Are you a leader and a team builder trying to surround yourself with the best possible people? Are you trying to build your A-Team? If you want to know how to get it done, watch this amazing performance from the Voice and the comments after.
This performance on The Voice blew me away. Jordan Smith, a dude, sang the Sia hit song, Chandelier.
Granted…he sounds like my Mom, but she’s a great singer too!
He’s unique and everyman and awesome! It’s not unusual for a contestant on the show to be awesome. There’s a ton of talent out there. Talent isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It’s also not unusual for a singer to have a great story.
Near the end of the clip (at 4:31) Adam (the Maroon 5 guy) says to Smith, “I think you are the most important person that has ever been on this show.”
A moment later, Smith makes his decision to be on Adam’s team.
He could have picked Team Gwen or Team Blake or Team Pharrel. He had his pick of all four (again, because…WOW!). So, why did he choose Adam? Because Adam listened to his story, found a way to connect and told him he was the most important person in the history of the show.
You might need some new skills for a new day! Let someone else know that they are as well. Start with the most difficult person and work your way to the most awesome. In fact, why don’t you just write the name of the most difficult person you have to work with in the comments. We will hold you accountable to Adam Levine them.
Yesterday, we started what will quickly make GPC the Emptiest Church in Glendale. Empty of self, that is. Jesus poured himself out for our sakes and lived a life filled by the Father. That sounds like a great thing for his church to do, doesn’t it?
So what do you do on a Monday
after a Sunday like Sunday?
If you were one of those folks who walked down the aisle yesterday, YES! That actually happened! I want to remind you that you were courageous and bold. Coming forward to confess that you want to be like Jesus, emptied, poured out, so that the Father can fill you back to overflowing is a seriously brave thing.
Today, I’m having a total worship hangover, trying to recover from the amazing grace and power of God at work in our congregation!
If you weren’t one of those folks, thanks for hanging back and praying. God was at work mightily in all of our hearts! There will be a next time!
So, what do we do today?
First, remember that yesterday happened. What Jesus did in your heart is real and meant for action today.
Jesus emptied himself, poured himself out so that he could be filled by the Father. In his human life as a servant, he got refilled in three deeply significant ways that you can do, too.
Jesus was dependent on the Word of the Father
When he was tempted, Jesus fell back on the Word that was in his heart. The Word that had been taught to him, memorized and treasured.
At the height of his business, when there was more opportunity than there was time, Jesus went away and spent time in the presence of his Dad. There was no one else on earth who could or would do for him what five minutes with the Father could.
In a hurting, oppressed, depressed, exhausted world, Jesus stuck to the mission, which was simply to get people to God. He never answered the Porsche prayer, never wrote a mortgage check, but asked sinners to change their hearts and lives and believe.
It’s difficult to imagine where the beginning point of the Christian faith actually is. Is it in the Garden of Eden? The People of Israel? The Christmas Event? The Ministry of Christ? The Cross of Forgiveness? The Ascension? The Spirit? The Acts of the Apostles?
All of these are starting points. Some might be re-starting points, actually; an alt-ctrl-del.
In the beginning of the natural word, scientists believe, the mass of the all things converted into energy and moved outward, forming a Universe, something that did not previously exist. Everything was energy and motion, heat and light. From the moment after the beginning, time existed, but operated differently. Space didn’t function as it does now. There was now an end point and all things were spiralling toward it – regardless of how distant.
Easter is the Big Bang of Christianity
Easter is the starting point where the spiritual mass of all things converted into power and began to move outward, shaping a movement, something that previously did not exist.
While, in mythologies it was pretty common, the idea that a flesh and blood man could die and be literally resurrected had never happened. It’s very different to say that a character in the Egyptian story of the Gods rose from the dead and that guy right there did it.
Jesus was born. Most people are. Jesus minsitered to the masses. Lots of people do. Jesus claimed to be the fulfillment of prophecy. Lots of people had. Jesus died on the cross. Lots of people did. Jesus rose from the grave. Just Jesus.
That moment meant that his birth was different.
That moment meant that his ministry was real.
That moment meant that he was who the Scriptures pointed to.
That moment meant that he his death was special.
That moment meant that his past was capable of bringing the future into the present.
Easter is the bright collision of God and history. That early morning, the power of God came into being in a way that it simply never had before.
