December 2009

A couple of days ago I sat down and did a quick (10 minutes, tops) review of this years blog posts.  Less than ten minutes, because to be honest, I’m not that interested in reading that much of my stuff.  Plus, it only took that time to see a few themes develop…

  • 2009 has been full of great people.  I’ve been able to stand beside some amazing peeps as they started attending the Summit, gave their lives to Christ, committed their lives to each other, and welcomed life into the world (keep in mind, not all of those were the same person).  I’ve also said goodbye to some great friends who have left for the mission field and gone home to Jesus.
  • My family continues to be an incredible source of humor and a place of refuge.  Yes, I put their lives up for all to see from time to time, but doggone it, I’ve got a great family.  I’m thankful for ’em.
  • God has defined and refined my life’s direction.  In reading back over posts, I can see how he’s grown me, shaped me, and taught me.  Good stuff.  Good, good stuff.

So here it is, ten random samplings of some of my favorite posts of ’09.  For heaven’s sake, don’t read them all (I didn’t).  But click on one and join me on memory lane…

I dig me some books, and there were some doozies this year.  Here are the best books I read in ’09, in no particular order…

  • A Comedian’s Guide to Theology: Side-splittingly funny, yet amazingly doctrinally-correct book.  If your idea of theology involves the words “dry,” “dusty,” or “I’d rather be mauled by ferocious rabbits with dull teeth,” this is the book for you.  I reviewed it here.
  • Through Gates of Splendor: How I made it through 25 years of the Christian life without reading this book is beyond me.  It’s like making it through 37 years of being J.D. Greear and never quoting C.S. Lewis.  A must read missional biography.
  • Eat This, Not That!: Pow! I just threw a diet book in the pile.  This book helped change my physical life more than any other this year, and I was less miserable than I thought I’d be.  I talked about it here.
  • The Starbucks Experience: If you’re in the guest services biz at your church (or any other organization) you owe it to yourself to read this masterpiece by Dr. Joseph Michelli.
  • Tribes: We Need You To Lead Us: Seth Godin is the guru of all things business, leadership, marketing, and maybe hermit crab breeding (not confirmed, but I bet he’d be good at it).  I took my team through Tribes this year after reading most of it in one plane ride.  Yep, it’s that good.
  • Flashbang: How I Got Over Myself: Another great, very funny book that walks through the themes of pride, self-deception, and spiritual growth.  Mark Steele is uber-funny.
  • Sacred Parenting: How Raising Children Shapes Our Souls: If you are a parent, will be a parent, or had parents, this book should be on your shelf.  What Gary Thomas did for husbands and wives in Sacred Marriage, he now does for people who change diapers, put kids in time out, and set curfews.
  • Lord, Save Us From Your Followers: Why Is The Gospel of Love Dividing America?: The book that became a documentary, this read is a fascinating look at what mainstream America really thinks about evangelicalism.  Brutally honest, compelling, convicting.
  • A Praying Life: Connecting With God in a Distracting World: Without a doubt the most influentially shaping book I read in ’09.  We gave away a few copies over on the other blog, but if you didn’t win it, you should buy it.
  • The Pursuit of Holiness: Repeat everything I said about Through Gates of Splendor.  Somebody should make you read this within the first year of being a Christian.
  • The Church of Facebook: How the Hyperconnected are Redefining Community: I just finished this one two days ago, and it was so powerful I included it as #11 on a Top Ten list.  Watch for a full review coming up on the blog soon.

So, what have I missed?  What should I be reading in 2010?

Here it is, the second annual Connective Tissue tradition known as the Year End Review (also affectionately known as My Brain Is Too Fried To Come Up With Anything Else Original, but let’s not get distracted).

This week we’ll be hashing out the best posts of ’09, the best books of ’09, and maybe another best of if I can come up with it (don’t hold your breath).

Tune in tomorrow for the first Best Of!

Or maybe Wednesday.  I don’t know.  It’s that fried brain thing.

Editor’s note: So what just happened was, you wasted everyone’s time with six sentences, all in an attempt to get ‘em back tomorrow.  Or excuse me, maybe Wednesday.  Wow.  That should make a Worst Of list.  I’m just sayin’.

O Holy Night is one of my favorite Christmas songs ever.  And whatever guy butchered this version is the greatest anonymous prankster to walk the earth.

So gather the family, grab some egg nog, crank the speakers, and laugh ’till you puke.

Complete this post and submit your caption below!

(Thanks to Adam Moore for the picture!)

In yesterday’s post I told you about the Christmas songs that make me want to dive headfirst into a den of angry wolves.  Lest ye think that only one type of media angers me, here’s what I don’t understand about Christmas movies:

First, what defines a Christmas movie?  Apparently the good folks over at ABC Family haven’t quite figured that out.  Oh sure, I can understand How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Rudolph and the Island of Misfit Toys. But what’s the deal with those Harry Potter movies?  True, I’ve never actually seen a Harry Potter movie (I’m typically busy reading Leviticus and praying for you witchcraft-practicing necromancers who have), but am I missing something?  Does Santa swoop down at the last minute and deliver presents to all the good little wizards?  And I’m sorry, ABC, but showing The Incredibles on Christmas Day makes no sense.  Yes, Mr. Incredible is a fat man in a red suit, but he ain’t the same one!

