Archive for March, 2012

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They Hijacked The Intercessory Prayer Movement

March 30, 2012

This will be a hard essay to write for two reasons:

1. I prefer not to “name names” when it comes to doctrinal error and lapses in moral judgment. I do not like the so-called “heresy hunter” approach to correcting the Body of Christ and I won’t stoop to it.

2. I love intercessory prayer and after reading this essay, you may be inclined to think I don’t.

First, my credentials for this subject. I have been involved in many, many prayer meetings. I have been on the board of two prayer schools, many prayer gatherings and have spoken on more than a dozen occasions to national audiences on the subject of Intercessory prayer. I have participated in prayer marches, prayer walks, prayer journeys, watchnights of prayer, prayer vigils, prayer “burdens”, deliverance prayer sessions, fasting and praying, Schools of Intercession, Youth With a Mission weeks on Intercession, days of prayer, weeks of prayer, prayer months and 40 day journeys of prayer. I don’t list these to impress anyone. I can think of a half dozen people immediately who are more committed to Intercessory Prayer than I am. But I want you to know I am not a newcomer to Intercessory Prayer.

Intercessory Prayer is defined by two parameters: First, it is prayer offered on behalf of someone else to God. Second, it is a prayer that often has many different parts, each of which must be prayed through before the final answer can be given. Therefore, a person should listen to God first and receive guidance from God when praying. God will only answer if the intercessory prayer lines up with God’s will. (1 John 5:14–15) People ask me why we should even bother to pray. ‘If God wants to do something, why doesn’t God “just do it” and leave us out of it?’ they ask. The Bible teaches clearly that our life as followers of God is a partnership with Him. Nothing of value can be accomplished in the life of a God follower unless we partner deliberately and with free choice. We cannot become a follower until we believe. We cannot experience life-changes (i.e. Sanctification) unless we freely submit to God. We cannot have healing unless we ask God and seek cleansing first. We cannot change our world without obedience. It all requires a partnership. God will do His part and we must do our part. But that’s another essay.

For years, true Intercessors were not a well-known part of the church. They often prayed alone or in small groups. It is difficult to ask God for things you may never see the answer to with your eyes. It takes hours and days to hear God, pray effectively, keep on praying and to break through the resistance of the enemy. Daniel took 21 days of fasting and praying before the answers began to come. Some people have prayed for 50 years before seeing answers to prayer. Very few people are willing to put in that kind of effort in their prayers. Most people count it a victory if they pray for 10 minutes.

But True Intercessors count this ministry as equal to eating and sleeping. Many times, they will give up food and sleep to pray. We should count ourselves blessed they would be willing to do that. Almost all of us have had changed lives because an Intercessor prayed for us. We probably don’t even know it, but God will reveal it to us in the Afterlife some day. I don’t consider myself one of the Elite Intercessors by any means. I pray when I feel God’s burden to pray. And I often don’t pray for longer than an hour. I do admire those who pray in secret and alone or in small groups and will not let go until God is finished.

As I have gathered together with intercessors around the world, I am awe-struck by the determination and fortitude of real intercessors. It is my contention that every major work of God in our world was thoroughly grounded in Intercessory Prayer before there were noticable results. I enjoy my times teaching intercessors and joining with their efforts. The only time I can pray much longer than a couple of hours is when I am swept along as mighty prayer warriors touch God’s heart.

So why am I pulling away from the Intercessory Prayer crowd? Because they have been taken over by a group that has a much different agenda than God’s agenda. The prayer movement has been sacrificed at the altar of both right-wing politics and the hunger for power. These altars are as much false worship as any offering to Baal or Asherah were in the Old Testament. The ones taking over this prayer movement have many names. They call themselves Triumphal, Conquerors, Champions, World-beaters. They call God’s people to unity, a common Call, to return to the roots of our country. They set up targets for prayer, calling these targets Mountains (business, government, media, entertainment, education, family and even church are mentioned as Mountain-like targets). Politicians show up to these rallies and get the crowds going. In fact, the presence of huge crowds tell us that this movement differs greatly from the Prayer movements of the past.

At the heart of this false prayer movement is an old, old belief system called post-Millennialism. That’s a fancy term that simply means this: That the role of the church is to conquer all the forces in this world that stand opposed to God. When we finish our work of taking over governments, media and schools, then Christ will return to set up his Kingdom.

