1. Search diligently for statuses, tweets, blogs and articles you disagree with.
2. Write a reply at least 3 times longer than the original post.
3. Only 'like' or 'favorite' other replies or comments you agree with, even if the other side makes a valid point.
4. USE ALL CAPS TO EMPHASIZE YOUR POINT.
5. After many heated comments, declare boldly "this is my final post, then I'm out" and go on to post 13 more times.
6. Use the phrase "ad hominem" at some point. Your Latin skills are remarkably disarming.
7. Like your own comment. It shows how much you agree with yourself.
8. Leave no Facebook debate without unfriending at least one person.
9. If your opponent makes a valid argument, be sure to correct his spelling and grammar.
10. Stay mad all day and check your phone for updates every 2 minutes if possible.
11. Argue about a completely unrelated topic.
12. Make sure you reply to every single person in the thread you disagree with. They may not have seen your comments.
13. Copy/paste the same comment a few times.
14. Make sure you condemn everyone for wasting time on the thread.
15. Be mean.
16. Find a conversation that ended 3 days ago and give that thing a jump start.
17. Say "I wish there was a love button" when you agree.
18. Say "unlike" when you disagree.
19. Post links to articles you didn't write to prove your point.
20. Always, always get the last word.
Yes, I'm guilty of some of these. Now head on down into the comments section and let me know about all the ones I missed...
For the longest time, I thought I was called to be a pastor. Turns out I was wrong. I wanted to serve God with my life, and in my estimation there was no better way to do it than pastoring. I mean, they even get their own special crown, right? I want dibs on that crown!
But to be honest, I wasn’t too excited about the idea. I’m not a big people-person and I don’t particularly enjoy preparing and preaching sermons (teaching on the other hand…). But for whatever reason, I thought anything besides full time ministry was a copout for the serious Christian.
I did have something I was passionate about, however -- filmmaking. But I had convinced myself that I couldn’t use film to serve God. I shelved the idea. I went to Bible college, took a pastoral studies major, decided on a place in the country to plant a church (Pacific Northwest), graduated, and...nothing. I couldn’t do it. There was no passion...no real calling.
I was dazed and confused. After graduating Bible college and spending 18 months in full time ministry, I moved back to my home in Idaho to regroup. I thought if I just sat tight, God would make His perfect will clear to me. This also happened to be right when the economy was tanking. That year I worked at Stanley Steemer, cleaning carpets, and Target as a temporary holiday employee. I was so discouraged. I was fully qualified to be in the ministry but I was not content to be. Here I was making minimum wage and totally unfulfilled.
Long story short, everything turned around for me when I came to acknowledge some life-changing scriptural truths -- A man's gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men. Proverbs 18:16. And Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Psalm 37:4. Not only did God give me gifts, He gave me passions! While serving God meant everything to me, the thought of serving in full time ministry brought me some degree of trepidation. But God doesn’t want to drag us into service for Him kicking and screaming! He has placed within our hearts certain desires, and He has equipped us with certain gifts, all meant for one purpose -- to glorify Him! The gifts can, of course, be used selfishly, but when used for their intended purpose, there’s nothing more fulfilling.
This journey has caused me to do a lot of reflecting on the mysterious “Call of God”...The misconceptions, the fear of missing out, and the perceived complexity of it all.
Here are five things that the call to ministry is not:
1. A Burden
Haven’t you ever been burdened for a mission field as a missionary presented to your church, only to be burdened all over again for an entirely different field the next week? The burden itself does not constitute the call. Was I burdened for the need for churches in the Pacific Northwest? You bet! But that wasn’t enough. I believe the burden is certainly a part of the call, but a “burden” can be primarily emotional, and emotions can be misleading.
2. A Bible College Degree
Just because you graduated from Bible college does not mean you’re required to go into the ministry. I’m afraid that Bible college can an incredibly confusing environment. Teens are recruited to attend Bible college for “At least one year” when they’re only 16 or 17. Once they arrive they’re in a completely controlled environment where everyone is “called” to the ministry and has it all figured out. They begin to get the idea that if they decide to do anything else besides the ministry they’ll be second class citizens. The kids who decide to stay beyond their one year commitment are lauded for surrendering their lives to God, while the kids who decide the ministry isn’t for them...not so much. By the way, you can be fully surrendered to God and a medical doctor at the same time, believe it or not.
