Feb 29, 2012

Davy Jones of The Monkees Dies at 66

"Hey look its the Monkees, they were a major influence on the Beatles." I still laugh when I remember this line by Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber. It was so funny and exactly opposite of the real purpose for the 1960's pop band. The Monkees were formed for their own TV show as a kind of spoof to the Beetles.

Today the Monkees' lead singer Davy Jones died of a heart attack at the age of 66. I can still remember the Brady Bunch episode where Marcia gets him to come and sing at her school dance. Classic!

Although they formed as a mere imitation band they rose to stardom with multi million selling hits like, "I'm a Believer" (sung in Shrek), "The Last Train to Clarksville", and "Daydream Believer". All three of these songs are on my ipod, and I never tire of listening to them. Davy will be missed by Monkees fans everywhere, especially me.

To imitate someone is to admire them. The Monkees did a superb job of imitating the Beetles. If you are a believer then you should be seeking to imitate Jesus. The Monkees are to The Beetles, what Christians are to Christ. Can others tell that you are a Christ imitator? After all, isn't that what a Christian is supposed to be?

Feb 28, 2012

The Phantom Menace Passes Star Wars!

Like it or not, The Phantom Menace is now the 10th highest grossing film of all time worldwide. It has grossed over $1 billion dollars. Only 11 movies have ever done this. Brace yourself for number 11--It is...The Dark Knight! OUCH!

But wait it gets worse. On the domestic front Episode 1 moves up a notch as well. It is now number 4 of all time in the United States. What movie did it pass? Star Wars: A New Hope. Although I love all of the Star Wars films, this is disheartening news.

I blame 3D for this travesty. It is the same reason Avatar did so well financially. Prices for tickets are $13 compared to the $3 ticket price for Star Wars in 1977. This means that a whole lot more people went to see the original back in the day.

The only thing that makes me smile is that when the list is adjusted for inflation the top five movies are:

        1. Gone With the Wind
        2. Star Wars
        3. The Sound of Music
        4. E.T.
        5. The Ten Commandments

Avatar is 14th and The Phantom Menace is 16th. Take that 3D!

Anyone can come up with a gimmick to make money, but only a truly moving story will bring people out in droves. I believe that even with my love for Star Wars there is even a more gripping story. If you attend a church, I want you to seriously consider inviting someone to attend with you on Easter. If you don't you can message me and I will recommend one in your area.

Mark your calendars for April 8th. You won't even need to by a ticket to attend "The Greatest Story Ever Told."

What is your opinion of the 3D craze?
Will you be in church this Easter?

You may also enjoy:
7 Problems With the Star Wars Prequels

Feb 22, 2012

The Candidate with the Most Military Support

I usually steer clear of supporting a political candidate because of a "law" or rather tax code that states that pastors may not support a particular candidate. After examining the constitution on this matter I have found that: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press. 

This means that they may not give rules on tax exemptions, but must leave religion alone. Even if there is cause for them to silence my ramblings, I am not in my church and as a blogger am protected by freedom of the press as well as freedom of speech. I am also not in favor of either political party as I am an independent and have voted democrat, republican, & independent. I am simply for the constitution.

I am still not supporting one candidate, but I do want to level the playing field. I am writing to right an injustice. Our news media has tried to silence and even exclude positive polls in the direction of one candidate. And so this will be a small step media wise to get some of the truth out there. There is only one candidate (in either party) who has never waffled on any issue and is a strict constitutionalist. That candidate is Ron Paul

He received several boos in the Arizona debate tonight from war happy Republicans ready to send someone else's sons and daughters to war against Iran. Why? because he has been in the military and understands what "common DEFENSE" means. We were not meant to be global cop!

Every news media outlet has marginalized him and even failed to cover certain stories. They have even painted him as an isolationist. Here are the facts: He is a non-interventionist and has the MOST financial support form CURRENT active duty troops by a long shot. 

Below is a video of 500 troops and veterans marching on the White House on President's Day. Have you heard about this? My guess is no. 

Where does this fall into my usually spiritual blogs. Well, I'll tell you. It is integrity! Like him or not--disagree with him or not, we can all learn from him. As believers we should stay in the fight even when the outcome looks doubtful, and press on toward the high calling that is in Christ.

I am not saying that any candidate is God's man or even Godly, but we can sure learn from integrity. Freedom is a great thing and only the Truth can set us free.

Feb 21, 2012

7 Not So Serious Ideas for Lent

Lent is the time of year that threatens to bankrupt Starbucks, Russel Stover, and McDonalds.
It has officially begun and people all over the world are giving up something for the 40 days leading up to Easter.

