Joel Osteen Preaches at Mars Hill Church

Well kinda.

If you don’t know this smiley fellow it is America’s pastor. He pastors the largest church in America, that meets in the old arena of the Houston Rockets.

they even have two waterfalls!!

Well Mark Driscoll began his new sermon series this week on the book of Philippians centering around the main theme of biblical joy. Toward the start of the sermon he plays about a three minute clip of Joel Osteen preaching the Christian life and then offers some critique It is worth listening to.

Also view this clip of John Piper speaking about the dangers of the incredible growth of the health and wealth version of the Gospel.

I say all of this not to just rag on Joel Osteen, but because we live in a culture that is dying for its ears to be tickled and many people are willing to do so. We have to realize that if we tell people that above all else God’s central concern is for you to be happy and rich, and you are not, than that means God has failed. This means God has let you down and not delivered and done what you thought he was supposed to. This only leads people away from the living water that Jesus offer us in John 4. People are thirsty and are searching for saviors, and freedom, which contrary to popular sentiment, cannot be found in a big bank account or cosmetic surgery. To point them in the direction of a god who will simply act as a concierge for their whims and materialistic desires, will only leave people feeling disillusioned. We should point them toward the one true fount of life, Jesus. Christ crucified on our behalf who gives us new life, by the atonement of our sin.

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If Awesome was a person it would be Tyrone Wells

Last night Crystal and I went to see Tyrone Wells; who in my limited opinion is one of the best musicians around. His songs are innovative. His lyrics are original and moving. His performance is one of a kind, and his vocals are off the charts. This guy was just born to entertain. I don’t know anyone else who could do a mash up of songs including, The Police, Marvin Gaye, and Justin Timberlake and then throw in a little yodeling to top it all off. I mean we are talking about the total package here, so if you ever get a chance to see him perform do it you will thank me.

But there is probably a more enduring reason why I have such an appreciation for Tyrone Wells. As Crystal and I started dating she turned my on to him and a lot of his songs now carry with them special memories from when we were dating. We would take trips down to SoCal to watch him play at a small little coffee shop and then drive around town listening to his CD’s. One of his songs became “our song” and we danced to it at our wedding. The song is entitled “Home to me.” Which was on his very first CD

Well this post is not just about Tyrone Wells it is also about how awesome my big sister Kammi is. My birthday was a few weeks ago and she went way out of her way to find out that Tyrone Wells would be in town and surprised us with the tickets. But here is the really awesome part; third song into his set Tyrone says, “Kammi wanted me to play this song for Crystal and Ryan tonight who danced to it at their wedding, so this one is for you.” Talk about unexpected and shocking, Crystal and I were both just blown away. It was special and really awesome. So Kammi if your reading this thank you thank you, Crystal and I now have a new memory that we will long carry with us.

Last if you have not listened to Tyrone Wells, you need to. Go to itunes and download at least these three songs.

1. What are we fighting for

2. Wondering where you are

3. California

Matt feel free to recommend some others since I know you have heard most of his songs.

Confessions: “La, la, la … I can’t hear you”

“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.”
Romans 12:3

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When we moved back to Las Vegas, the plan was to plant a church in 2-3 years. I’m not even sure if the pastor I was under thought this was a reality for me, or if he thought I had potential, and would be a good guy to have around irregardless.  There were, however, many voices of concern that were made.

A good pastor friend of mine stood out. He said that he didn’t believe a guy should plant a church until he was 35 years old. His main point centered around the missional concept that a church planter will attract people on a ten year age radius. This being the case, 35 is the ideal planting age for a pastor becuase he will attract young professionals and young families, and those two groups will attract others. Not only do I agree with this radius, but it was what I used as a reason for a 26 year old to plant a church in Las Vegas. This would allow us to hit a radius that we are barely hitting, a young/hip church that could reach an unreached group in Vegas: the young/hip 18-35 year old demographic.

While I do not think I should have been questioning whether the concept was right, I do think it would have behooved me to ask whether I had the capacity and character to swim against the grain and be the man that reaches that demographic. Or to say it differently, instead of questioning the validity of the concepty, I should have questioned whether it applied to me or not. The reason I couldn’t do that:

The image “https://i1.wp.com/farm1.static.flickr.com/44/140673221_5a963fc7a2.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

(note: the picture is the answer. other note: the bear is holding its hands over its ears.)