Unfortunately, the “Ministry or bust” mentality is often detrimental for those who attend Bible college and don’t end up in ministry. They’re embarrassed. They decide if they aren’t going into the ministry, what’s the point in going to church at all.
If I’m talking about you, STOP! Don’t quit! You can still serve God with your life no matter who is writing your paycheck.
3. An Obligation
It’s not an obligation to your alma mater. Don’t be pressured by the idea that you’re not one of the graduates they can brag about in chapel to current students.
It’s not an obligation for kids of full time pastors, missionaries and evangelists. It’s not a family business.
It’s not an obligation to God. Nowhere in the Bible does He indicate that if you’re serious about serving Him you have to collect a paycheck from a church.
4. For Everyone
Seriously, you may not be cut out for ministry. It’s hard work! Like any career worth pursuing, it’s gonna take blood sweat and tears to see results. It’s a bad idea to get into any career that you don’t enjoy...at least to some degree (We can’t all be video game testers for a living). I watched my dad serve as an assistant pastor of our church with a membership of 1000+ and a K-12 Christian school. Both he and my mom absolutely poured themselves into it. If you’re not willing to give that level of commitment to the ministry, do yourself and everyone else a favor, don’t do it.
5. The Only Option for Serving God
Let me ask you a few questions. First and foremost, are you surrendered to give your life to God? If not, the rest of these questions don’t matter. This isn’t an option for a Christian by the way. We’re commanded to give our lives to Him...come on, it’s the least we can do.
What are your gifts? What are you passionate about? If the answer is ministry (people, preaching, teaching, administration, counseling, etc.) chances are God wants to use you in that capacity. If you’re passionate about art, some particular industry, being a business owner, the medical field etc. remember, that is a God-given desire and He wants you to use that to glorify Him in some fashion! He didn’t give you gifts and desires to taunt and torture you.
These are five things the call to ministry is not. What exactly IS the call you ask?
Well, it’s not something you can really put into words. It’s kinda like what people used to tell me about knowing who was “the one” you were meant to marry. They said I would just know. I dated several girls, and with a few of them I considered marriage. I tried to convince myself that I “just knew” but deep down I was filled with conflict and doubt. But when I met Kayla, yeah, I just knew.
If you’re struggling with doubts about whether you’re called to ministry or not, relax, when it’s time to go you’ll know. Down to your very core, you’ll know.
What’s your favorite sin? Come on, be honest... shouldn’t take you more than 2 seconds to think of it. You deal with it every day. Some of you are fighting it, some of you have completely given in to it’s power over you. You don’t want to like it so much, but you just can’t help yourself.
Are you guilty of a lifelong love affair with sin? You’re in good company. Some call the Apostle Paul “The greatest Christian who ever lived” and yet a quick peek at Romans 7 reveals that even he had a sin problem.
We hear preacher’s say things like “I hate sin!” and “Hate the sin, love the sinner!” and I’m afraid we get the idea that if sin doesn’t repulse us, something is off. Now I’ll be the first one to admit that some sins DO repulse me...and guess what, I don’t struggle with those things...at all. On the other hand, there are sins that are incredibly appealing to me.
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. Hebrew 12:1
Temptation is not sin. Jesus was tempted like we are and was still without sin.
We’re looking for an absolute, certified victory over sin that will never come...well, not until we drop this flesh like a bad habit.
The bad news is that the temptation to commit your pet sin is never going to relent. It’s not going to take a day off whether you decide to or not.
So how do we deal with it?
First of all, come to grips with the fact that sin is very appealing. It entices us, makes us feel good, and even though we anticipate the guilt and shame that will follow, we live for the moment and indulge.
When it comes to battle against sin, the best you can do is have a victory today. Tomorrow it starts all over again.
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
As the verse above indicates, there’s only one way to guarantee a victory over that “favorite sin” of yours -- Walk in the Spirit. Have a relationship with God and rely in His strength to get you through.
The real battle isn’t in fighting off sin, but in fighting for your relationship with God.
The time has come for me to write my most controversial post to date. This has been on my heart for a long time and I’m only now able to find the guts to write it. Here goes...my top ten (Mainstream) burger joints, and what I’d order at each…
Now before you freak out, remember that McDonald’s is the number one fast food chain in the world. You don’t grow that big if you’re not doing something right. In fact, it’s probably because you can find one around every corner that it goes unappreciated. It really is hard to top McDonald’s fries.
