Tadd has been promoting Google Calendar for a long time now but I haven't put my feet into the water until today. I must say I LOVE IT. This by far is the best calendar program I've ever used. The layout is so intuitive and the flexibility is amazing. Prior to today I've used a product called Calendarscope. It has been good but the biggest disadvantage has been the lack of a qualiy collaboration element. Even within many CMS solutions I have yet to find anything as smooth as Google Calendar. You can set up seperate calendars for different areas of life or in my case, ministry. We can have different ministry areas assigned their own calendar and then a "main" calendar for churchwide events. This ensures that we do not overbook and that we are in sync.
If you haven't tried it, give it a shot. Within an hour I think you'll understand me when I say it makes me feel like I'm at Mission control for tasks.
I have it set to SMS me and email me reminders. I can Text appointments to the calendar from my phone, etc. In addition I can run searches on topics of interest and add calendars to my own (Today I added some sports teams and local public events I should be aware of) It's honestly a great and FREE software. Check it out.
One man band
Cool Church Sites
I came across this list of cool church sites from ChurchRelevance.com
If you appreciate seeing churches do web right, you'll enjoy this.
Link: Cool Church Sites
Tonight is UFC 64: Bad Intentions. In looking around for information about the fight I came across the site of Matt Huges, the headline fighter for tonight's fight. I was pumped to see that he's professing Christian. All over his site and blog he mentions his Savior Jesus Christ. After my post from yesterday this was such an encouragement. I know for a fact that a bunch of the fighters profess a belief in Jesus Christ as Savior so it's cool to see some Christians who are in the world but not of it. Here is a recent post on Matt's blog. Check it out:
"Monday, November 06, 2006
I was talking with Matt Pena, my boxing coach, and we got to talking about the book of Esther in the Bible. If you've never read it, I would recommend it. It's only ten chapters so it goes pretty quick. It's about how God takes a young Jewish girl and makes her the queen of Persia and eventually uses her to destroy Israel's enemies. When I was reading it, there were a couple of quotes that really stuck out for me and got me to thinking.
The first is when her uncle, Mordecai, tells her "Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" The king had just issued an order that all the Jews where to be killed off and Mordecai was saying that God had placed Esther in the position of queen for the purpose of saving the Jews. (The king didn't know that Esther was Jewish when he made her queen.) That made me realize that we might not know why God has put us where we are, but He has a plan for all of us. Maybe God has put me on this platform to reach just one person (maybe someone reading this blog right now). If so, then that's time well spent as far as I'm concerned.
The other quote was when Esther was afraid to go in front of the king without being summoned. The king would hold out a scepter to the people that he wanted to talk to. If they showed up uninvited and he didn't hold out the scepter towards them, then they were put to death. Esther was worried that if she showed up and he didn't hold out the scepter, then she would be killed. Finally, she decides to go because her people need her and she says "If I perish, I perish." That just says that we can't put off doing what we need to do just because we are afraid of what will happen if things go wrong.
That's what I got out of this book when I read it last week. -Matt"
What have we become?
As the weekend nears and I think over the message I'll deliver this week I can not help but to think about recent news events. Here are two recent stories from the headlines.
Allen Iverson paid for the funeral of Kevin Johnson who died Tuesday morning after his family chose to take him off life support. He was 22. Why did Iverson offer to pay for the funeral? What caused this otherwise healthy young man to die? Rewind 3 years. Apparently three years ago Kevin was at a trolley stop waiting for a ride when some guys approached him and demanded that he hand over the Allen Iverson jersey Kevin was wearing. After refusing to hand the jersey over one of the men shot Kevin in his neck. He was paralyzed. Recently his respirator failed which lead to severe brain damage. His family took him off of life support.
The craze of the last 24 hours has been all about the new Play Station 3. Released last night at in most places the new gaming console costs upwards of $500 and Sony conveniently created a shortage by offering only 400,000 systems around the country. Aside from the overpriced gaming system my concern comes from what I read today.
"Two armed thugs tried to rob a line of people waiting for the new PlayStation 3 game system to go on sale early Friday and shot a man who refused to give up his money, authorities said."
Why are people afraid of dialogue or debate?
I've always been a thoughtful person. Not to say that I'm always 'right' but I can safely say that any view I hold is held after much consideration of other options. In fact many times when I first hear of a concept or train of thought I pause to consider other options.
I've always seen debate as a useful tool for people to come to understanding and many times agreement about what they are REALLY saying. Many well intentioned people are able to say things that at the heart they truly do not mean. In organizations the lack of debate is one reason 'group think' takes over and the group makes bad decisions.
Among our leadership team I've found that some healthy Q&A or discussion has lead to a refined approach when taking the topic to the public or even other times when the debate lead us to shut down an idea.
