living a lifestyle of worship

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I went to visit a friend in prison the other day. There is an overall feeling of despair at the prison. There are family members that have traveled great distances to see their loved ones. Little boys and girls dressed in their Sunday best looking forward to seeing Daddy for the first time in months, maybe even years. You can feel the sense of hopelessness. I can only imagine the hardships that these families face on a daily basis, facing the struggles of everyday life without the benefit of a Father, or Husband to be by their side.

Before you get into the visitation room you have to sit outside the prison visiting offices and wait for them to call a number that you have on your visiting slip. There are benches and picnic tables for you to sit at while you wait. I sat down and listened for my number to be called.
As I sat there I began thinking about what we call "living a lifestyle of worship". I talk about this with my Christian friends and we agree that we shouldn't just worship while we are in church but that we should experience Gods presence in our everyday lives. The theory is that when we experience God in our everyday lives that this will somehow minister to those around us. Not that we are trying to preach at every chance, but that when we focus on loving God that somehow this can affect people around us without us even trying. Ministry would be a natural outflow of our relationship with God.
To be honest I was having a hard time with this. I haven't been "feeling it" lately. It kind of felt like it was just another cute Christian saying that we throw around to make ourselves feel better. But I wanted to believe it, I wanted it to be true. I just didn't feel like it had been true in my life, at least lately.
In this outdoor waiting area I sat there and prayed silently. It was a beautiful sunny day and as I was praying I looked around at the hills and the trees and the clouds that were floating above me. I had an incredible sense of God's presence as I talked to Him and enjoyed the beauty of His creation.
It was a beautiful sensation, I could feel His presence. I remember looking over towards the prison and seeing a small bird behind the gates with barbed wire. The bird hopped around a bit and then took off, flying past the gates and into the sky. I watched the bird until I couldn't see it anymore. As I was watching this and praying silently a song came to mind.

Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
When Jesus is my portion? My constant friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

I sing because I'm happy,
I sing because I'm free,
His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.

I began quietly humming this song to myself as I watched the bird fly past the prison gates. This felt like worship to me, just me and God, spending some time together. As I sat there in silence the woman who had been sitting next to me said out loud, "His eye is on the sparrow... and I know He's watching over me." I hadn't realized that anyone could hear me. I was actually a little embarrassed. I smiled at her and said, "He does indeed." Then she leaned over and said, "Thank you. That was God's confirmation for me today." I just smiled at her and nodded.

The thing that amazed me when I though about this later in the day was that this just seemed so natural. It wasn't spooky, or weird, it just seemed so natural, like it was supposed to be that way. I was just enjoying God's presence, worshiping Him in my everyday life, and somehow it ministered to someone else without me even trying. This is what living a lifestyle of worship is all about.

I think the key to finding this "place" of worship is actively looking for it. We need to quiet the busyness, the frantic pace, and the noise that surrounds us and look for God in our everyday life. I believe that when we do this we will find Him in the most unlikely places.


good quote from a good book

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"Close your eyes, friend, and imagine. You're high up in the air, in an aisle seat, looking past your neighbor and out the window. Down below you is a mass of cloud cover looking like fresh snow, marbled, marked with divots and craggy monuments of white. Imagine that your understanding of reality is defined by this view: what you see out the window and what's proximate to you there in the plane's cabin. The airplane and its passengers are what you might call a small, unique closed system moving inside what appears to be a vast space with a visible boundary of white mass below. Many well-meaning Christians, gathered together in various sects, present Christianity in just this way. They invite you to view reality from a very small window, and they are quite certain they're providing you with an absolutely objective view of reality. If you join them, you are expected to see as the sect sees. Failure to embrace their view of reality is sometimes commensurate with failure to be a follower of Jesus. And when people say you're not, and you are, it is very hurtful--and very troubling. For sects such as these, 'anything other than absolute, unqualified, mathematically certifiable authenticity betrayed a soul adrift.'
Let's imagine some more. Get out of your seat, reach into the compartment above, and carry the yellow package to the rest room.