Historically this was the belief of the Crusaders who sought to conquer the Infidels surrounding Jerusalem. This was at the heart of the Conquistadors who felt they were laying the foundation of the Kingdom of God by slaughtering the Aztecs. This was often spoken by settlers of the West who murdered Native Americans with the goal of creating the Kingdom of God. Look at how many place names in the Western U.S. and Canada have biblical names. If you trace the history of those towns, many of them have the sub-text of belief in this establishment of a Christian dwelling place on earth.

Intercessory prayer is designed to change the spiritual heart of a nation, not its institutions. Institutions will only change when people’s hearts change. We see Christians today practicing the same sins at the same rate as anyone else. Why would we want to force our practices on the rest of the world? We tell homosexuals who want to get married that they are evil and yet the divorce rate for heterosexual Christians is well over 30%. How does that represent the Kingdom of God?  Do we really want to establish the Kingdom before Christ returns based on our gossip, jealousy, envy, back-biting, adulteries, alcohol and drug addictions? Why do we even think our current actions can supplant the problems that exist on top of society’s so-called great Mountains?

Until the Intercessory Prayer movement returns to 2 Chronicles 7:14, I am no longer a part of it. In that verse we are told that if God’s people “who are called by {God’s} name will humble themselves in prayer, seek his face and turn from their wicked ways, then God will hear from heaven and will heal their land”. Today’s intercessory prayer movement just wants power, not repentance and transformation. It just wants influence, not purity. It only wants to be recognized, not to be restorative. It wants to conquer so Christ will be impressed; not to weep so God will be moved to action.

I am done for now. I will keep praying, keep teaching and keep weeping. Perhaps my heart will change and then it will purify my prayers. Then other hearts will change and purify their prayers. Then perhaps our land will be healed. It won’t happen by voting in our favorite party or getting another law passed.

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My Nominee for “Mother of the Year”

March 27, 2012

I would love to post a picture of the woman who is my personal nominee for “Mother of the Year“, but I can’t.

I have never met her. I don’t even know her name. But I know what she did and I’m very impressed.

Last Friday, I helped chaperone a dance at our local high school gym. My job was to guard one of the back entrances so teens couldn’t sneak out that way or let their friends in without paying. To the credit of the students, no one tried to do either. 

But because I was hanging on the edge of the crowd, I witnessed many conversations between students. I noticed two 14-year old freshmen girls more than anyone. They were having a fantastic time, dancing with each other, laughing, doing the “Dougie”, eating pizza and giggling up a storm. Here’s how I knew they were 14.

At least four times during the evening, a tall older-looking young man approached one of the girls and asked her to dance. I didn’t hear every one of their conversations, but each time he left alone without her on his arm. However, I did hear the final conversation and I am impressed. Here’s how it went down.

The young man asked the girl to dance with him again.

“You’re sixteen, aren’t you?” she asked

“Yeah…I’m a Junior”

“Well, I’m fourteen and you’re too old for me. All night long you’ve been hitting on me and I keep telling you I am not dancing with a 16-year old. My mom told me all the lines older guys would use tonight and you’ve used every single one of them. I’ve asked you nicely to leave me alone. You’re too old for me. I just want to dance with my friend. If you don’t go away, I’m going to get angry!”

This boy’s eyes came an inch out of his skull and he quickly slinked away. The girls went back to giggling and dancing as I stood up and applauded them. They didn’t even notice I was there.

But I noticed one person who wasn’t. Her amazing mother.

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I am Joseph Kony

March 13, 2012

Kony and MeAt a banquet given by the Governor of Hong Kong, Chuck Colson was seated beside a woman of prestige. Wanting to impress Colson (who was the guest speaker) she went on and on praising him for all the good works he was doing in prisons. She went so far as to greatly exaggerate things he had done, which made him more than a little embarrassed. Partly to correct her over-indulgence he told her: “Madam: If truth were told, I have more in common with Adolph Hitler than with Jesus Christ”. In his account of the story, he was immediately shocked that this thought had come out of his mouth and, at the same time, delighted that it accomplished the goal of bringing peace and quiet to their end of the table. But after that evening, he did some more thinking about the matter.