I would even clarify that our hearts are broken for Las Vegas. Especially for the young adults. It kills me that most churches are geared towards young families almost exclusively. Not that these are bad, or that we even have enough churches geared that way (especially with only 5-8% of our city going to an evangelical church on Sundays). It just that there are hardly any venues for young adults in Las Vegas to hear about Jesus in a context that is relevant to them. This was my heart for wanting to be the 26 year-old pastor who planted a church to reach that demographic.

But the question arises when a young guy is unwilling to ask himself the hard questions about his ability or preparedness to accomplish the task: who’s vision is he carrying out; his, or God’s?

May we all, always be willing to ask this. That God may get his glory, and we might be empowered by the Holy Spirit to do the impossible: build His Kingdom.

 

matt

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Now playing: Derek Webb – I Hate Everything (But You)
via FoxyTunes

National Porn Sunday

Its not what you think. Although I am sure when I look at the blog in the next few days I will see all sorts perverted search terms that brought people to this blog because of the title. No instead I am writing about National Porn Sunday, which is put on by xxxchurch.com. I am sure most of you out there have heard of these guys but if you haven’t they minister to porn stars and those suffering with pornography addictions.  Well this weekend was what they have designated “National Porn Sunday.”  It is intended that churches will talk about this highly taboo subject and raise awareness of just how devastating it has become amongst the body.   They also put out an awesome accountability software that is free! Every guy who is honest with himself and serious about having integrity with his online usage should have it on their computers.

xxxchurch also has a podcast put out and a 30 days to purity program for those in need. I highlight all of this because porn is the elephant in the room as they put it. No one talks about it no one wants to deal with it but there it remains, destroying ministries and relationships. The stats are overwhelming and if you want to read further just go check out their website. All of this to say that if you are losing a battle to pornography get help. Find someone you can talk to and people who will give you the grace and accountability you need to walk in the light. This really is the last area any guy should try and be prideful.

If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1: 6-8)

The Silverdome Revival

In his weekly NFL column Bill Simmons points out what Jesus is doing in what I call, “The Silverdome Revival”:

GOD’S TEAM

11. Detroit
There’s a higher power working for these guys, and that’s not even a joke: David Fleming’s ESPN The Magazine feature about Jon Kitna contained the follow nugget: “Since (Kitna) signed a four-year, $11.5 million deal in March 2006, about 20 Lions have given their lives to
Christ.”

I thought that number seemed startlingly high, but just to make sure, I called my buddy House to see how many guesses he would make before he reached “20.” He started out by guessing three, then five, then seven. Then he yelled, “You’re lying!” Then he made four more guesses before getting to “15” and giving up. When I told him the answer, he screamed, “Whaaaaaat??? Jon Kitna needs to be stopped!” I thought that was funny, especially because House was drinking a beer in a bar when I called him to play the game. (He’s definitely headed to hell, and not just because he’s naming his fantasy hoops team “TRUCK PARTY” after one of the N.Y. Post headlines about the Marbury/Knicks intern sexual escapade.) But clearly, SOMETHING is going on with the Lions here, right? Twenty teammates???? Don’t we need more information about this? Did any beat writers convert? What about ball boys and trainers? It’s the single most fascinating story of the 2007 season other than Moss’ comeback and Turner and Cottrell’s slowly turning Tomlinson into a serial killer.

Here’s how you know this is Jesus – THIS IS JON KITNA. This is not the first time that God has supernaturally blessed a quarterback for his glory.

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Confessions: Fall 2006

Dead flies make the perfumer’s ointment give off a stench;

so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.
Ecclesiastes 10:1

I am not sure about the cultural context of flies in perfume. I would only guess that whether these dead flies were in a barrel of perfume waiting to be bottled, or already bottled themselves, you would not smell the stench at first. All you would smell would be the lovely fragrance of perfume, only to inevitably end of up smelling like ass. This verse then, is quite a fitting analogy for Vicky and I moving back to Las Vegas.