In the world I've lived in during the last few months I've seen less and less debate. It seems to me that the words "unity" and "debate" have become mutually exclusive. You can no longer have unity IN debate. Debate or dialogue has been frowned upon and I'm not certain as to why. Granted foolish debate (when one or both parties is simply trying to 'win') is never healthy but debate among two people or positions over the substance of their thoughts isn't a bad thing.
In government we have the separation of powers, a representative government and every single one of the Bill of Rights because of healthy debate.
My best guess as to why there is so little healthy debate is that people haven't seen debate as ever being healthy. The practice put before most kids is a power trip. Yelling, screaming and throwing things is not healthy debate. Standing up for an issue and discussing many levels of reasoning is however very healthy.
We need to practice healthy debate. We need not silence every voice that disagrees. As long as the parties are not showboating or just trying to 'win' then there is room for all parties to grow and come to a better understanding. At the end of the day even if you don't agree you should at least be able to understand a few layers behind the opposing view's argument. Most people have a very shallow opinion that is lifted up as if it's the supreme law of the land.
Within Christianity we hold these opinions up as if they came directly from the Lord. Position papers and denominational votes hold equal weight with scripture in so many cases and if you don't agree with the status quo there is very little room to have your voice heard. We shouldn't silence debate and discussion. As long as there is a civil discourse between two reasonable and thoughtful people we will gain from the exchange of ideas.
I just finished watching the Rutgers defeat of Louisville. I'm happy for Rutgers... I like the underdog. Last week I routed for Louisville when they played West Virginia.... this week I routed for Rutgers. (well I only watched the beginning and the last 10 minutes)
I'm happy for the program, the coaching staff who cast vision and the players who passed up other schools to believe in something and build it from the ground up. Can you imagine why a church planter can have a lot of respect for Rutgers these days?
ANYWAY.... on to my thought of the moment...
At the end of the game ESPN interviewed the head coach of Rutgers and a star runningback who came up with a 26 yard play to move the ball on a third down. The player talked about how he believed in the coach and program and that's why he passed up the NFL to return. The coach talked about how much he loved his players, etc. Then it happened.... The unnecessary and perplexing thing happened... The coach embraces the player... which is cool... but then he kisses him on the cheek.
I understand the emotion of the moment. I understand what it's like to win after a long period of trial and testing.... I'm certain that the emotion swept them... but c'mon... a kiss?
The reason it caught my eye is that here in the last few weeks I've seen coaches kissing players like it's some kind of hot line on a new Jay-Z album that just started a trend...
To explain, I'll give you a part of an article at Fox Sports:
"Suddenly and without warning, coaches are kissing players with the entire nation as an audience.
It all started (we'll admit we're a bit shortsighted) when Steelers linebacker (notice we said "linebacker," the meanest of the mean and nasty players on the football field) Joey Porter (who's likely the meanest of the mean) and his head coach, Bill Cowher, smooched during the NFL season opener.
At first it was all very awkward, but then America got over it and forgot all about the kiss seen around the world (or, just America). Maybe it was because people got distracted by Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes' new baby, or the latest news coming out of the Angelina Jolie-Brad Pitt camp, but we'd forgotten all about ill-timed kissing on the gridiron.
That is, until Sunday, when formerly-grizzled Cowboys coach Bill Parcells suddenly got soft on us and went kiss happy.
He kissed Keith Davis on the sidelines.
He kissed Keyshawn Johnson after the game.
He appeared to have even given Terrell Owens a kiss."
It's getting out of hand. When I played football you may have gotten a whack on the rear or a smack on your shoulder pads. I've even had the coach get in my grill and project saliva while yelling over a missed tackle. Heck I even had one coach during my freshman year (when I weighed a whopping 112lbs) grab my face mask and yell "Get off the field son, you're going to get hurt!" Yes it scarred me, no I'm not completely over it.
Anyway... my point is that in sport emotions can cause you to do things you normally wouldn't do casually at the mall or on the practice field.... but c'mon guys... can we leave the kissing to the wives?... it's freakin me out.
Brian Bailey tips us off to a great article about the Ted Haggard situation and more importantly the church's role in it.
In general I have been very impressed with the voices of the church on this one. My gut reaction when I heard about this was "Lord, please don't allow Christians to make this worse by how we respond."
So often times the church kicks our own when they are down as if sin doesn't exist in grace and especially in their respective churches and even homes. I'm very pleased with the response from most everyone with a voice in the Christian community. I've been glad to hear reasoned voices like Ed Young in this article and Mark Driscoll in this article. I'm encouraged to see Mr. Haggard's church rise to meet this challenge head on and to see the accountability and support that is being provided by leaders in the evangelical community including Dr. James Dobson. I'm personally very pleased that we're seeing this for what it is but we're actually showing the love and compassion of the church in the process.