He concluded that he could, unfortunately, stand by his statement as accurate. Though Colson (and most of us) could readily conclude he had  more moral fiber and sense than Hitler, the difference between himself and Hitler was not as great as the moral distance between himself and the Savior. Though this is true of almost everyone, perhaps we don’t see the true implications of this.

Last week, when the Kony2012 video went viral, the name “Joseph Kony” came back into my life. Let me explain. Every January I ask God to give me the name of a country to pray for during the 12 months ahead. Back in 2004, God gave me the countries of Uganda and Burundi to pray for. As I did my research in the book “Operation World” they referenced the deplorable behavior of Josephy Kony and his band of mercenaries. I spent several hours one day researching the actions of this horrible man. To sum up: Kony is one of the worst perpetrators of the practice of kidnapping young children and then forcing them to kill their family members. In this way, these kidnapped children have no family (except his army) and they are too ashamed to ever return home again. He is certainly not the only one to use this practice (The website “Children of Conflict” says there are currently armies in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Congo, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Burma also operating this way). However, Kony is perhaps the most violent and egregious in his disregard for the dignity and freedom of children.

Yet I still have to conclude that I have more in common with this man than I do with Jesus Christ.

Joseph Kony grew up in a religion that was a strange mixture of Christianity and paganism. His aunt, Alice Lakwena, was a priestess of this tribal group whose practices included contact with dead people, seances and prophetic dreams using hallucinogenic drugs. His parents left him in the care and control of his aunt and her ways. Joseph himself was brought up by her to believe he was a prophet because of the vivid dreams he had. In the late 90s, Kony had a dream where he believed the Lord ordered him to put together an army that would rape, murder, pillage and terrorize parts of Uganda. From that day until this, he has never stopped.

Dallas Willard in his excellent book “The Renovation of the Heart” in his chapter called “Radical Evil in the Ruined Soul says:

“Now, when the light of the fundamental truth and reality, God, is put out in the heart and the soul, the intellect becomes dysfunctional, trying to devise a “truth” that will be compatible with the basic falsehood that man is god.”

What Willard is showing us is the true nature of the human heart: When we don’t know God in Truth, we will grasp at anything that makes us and those like us the center of power, glory and worship. Joseph Kony did not start out with a good understanding of who created the Universe, who sustains it and to whom all glory should be given. I have to ask if I would have acted much differently had I been born into his family, with his aunt, fighting off the same demons that manifested at the same rituals. I was born in a different place with different people and different beliefs. Though I know I probably would not have taken error that far, I am not as far removed from his heart as I want to believe. I still have major times of narcissism and self-aggrandizement that shock even me.

In the past ten years, there have been people I wished were dead, even though I don’t think I would kill them if I had the chance. I have lied at times, withheld important information that would have helped others, harbored bitterness, hatred, revenge and jealousy in my heart. All of these things also stoke the fires of mercenaries and dictators the world over. I am just lazier than most of them and couldn’t be bothered to raise up an army or even a good-sized posse.

But Jesus is changing my inside. Those jealousies, bitternesses, hatreds, narcissistic attitudes have all come under daily scrutiny with the Holy Spirit. Because of His presence in my heart and mind, I can’t just follow the old paths of self-destruction without a voice behind me encouraging me to turn to the right or the left. With the thousands of life-turns God has helped me to navigate, I have to wonder where I would have been if not for all of that aid. Perhaps I wouldn’t have lived where Joseph Kony lives, but I might be in the same neighborhood. 

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Trust Your Emotions

March 7, 2012

Here is a radically informative article written by Jonah Lehrer in Wired Magazine. Essentially, he claims that our brains are more accurate in recalling our past when we use our emotions  than when we use our logic/reason.

He has a much longer explanation in the article, but here is his capsulization:

Here’s where emotions come in handy. Every feeling is like a summary of data, a quick encapsulation of all the information processing that we don’t have access to. (As Pham puts it, emotions are like a “privileged window” into the subterranean mind.) When it comes to making predictions about complex events, this extra information is often essential. It represents the difference between an informed guess and random chance.

How might this work in everyday life? Let’s say, for example, that you’re given lots of information about how twenty different stocks have performed over a period of time. (The various share prices are displayed on a ticker tape at the bottom of a television screen, just as they appear on CNBC.) You’ll soon discover that you have difficulty remembering all the financial data. If somebody asks you which stocks performed the best, you’ll probably be unable to give a good answer. You can’t process all the information. However, if you’re asked which stocks trigger the best feelings – your emotions are now being quizzed – you will suddenly be able to identify the best stocks.