Here are a 7 ideas if you haven't thought of something yet:

1. Jelly doughnuts, but not jelly. To do this right you need to find a large straw such as one used for an Icee. Hold the doughnut in your hand and insert the straw as if it were a Capri Sun. Slurp and enjoy!

2. Lint of all kinds. 
      Dryer lint: Air dry all of your clothes (this will not work in colder climates). 
      Naval lint: Fill your naval with pliable wax to prevent lint from forming.
      Pocket lint: Wear no pockets for 40 days. That's skirts for the women and kilts for the men     
            (do not mix the two up).

3. Feeding your cat (although I do believe more men will take me up on this one than women)

4. The remote control. I do not mean give it to someone else. I mean give it up completely. Get off of your lazy behind and change the channel every so often.

5. Pinterest or at least posting your latest pinnings to Facebook. It seems like the news feed has recently become a inspirational greeting card aisle.

6. 24 hour news networks. There are plenty of places to get news from besides the three ring circus (CNN, FOX News, MSNBC).

7. Shaving. Wouldn't it be cool if every third guy in church on Easter actually looked like Jesus. We have 40 days, lets get going (please ladies do not take this one and apply it to your legs or Easter dresses will be something to dread)!

Whatever you do for Lent please remember that it is all purely voluntary and symbolic. If you feel you must sacrifice, you have missed the entire point of the Easter season. Fat Tuesday reminds us of this as people go out and party because on Ash Wednesday repentance begins. It does not work that way.

Hebrews 10:26 tells us, "If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left."

Christ was the FINAL sacrifice for sin. Let's use this Lenton season for what it really is--A chance to reflect on what Jesus did, and show our gratitude by putting an area of life on hold to spend with God instead.

Feb 20, 2012

What Angers Me About President's Day?

With all of the recent hubbub over the flag at half-mast for Whitney Houston, I am shocked that there is not a bigger stink about today. After all, I have read countless articles and blogs about how this right should be reserved for fallen soldiers and presidents.

This is President's Day, a federal holiday, yet barely recognized by americans at large. We are the same group that refers to "Independence Day" as "The Fourth of July". Not serious you say? I am a youth pastor and have heard from many teens who do not know the origin behind the "4th".

Our schools are out for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but not President's Day (although the schools in my area were, but as a teacher work day). This is a complete shame. Don't get me wrong, I think they should be out for MLK, Jr Day, but more so for today.

This day commemorates all of our presidents who have lead us bravely and wisely in this freedom experiment known as the United States of America. Of all of the liberties we hold so dear none is as important to me as our freedom of religion. I am not sure how long we will have this one. We owe it to our presidents (especially the first few), who dared to defy a corrupt, overbearing monarchy to protect our God given inalienable rights. Happy President's Day!

(By the way this is my 150th post. Thanks for reading!)

Feb 16, 2012

Hall of Fame Catcher Gary Carter Dies at 57

Gary Carter the Hall of Fame catcher who helped the Mets win the 1986 World Series died today at age 57. I remember watching him as a kid. He was one of those quiet leaders who was never hyped up.

It was people like Gary Carter, Robin Yount, and George Brett who were great enough for the Hall of Fame, but overlooked by baseball card collecting kids. The hype surrounded people like Frank Thomas who are easily forgotten by history.

In life it is not popularity that is important, but consistency. Gary Carter comes from the era right before the strikes and steroids scandals. The church can feel this way at times. We have artificial holiness(the steroids of works), and church splits(strikes). We can learn a lot about dedication and quiet leadership from Gary Carter and many in his generation.

Thanks for the memories Gary. You will be missed.

Below is his last career hit. Feel the emotion and the love between Gary and his fans:

Should the Flag be Lowered for Whitney Houston?

Today Governor Christie of New Jersey decided to fly the American flag at half-mast in honor of Whitney Houston all over his state. People are outraged. Why are they outraged? Because Whitney had a history of drug abuse and because they feel that the only people worth honoring are soldiers.

I must say that I am outraged by the outrage. I am going to get gut level honest with you, you may be offended and may even stop reading my blog. That is okay with me.

How dare we throw stones at someone who struggled to overcome a vice, while we have vices of our own. How dare we assume what does or doesn't apply as adding to a society. Music is part of our culture and heritage. The most pride I have ever felt hearing our national anthem was from the voice of Whitney Houston.

So, she didn't fight (when she was of age to do so women could not be in combat anyway). In many ways she leveled the playing field in regards to race in the music industry. I can only hope that when Andy Griffith passes to the next life here in North Carolina that we will honor him in the same way. Why because of the contribution they both made to society.

