Friday, February 27, 2009

The Art of Hearing God & Speaking to Others

The Art of Hearing God & Speaking to Others

Dates: March 4, 11, 18

Time: 7:00-8:30

The Apostle Paul challenged to believers in Corinth to seek the gift of prophecy. God desires to speak to us and through us to others with words that bring life and healing.

For three weeks, we will explore:

  • the different ways in which God communicates to us,
  • how to grow in sensitivity to God's voice, as well as,
  • how to discern, interpret and communicate these truths to others.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Last Lecture - What Would You Say...?

On September 18, 2007, Carnegie Mellon professor and alumnus Randy Pausch delivered a one-of-a-kind last lecture that made the world stop and pay attention. It was his "last lecture." Randy was dying as he was engaging the fight against pancreatic cancer. The lecture became an Internet sensation viewed by millions, an international media story, and a best-selling book that has been published in 35 languages. To this day, people everywhere continue to talk about Randy, share his message and put his life lessons into action in their own lives.

Have you ever thought about what you would say to a group of people if you only had "one more lecture"? Here's some of what Randy Pausch said. You can view the full lecture here.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Discovering Your Essence: Pathways, Temperament & Spirituality

Our personalities indeed influence our spirituality. The better we understand our personalities, as well as the circumstances and events that have significantly shaped us, the better we can understand how they often influence our interactions with God.

God has designed each of us uniquely. Throughout Scripture, we have living accounts of people interacting with God. Interestingly, one element remains consistent throughout all of Scripture, people relate to God differently. While there is One God, and One Way to God (Jesus Christ), there is no "one way" to relate to God. There are many paths of relating to God.

Simply put, there is no "One Size Fits All" to Christian Spirituality. Unfortunately, much of the Western-American Christian tradition has succumbed to a one-size fits all approach to Christianity. The end result has been a form of Christianity that is something that is much less than God intended for us to experience. A one-size fits all spirituality always equates to a fits no-one well reality.

God has designed each of us to relate to Him in a unique way. But we are often only shown one blueprint for growth - read your Bible and pray.

We each have a unique personality and temperament. These will and do influence our everyday spirituality for the good and the bad. The better we understand how God has designed us and how we are geared, the better we will be able to engage organic spiritual formation.

You will leave this workshop with a better understanding:

  • how God has designed you to relate Him, as well as some practical ways to engage Him

  • how your personality affects your spirituality - the up's and the down's

  • practical ways to better facilitate spiritual formation in your everyday life

Discovering Your Essence Worship is designed to help facilitate a better understanding of these very issues.

When: Saturday – February 28, 2009 (9:00-11:30 AM)

Where: Southgate Church Cafe (off of the foyer).

Register: (click here to register online)

Childcare Provided: Please RSVP to ensure we have adequate coverage.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Death of the Soul

I've been reflecting a bit this week on what it looks like to live life more fully. What is it that “deadens” my soul, and what it is that “wakens” it to God? As I was thinking about this, I was reminded of Michael Yaconelli's provoking words in the opening of his book Dangerous Wonder: The Adventure of Childlike Faith.

"This voice of our childhood,
is the voice of wonder and amazement, the voice of God, which has always been speaking to us, even before we were born.

One sad day, we are aware of an absence. We can no longer hear the God-voice, and we are left with only silence – not a quiet silence but a roaring silence.

We did not want to stop hearing God’s voice. Indeed, God kept on speaking. But our lives became louder. The increasing crescendo of our possessions, the ear-piercing noise of busyness, and the soul-smothering volume of our endless activity drowned out the still, small voice of God.

What happened? What happened to our aliveness? How could we grow up, accumulate twelve to fifteen years of education (or more), get married, have children, work for decades, are never really live?

The death of the soul is never quick. It is a slow dying, a succession of little deaths that continues until we wake up one day on the edge of God’s voice, on the fringe of God’s belovedness, beyond the adventure of God’s claim on our lives."

Thursday, February 12, 2009


“Fasting is not a renunciation of life;” writes James Earl Massey, “it is a means by which new life is released within us.”

