Monday, October 31, 2005

What are we known for?

Came across this quote. Its from Mike Yaconelli from several years ago...
"Mix a good dose of ego addiction with Jesus, and the consequences are frightening. It causes ministers to build huge churches as a monument to their own ego, it causes people to go on television with their “unique ministry”, which is another term for “my ministry”. It causes people to write books, speak all over the world, abandon their families, their friends, and their neighborhoods so they can respond to the “great need”… which is really the need to be needed.

Think of all the churches in America right now that are supporting the egos of their ministers. Think of all the supporters of para-church organizations that are supporting the ego of their “founder and president.” Think of all the churches and organizations that are supporting the egos of their “internationally known speakers.”

The result is that the evangelical church is known more for its “big” churches and famous people than it is known for its Jesus. "(The Door Magazine, #125, October 1992)

Why this thought matters is twofold for me. One, I don't want to be one of those types. I'm not blaming those folks who have become household names. I've heard some of them plenty of times and respect them and sense a genuine heart. I'm worried about those of us who aspire to be like them. That's where it gets troubling.

The most striking thing Yaconelli says here to me is "The result is that the evangelical church is known more for its “big” churches and famous people than it is known for its Jesus."

The most troubling thing about THAT? It's true.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Not Sure What To Say II

I hope you check out the video link in the previous post. This is yet another example of someone with way too much time on their hands. It's a Lego Bible. No, I don't mean just a book made out of Legos. I mean stories acted out with legos. Go ahead. I wish I could make this stuff up. Click this link and get ready to be inspired!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Not Sure What To Say

There are many times when I want to just crawl in a hole and hide the fact that I'm a Christian. No, none of them have been the result of persecution of any type. Rather, its the Christian subculture doing its thing. As proud as I am of what the Church can and many times does stand for, there are an equal if not larger number of times I just want to throw a blanket over an issue and hope noone notices.

For example, a church in my area that I drive by frequently has a sign** in the yard that not only has the name of the church, but a few lines for interchangable letters designed for cute messages which ultimately are designed to give non Christians even more reason to stay away! Today's message? Something along the line of "Don't be tricked. Try the real treat - Jesus." Gee, I bet the masses are just lining up at the doors, hungry for more.

Or one of my personal faves, "God may not be on the internet, but he answers his knee-mail." I can't for the life of me understand why that message didn't communicate to our cynical culture "Hey...God matters! He has something that can connect to your life!" Come to think of it, THAT might be a good slogan!

SO, a new feature on Drivel - I'll make note of ridiculous church sign slogans, make fun of them, and will collect through the comments your additions to the list. I know, there's probably some Internet list floating around. That doesn't have to drive by and see it...and feel some level of disgust and/or cheese about it.

But on the title of this entry, "Not Sure What To Think," you absolutely must see this link. Unless you are a church/God skeptic, then please, look away. This would be embarrassing if it weren't so sad. Unfortunately, I think its a real product, but I'm hoping eventually we'll all get an email that will say "Surprise! Just kidding! Just a reject SNL skit! (actually, this would be better than some of the recent stuff on SNL).

**(FYI...we had a sign for many, many years. I lobbied hard for its removal and subswquent replacement with a sign that simply had our name. Mission accomplished. No room for any slogans, like "You can count the seeds in an apple, but only God can count the apples in a seed," etc. OK, so maybe our church sign is a tad on the gi-normous side... not sure, but I think NASA can pick it up from space...)

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Churches Respond to Katrina

I receive a weekly update from a couple of churches in Louisiana. One is from a guy named Jason at Forest Park Church of Christ in Crowley, LA. This past update is sort of a thanks to the many, many churches from other states around the country that have sent donations, along with the many who have been down to assist or are making plans to do so. He sent a chart showing the amount of money that has come from various states. Indiana was a huge player here, with almost $21,000. The next largest amount came from North Carolina, around $7,000. In all, some 26 states have responded. Along with around $36,000 anonymous donations, their total gifts from churches throughout the US is around $110,000. Very cool. This is just the story from one church! They have an elaborate distribution center set up to help the community with various needs. Jason even sent a chart showing the distribution amounts and what they've gone toward. Very cool (if I knew what I was doing and could put an Excel chart on the blog, I would. As is, I'm inept...would value anyone's guidance on that for future reference!) All in all, there is NOTHING like the church when the church is working right. Nothing. Here's an interesting Katrina story about churches and their response, and of course the critics. My favorite part of it is the large distribution area where one church is helping folks, and back in the back corner at a small table doing nothing more than paperwork is the FEMA guy. Article is here; it's short.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

End Of The Spear Update

OKLAHOMA CITY – End of the Spear, the first theatrical feature release of Every Tribe Entertainment, won the grand prize at the Heartland Film Festival in Indianapolis last week. The Heartland Festival seeks Truly Moving Pictures, and recognizes filmmakers whose work explores the human journey by artistically expressing hope and respect for the positive values of life.