Those who have done any counseling with me and with my colleagues will realize the importance of this information. Whereas our rational mind continues to mature and change, our emotions do not. Fear feels the same to a four-year old as it does to a forty-year old. So, you might conclude that emotions are immature and should not be trusted.

But the reality is counter-intuitive to that. Because emotions do not change, they are more accurate measuring tool to analyze our past. If we really want to know how a memory impacted us, our logic and reason are not going to help. Every time we try to access a memory, we read our current state of logical understanding into it. But when we “feel” a memory instead of remember it, we instantly connect to it.

In addition, an emotion is a simpler marker for memory than logic. Logic (as the article points out) is a very small part of our brain and often bottlenecks when we try to remember too many things (every college student who ever crammed for an exam learned this). But remembering things through images, emotions and music are often more helpful than logic.

In life, we often have emotional moments when memories are triggered. A co-worker may criticize us and an unusual amount of anger is released. The anger that flows out does not match the current situation. (This is called a “Mis-Matched Emotion). If you allow yourself a moment of reflection, it does not take long to connect with the memory where the anger and the criticism are flowing from. As we walk through the memory, we can then determine the details of the memory much more quickly than if we tried to mentally recall factual data.

Now, some will say that emotions can be unstable and inaccurate. But what we don’t realize is that no one has an accurate memory of anything. We all lack the ability to see a scene from a 360 degree angle. We do not see the motivations and thoughts of the people around us. Often, the most inaccurate part of our memories is the data set we stored. The emotions are often the MOST accurate part of our memories. Regardless of what happened, we accurately can pin down how we felt: scared, angry, resentful, giddy, remorseful, etc.

How does this help us? If we look at our memories as an emotional landscape where we can trace our life’s development, we can get a better handle on why we react the way we do to things now.

How many times do we ask ourselves “why am I acting this way?” We often have inexplicable reactions to things that make no logical sense. If our logic and reason were that accurate and helpful, we would be able to trace why we do moronic things. But we often can’t. Our emotions, however, can trace the path to the motivations of the path really easily.

There are literally a thousand examples I can give…hundreds from my own life. Let me give a very straightforward one. During a season of mild depression sixteen years ago, I was at a loss to figure out why I felt that way. I felt angry and hopeless. I wanted to pull away from loved ones and friends. I did not know why. My life was going well. I had close friends and loving family members.

When a friend helped me to identify my emotions, the anger and the hopelessness led me to a conclusion: If I get too close to these people, they are going to let me down. That belief was tied directly to my depression.

When I followed that emotion to its source, a memory came into focus. I was 8 years old and leaving a soccer pitch after a game. My father, after promising for the umpteenth time to come to my game, was not there. As I recalled the emotion of that memory, it was that same anger and hopelessness. As I allowed the emotion to come over me again, I then remembered a promise I made to myself:

“I do not need him. I don’t need anyone.”

So, many years later, when I was feeling everyone in my life getting close to me, loving me, and spending time with me, the tension grew. When I finally saw this, God enabled me to let go of that belief, and when I did, the emotion subsided. It has never returned.

Emotions traced that path much more accurately than my logic could ever do.

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Sexually Active…but not Promiscuous?

March 6, 2012

Rachel Held Evans holds court on opinions that are sometimes evangelical; and sometimes not. Which is why I like to visit her site. I like to stretch some of my more rigid beliefs.

That’s why when she responded this week to Rush Limbaugh’s rant against Sandra Fluke and her testimony before a Congressional Committee, I really wanted to see her opinion.

You can read Ms. Evan’s article here:

I don’t have any desire to get into a debate on what Limbaugh said. That’s too much work for me and I couldn’t care less about his opinion. However, Rachel Evans made a statement I could not pass by without comment. In addressing why Evangelicals have such an affinity for people like Rush Limbaugh, she feels he hits on three nerves with us. The third of these is Sex. In that part of the article, she states:

This attitude represents one of the most damaging and least-talked-about blind spots within evangelicalism—the one that refuses to acknowledge the fact that being sexually active does not make a woman a slut. 