And now to our nation's obsession with fighting for "our" freedom. We have not declared war since World War II. We have been global cop for the past 50 years. We have to stop assuming that every action we take is to defend our freedom. We are forcing our way of life on others and calling it defending our country. (AHEM! Iraq anyone?)

 Don't get me wrong I love our troops and admire them for their bravery. I am deeply thankful for those who went to war and put their lives at risque after our nation was attacked on September 11, 2001. It is not their fault they were left to do nation building.

Would you be less outraged if Governor Christie had lowered the flag every single time a soldier from New Jersey has been killed. What about every police officer and fire fighter since he has been in office. Well, he has. FOR EVERY SINGLE ONE!!! I think we the people should do our homework before posting willy nilly on Facebook.

We should check our own lives before tearing down Whitney. How many people are lining up to rip into Elvis and Michael Jackson because of drug use. These were tortured and hurting people who enriched our lives way more than we enriched theirs. We sit around waiting for celebrities to fail rather than praying for them and shunning the gossip the media churns out.

So how about it America? Can we only honor those that keep us safe or do we have enough class to extend honor to those who inspire?

Also Read:
Whitney Houston Dies at Age 48

Feb 11, 2012

Whitney Houston Dies at the Age of 48

Tomorrow the Grammy awards will be held, celebrating the best musicians of today. There was perhaps none better and more influential than Whitney Houston who has died at the age of 48. Stars like Mariah Carey and Christiana Aguilera owe much of their career to the influence of the late pop icon.

Her career was far from over. She was getting ready for the release of her upcoming onscreen musical, Sparkle and it was rumored that she would possibly join Simon Cowell on the X Factor. I remember Simon giving extremely bad feedback to any artist on American Idol who dared to try to sing a Whitney Houston song.

I always admired how she kept her music and image cleaner than most pop singer in the sexual realm. Even when she married Bobby Brown, got involved in drugs and behaved erratically she still maintained the respect of singers and fans everywhere.

Her God given gifts were remarkable. It is very fitting that her last public performance this passed Thursday was to sing Jesus Loves Me. A gift like she had seems rarely bestowed and is not to be taken lightly. But, then again neither are the gifts God has given you. When your life is over will we be able to say why you were here? Will we know without a doubt what your purpose was? Get out there and use your gifts, because there was only one Whitney and there is only one you.

Also Read:
Should the Flag be Lowered for Whitney Houston?
Other Memorials:
Patrick Swayze Dies
Saying Goodbye to Brittany Murphy
James Arness Dies: What Can We Learn from Old Westerns?
Osama Bin Laden is Dead!

Feb 10, 2012

7 Problems with the Star Wars Prequels

Three teens approached me on the way out of the theater today. They wanted to take have their picture taken with me. Why? Is it because they read this blog? No. Do they follow me on Twitter ? No. It is because I was dressed like a Jedi. Thats right, I took my family to see Episode 1 in 3D in full costume.

I could spend a whole post reviewing a movie we have all seen, or telling you about the 3D upgrade. I am not going to do either. I want instead to talk about the response of the 2nd generation of Star Wars fans.

I asked these guys how old they were when The Phantom Menace was released and they were all 4 and 5 years old.

Then I dug in with these questions:

1. Which is your favorite movie of the six films?
Each of them liked a different movie, but Episode 1, 2, & 3 were the only three named.

2. What do you think of Jar Jar Binks?
They actually liked him and thought he was funny. *GASP*

3. What about the acting and romantic scenes of the prequels?
They told me it was realistic for who they were. One trained in the Jedi order to avoid attachment and the other a sheltered ruler on a peaceful world. Neither knew how to engage romantically. (I'll admit it was much better acting than Twilight)

4. Isn't the original trilogy better?
The answer to this was no. They believe that the prequel trilogy has a deeper plot and more intricate story. (I agree with the second part, but still like the O.T. better)

5.Why midichlorians?
The force ran strong in Luke's family how else do you explain it other than a genetic link?

6.What did you think of the improvement to Yoda by making him digital?
They liked the puppet better. To this I was shocked. When I asked why they responded, "Would you like it if the Yoda in Empire was changed out for a digital one." I offered a resounding, "NO!"

7. Isn't it ludicrous that Darth Maul was only on screen for a few scenes of Episode 1?
They compared him to Boba Fett as more mysterious and cooler because of the lack of screen time. They thought Lucas was genius for recognizing what makes a character like Fett awesome and using the same tactics for Maul.