Before that morning, Death was the end of life. Easter brought an end to death. Before that morning, the grave was the destiny of man. Easter rerouted our itenerary. Before that morning, life was measured in years. Easter measures it in eternity. Before that morning, we waited. Easter proclaimed, ‘The wait is over.’ Before that morning our hope had grown dim. On Easter, Hope became a wellspring eternal.
Mary stood outside near the tomb, crying. As she cried, she bent down to look into the tomb. She saw two angels dressed in white, seated where the body of Jesus had been, one at the head and one at the foot. The angels asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
She replied, “They have taken away my Lord, and I don’t know where they’ve put him.” 14 As soon as she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she didn’t know it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who are you looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she replied, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him and I will get him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabbouni” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Don’t hold on to me, for I haven’t yet gone up to my Father. Go to my brothers and sisters and tell them, ‘I’m going up to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene left and announced to the disciples, “I’ve seen the Lord.” Then she told them what he said to her.
Recently, I read that the US uses 70% of the world’s resources (actually, I think that it’s more accurate to say that richest 20%, but anyway). The period of time between Thanksgiving and Christmas produces 40% of retail revenue for the entire year.
Are you kidding me?
Forty percent of business has to have Christmas or there won’t be an economy.
Sounds absolutely crazy. If the thing is about Jesus, it does anyway.
History Lesson Time
“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.” [Lk 2:1-3]
When Luke tells the story about Jesus, it starts with an insane amount of money; kind of like 40% of the economy. A census was not about a Caesar who cared about each and every person in his empire. It was about a Caesar who cared about how much each and every person in the empire owed him.
It took a huge military for Rome to maintain its “Peace, Love and Understanding” foreign policy. What’s so funny???
Augustus, conquerer of the whole dang world, needed some cash, so a census was the answer. Each person was taxed on everything coming and going and the only way to make sure the Romans got dey deep rolls of fat Benjamins was to register all of the people that were under Roman rule.
Caesar was concerned with bringing people together to find out how much tax people owed him. Jesus brought people together and paid their debts himself.
Caesar tied people down to an economy they couldn’t bear.
Jesus freed people into a new economy of God’s love and grace.
The story of Christmas isn’t that we have to buy gifts, it’s that we were given one. It’s not that we go into debt. The story of Christmas is that God created a way for us to get out of it. That’s an absolutely amazing story. It’s the most profound story that exists. Everybody wants to sell you something. Only Jesus wants to buy you back (as funky as you may be).
So are you buying or telling?
There’s this song, “Go tell it on the mountain,” the lyrics make you stop and re:think the whole deal. “Go tell it on the mountian, over the hills and everywhere, Go tell it on the mountain, that Jesus Christ is born.”
If that song were written today, perhaps the lyrics would be:
Go tell it to your neighbor,
cook up a meal and tak it over there,
Go tell it to your network,
that Jesus Christ has freed you from the debt
that weighed down your soul like a credit card bill.”
(you have to sing that last line really fast)
🎶 It’s Christmas time, It’s no time to be afraid 🎶
Unless you haven’t done your Christmas shopping. You’ve got three weeks. Are you done yet? Shopping for Christmas presents really brings out the crazy, right? All these funky people trying to find a way to be…to feel fine.
Check out this clip from “Jingle All The Way”
When my siblings were little, I had to do this every year (That’s right, Jamie, Santa didn’t beat a man with his own arm to give you that Nintendo Power Glove. I did!). It kind of…scared the Christmas out of me. Where did all this gift giving come from? If Christmas is about the birth of God on earth, do we have to run up such a high Visa bill???
Turns out, the problem started with the Bible.
In the Scriptures, these Magi bring Jesus some presents. Of course they didn’t fall off of Santa’s sleigh and they weren’t fought over on Christmas eve. They were baby shower gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh. Gifts have always been a part of Christmas, but you didn’t always have to ‘Jingle All The Way’ to get them.
Gold was a gift for a king. It is priceless, representing economic wealth and spiritual purity. Throughout the Scriptures, God uses gold to talk about the process of becoming more and more holy, “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the priests and refine them like gold and silver. [Mal 3:3]”
Frankincense was a spice used in worship. It was an everyday offering. When you added it to hot coals, it made the funky smell fine. This gift foreshadowed Christ’s life on earth: he made the funky…smell fine.
Myrrh had many uses. As a resin it was a beauty treatment. As a liquid it was a pain reliever. As a solid, it was a perfume, as in a burial spice.