It's a parachute.

Strap it on.

Now go to the big door with the red sign, open it, and jump.

When you pass through the white stuff, pull the cord. As you pass through the clouds, down below, previously hidden from your view, is a world of wonder and wickedness, joy and pain, sex, truth, and lies. It's a place full of story where words are as plentiful as stars in the sky. And there's land and promise. Land where God walked. Land belonging to Him, promise belonging to Him. It's a place where men and women, boys and girls, either serve themselves or serve the God of the land and sky and all that ever was and is. This land and sea, this earth and water, is the jazz of God and humanity: order and improvisation, beauty and ashes, boundary and freedom, choice and counterchoice, mistakes and all. It is a place of storytelling and storied living."


i love these online quizzes

I am the “SPANK-INATOR”!!!

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What is your “SINNER” name?

Answer these simple questions to find out your “sinner” name!!!

Pick the one statement below that you identify with most. Then, match up the corresponding letter with the number at the bottom of the quiz to find your “sinner” name!!!

1. I have a hard time staying away from porn sites when the computer is on and no one is around.

2. I enjoy engaging in sexual activity with people of the same sex. No one knows, but if my friends knew I don’t think they would let me come to church anymore.

3. I look forward to quiet nights at home alone so that I can touch myself inappropriately.

4. I have a hard time controlling my mouth. I use the Lord’s name in vain quite frequently.

5. I love to talk about other people’s problems. It’s not really gossip as long as I’m passing along a “prayer request” right?

6. I love to eat. I don’t care if it makes me fat. I don’t care if I am “desecrating the temple”.

7. I’m married, but I have sexual relations with someone other than my wife/husband.

8. I shoplift sometimes, but only when I’m positive I can get away with it.

9. I take scriptures out of context and twist them to make them say what I want them to.

10. I am as concerned, if not more, about my appearance on Sunday morning than I am about the content of the service, or my spiritual progress. I am smokin’ hot baby!

11. I do not have all the things that I deserve. Others around me have way more than me, and aren’t half the Christian that I am.

12. I see lukewarm Christians all around me. I wish they would all grow up. I feel that God has given me the gift of discernment and I feel it is my Christian duty to show these sinners the error of their ways.

13. Ohmigawd... what's wrong with me? I answered yes to ALL the questions!!!

All right kids. Take a minute to pick the one statement that rings true for you. Think about it. You don’t want to end up with the wrong “sinner” name!

Once you have picked your answer scroll down and match up the number from your answer to the numbered answers in the list of “sinner” names below. Share the answer with your friends. Come back after your sin pattern changes and take the quiz again! Who knows, maybe you’ll cycle through several names over the course of time?

Answer Key:
1. The Porn-meister
2. The Homo-nator
3. The Spank-inator
4. The Cuss-meister
5. The Yap-meister
6. The Glutton-ator
7. The Cheat-meister
8. The Theif-inator
9. The Heretic-inator
10. The Vain-meister
11. The Envy-inator
The Judge-meister
13. Apparently, you are the Antichrist

The above survey is obviously a joke. I got the idea from my friend the Porn-meister in a recent comment. The idea of being identified by your sin got me thinking. I thought I’d have a little fun with it. Don’t take it too seriously, don’t get your panties in a twist. It’s OK to laugh at ourselves every once in a while… honest.


black church conference creates network to fight anti-gay bias

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At the first Black Church Summit, participants formed a new national network to fight discrimination against gays and lesbians in African American churches.

More than 200 African American ministers and gay activists from across the country gathered at the two-day meeting near downtown Atlanta to discuss how to make black churches more accepting of gays.

Participants said bias within black churches has not only led gays and lesbians to feel excluded, it has contributed to the "down low" phenomenon -- of men having sex with men while maintaining a heterosexual identity. Bias has been seen as increasing the incidence of AIDS and HIV infection among African Americans, especially women.