For centuries, followers of Christ have practiced fasting, yet in our current day there is much confusion, many questions, even fears associated with it.

For two weeks, we will be taking an exploratory look at fasting.

We will deal with issues such as:
  • What is fasting for?
  • How does one engage it?
  • What are the benefits of it?
  • What should one know before and during experimenting with fasting
February 18 & 25

*childcare provided

Monday, February 09, 2009

How to Tell a Story

Stories have enormous power, unfortunately the very essence of that power is often crippled in the telling. True storytellers simply know how to communicate old stories in new ways. And, even when they use the same plot as before, it always seems to take on new life. This life flows not from some new fabrication of the events at hand, rather the outworking of a life that's actually been there. The aliveness comes from the life the story has within them, it just simply can't be contained.

Martin Buber once commented about the power of stories:

"A story must be told in such a way that it constitutes help in itself.

My grandfather was lame. Once they asked him to tell a story about his teacher. And he related how his teacher used to hop and dance while he prayed. My grandfather rose as he spoke, and he was so swept away by his story that he began to hop and dance to show how the master had done. From that hour he was cured of his lameness.

That's how to tell a story."
I'm fascinated not only how our very lives have been shaped by stories, but how powerful stories become in the authentic creative telling. Creativity is often simply pausing long enough to allow new ways to emerge for telling an old story. It is the very pause of contemplation that becomes the path that simply takes one deeper into the story itself.

The following is a simple, yet catchy and creative way of telling an everyday story.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Changing the World One Shoe at a Time

Many aspire to do something worthwhile. Others pray for some sort of mission or purpose to make a mark on the world. And, many have simply given up on attempting to make a difference at all.

Sometimes all it takes for hope to emerge for one to think that they can actually make a difference is personal contact with the one's in need. Such contact often leads way to compassion. Compassion when cultivated with vision creates a momentum of change.

This is exactly what happened to Blake Mycoskie, a former contestant of "The Amazing Race." While competing in Argentina two things transpired. While walking through the local shops he was inspired by the simplicity of the low-cost shoe known as alpargatas (espadrille-type shoes). At the same time, he was struck by the overwhelming number of children who were running the streets shoeless.

Once compassion converged with inspiration a vision emerged to put shoes on these marginalized children. The idea of TOMS Shoes was born. The concept was simple, for every shoe TOMS sold to a customer, they would donate another pair to a child in need.

How cool is that? I buy a pair of shoes and I know I've also bought a pair for a child who doesn't have a pair of their own. In three short years, TOMS has put shoes on more than 200,000 children.

Talking about taking a step to make a difference... I think I found my next pair of new shoes...

Thursday, February 05, 2009

The Paralyzing Enchantment of Cosumeristic Choices

Americas pride themselves as living in the home of the free. Free to do what we want, when we want, where we want, even how we want. We value independence, options and the power of personal choice. However, we don’t always see the illusion this breads. Rarely do we see the paralyzing effects that abound in abundance of choices.

As such, many in our society can no longer distinguish the difference between what one “wants” and what one actually “needs”. Multiple studies indicate such internal delusion and how our society has become enchanted by the wizardry of advertising. Advertising professor James Twitchell says, “Ads are what we know about the world around us.” It is reported that on average we are bombarded with no less than three thousand ads a day. Twitchell exposes how thought we often think we are “too smart to be seduced by such ‘branding,’ but we aren’t.” These ads create our longings. These longings are granted a multitude of choices to appease. And, these myriad of choices enslave us under the spell of dissatisfaction.

