Evolution of the Hipster – Muppet Style

This is too funny, but not in an ironic sort of way. Let’s hope they don’t ruin coffee…oh wait they did.

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The 10 facts about WCMT 2011

These are facts not opinions. These are rules not suggestions. These are the memories of past, not the thoughts of the unknown. This is West Coast Missions Tour.

  1. Potato reigns as king above all games.
  2. Nothing ever goes as planned.
  3. You will smell things never known to man.
  4. The homeless have names and eye colors.
  5. You will learn to hate sandwiches.
  6. Big Blue is home.
  7. There is always a way to a Spaghetti Factory.
  8. Camaraderie is built upon chaos.
  9. Vivian’s breakfast sandwiches are traded for gold in some countries…they’re that good!
  10. There are is always a leader who is willing to talk, not matter the time.

The Secret Art of Lying

I for the most part try to live a life that would bring glory and honor to Jesus Christ. As a man I still fail at times in this attempt. As I reflect upon the kinds of things I struggle with I often times rationalize my sin in that I disassociate them from others. An example of such notions would be that murder is worse than adultery or, greed is worse than lying. However, sin is sin in the eyes of the Lord. There’s is no delineation between good sin or bad sin. It’s evil anyway we look at it.

This brings me to my main point…

Yesterday I read an article in Christianity Today by Sarah Sumner entitled “The Seven Levels of Lying.” As I read through the article I was immensely disturbed by the fact that even through I try to live a righteous life, I still knowingly sin against God. This is done by my flawed view of lying. Although lying about something with the motivation to cause harm, either emotional or physical is heinous in any form, I found myself reflecting upon my own sins… especially with lying.

I wouldn’t consider myself to be a profound liar, but there are times where I bend the truth or exasperate truth to tell a more interesting story, you know to make things sound better than they are. Either way I look at it, it’s lying and it’s a sin. Sumner’s response to this and the idea of seven levels of lying are well within normal parameter of the Christian life. As she stated in her article: you lie, you self-protect, you develop a habit of lying, you self-deceive, you rationalize, you develop your technique, then you you see it as your duty to lie. It’s outrageous that I (and I’m sure everyone else) allows ourselves to develop a life built upon accepting lying as an benin sin.

This is what Sumner said that really got me thinking…

God’s disdain for lying is not whimsical (Prov. 12:22). Lying is sinful not merely because the Bible says it is wrong. The Bible says lying is wrong because untruth violates Truth. Since Jesus is Truth, it is antichrist to lie.

Lying is untruth…period! And if we want to live a life that reflects the truth of the God we serve there can be no room for lying or sin. 1st Peter 1:15-16 simply states “Be holy, because I am holy.” As a man of God it is my desire to live in such a way. Not because it looks good on a resume or brings favorable comments on my Facebook page, but because I am in this incredible, amazing, passionate love story with the Creator of the universe. It’s a love story that transcends time and space. When I seek to understand who God is and what he is like, I’m speechless and standing in awe. When I realize this…how can I continue to accept the secret art of lying? Seriously…how can I rationalize lying when it bring nothing by chaos and destroys community?

Do you struggle with lying?

Summer, Youth Ministry, and Silver Unicornes

Within the realm of youth ministry summer has always brought great joy and often times, great pains. It’s a time where student’s schedules are open, a time where opportunities for building relationships arrive consistently and with impromptu ferver. It’s a time to relax.

Think…strategic!

One of the things I love about the summer is the amount of face time I get to spend with students. I love being able to have those impromptu lunch gatherings where you can joke, ask questions, eat, and learn more about the students that are in your care. If you’re strategic you can end up learning a ton about our kids and their lives. For me it’s more than lunch, questions and whatnot…it’s about being intentional about what we do. Building relationships is tough work; it takes time, energy and patience. Students are like cats, in that they don’t give their loyalties easily. Summer definitely gives you the edge.

Below is a quick list of things to do (consider):

Look at summer as a strategic starting point for developing a student leader program- Use this time to observe students who demonstrate leadership qualities, and invest in them! Develop the framework, pray and launch!

Invest in your volunteer leaders.-With summer bringing more time to hang with students, don’t neglect your volunteer leaders. Invite them over for a BBQ, play some games, continue to empower and encourage!