Currently, evangelicals tend to force young adults, especially young women, into simplistic sexual categories. They are either “pure” or “impure,” “whole” or “damaged,” “virgins” or “sluts.” There does not seem to exist a vocabulary within evangelicalism with which to talk about men and women who are sexually active, but not promiscuous.

I am intrigued by this statement for several reasons. First, is she saying that it is acceptable to be sexually active as an unmarried Christian? Actually, she goes on to say she is just acknowledging that a significant percentage of young Evangelicals are sexually active. Or, is she saying there is need of a word that describes a person who is

  • unmarried
  • Evangelical Christian
  • sexually active
  • not a “slut”

I can assume by this she means a person who is only moderately sexually active, committed to one person at a time sexually and keeps below an acceptable number of partners.

I am curious what you think of this. For the record, I don’t believe we can ‘fudge’ on the biblical standard of “no sex before marriage”. But is there a difference between someone who can be referred to as a “slut” and someone who occasionally has sex before marriage?

The key problem I see is we are trying to define something by current societal standards instead of Truth that is overarching and universal. I don’t think coming up with words to define “demi-sluts”, “sometimes-studs”, or any other such category really addresses the most pertinent question.

Do you?

UPDATE: Ms Evans closed the comments section on this post. Let me just show you what she wrote:

 I’m going to go ahead and close the comment thread on this post because a few folks seem rather eager to prove my point there, and I’m tired of reading and deleting this stuff. (In just one day, through comments and email, I’ve personally been called a “slut”, a “whore,” a “feminazi,” a “whiny feminist and a “dirty tramp.” I expect a call from the president shortly.)  Of course, most of you have been wonderful, as always. Thanks so much for your insightful contributions to the conversation and for your support. I expect the trolls will clear out soon.

This just goes to show that people like to lay down labels and the more emotional they get, the harsher the labels.

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Relational or Relevant: You Decide.

March 3, 2012

I want to talk about the word “Relevant”. In the immortal words of Inigo Montoya (of the Princess Bride): “I do not think that word means what you think it means”. And it is the collective brain trust of contemporary church leaders who may have misunderstood the meaning and direction of this word.This sometimes happens with words; normally it’s not that big a deal. For instance, people often get the words “irrespective” and “regardless” mixed up. People sometimes jumble their definitions and thereby combine them wrongly to make “irregardless”. Irrespective means to know something and then to have no respect for it. Regardless means that you choose not to regard an issue. They are close in meaning, but not exactly the same. For example, I certainly understand what goes into the mind of a man who commits adultery. But I have no respect for his actions. Irrespective of his actions, I take my own actions. But I cannot disregard his actions, especially if they happen to someone close to me. In the case of adultery, I cannot act “regardless”, even though I can act “irrespective”. You see, they don’t mean the same thing.

Relevant is close to another word “relative” and the similar adjective “relational”. Relevant means to stick to the issue at handRelative means to relate to something or someone else. Relevant has to do with issues, controversies, position statements, movements and ideas. Relative has to do with people, choices, culture, tastes and situations. A person who is arguing in a political debate and is asked about their position on war will be relevant if their answer has to do with war. If it has to do with political parties, economics or sports, they are probably not relevant to the issue at hand. A great synonym for “relevant” is “pertinent”. The question a person needs to ask when trying to decide if they’re being relevant is this one: Does my approach pertain to the issue at hand?

If someone wants to be relative or relate to others, they should adopt similar styles, dress, language, approach and attitudes. They must agree with those positions to be relative to the issues at hand. Here then, is the big difference between being Relevant and being Relational: A relevant approach addresses the key issues exactly, irrespective of whether they agree with the position of others. A Relational or Relative person seeks to identify as closely with the position and approach of others. So with these definitions in mind, let’s ask ourselves this question: Those churches who claim to be “relevant” to today’s culture, are they indeed that way or are they more “relative” to the dominant memes of our day?