Many attendees agreed that churches are the largest and strongest institutions in the black community and that everyone should feel welcome in them.

The new Black Church Social Justice Community Action will work in churches throughout the country to promote a black, faith-based movement that supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and opposes bans on same-sex marriage.

Rev. Al Sharpton, who has been vocal in his support for including gays in faith communities and for same-sex marriage since his run for president in 2004, said he welcomed the effort.

"It's not a question of bringing gays and lesbians into the church," Sharpton said. "It's about having a discussion because they are already there, and not just in the choirs. We can't ignore part of the congregation. I'm willing to take whatever criticism is necessary to start the dialogue."

The Rev. Ken Samuel, pastor at the Victory for the World church in Stone Mountain, Ga., said he condemned homosexuality when he started his mega-church, and his membership grew. One day Samuel had a revelation, remembering a childhood friend who committed suicide because he felt ostracized by the church for his sexuality. When he started preaching inclusion, he said, he lost about half of his 5,000 members.

"There is a disconnect between religion and reality, and it contributed to the death of a young man," Samuel said. "That set me on this path to try and figure it out. We have to find ways to incorporate it with the Bible the same as was done with slavery. The Bible condones slavery. We have to interpret rather than exclude."

What are your thoughts on this?


you've got mail

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I just got one of these Blackberry phones that have all the bells and whistles. I am connected at all times. I can do it all, email, text message, IM, web browsing, contacts, calendar, and even pong! It beeps at me every five minutes or so when a new email comes in. You don't realize how much stinking email you get until something beeps at you every single time you get one!
I just read an article in Relevant Magazine about our email habits. It said:

Email traffic over the World Wide Web has grown from 5.1 billion messages a day in 2000 to 135.6 billion messages daily in 2005. Worldwide email traffic is projected to grow from 171 billion messages per day in 2006, to 331 billion messages per day by 2009.
Here's a look at the frequency of our email habits:

60% check email while on vacation
41% check email in the morning before going to work

25% never go more than a few days without checking email
4% check email while in the bathroom

I can say that thanks to my new Blackberry I am one of the proud, the few, the ones able to answer email while on the pot.

Speaking of pot, I remembered reading about another study on the effects of email on our brains. It was a research study by Hewlett Packard UK. Here is a small excerpt of their study:

Info Mania, is it reducing your IQ?
"The abuse use of “always-on” office technology has led to a nationwide state of “Info-Mania” where UK workers are literally addicted to checking messages. Mobile technology offers massive productivity benefits in the hands of those who know how to use it, but irresponsible use means that workers are not seeing the benefits they should.

New research, commissioned on behalf of technology experts Hewlett Packard, reveals that 62% of adults are addicted to checking messages out of office hours and whilst on holiday. Half of workers will respond to an email immediately or within 60 minutes and one in five people are ‚“happy‚” to interrupt a business or social meeting to respond to an email or telephone message.

Perhaps more worrying is the effect of Info-Mania on workers IQ. Far from making workers more productive, the findings of a new scientific experiment reveal that those who “over juggle‚” and who constantly disrupt their day to read and respond to messages reduce their IQ significantly. In a series of tests carried out by Dr Glenn Wilson, Reader in Personality at the Institute of Psychiatry, University of London, an average worker’s functioning IQ falls ten points when distracted by ringing telephones and incoming emails. This drop in IQ is more than double the four point drop seen following studies on the impact of SMOKING MARIJUANA!!!"

At least email won't give you the munchies.


good quote from a good book

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"So more and more I discovered, progressively, that I do love all things dark, all things secular. While somewhere deep inside I was still committed to Christ and was still fully committed to the Godly development of the ministry I work in, I began to wonder where my real love lie.