Read, pray, and process- Summer is a good time to read a book that you’ve been putting off. I would recommend something that is perhaps not a ministry related book. Read something different! As always in ministry we should be praying. Prayer changes things (trust me on this) and what a great opportunity to develop a new element in your prayer life. During the summer season I always try to process the things we do in our ministry. I look at what we do and how we can make it great. Not a bad concept to utilize.

What are you going to do this summer?

 

[side note] you’re probably wondering why “Silver Unicornes” was listed in the header? There is in fact no reason as to why I put that in the title, only that I have a sick obsession for observing the awkward. Never forget awkward Sunday!!!

What I Learned This Sunday

This past sunday I was given the wonderful opportunity to preach in both services at the church I serve at. Although this was a privilege and an honor, I have never been so nervous in my life. For years I have preached to hundreds of junior high and high school students, however, bringing the Word to adults is another story.

As I spent two weeks prepping for this sermon, I continually learned many things about the passage I was going to examine and ultimately myself. The Lord has shown me golden nuggets of wisdom in every turn of study. Below is a quick list of the things I learn from preaching on Sunday.

Know Your Audience- In the context of preach or preparing a speech this is a no brainer. For years my target audience has been teenagers, and from that I’ve become accustom to prepping sermons and lessons that are taylor-made to strike at the heart of youth culture. However, in this case, since the target audience was primarily adults with vast variety backgrounds I was to use methods that seemed strange and unfamiliar. I used a “Mac vs. PC” illustration that seemed to bomb in the first service and was well received  in the second service. From talking with some close colleagues and friends this was a simple mistake, and one that can be remedied with hast.

Topical vs Exposition- Typically I craft topical messages for our teenagers. I know that some have a huge problem with this, but please allow me to explain. Our wednesday nights are an open door program for our ministry, meaning that we have students with little or no biblical background walking through the door. Because of this I keep my messages on wednesdays topical in nature (i.e. what does God say about friends, love, faith, anger, etc. etc.) in that those students can walk aways some some sort of truth gleaned from the Word of God. I will throw in some tasty nuggets of “deeper-faith” insights that our students with relationships with Jesus Christ can walk away. I would also like to add that I try to always try to preach some element of Christ Crucified in that students would hear the awesome name of Jesus Christ.

For my sermon on sunday I decided to go with a hybrid approach, in that I took Philippians 4:10-13 and dissected it all the while pulling incredible principals that were applicable. I mean there’s not point of reading scripture if we’re not going to do something with it…right? So I took the opportunity to teach on being content in life in all circumstances. I broke the passage down verse by verse and gleaned amazing insights from Paul’s letter to the church of Philippi. Basically I challenged the congregation to examine their needs vs. wants all the while understanding that our strength is temporary but Christ’s is eternal and never ending (Gk. Dynamo).

Stage Presence- I like the thin that I have good stage presence, key word there…”think.” I realized that what I think is dynamic speaking is not necessarily  the truth. Although I wasn’t a complete dud on stage, there where some things I needed to do better, specifically more facial expressions. For those that know, I’m a laid back guy and often with show some fantastic facial expressions but for the most part it’s just sarcastic comments with a smile. I need to work on talking with my face not just words.

Overall, I was pleased to have the honor of speaking in our main church service. I hope in the future I’ll be able to have some more opportunities to speak and harness this craft.

The Trap of Awkwardness

I was so worried about not be awkward that perhaps I fear I might have lost my authenticity. Quenching the very nature of what it means to be a Christ follower into a digestible nugget of social behavior, I’ve misplaced, misrepresented, and missed the target; for what? So I can be deemed a hipster or non-judgmental?

Course correction.

I now turn back and realize that my faith is not dictated by what socially acceptable or by trends. It’s not to be kept in a box or stifled. It will be offensive (and that’s all right), it will be active, seizing all of the opportunities given.

My faith will not be something that happens on Wednesday or Sunday. I will be who I am, what I portray, and how I love. It will be missional.

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Social Media…friend or foe?

What would happen if Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, and all of the other social networks were to mysterious disappear? What would happen if you went to log on to your Facebook account only to find a server error (meaning that the Facebook didn’t exist)? What would be some of the initial thoughts that would surface in your head? Would you cringe in inconvenience? Would you breakdown into a panic attack and fanatically try and find away to “connect?” Do you think that a person could be addicted to social media outlets?