Is it honorable to want to reach a city for Christ? Is it wise to move you and your wife to that city when you want to start your family, and the grandparents would be right there? Is it honorable to take a job serving someone else’s vision while allowing God to prepare you to be a church planter? Is it wise to rent a house with a large living room to facilitate hospitality, and allow for small group meetings? Yes. This is precisely how my wife and I oriented our life when we moved back to Vegas (er, North Las Vegas). I have no doubt that this was both a wise and honorable way to orient our lives.

https://i2.wp.com/images.amazon.com/images/P/B0000029F8.01.LZZZZZZZ.jpg Only there were flies at the bottom of the bottle. We’ll call these flies hubris and arrogance.

While we never would have admitted it, we thought we were God’s gift to Las Vegas. We though that God and Las Vegas were both lucky that God called us down here to clean-up the church culture and really reach the city. Most churches in Vegas were either too “seeker”, or just completely out of touch with the culture. We hardly knew of any that preached Jesus clearly and exclusively for getting right with God. Good thing we had it all figured out and had come. All we had to do was spend some time in a local body, which was lucky enough to have us mind you, and then we were ready to be the heroes of Las Vegas.

Mind you, that these thoughts were at the bottom of the bottle, and if we saw them, or were even aware of them, they would have been dealt with and removed. Only, like most of our sin, they were flies at the bottom of the perfume bottle. And while I smelled like a good pastor to the church I was going to at first, it would not be long until I smelled a bit funny, and not much longer until I didn’t smell good at all.

This, however, is all retrospection. In September 2006 we were struggling to keep our financial support, and both find jobs. Myself and part-time, and Vicky a full-time. Only Vicky was so burned out by our previous ministry endeavor that she needed about 2 months to recoup. Vicky became increasingly isolated, becuase, try as she may she could not connect well with the women at the new church, and even though she was in the same city as her family but at least an hour drive away. Plus, she was a type A personally that needed to rest. That’s never a good combination. At this time I was struggling to understand the philosophy of the church we were at. And with neither of us able to connect well outside of our home, we became isolated to ourselves, our thoughts of what church should look like, and an ever increases “us. v. them mentality”.

Did anything good happen in this season? Well, UNLV beat Reno in Basketball.

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The Samaritan woman and Nicodemus

These two encounters seem to be linked to one and other intentionally. They tell us much on their own, but possibly even more when we compare them to each other.

In both encounters we have characters who Jesus reveals to that he is the fulfillment of Old Testament promises. In both encounters Jesus ends up in theological conversations, one about baptism (Nicodemus) and place of worship (Samaritan woman). Both also seem intrigued by Jesus and are puzzled by many of the things that he says.

The contrasts are also many. Nicodemus meets with Jesus in the secrecy of night. This is because he has much at stake. He is an established religious figure in the community, and could lose much of his status by being associated with person such as Jesus. It is better for Nicodemus to visit with Jesus in the night, so he can explore and hear his ideas without facing judgment by his peers. The Samaritan woman also meets Jesus in isolation but it is during the day. She has nothing to lose because she has already lost it all. We come to discover that she has had multiple husbands and is probably at the well at this most inconvenient time because she has been shunned by the other women of the town. She has no religious status and even by the Samaritan belief system God would surely not be pleased with her or have room for her in the community. One must meet in secrecy the other as an outcast.

What is also interesting about the Samaritan woman encounter is that many social boundaries are crossed in this engagement. She is a woman, a Samaritan and sexually immoral three major strikes for why Jesus should not give her the time of day. Yet we also see that she is a learner. As Jesus gives her more and more information she acts on it. She is a great example of a disciple because as she moves from ignorance to knowledge she begins to act upon it. Even going into her town and telling all to come and meet Jesus. Some think that she is trying to divert Jesus after he confronts her sexual impurity by asking where to worship, but I think there is more there. In reality for a Samaritan or Jew the natural response one would have been to go to the temple to atone for sins. It could be that as she was confronted with her sins by Jesus she wanted to act and do what she believed one is supposed to do for repentance; go to temple.

By putting these two stories together we get a glimpse of Jesus’ forthcoming missional movement. As he will command his followers to go to Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth. It is like a sneak preview of the mission that is to come. It will know no bounds and be for everyone. For the ultra religious and for the outcasts, they all need to be told of the “living water” that Jesus offers.