I knew that I had committed to Christ in a gut-wrenching moment of conviction nearly five years ago, and that I had been up and down ever since. The thing was, I had to wonder if my faith at some point in time had left its authentic roots and moved to more cultural grounds. I’ve found it is bad to have a faith that is based in the surrounding culture. This is different than having a culturally relevant faith.

A culturally relevant faith is a faith where you do not shun the outside world; where you know and respect and include yourself in the lives of the very people you are trying to reach. But a faith based in surrounding culture is a faith that is there only because your friends do it, or because it gave you a social group that you don’t want to leave, or because your family tells you that you need it, or because other Christians tell you it’s essential to keeping your salvation.

I don’t want that kind of faith. I want a faith where I do follow God because I sincerely want to. I want a faith where I do the right things because God would have me do them. But that, in essence, is the problem. I involve myself in the picture too much. I want not to be human. Look back at how many times I mentioned myself in that sentence, versus how many times God is mentioned: I want a faith where I do the right things because God would have me do them. It’s a three-to-one- ratio.

In the deep, intimate corridors in my life reserved only for private conversation with my own thoughts, Satan has convinced me that I want to do Godly things, and that I want to live in a Godly way. Satan knows I will put the pressure on myself, and since I am a human, sinful by nature to the core, I will fail miserably. I will tell myself that I’m a bad Christian, and will continue to let my faith go because I was never good at it in the first place. Or perhaps I will succeed, only because I don’t want to loose face in front of my Christian friends. But that would not be authentic Christianity; that would be cultural or social Christianity.

God knows I can’t live this way. Why did I fail so bad and do what I did that night? Why have I had a better time living borderline than living as a follower of Christ? Because I tried to do it. And frankly, I suck at trying to follow Christ on my own, without His help. We all suck at it. I do, you do. Every church and ministry leader throughout history does. And even in all of our suckiness, we are prideful. We as humans want to make it ourselves, and not ask anyone for any help, not even God."

Jeff Nash
Churches, Pubs, & Hostels

CLICK HERE to order "Churches, Pubs, & Hostels"
CLICK HERE to read more of Jeff's work.


judge allows man to change name to "Jesus Christ"

Jesus Christ, AKA Jose Luis Espinal, 42, of Washington Heights, NY said he was "happy" and "grateful" that a judge recently approved his name change. Espinal said he was moved to seek the name change about a year ago when it dawned on him, "I am the person that is that name."
The judge defended her decision by saying,
"Espinal's reasons were primarily those applicable to his own private religious beliefs and he stated no desire to use his proposed name to secure publicity, to proselytize, to fund-raise or advise others that he had been cloaked by the courts or government with a religious authority."
Espinal, who is unemployed, unmarried and has no children, said, "This was not done for any reason other than I am that person. You're dealing with the real deal."

In related news:
A pennsylvania
man named Paul S. Sewell has taken to signing his name "God". He claims that this is legal and acceptable. The Berks County Registrars office isn't so sure. "The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation accepted it on my driver's license. I have a credit card with it," he said. "It shouldn't be a problem." As the owner of a bail enforcement agency Paul says he's used to being called God, "Whenever I go to arrest somebody, they say, 'Oh, God, give me another chance. Oh, God, let me go. I'll turn myself in tomorrow'".

Interesting side note: Apparently "God" is a registered Republican.


when I said "create excellent art" this is NOT what I had in mind...

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Mark Fox, AKA "Lil' Markie" is a christian recording artist. As far as I know he's the first christian artist to parlay a multipersonality disorder into a traveling "music ministry". Mark sings as himself then switches voices to Lil' Markie, taking on a really, really creepy voice. He says he's singing as his younger self, singing as a child.
All I know is that it's super freaky. I'll share a few of the hits with you.
First CLICK HERE to check out "Diary of an unborn child."
Then CLICK HERE to listen to "Story of an alcoholic father."

And finally... The pièce de résistance...

CLICK HERE to see live video of Lil' Markie in all his glory!!! It's a large file but SO worth the wait.
You've GOT to stick around for the second half!