I know what you’re thinking right now…’your asking a ton of questions.’

Let’s face it, what would happen if we really severed our social media ties with the world? I honestly asked myself that question today. I tender the idea of killing all social media in my life, but then came to the realization that I use it equally for work and personal use, and the terminating Facebook would only limit my sphere of influence. Then I started to think about what if I gave up my social media habit for a week, maybe two, or even a month.

What would happen? What would I see? What would I hear? Would I feel completely disconnected from the world? Would I try to substitute the absence of Facebook and Twitter with something real…like meeting someone at Starbucks and actually having a ‘real’ conversation?

Don’t misunderstand me here, I think that Facebook (and all of the other options out) are fun and exciting. They contain both pros and cons to their existence. But what if they dictated what you do, how you feel, where you go…would you stop using them all together?

As I sit here and type this ‘blog posting’ I find myself caught in a iconic prose. I have to laugh at the idea. But then I think about my relationship with Christ, my wife, and others. Have I given priority like as I given priority to Facebook? A hard question to ask. Is my relationship with the Creator of the universe suffering because he doesn’t have a Facebook profile or a Twitter account?

I ask that you join me in prayer as I seek out the truth in these questions. I urge you to take a step back and look at your relationships…are they real? Do they even exist?

More to follow…

How to Get Fit and Healthy on a Budget

Read this article today and found it intriguing. I’ve actually used the state of the economy as an excuse not to engage in exercise. Truth be told…I’m lazy. Now that I defined my two problems, the hard part is already done. Now time to come up with a game plan and not allow my meager budget stand in the way of me and my goal.

How to Get Fit and Healthy on a Budget – Budgeting – daveramsey.com.

The Leadership Rock

Over the past few years I’ve devoted myself to the study of leadership principles and methodology. Although many books today somewhat say the same thing, there’s always a reason why. It’s sort of why teachers review academic material with students, as students often fail to grasp the meaning, principle or concept at first go. This very well could be the reason why books on leadership say the same thing; we as leaders just don’t get it at times. I am reminded by this statement

In matters of style, swim with the current;
In matters of principle, stand like a rock.
~T. Jefferson

Truth is, we can get it. We can swim with the current of style and stand firm in our convictions. Bottom line; being a great leader isn’t about how many people you lead, authority, position, or even influence. It’s about being able to do the right thing even though some will hate you for it. The right thing is not to be confused with the popular choice. They are seldom the same thing.

 

Lucas, Life, & 2010

I know that this year has been blog post light and I apologize for this. With my dependence upon Twitter I have lost the art of blogging something of substance, something worth reading, again mea culpa. Anyway, below you’ll see me life in 2010. Much has changed while other things have remained the same. So without anymore blabber…here we go!

Getting Married– This by far trumps anything that could have happened in my life. I married the Wonderful Dana Estopinal, now the wonderful Dana Miller. My life has without a doubt changed for the better. It’s been a tremendous blessing waking up next to my beloved, being able to see the world and live life with my wife right by my side. We had a wonderful wedding at the Edward Dean Museum in Cherry Valley and celebrated our honeymoon in Mexico on a fantastic cruise. I will say this…GOD IS GREAT!!!

Minsitry Transition– I started 2010 in Bakersfield working at the amazing Parkside church. God had blessed me with incredible friendships, leadership challenges, and relationship building. I spent the year learning more about leadership and less about student ministry, all the while learning how to bring the Word to student in fresh and innovative ways. However, God soon had other plans for my wife and I. He called us to Yucaipa, Ca to impact the lives of students at First Baptist Church Yucaipa. Through this entire process (more specifically the entire year) I learned to focus my ministry passion to this statement: I’m highly relational and service driven. This year has given me the opportunity to see ministry from a different lenses, and for that I’m grateful.

Graphic Design– Ever since I was a kid I loved to draw. My parents never really encouraged me to pursue something in art, but as I close this 30th year in my life, I soon realized that God has given me an eye for graphic design. This has played a huge part in my ministry in creating professional and creative ways of exchanging ideas to people. 2010 was the year that I took graphic design seriously, and when I say “seriously” what I mean is that I independently studied graphic design theory and practiced, practiced, practiced!!! Although this continues to be a constant academic pursuit, I love it.

I can only imagine what God has in store for House Miller in 2011…