The King of Heaven began his life with Gold, and ended it by turning you into it. He began his life in the funk and made the funk fine before God. At his birth, they brought myrrh. At his death, they brought the same.
The birth of Jesus means that you are important to God.
It’s gold when you think about it.
His life means that God is with us.
With you however you come to him,
wrapped in whatever funk you got yourself into.
The myrrh of his death is the thing that reminds us we are forgiven, you are forgiven;
You are more loved and accepted than you can handle.
You are fine.
More than fine.
You are his.
You may have the perfect gift for your BFF, but what are you bringing to Jesus? What gift are you laying before the manger?
Bring whatever you have.
Whoever you are.
All that you have to give.
If you are afraid what you bring to Christ is too funky, don’t worry. Jesus will turn your funky into fine!
[This is the beginning of an #Advent series (a fancy Christmas season word which means, “Look out G, Jesus is coming!”) of indeterminable length. I have a count of 16 titles up to this point, so check back for inspiration during December or join the mailing list to receive the latest post in your inbox fresh like chestnuts roasted on an open fire.]
What’s the point of Christmas? To find out, last night, my family watched the Peanuts Christmas Special. If it’s been a while, go ahead watch it. It’s still as good as it used to be back in the day. That Charles Schultz was a prophet, man, using Charlie Brown like God used Jeremiah.
Full of existential angst, Chuck cycles through his group of friends, picking apart their approach to Christmas. One’s too philosophical. One’s too anemic. One’s too materialistic. And this was 1965. They had philosophy back then?
What lies at the chewy center of “Brown’s Dilemma” (can I ™ that?), is that no one can tell him what the point of Christmas is. There’s the postmodern: what is it to you? The post-decorative doghouse: it’s whatever you can hang on the dog house. The post-consumer: whatever you can desire, buy, wrap and figure out a way not to have to give it to someone else.
As I watch the blood thirsty hoards wrestle their way into America’s retail coliseums, it doesn’t seem like much has changed.
So, what is the point of Christmas?
A time for family to get together?
A time for roast beast?
A time to watch our favorite Christmas movies?
Listen to our favorite Christmas stations on Spotify?
A time for good people to give other good people good things?
A time to direct Christmas dramas?
A time to preach through Christmas sermons?
If you lick the Tootsie Pop (a metaphor for the meaning of Christmas) three times and get down to it’s chewy core, we find that there’s one right answer to Charlie Brown’s question and young Linus nails it.
Claire Wallace is a senior in High School in the fast paced culture center of Glendale, CA. When she isn’t devouring books, she’s hawking them, talking them up and organizing book discussion groups.
In school I have read many famous classic books, which most people define as literature. In their own time, these books were well known and usually popular. I got thinking, “What about today’s popular books?” Will they stand the test of time?
Will a supernatural romance or a dystopian future become our next Moby Dick?
Personally I don’t think so. I believe the book that will be considered literature, read in schools and studied, is The Fault in Out Stars. It has beautiful writing, rich literary devices, and most of all, it will continue to resonate beyond its time.
The writing in the book is majestic. It has what I like to call these “profound moments,” – basically when author, John Green, writes a passage prominently presenting a theme and usually it’s beautifully written. An example of this is when the character Augustus confesses to the main character of Hazel (no I am not giving anything away, it reveals it in the movie trailer):
“I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you” (153).
One of the main themes is expressed in this declaration, the idea of fate versus the idea of choosing. Not only does John Greene just write it, he puts it in a love confession, between two teenagers, setting the stage for another theme, one about love.
This is the kind of passage where, as soon as I read it, I just want to read it over and over again. It captures my attention.
Literary devices, yeah, they can be associated with school, but they bring so much to a story. One of my personal favorites is the constant symbolism of names.
First is Hazel, a girl with terminal cancer and the narrator of the story. Her name, Hazel, is an in-between color neither totally brown nor totally green. This represents Hazel’s state of being. She is in-between life and death but also as a regular teenage girl; she is in-between childhood and womanhood.
Then there is Augustus Waters. Due to the cancer, Hazel is drowning in water but in comes A. Waters. He shows her how her life is not just a side effect of dying but so much more. And just like every human needs water to live so does Hazel. Augustus Waters helps her truly live.