My Order: Cheeseburger and Fries
Another chain that’s largely underappreciated. Wendy’s has great variety, quality ingredients, and chili!
My Order: Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger and Fries
Unique burgers and fries, good sauces and a cool vibe.
My Order: Classic Smash with Rosemary Fries
No trip to Texas is complete without a trip to Whataburger. They’re big, juicy and flavorful.
My Order: Whataburger Classic with Fries
I love this place because of the taste, yes, but the fact that you can get chili smothered on everything is what helps it make the list!
My Order: Double Chili Cheeseburger with Chili Cheese Fries
5. Steak ‘n Shake
I’ve only had it once, but boy was it memorable.
My Order: Double ‘n Cheese with Thin ‘n Crispy Fries
4. Shake Shack
The last time I had Shake Shack was in Connecticut, while shooting a video on healthy eating.
My Order: Shackburger and Fries
3. Five Guys
I know I’m entering the sacred realm here. Some will cry foul that Five Guys isn’t number one. But this is my list and it’s number 3 here, pal. The overall vibe of Five Guys is pretty lamesauce...bags of peanuts everywhere? For real? But their burgers and fries are great. In fact, their cajun fries are my favorite on the planet.
My Order: Small Cheeseburger with Cajun Fries
2. Red Robin
Everything, and I mean everything at Red Robin tastes good. They even make spinach wraps appealing. I always make sure to put their Signature Seasoning on everything. Takes it to the next level. I love the eclectic decor, the bottomless fries and the variety of burgers.
My Order: Whiskey River Cheeseburger with Fries
Was there any doubt what burger I’d have in first place? I was born in Southern California so it’s also in my DNA to be a fan. The entire In-N-Out experience is perfect, from beginning to end. The dancing palm trees among red and white tiles, the nifty hats, the amazing efficiency of the crew, the confident simplicity of the menu, the secret menu, the deep red trays, the obligatory “Will you be eating this in the car” question, John 3:16...Oh, and did I mention the food? Yeah, it’s awesome.
My Order: Double Double Cheeseburger with Fries
My heart is heavy this morning. I know that every year Halloween is always a polarizing subject, but this year seems to be particularly bad. I can hardly scroll down my news feed on Facebook without seeing Halloween articles on both sides of the issue. Now, I’m ok with having civil discussions on a myriad of issues, but I’ve seen this topic reach a new low in 2013. Here’s a few random thoughts on the subject:
Apparently some Christians think they don’t need to have any grace with this subject.
I mean, for real, I've read some nasty comments. Look, some Christians are passionately against the celebration of Halloween...and that’s ok. And some Christians are completely fine with it...and that’s ok. Really. If someone asks your opinion on the subject, answer truthfully and with grace. But for goodness sake, don’t go lambasting one of your friends when they post a picture of their little girl in a princess costume tonight.
Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. Col 4:6
Pastors bashing pastors for their stand on the issue.
It’s pathetic. Please stop.
If you’re gonna be so vehemently against Halloween that you can’t even contain yourself when someone has a different view, I sure hope you’re consistent in all other areas. Halloween has pagan roots...though if you research the topic you’ll realize it’s still a little hazy where some of these traditions really began...but Christmas, Easter...even the names of the days in the week have pagan roots. You may say, “Well, Christmas and Easter traditions are primarily about good things, while Halloween is primarily about evil”... But you wouldn’t use that same rationale on other issues. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. I like what one guy recently wrote: “It’s inconsistent to call Halloween “Satan’s Birthday,” & then 4 weeks later front hug a Christmas tree like there was one in the manger.” Halloween is what people make of it. To the Satanist, it’s a day they believe the veil to the spirit world is most thinly veiled. To others, it’s a time to dress slutty, get drunk, lose inhibitions and party...and to some it’s about dressing innocent kids in cute costumes so they can get some free candy and be a part of a fun community event. Christmas is also what people make of it. To the atheist it’s definitely not a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus, to most it’s about the commercialization and Santa Claus…To Christians, hopefully Jesus isn’t lost in all the fanfare.
If you’re of the “I want nothing to do with this pagan holiday” persuasion, chances are you attempt to redeem the night by passing out tracts with your candy. I’m happy you do that. But, you do realize you’re still participating in the holiday, right? Passing out candy is the other half of the equation! You’re trying to take something you view as evil and use it for something good...ever stop to consider that the family taking their kids trick or treating may be doing the exact same thing? Maybe they want to take a holiday that can be used for evil and use it as an opportunity to create memories with their kids. I trick or treated til I was 9 years old. I absolutely loved the holiday. It was never about evil to my family.
