talk like everyone else. Work the same jobs, eat the same food, desire the same shiny gadgets as everyone else. Color inside the lines. Walk single file. Don’t make waves.
The problem is that we were created to be a receptacle of the Divine. To be ordinary is to be only ‘more of the same’. As a human made in God’s image (eikon), my soul screams out against this with every pore in my being, just as yours does. To be ‘just another one of those’ is deadening agony to me. It has actually driven some people to their death.
But it was never God’s intention for you and I to be a copy of anything…except Christ.
Each of us wants to be extraordinary. We were built to count for something. Anything. Placed in a specific context to count in ways that no one else does. That is our destiny. That is our purpose. To be what no one else can be is to be what we were created for.
So what happened?
Climbing the spiritual mountain is sometimes exhausting. It's hard work. The fact is that very few people will ever climb an actual mountain. Most of us will drive or ride up to the top, get out, and take some nice pictures to show our friends. Spiritually, it’s not much different. Why pay the price to ‘climb’ when we can just ride our way to the Summit. Why not take the short cut?
Maybe that's why Paul tells Timothy (I Timothy 4:7-10) to 'train yourself for godliness'. Literally, 'sweat [gymnopsium] yourself towards godliness'. There are no shortcuts to sweating…
Fortunately I have people in my life that don't take the short cut. They pray. They study the Scripture. They give selflessly. They speak with the sense of having been with God. They are not a copy of a copy of a copy… They are imitators of Christ. And they challenge me to sweat towards that same end.
Some people live life. Others have life live them.
Sleepless nights have given me the time to refocus and evaluate what kind of copy I am. And what I am sweating towards. So, for now I am grateful for insomnia.