The Fault In Our Stars, at first, seems utterly unrelatable; a girl with cancer, having to live in this state of in-between. Yeah, I am not sick. I have no foretold death.
So why is it so relatable?
The idea of oblivion is hard to understand, and we choose to ignore it but that does not change the fact that it is there. How do we deal with it when we are forced to acknowledge it? That is what this book shows: a girl dealing with oblivion but also within that, love.
As humans we can all relate to love.
This is the briefest of examples of why I believe this book will continue. I truly believe that will become one of the great classics. In future generations, someone will look back, and look forward and wonder what book in their time will become like The Fault in Our Stars.
What do you think? Is The Fault In Our Stars the next Melville?
I love it when Popstars are the Prophets. I love it when a song, a lyric, a melody moves into you, through your ears and straight to the heart, making us change the way we think about the world around us and our role in it. Bastille has a song like that for church leaders. Turn it up!
The Important Question
Did you hear the question that singer Dan Smith asks over and over and over in the song? “Where do we begin? The Rubble? Or our Sin?” That’s a great question, isn’t it? The song, “Pompeii,” juxtaposes a city being overtaken by, well, the very historic volcanic pyroclasm (you can never say that word enough), and a life taken over by sin (“my own devices”).
It’s a portrait of sin collapsing upon a life, the way that the volcanic cloud crashed over the rooftops of Pompeii.
“We were caught up and lost in all of our vices //
In your pose as the dust settled around us.”
The question, “Where do we begin? The rubble? or our sin?” is the right one.
The Church is in the sin/forgiveness business. The Gospel is about a God who steps into the aftermath of the Mount Vesuvius in our lives and begins to sweep away the ash, revealing a life that will now be overcome by his, and only his, love.
As a church leader, I’m often tempted to ignore the painful distraction of walking with others through the rebuilding of their exploded lives. It’s even more tempting to get cosmetic, to fix something that needs fixing, paint something that needs painting.
Where do we begin? Addressing the pain and destruction of sin in the lives of those we are called to love and lead? Or to remodel the sanctuary and let people work it out on their own?
When we look at Pompeii, we see a city in need of new walls, fresh paint and manicured lawns. If we were able to get a contractor and a capitol campaign, people could move back into Pompeii. But so what? Who needs another retail condominium?
There were real people in Pompeii. People like you and me, who had experienced personal cataclysm long before an environmental one:
People sin. We do. It’s the way things are. It’s not popular to talk about. At all. Sconces and pew cushions…now that is more like it, right? It might be easier, but it’s not the Church.
The question is: Do we have the courage to get down into the messy, complicated, uncomfortable reality that all people wrestle with daily?
Bastille ask a question that we need to answer: Where do we begin? Since the Gospel proclaims freedom to those who are covered in sin, would we rather proclaim that freedom? Confront sin and point to the God who forgives it? Or redecorate the Welcome Room and perfect the practice of something closer to a theology of cosmetics.
“If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day is out. [Gal 6:1;MSG]”
God in the Ruins
When Jesus answers the question, it’s always going to be about beginning with sin. Rest assured that as Christ would walk through the uncovered ruins, the rubble wouldn’t be on his mind.
The people would.
Forgiveness is measured in lives, not walls, souls, not paint. A cosmetic makeover is nice, but soul-change is necessary. While a new color scheme is great, a new life is greater.
"Christianity is not about being nice. It's about being new."
The truth is, living like Jesus never feels nice. We tend to want to point out the cosmetic changes that will one day make “all the difference,” but Jesus looks beyond the gloss and bokeh – pries deep into the places and spaces we believe are too dark to be seen and plants a light there, makes a home there, speaks to us from there. Where does he begin? In the places we most wish he wouldn’t.
There was a moment in his sermon where he asked this question. I started to just write down the question, because it’s a good one, but before I knew it, I had filled a page of my journal.
When was the last time you were captivated by God?
The times when I have been most captivated by God have always been when I see God at work in the lives of the people around me. I want it to be the surreal and miraculous personal moment, but it doesn’t ever seem to be the case. It might be that I don’t notice, possibly because I’m always going, always thinking, always asking, always listening, reading, talking. Maybe the miraculous is actually something that is the greater part of my life.
When I notice the hand of God at work in my life is when I see it clutch the heart of someone standing close by. When I notice the breath of God blowing through the world around me is when I hear it catch in the voice of my neighbor because they have in some way seen the face of the living God.