When Faith Gets "Messy"

I have said it before, but I continue to be intrigued by what happens when we accept Gods call to live in community with one another. When we honestly share in one anothers burdens, we expose ourselves to what, in my opinion, becomes the hardest part of our faith. The “questions that have no answers” become living examples and challenge the very core of our finite understanding of an infinite God. When all of this happens, faith gets “messy”.

Faith doesn’t just get “messy” in community, it can get messy when we look in the mirror. I believe when we open ourselves to “whatever God has planned for us”, it can be the ultimate “be careful what you wish for”. We want the drive thru version of understanding and knowing Gods plan for our lives. It would be so much easier if we could just pull up, receive our instructions (good or bad) and drive away with a purpose. That’s not often how it works. We are asked to wait. We are forced to use our own understanding of what would happen if (insert calling here). Our plans and calculations get in the way and faith gets “messy”.

This morning as I pondered both the examples of so many I know where faith has gotten “messy” and even in my own life, I was reminded of a very important point. God never promised our faith wouldn’t get messy. Hard as I searched the concordance, I couldn’t find a single scriptural reference for that. He never promised smooth sailing. He never promised drive thru discernment. He asked for obedience. He asked that we trust that God is so much bigger than our understanding. He asked that we trust even more when faith gets “messy”.

Somewhere in the Middle” by Casting Crowns

CD Review – Casting Crowns

999_1 I have always had this conspiracy theory that record labels and artists follow a pattern to get more $$ from the people that enjoy their music. If you follow the pattern it goes like this… Artist makes 2 CD’s, a Greatest Hits and then a Christmas CD. With this in mind, when I saw that Casting Crowns was coming out with a Christmas CD, it came with a bit of a roll of the eyes. I gotta say this to Mark Hall and the gang….MY FAULT!

I know Christmas is only a few short weeks away, but this CD is a great download and purchase for this season. I am convinced there are only like 10 or 20 Christmas songs and every band remakes them and sells it. Yet Casting Crowns found away to re-mix some of their own music (“While You Were Sleeping“) and great worship songs (“Christmas Offering“) like the one below. While there are a few of the familiar favorites on this CD (“Silent Night“, “Oh Come All Ye Faithful“), they have done a great job.

So if you are looking for a CD to put in the car or iPod this season, I highly recommend “Peace On Earth” by Casting Crowns. Mark and the gang have done a great job of reminding each of us of the reason for the season. I even enjoyed it enough to not consider it a conspiracy theory!

Christmas Offering” by Casting Crowns from the CD “Peace on Earth

Weight Loss Challenge

So there you have it! Two guys I have the utmost respect and admiration for. Whose team are you on and will you be joining in the challenge? You gotta admit that the “Casting Pounds” line was hilarious. Vote early, vote often!

Movie Review – "Fireproof"

Monday night Heather and I finally had the opportunity to go see the movie “Fireproof” (thanks Amanda and Dave). I know we’re pretty late in seeing this, but it was worth the wait. I’m always a bit hesitant when I go see a movie that everyone tells me is great because it sets the bar before I even get there. It did not disappoint though. Yes, the acting was less then Academy Award, but I anticipated that going in. You need to see past that to the message. It’s a message we all need to hear.

Being the way I am wired, I was checking out the music that played throughout the movie. The placement of “Slow Fade” by Casting Crowns was perfect. To take nothing away from the movie, I will just say it is worth seeing if you have not already. It is the definition of a date movie. You can also check out the soundtrack (here). They covered a lot of ground in this film so I wanted to take some time to think it all over. This song by Warren Barfield (featured in the film) really gives the best summary of the message of Fireproof.

Love is not a fight, but something worth fighting for“.

Teachable Tuesday

I’m off to Cleveland the next few days for an event at Jacobs Progressive Field. In my absense, I’m going to let Mark Hall take over the blog today with another teaching video. A great reminder as I head off to do another presentation in another location, that my job is not why I am going. I’ve got a much greater purpose for driving to Cleveland. I have a much larger goal than delivering another speech.

Yep…they were great

cc_press_lo.jpg

The Casting Crowns concert last night didn’t disappoint. This was my first time to see them live. I don’t go to many concerts, but there is a short list that I am starting to create of “must see” acts (Chris Tomlin, MercyMe). You can now add Casting Crowns. John Waller was terrific as well. With all of the familiar faces in the crowd, I couldn’t help but wonder how incredible Heaven will be one day. Makes me want to break out in a chorus of “When we all get to Heaven”!

One of the more reflective moments came during the song “Somewhere in the Middle”. Sitting 2 rows in front of us was a couple from our church. Sitting directly behind me were two guys I went to college with. They are 2 guys that know me when I wasn’t..well…who I am today. I couldn’t help but smile at the lyrics –

“Somewhere between who I am and who I used to be.
Somewhere in the middle you’ll find me
Somewhere between the wrong and the right
Somewhere between the darkness and the light
Somewhere between who I was and who you’re making me
Somewhere in the middle you’ll find me.”

There couldn’t have been a more accurate representation of those lyrics. Behind me were 2 guys that represented “who I was” and in front of me sat a couple that represented “who you’re making me”. Ironically enough…I was somewhere in the middle.

Somewhere in the Middle” by Casting Crowns

Quotable

“Today there are thousands of people sitting in church pews every Sunday who look like they’ve got it together on the outside but are broken on the inside. People who want to grab a Christian brother or sister by the shoulders and shout, “I’m not together! I’m in trouble! My relationship with God is terrible! I feel like a fake!” Instead, they pass out another bulletin or stack another chair, afraid to reach out, because everyone else looks like they have life’s problems whipped”

Michael English from the book “The Prodigal Comes Home

Stained Glass Masquerade” by Casting Crowns

"Black Friday"

cart.pngIf you’re like me, you are probably just about to go crazy after all of the “Black Friday” ads on TV today. The parade this morning was out of control. It was like a 3 hour commercial with a little parade mixed in occasionally. If you’re headed out in the morning or just making your own list and checking it twice, below are my recommendations for Christmas gifts this year. I’ve personally tested each one. They are lead free and will make great gifts. I highly recommend them all. Happy hunting!

1. “Iris to Iris” by Building 429. Might be my favorite CD this year. Can’t get enough of it.

2. “Remedy” by David Crowder Band. Ranks right next to “Iris to Iris”.

3. “Quiet Strength” by Tony Dungy. Best book I have ever read.

4. “When the Game is Over” by John Ortberg. Classic Ortberg book.

5. “All That is Within Me” by Mercyme. Not their best, but it’s Mercyme!

6. “Glory Revealed” by Various Artists. Another one of the best this year.

7. “The Pursuit of Happyness” with Will Smith on DVD. Incredible movie.

8. “Father Knows Best” by Wendell Jamison. A very entertaining book for dads with kids who have questions.

9. “Daughtry” by Daughtry. Excellent debut album from the former American Idol star.

10. “3:16” by Max Lucado. Had to sneak Max in here somewhere.

Other recommendations -“Ultimate Hits” by Garth Brooks, “The Altar & the Door” by Casting Crowns, “The Blessing” by John Waller, “This Moment” by Steven Curtis Chapman, “Sex God” by Rob Bell, “Facing Your Giants” by Max Lucado, “Portable Sounds” by Tobymac and “See the Morning” by Chris Tomlin.