I will be over-generalizing, but this is the only way to make this essay shorter than an entire book. I hear of churches constantly using the word relevant to refer to their public services. What do they usually mean by that? This video mocks the trend, but it is not really all that misguided. Here then are some ways that churches represent themselves as “relevant”:

  • Casual, weekend style clothing.
  • Modern styles of music, usually reflecting latest trends in style similar to what is played in Christian concerts.
  • Use of video, movies, television shows, commercials and trends to show commonality with audience
  • Expensive lighting, sound systems and printed material, often eclipsing other public non-profit organizations
  • Use of latest software and hardware for multimedia presentations
  • Sermon topics relate to the everyday life of listeners, especially in areas of raising children, marriage, finances and use of leisure time
  • Advertising material, including websites, brochures and radio/television ads are high quality and often produced by professional advertising agencies.

This, then is what most churches mean by Relevant. I contend that this is the absolute wrong use of the word and has reduced the concept to something much more shallow than it was intended to represent. I will share two reasons why I think we are using this word at the end of this article, but let’s see what this approach really is: Relational.

When church leaders model their dress after the manner people usually wear on the weekend, they are trying to help the average person feel more comfortable. There is no “issue” or “agenda” with this. There is no pertinent value a church seeks to communicate other than this: We are like you. We relate to you. You relate to us. We don’t think we’re better than you. (I do have a minor problem with this: We wouldn’t disdain a bank teller for wearing a tie, or a waiter, or people going out on the town…we allow for all of those to dress for the occasion. What we are saying to people in church is ‘this is not really a special occasion’). Sermon topics that relate to where people live every day are relational. They may also be relevant (ie. when they deal with particular issues that spring from daily life), but generally the approach is to have people know the preacher is aware of what issues accrue when his hearers live their daily life. The style of music is designed to relate to what people are listening to. Many churches now actually use songs written by secular music artists and then give the songs contemporary Christian meaning. This is rarely done to address particular issues, but more to show people that the church is not out of touch with what they listen to. The same can be said of the use of video, television and pop cultural references. All of it is packaged to tell this culture: “We’re one of You”.

That is not being Relevant: That is being Relational. And in the words of Jerry Seinfeld “not that there’s anything wrong with that”.  (You see, I can be relational as well).

I have occasionally joked that I have the secret formula for getting 10,000 people in church next Sunday: Just contract with Justin Bieber to be the special musical guest. It’s the church equivalent of “sweeps week” for the television networks. The idea behind these gimmicks is that if people keep coming, they will eventually fold into the congregation and learn more about God. I hesitated even writing this paragraph because someone is now looking up the phone number for Bieber’s agent.

Now let me tell you what “Relevant” looks like. If you always look and sound the same as everyone else, you are entirely unnecessary. That isn’t being relevant, it is being a parrot. Relevant means we look at the issue everyone is speaking of and realize what isn’t being said and then say it. When Martin Luther pounded his 95 Theses on the Wittenberg church door, he was addressing one of the most irritating issues of his day: That some priests were selling indulgences as a way to raise money, promising people a quick doorway into heaven if they purchased a large number of them. No one was standing in the way of this false teaching, except Luther. Everyone was copying what they heard from friends because it was safer that way and others liked them. I have to ask today if churches aren’t stuck in that same emotional rut. Like everyone else, we do want people to like us. We want them to hit “like” on Facebook. We want them to keep coming back to services week after week, even if all we’re doing is repackaging what 1000 others have said, perhaps better than us.

Relevant, on the other hand,  is when Jesus noticed that people were being cheated right in the middle of a prayer room and then, in a prophetic act, he upended the tables of the money-changers. Relevant is Jackie Pullinger pulling drug addicts off the streets of Hong Kong and getting them clean when the dominant society ignores them. Relevant is Erin Gruwell addressing drug wars and the deaths of her students with a radical plan to change their learning style. Relevant is Peggy Drake who worked to comfort AIDS sufferers in West Africa while most Christians were saying it was God’s judgment against homosexuals. Relevant is a preacher resigning from his wealthy church because they would not adopt a lifestyle of caring for the poor. Relevant is almost always counter-cultural, it addresses today’s news with timeless truths, it lives the way it believes and garners respect because it doesn’t try to bribe people into following its viewpoints.

How Relevant is your church?