For example, consider the following: At the average supermarket there can be found about 85 different varieties and brands of crackers. 285 varieties of cookies, with at least 21 different options of chocolate chip. 275 varieties of cereal, including 24 oatmeal options and 7 "Cheerios" options. Or what about the 15 different flavors of bottled water? Water! We could go on and on…

few years ago, Barry Schwartz wrote an interesting book entitled, The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less. His primary thesis presented and then backed up by everyday realities and research is this:

"When people have no choice, life is almost unbearable. As the number of available choices increases, as it has in our consumer culture, the autonomy, control, and liberation this variety brings are powerful and positive. But as the number of choices keeps growing, negative aspects of having a multitude of options begin to appear. As the number of choices grows further, the negative escalate until we become overloaded. At this point, choice no longer liberates, but debilitates. It might even be said to tyrannize.”

The mentality of consumption as laid out well by Vincent Miller in his book Consuming Religion: Christian Faith and Practice in a Consumer Culture. Consumerism is rampant, yet so common that this sickness exists and spreads unseen, much like a cold transfers undetected in the shaking of the hands and passing of the glass. We all consume. Many become sick, but few of us can identify the cause. Unfortunately, many often unknowingly approach Church out of this same mindset, looking more to what they can “get out of it,” rather than how they can “be a part of it.”

It’s a challenge to reflect on how consumerism has intertwined itself with the fabric of my being. In many ways I’d like to think I’ve shed myself from the trappings. Yet, consumerism is kind of like driving your car that’s out-of-alignment, after awhile, you simply get used to driving that way and forget it is even an issue. I’m sure consumerism is affecting how I drive my life, I’m probably still unaware to the degree this misaligned value has been readjusting me.

That being said, while reading and reflecting I found my thoughts drifting to the things I do purchase and the values that reinforce my habits. Typically I’m pretty frugal, especially with cloths. The only new cloths I get are the those my wife buys and brings home to me. This is for two reasons. One, she’s a better fashion consultant than myself. And two, she is one heck of a deal hunter. Interestingly, my first question is always the same, regardless of how much I like the item, “How much was it.” I like nice looking cloths, I just don’t like spending much money on them. This is a noteworthy characteristic of mine, yet as I began to think about consumerism, I began to consider the person(s) this bargain may been exploiting and costing much. While I’ve cognitively known these injustices were a reality, I’ve just simply not really (personally) cared. My priorities have been more embedded in the saving money of my wages, with little concern for the wages (or lack thereof) another received from my savings. This is causing me to rethink through things a bit.

For anybody who doesn't have time or money to grab another book, below is a video of a talk Barry Schwartz gave at TED. In it he outlines how we can easily become enslaved by the multitude of choices we are granted. (Note: Barry uses a few words that may be offensive.)

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Free Audio Book: Not For Sale

Slavery isn't merely a black scare found in the history books of a bygone era. It's alive and thriving today. The miserable reality is that there are multitudes of modern slaves who cook, clean, sew and build our world. Unfortunately, in return many turn a blind eye to their situation or even their existence. David Batstone takes a stirring look at what's happening in our world today and how we can join in the abolishing of this reality.

An audio version of this book is available free through Download.

Who can turn down free stuff? Below is a link to a description of the book.

Not For Sale: The Return of the Global Slave Trade - And How We Can Fight It.

The publisher notes that, award-winning journalist David Batstone reveals the story of a new generation of 21st century abolitionists and their heroic campaign to put an end to human bondage. In his accessible and inspiring book, Batstone carefully weaves the narratives of activists and those in bondage in a way that not only raises awareness of the modern-day slave trade, but also serves as a call to action.

With 2007 bringing the 200th anniversary of the climax of the 19th century abolitionist movement, the world pays tribute to great visionary figures such as William Wilberforce of the United Kingdom and American Frederick Douglass for their remarkable strides toward framing slavery as a moral issue that people of good conscience could not tolerate. This anniversary serves not only as a commemorative date for battles won against slavery, but also as a reminder that slavery and bondage still persist in the 21st century. An estimated 27 million people around the globe suffer in situations of forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation from which they cannot free themselves. Trafficking in people has become increasingly transnational in scope and highly lucrative. After illegal drug sales and arms trafficking, human trafficking is today the third most profitable criminal activity in the world, generating $31 billion annually. As many as half of all those trafficked worldwide for sex and domestic slavery are children under 18 years of age.