Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Preaching Tips from Rocky, Neal and Me

One of the things I will never claim to be "good" at is preaching. Let me explain. On the rare occasion I will see a person or couple pass through, Radiant Fellowship. Afterwards or in an email they will notify me how I am not a "polished" speaker. I have had a couple refer some books to me so I may sound more like so and so. It's funny but all I can do is chuckle at those people. This is what a "good" preacher is supposed to sound like? I will admit that at times I do examine myself so that I can polish things up a bit. However, I am who I am...I have tried to go down the path of the "polished speaker" only later to be completely ticked at myself. So because he has a large church or she has a television outreach...that makes them a "good" preacher?

One of my favorite movie quotes comes from Rocky III. Mickey (Rocky's trainer) is talking to, Rocky because he lost who he really is. Mickey says, "Well Rock, let's put it this way-3 years ago you were supernatural, you was hard and you was nasty and you had this cast-iron jaw...but then, the worst thing happened to you that could happen to any fighter...you got civilized."

I began listening to more and more preaching back in the day of how I "should" sound and realized...wow...that is boring. Boring as, Dell Griffith in the video above. We need that pep talk from Neal Page. Listen to that lesson from "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles" and apply it to your preaching.

Here are a few other points on being yourself when you "preach".

1. Realize you are speaking about truth that can change the world.

2. Loose the shame. Remember what, Paul said "I am not ashamed of the gospel."

3. Disconnect from the fear of what people might think of you. BE YOURSELF! EMBRACE IT!

4. Get rid of the pursuit of popularity and social acceptance. Those that "get it" will "get you" and enjoy that. Sure, not everyone is going to agree with you 100% of the time. That is okay... this something I have had to come to grips with. In fact I have grown when people tell me about issues they don't agree with me on. However, they will probably love you overall for you simply being you. If I was setting out to be "socially acceptable" I would not have begun www.thatsnotmygod.com. BE DIFFERENT...BE YOURSELF!

5. Stay uncivilized! One person said "the reason why churches aren't growing today is that everyone is speaking the same language." Put aside the act of trying to look like something you possibly are not. Have fun with teaching/preaching and see what happens.

So onward I go being an unpolished speaker. You know what though...I love the people that enjoy it and I love the church I get to pastor. So here is to being a not so good speaker according to what possibly could be taught in seminaries. Here's to being myself!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Friend of the Devil is a Friend of Mine

The Grateful Dead is one of those bands that to a person who doesn’t know their music might write them off as “METAL”! When Tracy, and I began dating she assumed Pink Floyd, Phish, Grateful Dead and others were hard rock or metal. It is funny because I began playing “Us and Them” by Pink Floyd in the car. She actually enjoyed them. This can be the common misconception however based on these bands logos, t-shirts and overall branding. Why do Christian's equate skulls and skeletons to hard rock or evil?
In Blair Jackson's book on the Dead, Garcia is quoted as saying: "One day we were over at Phil's house...He had a big dictionary. I opened it and there was 'Grateful Dead', those words juxtaposed. It was one of those moments, you know, like everything else went blank, diffuse, just sort of oozed away, and there was GRATEFUL DEAD in big, black letters edged all around in gold, man, blasting out at me, such a stunning combination. So I said, 'How about Grateful Dead?' And that was it."

The dictionary entry reads along these lines:
GRATEFUL DEAD: The motif of a cycle of folk tales which begin with the hero coming upon a group of people ill-treating or refusing to bury the corpse of a man who had died without paying his debts. He gives his last penny, either to pay the man's debts or to give him a decent burial. Within a few hours he meets with a travelling companion who aids him in some impossible task, gets him a fortune or saves his life. The story ends with the companion disclosing himself as the man whose corpse the hero had befriended.(Funk & Wagnall's Dictionary).
Though I do not necessarily condone the Grateful Dead's lifestyle (you know what I mean) I do find it interesting that one of their songs that made their "best of" album (see picture) really has a Christian title.
The song “A Friend of the Devil” was introduced in concert in 1970. Think about it...everyone throughout scripture especially during Jesus earthly ministry was a person Jesus loved, and died for. From the Pharisees to Judas they were a friend of the Devil whether they knew it or not. What is quite ironic is that Jesus died for them as much as he died for you and me. He called them...you....me.....a friend! John 15:15(NIV) I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 
It’s funny but if Jesus loved everyone. If Jesus associated with the prostitutes, tax collectors, etc. We ought to as well. Truly if Jesus loves everyone and even calls us his “friend.” Would it be safe to assume that “A Friend of the Devil” really is a friend of mine? I think so. 

Love your neighbor as yourself.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Christian Radio...Why I don't Listen

So let me set the scene. You are sitting back enjoying a quiet evening reading after a normally long day. Not a bad day...just a long one. You decide to check your Facebook one more time for the night and one of your friends informs you "hey someone is talking about you". Let me clarify that I truly am grateful that I found out from a friend. I begin to check my emails and nothing. There is no message from anyone. Facebook? No private messages. Out of curiosity I check the church web page stats along with www.thatsnotmygod.com and churchatthepub.com. The stats are off the chart with how many hits we are getting. I begin to click on the referring links and find out I am receiving hits from negative press. I do believe that even bad publicity is publicity none the less. However it tends to take a bit of the wind out of your sails when it is coming from two prominent “Christian” radio stations in Wisconsin. 
I fully understand the fact that when you go public with a ministry and do not stay confined simply to what happens within a church one can expect to get some critiquing. This I am okay with. However it is saddening when ministries/churches base their messages around critiquing and putting down other ones. Look at the archives of some of these churches and radio shows. They wouldn't have a message if it wasn't for talking ill about other ministries. This simply tells me that they do not have much of a ministry at all and the only way to look good is by putting down other ones. Now, I will not list these two radio stations simply because I do not want to give them a single ounce of publicity. However, it is quite hurtful when a church or pastor is doing some cool things that God has placed on their heart only to have someone come along and call them out by name. This happened to me with a chur....no I won’t call it a church....meeting in Milwaukee where this (not pastor) leader called me out as well. In the secular world they call this “compensating” for something they are lacking. In the church world I refer to it as Rob Bell does...“steeple envy”. Many ministries are guilty of pointing something out once in awhile. This does not mean it is okay. I have always strived NEVER to mention other people by name simply because...THEY ARE PEOPLE. These radio stations really have an axe to grind with "Church at the Pub" and some of the message series I have done namely "Welcome to My Nightmare" and "An Outcast Christmas." 
Yes I ought to get over it blah blah blah. I get that. This morning I even made two phone calls to talk to these talk show hosts one on one. This proved to be futile. I did this as to be biblical and confront the one I have issue with. No doubt some reading this will say “get over it man.” I would only ask that you consider what would happen if someone heard about the job you were doing only to find out you are being called out BY NAME on a radio show about how awful you are. Not only on two radio shows but on their Facebook page as well. 
So...there you have it. Yes, I will get over it. This will not be the last time this happens but I am not sure I will ever get used to it. You get hit by a hammer once it hurts. You get hit by it ten more times...guess what? It still hurts. Christian radio to me has a few good things going for it. Overall though...yeah...I have not listened to them it a long long time. For this I am grateful.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Easter Series 2012 Announced

A couple of weeks ago we announced our Easter series at Radiant Fellowship. Simply click on the picture to go to the Radiant Fellowship website. From there scroll down to the lower right and watch the promo video. Feel free to comment! We will be streaming all of these services live.