(Click here to see the trailer...helps if you have a subwoofer...)

End of the Spear is the true story of five young missionaries who were brutally speared to death by a savage Ecuadorian tribe in 1956 -- and the remarkable forgiveness and reconciliation that followed. As told through the eyes of Mincayani, a Waodani warrior, and young Steve Saint, the son of Nate Saint, the slain missionary pilot. Together, Mincayani and Steve find that what Nate accomplished in his death gave them both a new life, and Steve’s family becomes a part of Mincayani’s family.

With the Heartland honor for best dramatic feature, Every Tribe Entertainment takes the $50,000 grand prize, one of the largest single cash prizes awarded by a film festival. During the awards program, a record 24 dramatic, documentary and animated shorts and features were honored by Heartland. Four films were awarded Jimmy Stewart Memorial Crystal Heart Awards for best student films while 20 received Crystal Heart Awards. These films were selected from 558 submissions for demonstrating excellence in filmmaking and for best meeting Heartland's mission.

"We’re thrilled with this honor," said Bill Ewing, president of Every Tribe and producer of the film. "Our goal is to bring truth beyond imagination to our culture through incredible true stories, and we’re excited by our first product. Just as this story has impacted the generations that have followed it for the gospel, we think the truth of this film’s message will impact a new generation while reminding us all of the redemptive and transforming power of God’s Word.

"Our hope is that this story will touch the hearts of all who view this film, and honor the memories and legacy of five outstanding young men and their families."
End of the Spear will open nationwide on January 20, 2006, commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the spearing raid on the five young men…an event that impacted American culture when it happened, and will again in 2006.
For more information about End of the Spear, visit
To learn more about the Heartland Film Festival, visit

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Quote from Len Sweet

"Jesus doesn't promise to still every storm in our lives; He does promise to still you and I in the midst of those storms."

Monday, October 24, 2005

Leonard Sweet

Leonard Sweet is one of those unique voices out there that beg for our attention. For many years, his writings have been a wake-up call for the church. He has an ability to see where we've been, where we are, and can help us chart a course for what lies ahead. He's here in my town this week and will speak several times. If you're around, it would be worth your time to check him out. For a detailed list of speaking times & places, click here....

Oh, and next Thursday, Donald "Blue Like Jazz" Miller will be here. Very cool.

A Reading Fiend

I've read a lot lately. Tons of thoughts to share as I've read, but too busy reading to sit down and type them out. Wanted to give a brief blurb about the books I've plowed through in the last month or less....

  • 9 Things You Simply MUST DO by Henry Cloud. Had never read Cloud before. He's most noted for the Boundaries book and corresponding juggernaut of resources. Good stuff, so I've been told. Heard him speak recently, and was very convicted. So I grabbed the book, and found it very enlightening. It's far from Covey-esque, and includes a great deal of common-sense. But put togehter, its very good. Easy one for me to recommend. Great to read and talk through with a friend or group. Bottom line: a lot of us are messed up, and we can take some action to straighten our lives out. Of course, this isn't a magic cure-all book, but rather a psychologist who deals with folks with all sorts of life situations and has some things to share with the rest of us. Primarily, he looks at traits of folks who don't seem to be all that messed up, and tries to figure out the values and behaviors they have in common. It's good, and you won't be disappointed.

