Ruth & Relationships

We have a new series coming up at The Awakening called Ruth & Relationships.  I wrote a short summary of the series at the Awakening Blog if you want to check it out.

60 Second Survey - Part 1

I'm doing some research both for The Awakening and my Thesis.  Will you please take this quick survey?

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world's leading questionnaire tool.

It's Time to write a Thesis

Can I get your opinion?  I have to write a thesis in order to graduate with a Masters in Theology this December. I want to to take a look at what Churches are doing to develop discipleship communities for young adults, specifically, Millennials.  Millennials are born between 1980 and 2000 and are now the largest generation in the United States. How do we disciple this unique community?

My questions: 
How are churches responding to the spirituality of Millennials?  

What has worked?  What hasn't? 

If you are of the Millennial age, what are some of the values important to you?  

What are some of the questions you think I need to ask?

Thanks for your comments.  It will really help me out a lot as I prepare for this daunting process.

Ruth and Relationships

At the Awakening, we are going to start a new series on Tuesday looking at the four stages of a young adults relationships and glean a response from the book of Ruth.  The book of Ruth is an intensely intimate story about redemption and relationships.  Almost aligned by chapter, Ruth experiences each stage: Singleness, Dating, Courting/Engagement, and Marriage.

As I am building this series, one thing is coming up a lot.  Our most God honoring and healthy relationships happen when we are not focused on ourselves but on the other person.  Think about it, when we enter a dating relationship thinking, "What can I get out of this?" or "What needs can she/he meet?" we are focused selfishly on ourselves.  When are marriage is simply an exchange of "If you do this, I'll do that" then we are focused selfishly on ourselves.

Boaz and Ruth both exhibit selflessness as they enter into their relationship.  I'm looking forward to our teaching team developing this further and the discussions happening during our gatherings on Tuesday night.

For those of you reading, tell me what you think.  What stage of relationship are you in (of the four) and how have you seen this concept of self focus at work?  

BTW, for long time readers, you may remember me writing about the Leverage of Boaz in three parts a while back.  Some of this is going to come into play in the message about Dating.

Jan 17, 2011 Tags: , 0 comments

Martin Luther King Jr. "I Have a Dream"

I listen to this speech every year.  It is so inspiring.  When was the last time to heard/read this speech?

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.
Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.
But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.
In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."
But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.
We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.
The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.
We cannot walk alone.
And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.
We cannot turn back.
There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: "For Whites Only." We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."¹
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest -- quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.
Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.
And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."2
This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.
With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
And this will be the day -- this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:
My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride,
From every mountainside, let freedom ring!
And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.
And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.
Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.
Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.
Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.
But not only that:
Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.
From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:
                Free at last! Free at last!
                Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

What are the dream's have been placed in you, causing a "Holy Discontent."

Pray on Purpose: Day 4 of 30

The Awakening community is spending 30 days to "Pray on Purpose" as part of our "Life on Purpose" series.  This being my personal blog, I am sharing some of the thoughts I have had during this experience.

Over the last few days I have noticed something that I have experienced before, but have never put so much thought into.  When we simply get started in a little of prayer, God will lead us to pray for more.   We've been challenged to pray for our life's purpose, the the Awakening's purpose, and for three others to find their purpose in a saving relationship with Christ.  But when I start down that road, I can't simply pray for these things alone.  I think we've tapped into something here concerning prayer: A little turns into a lot.  It's amazing what can happen when we just get started.

Have you found this to be true in your prayer life?

What other thins have you added to your prayer list once yous imply Got started?

Pray on Purpose: Day 1 - Confession

This morning, I started my day with many others at The Awakening with prayer.  During the next 30 days, (during our "Life on Purpose" series) we will be participating in the "Pray on Purpose" campaign.  We will pray for three specific areas.

1) A Personal "Life on Purpose"  That we would have a life that seeks to glorify God in all we do and take the opportunities He give to us to do so.

2) The Awakening to Gather on Purpose. We want to carry out our mission to lead young adults in a growing relationship with Jesus Christ through authentic social community.

3) The salvation of three others. For three others to experience the Life on Purpose that only comes from a relationship with Christ.