Halloween may not be for you. That’s fine. Just don’t act like it’s your duty to beat people over the head for disagreeing with you. And if Halloween is something you and your family participate in, have fun...and don’t think everyone who is against it is a “Pharisee” or a “Legalist”... we have liberty in Christ, and that liberty often leads us to different standards from each other.
It’s just ok.
They’re big, they’re small, they’re obvious, they’re subtle, they’re moving, they’re cheesy, they’re tasteful, they’re trashy…they’re movies. The thing about movies is, they’re a staple of our culture. Whether you like them or not, they are here to stay. Combining all the major arts into one package, movies are the premiere art form of our time. I love them. In fact, I love them so much I spend most of my time making them. Movies have something to say, and when they say it subtly and effectively it’s incredibly powerful. This is why I dislike most faith-based films – they’re not subtle at all… they’re mind-numbingly obvious. Christian filmmakers need to take a lesson from Hollywood. When Hollywood sets out to promote a certain agenda, let’s say the environmental movement for example, they create an intriguing cast of characters, an immersive world, and they go to work on our psyches. They draw us into their creations and before we know it we’re sympathizing. And do they entitle these films “Earth’s Revenge” or “Tree Huggers in Space”?… no, they name them WALL-E and Avatar…but I digress.
So what does all this have to do with watching movies with your kids? Nothing really, so let’s get to that now.
Movies can be dangerous, especially for kids. I doubt many would dispute that. Just look at the attitudes and dress of kids today – it’s a mirror reflection of the things you see in popular kids programming. I can’t even handle three minutes of the Disney Channel. It’s a bad idea to let the TV become your kids’ babysitter…but at the same time, it’s a bad idea to shelter your kids from media altogether. I’ve observed parents who didn’t allow their kids to watch any
movies or TV growing up, and after 18 years of listening to their friends rave about the latest and greatest movie, they get out from under their parents’ roof and devour entertainment like there’s no tomorrow!
I’m not advocating exposing your kids to objectionable material because they “Need to be exposed”…what I am saying is your kids need to learn how
to watch movies. If you do all the thinking for your kids now, when they leave home Hollywood is going to pick up where you left off.
When I was a 13 years old I went to see the movie “Antz” with my friend and his family. Though I remember not particularly enjoying the movie I couldn’t verbalize just why. After the movie my friend’s dad gave his input. He said “Aside from the fact that the characters weren’t very likeable and there were some curse words, the whole message of the movie was ‘Live for self’…” and for the first time I realized movies are saying something.
Movies are not merely entertainment. The worst mistake an audience can make when the movie begins is to turn off their brains. We need to watch movies proactively. We need to be aware of what the movies are saying to us, who they’re manipulating us to root for, what underlying attitudes are being portrayed, what the subtext of the dialogue is, and what the overarching theme of the movie is. Because whether we are aware of it or not, movies are programming how we think.
As in daily life, when your children are exposed to things you don’t want them to be influenced by, you use it as a teaching moment. Do the same with movies. Even family-friendly films often promote attitudes you wouldn’t want your kids to replicate. Take time when a movie is over (Or if you need to, pause the film) to discuss themes, actions, attitudes etc. that you your kids need to observe. Show them how the soundtrack of the movie can influence them to feel a certain way towards a character or situation. You’d be amazed at how even young children can learn to decipher these things on their own.
Recently my brother Nate and I produced a short film entitled The Lighthouse. We based the story loosely on The Prodigal Son. We took our time in carefully constructing the narrative. We had a lot we wanted to say with the movie, even though it contains no dialogue. Since we released the film a week ago, some audiences have observed and interpreted much of the details in the short 17 minute running length. Others have failed to realize the movie was trying to say anything at all. To aide in helping the audience to process the information presented we created a study guide. We’ve found that by taking a little time at the conclusion of the film to reflect on what was seen, the movie transcends mere entertainment.
Movies should be viewed in moderation, of course, but they are an important part of our culture. I encourage parents to consider the value of teaching their kids how to watch movies rather than sheltering them from them completely.
If you’re interested in watching our latest short film, you can check it out here: THE LIGHTHOUSE
Why do you do it? All of it. Your beliefs, standards and convictions. Do you know?
