Yesterday Was Easter. Today’s My Birthday. Sorry.

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Today’s my birthday (hence the horrifying birthday clown, I apologize to all readers under the age of twelve). The big two-eight. According to the life-expectancy for American men, that means I’m one-third dead. Not cool.

Also, yesterday was Easter weekend. Kind of a big deal for ministers. We had an awesome weekend at NECC celebrating the resurrection with the well over 6,000 folks that attended. I pray many drew closer to Jesus because of it. I love my church.

So with all that in mind, I will not be posting my regular blog today. Just an FYI for all our faithful readers. Thanks ahead of time for forgiving my laziness. It is a Christian virtue, after all.

I’ll pick back up next Monday with our every-other-week first-day-of-the-week posts.

Until then, read this (it has been our most clicked blog of the year): THE MOST DANGEROUS IDOL OF THE NEXT GENERATION

Or watch this (it has been our most watched sermon of the year):

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The Most Disastrous Thing Christians Do Everyday

We make some of our biggest leadership (and self-leadership) failures sitting still. We blow tremendous ideas by not even beginning them. We waste God-sent visions by allowing dreams to remain dreams.

And in so doing we do the worst thing possible for the waiting world spinning around us… nothing.

[Does any of the following describe your life?]

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A Kentucky Pastor’s Guide to Trash-Talk During March Madness

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PHOTO CREDIT: USA TODAY Sports Images

There’s a reason why they call it March Madness, and it goes beyond things like the Mercer Bears, Dayton’s Cinderella run, overtime, buzzer-beaters, and vacation-days spent binge-watching nineteen year-olds you wish you could be.

The Madness goes beyond that because every year, during March, I actually watch people go mad. The AMA should look into this. In fact, anyone who knows me knows I speak from personal experience: March Madness makes you mad. (Don’t patronize me!!! My depression after John Wall and company lost to West Virginia in 2010 was real… and sad. At least I lost like five pounds.)

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The Most Dangerous Idol of the Next Generation

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I’m a Millennial, born sometime between 1980 and Y2K (the day when all the computers and the universe imploded), and my generation has a lot going for them.

Some call us the “Hopeful Generation” because few generations to ever walk the planet were more mission-minded and cause-oriented. I have friends who use vacation-time to serve in third-world countries, who won’t buy coffee from anywhere but direct-trade vendors, who run fundraiser 5Ks every weekend. I even have friends who’ve shaved their heads and cut their beautiful beards because they saw on Facebook a friend of a friend raising money for another friend with cancer (and that’s a big deal, because nothing gives you instant authority in life like a great beard or stache).

Some call us the “Relational Generation” because there’s never been one more connected. Sure, some people (including me) hate on the false-intimacy that social-media provides. Sure, some people need to be given read-only accounts to Twitter and Facebook based on the sheer number of selfies and “look-at-me” posts they publish hourly. But that doesn’t change the fact I communicate with loved ones across the country daily on my iPhone through e-mail, text, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Skype, and Facetime (sometimes I even use my phone to make calls too!).

Some call us the “Educated Generation,” as already our rate of receiving undergraduate degrees has surpassed all other generations. My generation thinks college degrees are sweet and a prerequisite to life-advancement. So even if we spend our college days doing everything but college work, we still think it’s important. That’s why we’re there on the 6-year plan.

Are you swooning yet? Because you had yearbooks. We have Facebook! You had K-Mart. We have Target (boom!). You had hula-hoops. We have X-Box. You had mass-media. We have personal media, a social platform where we can talk about how awesome we are (on our blog). And let’s not let the one word that shuts the whole “best generation” conversation down go unmentioned… Netflix. Need I say more? …Pandora! Oops, that slipped out.

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Four Points that Show What the Church Really Valued

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Authentic community is the context in which we are to follow Jesus. The scriptures say it, the characters modeled it, and the early church established it.

Community wasn’t a doctrine for the early church, it was the environment. It wasn’t a part of life for a Christian, it was the way of life. It wasn’t just another thing, it was the reality in which they did everything. And really, the idea of following Jesus was unthinkable outside of authentic cross-shaped relationships.

But community and relationships seem to be an afterthought any more for churches. Today the idea of church has been developed under an entirely different guise. When people hear the word “church” they think buildings, denominations, and 60-minute services we check off our agenda until next time.

My generation, the millennials, are leaving “church” at record rates because they see it as an irrelevant institution that has failed to distinguish between right practices and right principles. They look at the church and see an institution that has placed a tremendous amount of weight on rituals and rules rather than relationships.

And that’s sad to me… because relationships mattered most to the early church. When you study the early church in the scriptures you see more of a dynamic and expanding network of messy but maturing love-relationships, and less of a formalized institution where everyone needed to show-up and get-in-line or get-out.

So here’s four things to ponder about the early church that might change the way you approach church today:

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