I've been encouraged to see CNN coming off as the ignorant ones instead of the church. Since the church for the most part isn't giving them the infighting they expected, producers have had to try to create more of a story than actually exists. I believe that while the world sees the sin of Mr. Haggard, they also see the love and restoration provided by the church. Most people we're trying to reach have things in their past they are not proud of and I'm glad we're showing them that they can come into the church for restoration and healing.
Check out the articles by Ed Young and Mark Driscoll (here and here). If you're like me you'll be encouraged.
Hitting Lead Off
Derek over at the Harmony Blog is doing a series with church planters. He's asking for tidbits of wisdom from those in the trenches... I was given the lead off spot today with the first of a series from guys around the country...
Check it out here.
I want to live my life in such a way that no one has to lie at my funeral.
Today during the message I kept thinking about songs that corrisponded with Joseph's story. When I got to the part of Potipher's wife wanting to sleep with him I said "She wanted to bring that sexy back."
I saw shock and heard a few nervous laughs.
I said "Some are bothered that I knew that? You should be bothered that this woman in the story wanted to have an affair but instead you're thinking about a song..."
At another place I mention that Potipher's wife said "That Hebrew..." when defining a guy she was about to sleep with. I pointed out that he wasn't "That Hebrew" when she wanted to get down with him but only used to degrade him when she's trying to make herself look good. I went on to say that today it would be like someone saying "That Black Guy" instead of using a proper name...
Again a few were suprised that I'd mention race relations in a message.
It's funny to me that some people have a compartmentalized view of the bible. I'm a guy who thinks the church has been sterile for far too long. I don't say what I say for shock value, I say it so that they understand the implications of what were going on in the text.
I have a running set of desires for my life that I keep writtend down. I expand on them as time permits. One day I hope to pass it along to my children and before that I pray I'm able to live up to them as a man. One of them is: "When people from our church get to Heaven I want them to recognize Jesus." That starts for me by helping them recognize what's truly going on in His word. I guess you can say "I'm bringing bible back."
We're in the middle of this series called "All In". Today was terrific.
We had a family come back from our Halloween event which was awesome, we had yet another stellar worship set from our new Worship Guy, Adam. I felt like today's message was one of the best ever.
I walked through the story of Joseph's life. At the beginning I had a few guys "deal" a card to everyone in the building. The premise of the message was "You play the hand that you're dealt." I talked about how we're all dealt different cards in life. At one time or another you're going to feel like you've been dealt a bad hand. Joseph certainly felt that from time to time. But in a game of Poker you can stand and watch the table, fold or play the hand you're dealt. Many people play it safe by not even sitting at the table... Others play it safe by folding (quitting, giving up) and yet others like Joseph will play the hand they are dealt.
I challenged our people to seek God's plan for their life. Both his universal plan for his children and his plan for their individual lives. The thing is that God doesn't unfold " a perfect plan" to anyone in scripture. There is no book that says "at 10 this will happen, when you turn 16 this will happen and at 25 I will do this" God simply gives his people a vision of what could be. To often times we sit and whine about the cards we're dealt. We need to just play the hand and go all-in. Joseph did and it was through his ups and downs in life that God ultimately saved lives.
Churches should be in the soul-saving business. After all we're supposed to be Christ's hands and feet. He gave his entire life to save souls.
I asked our people today "How much is the value of one soul?" We concluded by having different groupings of cards raise their cards up when I called them. The key is that I reminded them that in the game of Hold-'em one card is useless without other cards around them. But when you pull your cards together you can take the hand. I challenged our people to find God's calling in their life and pull it with the rest of the church so that together we can go "All-In".
My wife and son are visiting family this weekend which leaves me at home alone.
I watched Maryland beat Clemson (sorry Perry) and I took in some reading, relaxing bath and X-men: The Last Stand. Overall I kept to myself today and it felt good. We all need that from time to time. So often I'm "on" that it feels amazing to just spend a day in solitude.
I'm looking forward to a great day tomorrow with Focal Point. All day I've thought about the message I'll bring tomorrow. I'm expecting God to do great things. I'm so pumped about what He's doing with the church and the ride I'm on. I love what I do and the people I'm now doing it with.
Haggard Resigns amid accusations
Link: Rev. Ted Haggard resigns amid homosexual sex allegations.
I don't know if this is severely political in nature or if the timing
is immaterial but I feel terribly for the people of New Life Church and
At a minimum this serves as another call for Pastors to have solid
accountability in the area of sexual purity. Too many of God's men get
taken out this way. Regardless of if these allegations are true we should all remember that we're in a spiritual battle and the enemy pulls no punches.
I'm also going to be in prayer for the NAE and New Life in the days to come.
Link: Press Release from the church
Update 11-3: Haggard admits buying drugs and getting massage. He denies the rest.
Update 11-4: Board: 'Haggard out as Pastor of New Life'