  • God's Blogs by Lanny Donoho. OK, I know, its a book called God's Blogs. But I'm a big Lanny fan. He emcees the Catalyst Conference, and is responsible for much of the zaniness that takes place there (he came out dressed as a whoopie cushion and got 9,000 of us to sit simultaneously on whoopie cushions, which puts us in the Guiness Book of World Records. Really.) So, who wouldn't want spiritual insight from a guy like that? It is clever, and full of fresh thoughts. Great devotional book, designed to read in little chunks, though bulldozing through it like I did can be just as beneficial. Just a snippet from the book, during a section entitled "Light" (Oh, its important to note that it's written as though God actually had a blog...hope you can wrap your head around that concept" "I AM light. When you know Me, you can see better. How many of you are doing the same thing over and over, and you know those habits are what is causing your grief, your stress, your darkness? How many of you are stumbling, hitting your shins and your hearts, and swearing because it hurts so much? I AM the light. When you know Me, you see better. When you see better,... you don't get hurt as much."

  • Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell. Wow, this book is tremendous. Lot to say, but I would rather my 10 or so blog readers just stop everything, go get this book, and read it. The subtitle is "Repainting the Christian Faith." Bell is an artist. His short films (Nooma) and sermons have been a favorite of mine for a while, and I just love the challenges he lays out in his book. Believe it or not, I even read the end notes. They're quite funny! NOTE: If your brand of Christianity is in some sort of box with no breathing room, well, you might want to stick with more conservative fare. On second thought, if that's you, READ this book. Again, great with a friend or a group to hash it out, agree & disagree, burn Bell (and me) in effigy, whatever...

  • The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. Ramsey is an extremely entertaining radio show host who invites callers to creatively shred their credit cards on the air (shredectomies). He makes an enormous amount of sense. His book is easy to read, but hard to implement. I'm attempting to implement. It's rather startling to know what your money can do for you, but equally startling how easy is it to be a slave to debt. We just want it all, and we want it now. Regardless of whether we have the $ or not. So we use credit, and before we know it, we become a slave to it. That is Ramsey's basic message, but he offers practical advice to help climb out or avoid the trappings of debt. This should be required reading! For those just getting started in the "real world," get this and read it. Then do it! If you have Ramsey on the radio (probably a conservative talk radio station, late morning to noon-ish), he's worth a listen.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Still Rockin' After All These Years

Went to a rock& roll concert last night. It's been a little while for me, and granted, I felt kinda old. But I survived! It was a great night. Five bands played (it felt like more!), and I of course was most interested in the last two bands. Pillar was next to last, and they just rock. Their rendition of "Sunday Bloody Sunday" is just the best (it's on one of my top 5 albums of the last five years, entitled "In The Name Of Love: Artists United for Africa". Bunch of Christian bands doing various versions of U2 songs, with proceeds going toward the Aids pandemic efforts in Africa...if you don't have this CD, you need to get it...). Anyway, pillar was awesome. But the Audio Adrenaline fellas are still able to get it done after all these years. It's a power-packed show with a little bit of everything. It was fun to take it all in with the whole family, which is increasingly hard (and expensive) to do. Having gone to school with the Audio guys, and being one of the 100 or so at their very first concert as A-180, its fun to see them still doing what they do. And, my kids think I'm cool that two of those guys know me. So I'll play that card as long as I can! Looking forward to Crowder & Shane/Shane in a month or so, and hoping to make it another family affair.

Buying A Car

A farmer had been swindled several times by the local car dealer. One day, the car dealer informed the farmer that he was coming over to purchase a cow. The farmer priced his unit as follows:

Basic cow $499.95
Shipping and handling 35.75
Extra stomach 79.25
Two-tone exterior 142.10
Produce storage compartment 126.50
Heavy duty straw chopper 189.60
Four spigot/high output drain system 149.20
Automatic fly swatter 88.50
Genuine cowhide upholstery 179.90
Deluxe dual horns 59.25
Automatic fertilizer attachment 339.40
4 x 4 traction drive assembly 884.16
Pre-delivery wash and comb 69.80
Additional dealer adjustments: 300.00
TOTAL LIST PRICE (including options): $3143.36

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Movie I Want To See

The Gospel is currently in theaters. I know little about it, but did read a review that makes me interested. You can read it here in short fashion at Appears to be a modern Prodigal Son parable.