Without a doubt, by fleshing out these definitions, you will realize that churches will fall into four categories:

  1. Not Relevant, not relational
  2. Relevant, but not relational
  3. Relational, but not relevant
  4. Both Relational and Relevant

Why then would churches choose to be relational and not particularly relevant? I think there are two reasons for this. First, being relational is much easier and does not cost us much. We all learned in elementary school that it went better for us if we adopted the latest trends and fashions and were friends with the most popular kids. Differing even a fraction from the dominant elementary school culture put us in the outcast group and we hated being relegated there. We still do. Pastors and church members don’t want to think their approach to living is all that much different than their neighbors. They want others to know they don’t indulge in the more extreme activities of secularism (like drug use and listening to Insane Clown Posse), but they are proud to be able to make a comment on the American Idol Final 8 or to express a preference for their favorite cocktail. It is easier to blend in.

Second, most of us don’t think counter-cultural living is valid. We wrongly look with suspicion on anyone who swims upstream on issues –  especially Christian issues. Note how decidely Rob Bell was excommunicated by people for his book on Hell even though most people had not read it. I remember when Tony Campolo’s wife came forward to talk about the issues related to her pro-choice stance. Not only was she summarily rejected by evangelicals, so was her husband. Though I disagreed with her on some points, she needed to bring the issue to the forefront. It was a pertinent voice in a sea of “sound-alike” Christian voices.

There are churches today that are both Relevant and Relational. They are seldom large churches, but I suspect fifty years from now they will be the ones we think back on fondly as having the biggest impact on our culture both secular and Christian. So, the question is this: Do you really want to be Relevant or just call yourself that while simpering away in Relational?

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The Most Quotable Movies

March 2, 2012

I have had this discussion now with dozens of my friends and we have come up with the list of the most quotable movies of all time. What makes a quotable movie? I think there are three ways to measure this:

  • Highest amount of quotable lines
  • Most memorable quotes
  • How much those quotes have become a part of the culture

Several of my friends mentioned that most movie quotes are time-sensitive. If you watched a lot of movies in the 70s, that’s where most of your movie quotes will come from. Same with the 2000s movies. I have tried to give a large leeway to eras and epochs of movies, even having one from the 30s. I normally don’t do lists in order, but I decided to break that rule here. See if you can think of a quote from each movie. I have listed my favorite after each one.

14. Anchorman: “I love lamp” or “ I know that one day Veronica and I are gonna to get married on top of a mountain, and there’s going to be flutes playing and trombones and flowers and garlands of fresh herbs. And we will dance till the sun rises. And then our children will form a family band. And we will tour the countryside and you won’t be invited. “

13. A Few Good Men: “You can’t handle the Truth”

12.. Ferris Beuller’s Day Off: “No way, Cameron. Only the meek get pinched. The bold survive.”

11. Groundhog Day: “You have never thanked me” or “This is one time where television really fails to capture the true excitement of a large squirrel predicting the weather.”

10. The Wizard of Oz: “Follow the Yellow Brick Road” or “There’s no place like Home”.

9. Clueless: “Why am I even listening to you to begin with? You’re a virgin who can’t drive. I’m outtie”.

8.  The Godfather: “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse”

7. Caddyshack:“Cinderella story. Outta nowhere. A former greenskeeper now about to become the Masters champion. It looks like a mirac… It’s in the hole! It’s in the hole! It’s in the hole!”

6. Star Wars (first trilogy): “I am your father Luke” or “May the Force be with you”.

5. Napoleon Dynamite:Nunchuk skills… bowhunting skills… computer hacking skills… Girls only want boyfriends who have great skills!” or “Pedro offers you his protection.”

4. Office Space:Ah, ah, I almost forgot…I’m also going to need you to go ahead and come in on Sunday, too. We, uhhh, lost some people this week and we sorta need to play catch-up. Mmmmmkay? Thaaaaaanks. or “We don’t have a lot of time on this earth. We weren’t meant to spend it this way. Human beings were not meant to sit in little cubicles staring at computer screens all day, filling out useless forms and listening to eight different bosses drone on about mission statements.”

3. Monty Python and the Holy Grail:You can’t expect to wield supreme power just ’cause some watery tart threw a sword at you!” or “I don’t want to talk to you no more, you empty-headed animal food trough wiper! I fart in your general direction! Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!

2. Forrest Gump: “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get”. or “Stupid is as stupid does.”

1. The Princess Bride: “Allo, my name is Inego Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die”. or “Sleep well and dream of large women” or “Have fun storming the castle” or “He’s not dead, he’s mostly dead.” or, or, or, or…. That’s why this one is number one.

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