Over the next thirty days, I am going to try and share my experiences as I pray.  I will not share every day, but I will share those days, like today, that I sense a greater leading by God in prayer.

Today, As I prayed for a personal life on purpose, I was overcome with a sense of confession.  I could not start this thirty days of prayer without confessing my lack of "on Purpose" prayer.  I am great at praying through out the day as situations present themselves and comes to mind.  But to stop and prayer, even for 10 minutes and to focus on God is not as consistent in my life as I would like it to be.

I also had to confess that I have not taken the opportunities to live a Life on Purpose when God has clearly presented them to me.  Opportunities to share my faith, to love others, to help and serve people in need.  I get busy doing my things and when His things intersect, I'm too focused on myself.  Lame!  That is going to change!

I hope you will join many of us in this 30 days of prayer.  You can start when ever you want (like right now) and you can tweak it to your own life and passions.  But let us agree, if we all start 2011 with 30 days of prayer how much would our lives be different at the beginning of 2012!

Who's Joining Me?  Comment below so that I can pray for you as well, and share this post on Facebook or Twitter.

Jan 8, 2011 Tags: , 0 comments

New Look for a New Year

Over he past two nights, I totally re-vamped my blog. What do you think?  I found this template online and learned some html to customize it which was totally cool.  I like the colors of this template and I think its cool that I can put highlights on the top of the blog so people can see them first. It's my own personal ad banner.  Click the Home button above to see the home page.

Jan 4, 2011 Tags: , 0 comments

Here's How You get me to return to your restaurant (Ode to Brooklyn's)

Follow the lead of Brooklyn's at Firewheel Mall:

- Stop what you are doing and walk over to the To Go counter as soon as I show up.

- Make an exception and let me order your personal pizza even though you stopped serving it two hours ago.

- Ask me if I'd like a Free drink while I wait (make sure you say free). Everyone knows drinks don't cost you more than 10 cents so it's cool when you don't charge me two bucks.

- While I wait at the bar, give me a status update on my order. Also, a little conversation is nice.

This is my first time here, the atmosphere looks great, and the menu looks complete and tasty. Unless I get sick on the food, I will return... With friends.

Jan 2, 2011 Tags: , , 0 comments

2010 Blog Review

If you blog, you know it can be interesting to see what get's the most attention over time.  These are the top three blogs posts from 2010. This doesn't take into account how long a post has been displayed but it's interesting nonetheless.  Have you seen these yet?

#1   The Epic Fail of Disney  This was a pretty funny post from a pic that my wife took at Target.  By far the funniest post on this blog.

#2    A Cultural Anthropology of Halloween  Matthew making his parents proud!  Kinda....

#3   The Leverage of Boaz  This is actually one of my favorite posts.  It was a post written based on a manuscript of a message I gave at The Awakening but also kind of an inaugural post about LeverageU.

Was there a post you liked that didn't make the list?

Jan 1, 2011 Tags: , , 0 comments

NYE In the Big D

Last night was a great night.  We went to the new Saint Ann's in the Harwood district of Uptown.  Shannon set the whole night up and Nathan and Rachel Seale and Allison Daniel joined us.  As always with Saint Ann, the place was beautiful and Mike Peal, the manager was doing a great job hosting us all as he wasn't afraid to join in conversation with his patrons.

If you had the steak, you were blessed by Ryan's (Executive Chef)  amazing team.  Every bite melted in my mouth.  Though Vegetarian options were not on the special menu for the evening, Mike Peal made sure my wife and Rachel would have something delectable, serving them a mixture of brussel sprouts, carrots and some other rabbit food.  I don't think vegetarian fare is their strong point, but that didn't stop them from being creative and making sure we enjoyed our evening.

The night ended as it should, watching the live but previously recorded Times Square Ball drop in New York, and then stepping outside on their beautiful patio to watch an amazing fireworks show from Victory Park at the American Airlines Center.  I think we may have had the best view in town.

Thanks Saint Ann, and Mike Peal specifically for a great NYE celebration and I hope 2011 will be a successful year for the restaurant.

What did you do for NYE?