Also, the Steve Taylor movie Second Chance is still alive, just pushed to a February release. I wonder how much of that move was in response to the release of The Gospel, which is also in a church setting. Anyway, read more about it and watch the trailer at

Sunday, October 09, 2005

No Narnia for Me (Yet)

I was sort of led to believe that I would get to be in on a premier of "The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe" at the Catalyst conference. I'm assuming that perhaps someone in the Catalyst marketing department spoke too soon, or someone at Disney made a promise that was impossible to keep. We did get to see 20 minutes or so of clips, and its going to be an awesome film. Resident film maven Barbara Nicolosi has seen the film (she apparently has a little more influence on Disney than the Catalyst folks...better sic some Maxwellian influence on them next time, Gabe...). Barbara has some interesting insights about the film and you can read those on her site....

Catalyst Highlights

I've been privileged to attend the Catalyst conference for 4 of its 6 years of existence. It's a no-holds-barred, high-octane leadership conference. It rarely disappoints, and this years was a grand slam. Some highlights from my trip include:
  • Going early to check out 7:22, this incredible Tuesday night service at Northpoint Community Church. And who should be the guest speaker for the night? None other than Erwin McManus, one of my faves. Bonus! (Oh, and Chris Tomlin came out and led a coupla tunes at the end....x-tra cool bonus!)
  • Hanging with some old friends, Rob Harris from Nash-Vegas, and Tracy Tooley from WV. Great to laugh, reminisce, etc. Rob has written a couple of kick-butt country songs, and I'm convinced one of them, if not both, will be huge. Both songs make me want to ask the T-shirt clad waitress for a refill of my bucket of peanuts - they're that stinkin' good (as far as my infininte knowledge of country music goes...) "What you talkin' 'bout, Smitty?"
  • I will soon be in the Guiness Book of World Records. Well, me and 8,999 others. We all sat on Whoopie Cushions at the same time. I kid you not. Guiness people were there and everything. Who da thunk it??
  • Andy Stanley saying "an open door is not always an invitation from God," and "our love of progress sets us up for some unique temptations and small compromises."
  • Louie Giglio's analysis of worship consumers vs. consumees (no idea if I spelled that right); please Lord break me from consumerism (all about me)
  • Donald Miller's refreshing perspective. Having read his books (what are YOU waiting for?), I was anxious to hear more from him, and he didn't disappoint. "Find the wound - everybody's got one - and take God to the wound."
  • Incredible, incredible musicians and worship facilitators.
  • Erwin McManus, and just about everything he said. Will outline him in another post...but one thought "I hate the word Relevant. That just means someone else got there first, and we're just catching up!" Oh, and one of the few times I've taken notes during someone's prayer..."Jesus, You are beautiful & magnetic & caring. We've made you look ugly and uncaring."
  • Bill Hybels honesty. I could listen to him all day. (OK, many days I do....)
  • Malcolm Gladwell reminding us its not just about the message, but its about the messenger, too.
  • Last but not least, Stanley hammers it home regarding momentum, programming, et al. "Different doesn't mean better," "minor improvements in something that lacks momentum will not create momentum."
  • OK, the REAL last but not least. One session in particular featured the African Children's Choir followed by a heart-grabbing rendition of that mission-related Newsboys song for which I've never really known the name, but it was powerful...followed by a woman from Rwanda (I think) who couldn't have been more eloquent. She simply painted a word picture for us of the unthinkable conditions in many African countries regarding something as simple as clean water. An offering was collected for an organization that digs wells in African villages. We collected over $100,o00 thusfar. It was powerful, and one of the most moving worship & challenge experiences for me in a long time.

So there. It was a few days will spent hanging with my wife and a few friends.

Monday, October 03, 2005

New Music/New Band

A couple of new CD's came in the mail late last week. First is "A Collision" by the David Crowder*Band. I love the humor, the quirkiness, the brilliance that is Crowder. I just think he does some things musically that are fresh and unique. It's good art and good music - not something I can honestly say about a lot of the "copy cat" Christian music that's around. I'm not sure if I would call it his best (at least not yet...give me some time to crank it in the headphones a little more). But its awfully good, and I like it a great deal. He has a live honky-tonk version of "I Saw The Light" that is really fun ( a song our band has done for a long time...we're trend setters?) The other CD that I'm enjoying is Shane & Shane. It's called "An Evening With Shane & Shane." Great stuff. Terrific vocals and guitar work. Comes with a DVD of the concert. This is one of the best live CD's I've heard. In fact, at first I didn't know it was live. If you're new to Shane & Shane, its a good introduction - sort of a "best of" compilation.
Last but not least, my new favorite band is pictured at the left....