It hit me that what we grow up with we are attached to. I knew my six year old loves Jar Jar, but I assumed it was because he was young. I knew one day he would leave his Jar Jar loving ways behind, but I was wrong. It is the reason why I love the Ewoks, but people older than me often do not. I was a kid when I saw the Ewoks so I love them. If you saw Jar Jar as a kid you love him and that doesn't go away.

We do the same thing with churches. We love what we know and change is bad. We think what we grew up with is somehow sacred and that new ways are not as good. The current generation may love doing something new and look at old ways as boring or irrelevant. In 30 years the new ways will be old and there will be a new generation of people unwilling to change.

Lets learn from young Star Wars fans and realize that change can be good and look at what we are doing with fresh eyes.

You may also like:
The Phantom Menace Passes Star Wars
Truths from a Galaxy Far Far Away

Feb 7, 2012

The Reach of Social Media

If you have ever wondered how much social media plays apart of our everyday lives, then you need to see this video. There are over 350,000 covers of Adele song "Rolling in the Deep". World Covers took  71 of those videos and mashed them up into one fluid song. 

It is staggering to think about how much social media touches lives and the chance to reach the world with your message. What is you message? Is it a product, a purpose, a passion. 

My message is that Jesus gave His life to free us from the power sin and death have over us. He came back to life and wants a relationship with everyone.

Whatever your message is, social media is your best option for getting the word out.

Feb 4, 2012

Judgment Free Zone? Really?

You've probably seen the commercials. Planet Fitness is a "Judgement Free Zone". How refreshing that a company would seek to stamp out judgmental attitudes. 

We've all seen the muscle bound jock who grunts like a constipated gorilla to lift a weight so big that you would rent a fork lift to move. It always ends with a resounding thud, as he sends the weights careening to the ground. We all look up in awe, and wish we could be that strong!

Then there is the girl who turns every head, making it a very dangerous environment to be lifting heavy weights. Her hair is never out of place, her makeup doesn't smear when she sweats, she wears only a sports bra and her pants might as well be painted on. There is usually some sort of word across the backside, but it might as well say unattainable. As much as you work out nothing seems to help. 

Unless we are not meant to be them. And we are not. Planet Fitness recognizes this and has rules in place to avoid judgment. There is a dress code to makes sure that "the girl" mentioned above purchases clothing. There is also a "lunk" alarm that goes off if weights are dropped. 

The other day I was on the treadmill when some weights hit the floor and the alarm blared. We all glanced over simultaneously with a look that said "loser". At that moment it hit me. We can work really hard to keep the overachievers from judging us (or more accurately cause us to judge ourselves), only to be the ones judging them.

I think the same is true in the church. A church can work so hard to not major on the minors that we will marginalize other Christians who have any strong convictions that we deem legalistic. Is legalism a bad thing? Yes. Did Jesus confront legalists? Yes. Did Jesus love and die for legalists? Absolutely. 

In our effort to not be judgmental lets beware of thinking we are better than those who think they are better than us.

Feb 2, 2012

What Does it Mean When a Pastor Falls?

A pastor doesn't find himself in hot water from making one mistake, he finds himself in hot water because he climbed into the wrong pot. There are small things, a few compromises, a lack of accountability, and a lack of transparency in his life. Its a slow boil.

What happens when a ministry leader falls? I have seen so many pastors, youth pastors, and worship leaders fall in my lifetime. It’s a wonder that I am still involved in ministry circles; much less do what I do for a living. After all, the fall of leaders has been a huge talking point for skeptics over the past few years.

From Baker and Swaggart to Ted Haggard and the catholic priest scandal, it is certainly in the public eye. But its not just televangelists and prominent people who are falling, I have friends and peers who have succumbed to temptation and fallen by the way side.

Why does it shake us to the core when someone we admire falls? After all they are sinful humans like the rest of us. Is it because we made an idol out of them and should only look to Jesus? Maybe, but I don't think that is necessarily always the case. You see, John the Baptist had disciples (followers) and Jesus did not rebuke him. In fact Paul said, "Follow me as I follow Christ" (1 Cor 11:1).

What did Paul mean? We are to follow and emulate those that follow Jesus as long as they are following Him. All of the work of God that a person does is through Christ's power, and all of the sin he does is in his own power.

Think of the first ministry leader to fall. It was Satan! Through his fall 1/3 of those closest to God called it quits. I believe our enemy took notice of how easy it was to tear apart God's congregation, and he employs the same tactic today. Strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter!

As the sheep we need to follow our shepherds as they follow The Good Shepherd. If we see our shepherds fail and fall (and we will), lets recognize the enemies attacks, restore them gently (Gal 6:1) and keep our eyes fixed on Christ, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).