Lately I've been doing some soul searching. I can no longer accept key beliefs and practices in my life simply because someone else told me they were the right things to do. I'm not throwing them out the window, I'm just re-evaluating my real motivation for doing them. I've realized that some of what I do as a Christian is mere religiosity and not truly flowing from a heart of worship. I want to share some of the things that have been on my mind for the past year or so. My prayer is that this post would challenge you to think.
While Jesus was on this earth, there was no group he was harder on than the Pharisees.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Matthew 23:25
The Pharisees had everything together on the exterior, but they were completely screwed up on the inside. They were religious, but only on the outside.
Here's the problem with religion: It makes you lazy. We just want the preacher to give us the list of do's and dont's so we can turn our brains off. I heard an example given where a parishioner told the preacher he didn't have any convictions. The preacher replied "Borrow mine till you get some of your own." The trouble is, a lot of people borrow the preacher's convictions for their entire lives, never stopping to grasp just why they're doing what they're doing. This is dangerous.
Every one of us will give an account to God for what we do in this life. "Because my preacher said so" isn't going to cut it.
I'm not encouraging you to become a rebel and "question authority"...but rather to follow the standard of Scripture:
Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. John 5:39
...they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Acts 17:11
The Biblical principle is that you evaluate what the preacher is saying, compare it with scripture, and come to your beliefs on an individual level.
A few areas I want to challenge you in...
I've travelled all over the world visiting churches and creating promotional videos for them. I've observed thousands of "worship" services -- from traditional, to contemporary and everything in between. My job dictates that I observe carefully, picking out good subjects from the crowd -- the ones who are singing with passion. I'm convinced that most of the people I look at through the viewfinder aren't worshipping. I see lots of sidebar conversations, unhappy expressions and mumbling mouths. I see ritual.
Both the contemporary and the traditional worship services have their pitfalls. The traditionalist who sings the same 30 hymns week in and week out is in danger of treating the worship time as a ritual. The contemporary worship service may be more exciting but it's easy to get swept up in the music and not consider deeply what you're singing -- relying on the worship leader to let you know when "God is in this place." I'm not condemning either. I'm trying to encourage you to stop being religious. Sing your hymns or worship choruses unto the Lord! How many times have we sung "I Surrender All" when we totally didn't mean it?
Why are you a part of the movement you're in? Is it because that movement converted you and consequently you've never looked any place else? I've heard the statement made "Don't forsake your heritage"...as if your duties to the forefathers of your movement supersedes your responsibility to find the truth for yourself. By the way, the people who encourage you not to forsake your heritage would never tell that to someone who was converting from another movement into their own. It's a terrible reason to stay in a movement. If you search the scriptures and find that those who went before you were wrong on some issues, forget tradition, pursue the truth!
Daily Bible Reading
Are you just checking a box on your spirituality worksheet? Or are you searching desperately for God?
Do you have any idea why you do or don't do certain things? And I mean Biblically. Don't be so quick to condemn other people for standards-related issues. Things like celebration of holidays, music, dress etc. mostly fall into grey areas. I get weary of people being so dogmatic on things the Bible doesn't emphasize. I've met some pretty awful people wearing denim skirts or shirts and ties.
Evaluate everything you do. Don't just do things because they're what you've always done. Don't just do things because a man (Even a very good man) told you to.
Quit being lazy.
Quit being religious.
Just throwing this out there...
For most independent Baptist missionaries it's a long road to get to the field they've been called to. While I totally believe there's value in having to work, to overcome obstacles and to get outside of the comfort zone to accomplish something, some of these missionaries are spending 3+ years on deputation.
Is there a better way?
Maybe what I'm about to suggest is already being done someplace I'm not aware of but here's some food for thought...
There was some annual or biannual gathering of pastors and missionaries where for a solid week, large numbers of missionaries could present their burdens to large numbers of pastors. The sole purpose of the meeting would be to help missionaries gain support quickly. The pastors could have the chance of meeting and questioning quite a few missionaries over the course of the week. Hopefully these missionaries could raise a large chunk of their support in just a week's time.
Pastors, missionaries, what do you think?
For the past several years I've made it a point to commemorate all of life's special moments with a video. Here is the timeline so far...
From the Early Dating Days:
Our Save the Date in 2010:
Our Documentary Shoot in 2011:
Baby Announcement 2012:
Short Film Trailer Made with my Brother in 2013:
Jonathan's Birth in 2013: