Six Days of Twitter
Okay, I've been on Twitter for just under a week. I'm going to keep it (so long as I find it to be useful). In six days I have developed a few thoughts about it so I figured I'd drop them out there for those of you thinking about joining the conversation... or avoiding it.
1. I'm able to keep up with family: My sisters, mom and brother in-law are all on now so Twittering has allowed us to keep pretty good contact this week. While they use it like a private conversation (a closed circle) I tend to just listen in and text them directly if I want to add anything. One of my sisters is about to have a baby this week so it's been good to get updates as to how she's feeling and what she's thinking along the way. My mother is transitioning jobs so she's updated about that and my brother-in-law... well... he's got some interesting observations about the use of a handicap restroom.
2. Los is a communication machine. I've always enjoyed @LosWhit in blog-form but it's been cool getting his take on the world as he's living it. I have only a few feeds turned on to buzz my cell phone but his is one. If you know any worth-while Tweets, let me know.
3. I don't like feeds from blogs. The last thing I want is to ruin the uniqueness of Twitter with clutter. I have bloglines to aggregate my feeds. Some people have other people's blogs turned on... it's a shame because that forces me not to follow you. Twitter and clutter don't work for me.
4. My awareness of the world is better because of Twitter. This week I was able to get a heads up from Terry about an online experience that was about to start (which I truly enjoyed). I have really loved following Bobby's trip. He's in Rwanda right now and I love hearing about his experience. Because of technology I'm also able to follow an inner-city missionary I've recently met. Not to mention I've been able to toss up a few prayer requests for people... for instance Los is at defcon 5!
5. The R.O.I. is pretty good. I've done a vast majority of my 'Tweets" from my cell phone via text message. I've been able to post thoughts in a matter of just a few seconds but as referenced above I've been able to connect with a lot of people. Because of my personality type I enjoy the dialogue that Twitter provides. Throughout the day as I'm traveling I get a sense of how the world is doing. By following a few people with updates to my phone I have enjoyed the benefit of listening in to their world in real-time. A pretty cool trade off. For those who may feel it takes away time... I push back by asking how often you text message. If you use text messaging I assure you that Twittering takes very little time at the end of the day and you can discipline yourself by texting "off" to Twitter when you need to focus.
Overall I'm enjoying it. Again if you know of some good people to follow let me know. If you'd like to check in on my world, feel free to follow me here. Join the conversation.
Thoughts on Transformation
In the summer of 1995 I was a 17 year old summer missionary to Houston, TX. I worked at the Baptist Mission Centers of Houston.
This group of centers was evidence of the church in action like no other group of people I had seen to that time. It was only my experience at Thomas Road Baptist Church which allowed me to see that the church proper could care as much for their city.
During my time in Houston I saw transformation on a regular basis. Whether we were teaching the kids about Christ or handing out food to the homeless I could see people take a piece of Christ with them through every encounter.
Part of my duties were to lead the children's part of our particular center (Mason). After about a week of being on site it was obvious to everyone that one particular young child named Mary had an aversion to me and it wasn't my lack of deodorant. If I came within 15 feet of this child she would scream and cry to the first female she could see. Little Mary spoke only Spanish and although I could carry a basic conversation, I couldn't understand through the tears.
Later in the day I went to our director and asked what was wrong with Mary. She said "Tally, the way you dress. You dress just like the gang members who run the streets. She is afraid of your clothing. Would you consider buying new clothes and changing your appearance?"
I considered what my director was asking of me and I responded "No, but what I will do is remain sensitive to this and help her see that not everyone who dresses a certain way also behaves a certain way." My director hesitantly agreed and she allowed me to continue to minister in whatever clothing I wanted to wear. With my new understanding of little Mary I made an extra effort to smile and have fun from a distance. Eventually after a few weeks it was little Mary who would run to the front of the line asking for a swing or to color with me or to be in my group.
Transformation. I believe Jesus transforms lives and places and thoughts. It is my belief that Jesus in action can transform entire cities. Transformation is both intentional and viral. I remember an incident later that summer when the kid's craft project was to make a place mat. We laminated the kid's drawings for them. When I showed the kids that the water or food wouldn't ruin their pictures I then took a rag and wiped it off. I said to the kids in Spanish that Jesus cleans us just like that and he makes us clean again. We have to not only serve in love but tie Christ into our service. Be intentional about transformation and allow it to come through avenues not bottle-necked by bureaucracy.
Transformation is a principle I don't just believe... its one that I expect where faith in Christ is present. I expect the dialogue of Christians to come to a new level. I expect conversation to transform from the petty and pathetic to that of God's heart. I expect that a body of Christian believers shouldn't be able to worship next door to a community without that church infecting that community with the gospel in action. I am convinced that our most spiritually barren places wouldn't be so if the church truly leveraged all it has in the way of spiritual, social, financial, political and courageous capital to do something about the barren lands.
Instead of transforming minds and hearts we have chosen to "change clothes" and allow the musty smell that "the church is a joke" to linger in our communities. This cannot be so. We represent Christ and so shouldn't we be active in "Re-Presenting" Christ as we see him in scripture?
Let us leverage everything we have to see our cities transformed. If a people embrace the message of Christ, the gospel will be enveloped by change. Those bringing the gospel should be bringing change and once a person embraces the gospel that person should live out a changed life. How someone can believe that the gospel of scripture will effect nothing but a decision at judgement day is beyond me. The gospel transforms a person's ETERNITY. Someone correct me if I'm wrong but the present time is WITHIN eternity. It follows that once a person's "eternity" is changed their life will change. When enough people are changed a community of those people will change.
Remember the whole prayer of "Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven."
If you are not in church leadership... good. You have less to hold you back from being a part of transformation. Go out and serve, find a ministry that is making a difference. If you don't know of one, contact me and I'll put you in touch directly with one or two that deserve all of our support.
Lets transform our nation by seeing people know and fall in love with the all-satisfying Jesus Christ. Let's also remember that we're instructed to create disciples, not simple intellectual converts. Once they get dunked we are told to teach them to follow Jesus' commands. (Matthew 28:19-20)
One of those things we're told to teach people to obey: "If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 18Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 19This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence." (I John 3:17-19)
Jesus said to him, "21Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be complete [teleios], go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." (Mt 19:21)
Obviously the goal isn't for every Christian to be poor... the goal is that we'd value the eternal principles of Christ over the temperal posessions and circumstances over which we make so much fuss. The goal is for us to drop whatever it is we hold as our idol to embrace Jesus truly as our one Lord. We must be transformed. Let's transform the world together."
A Video Explanation of Twitter
Found this explanation of Twitter... much easier to 'get' this way. Check it out.
I'll try not to post much more about Twitter. I'm an ENTP... I love tech tools I use... just ask Ben.. but don't ask him if I will be using Twitter in a year. :)
My experiment with Twitter is going pretty well. As recent as a few weeks ago I thought it'd be pretty rediculous. What I've found is that I can get out thoughts much quicker and have some interaction with people in my life who actually care about what I'm up to. The people who have expressed an appreciation that I'm using Twitter are all people with whom I have limited contact on a regular basis (they live away from me and we don't use the phone a ton).
I'm also finding that using Twitter prevents me from having to go so long between thoughts. On this blog I try to only write when I feel like I have something to say. There are also times when I simply don't feel like sitting down to do this. With Twitter set up on my text message... I've found that I toss out thoughts while waiting in line, as a passenger in a car or while watching TV. I have a little more freedom.
The final thing I like about Twitter is that it limits you. Short and sweet.
From the standpoint of following others I have a few people I've chosen to have Twitter text me whenever they "tweet". (Having unlimited text messaging helps for this). What I will say about this aspect is that Los is as cool on Twitter as he is on his blog!
I've read about some people who down various forms of social networking... Twitter is the latest to take some wrath. My thing is that no one should feel frustrated by using these tools. If you are, its not for you and its counter productive. I'm an extrovert and it gives me energy to hear how friends in the ministry are doing and even what they're going through as-it-happens. I'm able to pray for people more often, ask for prayer more often... share sarcasm, irony, etc. It's just a tool to express and experience life. I'll use it for now and let you know how it goes.
If you're not on my Twitter feed, go here and sign up.
Today I got the privilige to enjoy a one-day conference by Bob Roberts Jr. For those of you who don't know anything about Bob, you better ask somebody!
Honestly, I hadn't known too much about him until recently. A few years ago I read about Glocal and I thought it was cool but I didn't take time to investigate much about it. Over the last few years in ministry however I've ended up with a view pretty similar to Mr. Roberts.
I'm not going into detail in this post but let me say that it was a fantastic day. I've been around great leaders and have learned from many but for some reason I find my heart beating fast when Bob describes his views on ministry, the church, making the church the missionary, etc. For the context of my life and for how I believe American cities can be changed... this approach is the most similar to what I have been passionate about.
God confirmed many things to me on this trip and I have a feeling I'll be marking this trip as a pivitol one as I look back in years to come.
Please continue to pray for me and for all God has for us ahead. In an upcoming post I'll share more about my trip and some of the amazing people I've met.
See More: Glocal.net
No it's not a side effect from an over-the-counter medicine.
It's basically blogging for people with ADHD.
So run from the Ritalin and come Twitter with me on my feed.
A skull-crackin' blog to follow
So I've noticed a trend among the bulk of the blogs I follow... they are homogeneous. Lets face it... if you're anything like me and you're a Pastor... you follow a circle of 15-20 blogs of great people who are all doing the same thing... trying to grow a church.
While the insights are great and their voices unique, at times it can become an echo chamber.
This past week I came across a blog that rocks. The reason this blog rocked my world isn't that the author is in any better position or any smarter or provides any more 'bang' than the other friends I follow... but really... because its raw ministry... in the city.
[CUE 'UNDER THE BRIDGE' by Red Hot Chili Peppers]
As you know I'm from Baltimore, MD. I came across the blog of a young woman who works in the inner-city of Baltimore with the kids there.
In a ministry she's only done for about 7 months they are averaging 75-100 kids per night (Wednesdays). When you learn of the problems of the neighborhood and the demographics you see the horrible impact poverty has on a community. Most of the kids come from single-parent homes... most have drugs in their families, violence surrounds them, they attend schools which don't keep them safe and provide sub-standard education... and the rest of the world wonders why "those people" aren't getting ahead.
My heart (and in the future my wallet) goes out to this and other ministries like it.
Check it out for yourself... but I'm warning you... it has the potential to screw up your bloglines account.
I Pity the Fool
This weekend is a time in our calendar when we focus on the death,burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In the Christian calendar we celebrate not simply the life and death of Christ but most importantly we celebrate the resurrection! Take a few moments to contemplate these words of the Apostle Paul in his words from 1 Corinthians 15:
12But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. 20But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
There was one time in my life in particular when these words struck a chord with me like never before and possibly ever since. I was 19 years old and I just lost a good friend tragically in a car accident. This young woman was a saint in my eyes and I was devestated that God would take her away when her life had so much to offer the world. She was one of these people who lived a holy life without condeming anyone else. You felt like you've been closer to God after you've been around her. I was crushed. I remember shutting the world down and searching scripture. I remember when I came across this passage about the resurrection. It was in that moment that I learned of the power of the resurrection. It was because of the resurrection of Christ that my friend has life today. It was also the power of the resurrection of Christ that you and I have meaning in life.
As Paul said so clearly "If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men." Paul reminds us that the resurrection is why we worship because we don't just 'do church' to be nicer people on this planet or to help us control our morals. We worship the RISEN Jesus Christ because HE brings life.
Start today and determine above any other time in your life to FOCUS on the RESURRECTION of Jesus Christ. That's what LIFE is about. Everything else is a side issue to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Without Jesus' life, death and RESURRECTION we would need to be pitied above all men because we would have a futile hope.
As we celebrate Jesus rising from the grave please also redouble your personal desire to see people come to know Jesus Christ as Savior. True life is not lived apart from Jesus. Every person you encounter is made in the image of God and deserves to know that the God of all creation not only knows them but loves them and desires their company forever. None of us are alone, none of us are abandoned and nothing can separate us from the love of Christ BECAUSE of the RESURRECTION. Celebrate with boldness, confidence and passion this weekend.
I didn't get a lousy t-shirt
This morning Kristy, Caleb and I made our way over to Forefront Church, the home of Author, Blogger, WhiteBoarder, YouTuber, Pastor, Father and overall Funnyman- Vince Antonucci. Antonucci... sounds like an expensive pair of jeans.
Anyway... Vince has a great thing going and over the last several months they've done what any church should do that has a great thing going... give more of it away. Forefront opened a location not far from us so we hit up their video venue.
While I was emotionally broken that Vince wasn't speaking (He went and encouraged another church this morning... What is he thinking? Doesn't he know it's competition? Doesn't he know his church can't run without him? Who is this guy?), he had a solid pitch-hitter. His Creative Arts dude spoke a pretty cool message about acceptance and one of their core values of "No Perfect People Allowed". Much of the message centered around times when "the church" screwed him over by their prejudice and how important it is that we accept people and do church in community.
Apart from Vince's humor, one of the most distinctive features of Forefront (in my humble opinion) is their music. Forefront artists write a good deal of their music and perform it very well. The songs they do take from MSCM (Main Stream Christian Music) are done very well and with purpose. They've never been a church that carbon copies the latest fads. What I appreciate about them is that they are distinctly Forefront. Vince should be arrested for gathering all of that talent in one church. I personally think their Worship Pastor Joe Heilman is the best guy you've probably never heard of.
Forefront undoubtedly speaks to a particular tune in our city. I have always admired their church from afar and today got to see them up close. The campus and attitude is a testament to what a church can do when they are passionate about speaking the truth of Christ in their own voice. Forefront is not about being different just to be different. You can tell when you're among their people that they are simply being themselves and that's what makes this church work.
For those not in our area who've only recently started to hear of Vince let me tell you... he's the real deal. Basically planting a church in his backyard he's always been kind to me and has served as an encouragement a few times along the way. Vince is incredibly passionate about reaching people for Christ... and his church actually reflects it... it's not talk. One time a few years back I asked about his challenges. He said "Tally, if there can be such a thing as 'too evangelistic' I'd say that's me... because I have difficulty getting passionate about the details of long-term discipleship." After that encounter he went out and fixed that problem by hiring people to take care of discipleship. Vince became aware of his blindside and fixed it. Big lesson for the rest of us.
Today what I experienced was a very healthy campus that didn't show signs of weakness in the area of spiritual growth. Their worship guide includes bible studies for basically every day of the week. Each day ties directly to the current message series. They've made it so that if you attended Forefront and didn't grow in your faith... it's probably because you are lazy.
Vince... I loved the church... but I didn't get a lousy T-shirt!
HILARIOUS VIDEO from Forefront.... compliments of too much research for this post.