And then of course, everybody from ABC Family to Lifetime has to come up with a dozen new Christmas-themed movies each year.  Just a few names that I am not making up include Holiday in Handcuffs, Cranberry Christmas, 12 Men of Christmas, Holiday Switch, A Very Merry Christmas, and my personal favorite, The Year Without Any More Stupid Christmas-Themed Movies. (Okay, I made that last one up.)

So I asked you yesterday, and I’ll do it again today, which Christmas movies grate you?

You won’t find anyone who likes Christmas music much more than I do.  I have to fight good common sense every year to keep from cranking up a little Bing Crosby way before Thanksgiving.  But even guys like me have their limits.  Even I hear a song come on the radio from time to time that makes me want to drive myself off the nearest cliff.  Here’s a list of my current annoyances…

  • Let It Snow (Gloria Estefan version): everybody likes a good trumpet, but 154 trumpets trying to outdo each other on higher and higher octaves are a bit much.  Sing the song already, Gloria.  Kill the brass.
  • Santa Baby (Eartha Kitt version): nothing says, “materialistic little princess” like this song.  Every time it comes on the radio I totally overlook the cutesy novelty of it and just want to park her in front of a looping commercial about starving kids in Africa starring that guy who now that I think about it looks a little like Santa Claus anyway, so there.
  • Santa Baby (Madonna version): same as above, except this time it sounds like a four year old singing it.
  • The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late): written in 1958, this song proves that the 60’s wasn’t the only decade of rampant drug use.
  • Any song by the Jackson Five where Michael has a conversation with his brothers.  (“I did! I did see mommy kissing Santa Claus!” “Shut up and get back in the hyperbaric chamber.”)  You’re a great singer, Mike.  Don’t ruin it by talking.
  • I Want A Hippopotamus for Christmas: ’nuff said.

How about you?  Which songs cause you to want to rip your ears from your head and feed ’em to reindeer?

We’ve arrived at the last FI Friday for Fall 2009.  Thanks for your feedback on this series of posts!

Earlier this week I had a major first impressions faux pas.  I was at a local tire establishment, getting new tires put on my ’93 Honda Accord (which, for the record, is like buying high heels for an 89 year old wheelchair-bound grandma).  I’ve been to this particular business several times for oil changes, so the guys behind the counter are familiar faces, although we’re far from being on a first-name basis.

Until this week.

As one guy waited on me, the shop manager came walking in from the bay.  He grinned widely and said, “Good morning, Danny!”

Of course, I was immediately impressed that he remembered my name, and responded with a “Good morning!” of my own.  And then I noticed another guy who had walked in with him…one with an embroidered patch on his shirt that said – you guessed it – “Danny.”

Trying to save face, I said, “Sorry about that.  I didn’t realize there were two Dannys in the room.  I was about to be very impressed that you knew my name.”

He replied, “But I was talking to you.  I’ll be honest, though…I ran your tag number when you pulled into the parking lot so I could remember your first name.  My memory’s not that good.”

Regardless of whether he remembered my name or not, my tire guy won the “impress me” award for the week.  He did lots of very basic things right, like greeting me with a smile and calling me by name.  But to do that, he had added the special touch of paying attention to the cars that pulled into the parking lot, running the tag (which he had in the computer from a previous visit), being prepared for me when I walked in, and making a point of using my name in a conversation.

If we’re going to get our guest’s attention and build a relationship with them, we have to impress them.  It can be as simple as knowing their name or remembering their seating preference or getting eye-level with their kids to make sure they’re welcomed too, but impressing a guest is something we can’t overlook.  How will you impress somebody this weekend?

It’s not too early to start planning your summer vacation.  I’d like to invite you to join me on a trip to Dubai. The Brier Creek Campus will be sponsoring the Annual General Meeting of some of our church planters from Central Asia.  We need people to lead worship, provide childcare, run a medical clinic, and basically spend a few days loving on some people that are carrying the gospel to the ends of the earth.

Trip dates are set for July 18-25, plus 1-2 days of travel on either side of that week.  We’re hammering out further details such as cost, responsibilities, and support raising.  Find out more by attending our first informational meeting on Sunday, January 17 from 3:00-4:30 in Suite 111.

Want to let me know you’re interested or receive a meeting reminder?  Comment below and I’ll send you one as the meeting date draws closer.

I wish the New York Post would contact me today, for two reasons.  First, I want to sell them my very clever headline (above, don’t miss it) for a bajillion zillion dollars.  I would, of course, turn right around and give it all away to our church planters.  Or buy an island in Tahiti.  Or give Rick Langston a subscription to Hair Club for Men.

But the second reason I wish they’d contact me is even more important than hair follicles for our Executive Pastor.  I want to give the Post one message:

Shut up about Tiger Woods.

Oh, it’s not just the Post, of course.  It’s every other media outlet, pundit, and talk show host known to man.  Everybody has to get their two cents in on the very fall of one of America’s athletic heroes.  And I suppose in my own way, I’m doing that right now, but for a very different reason:  This is not another blog post about Tiger Woods, it’s a blog post about the blog posts about Tiger Woods.

America has made an art form of the finger-pointing, tongue-wagging, media frenzy known as public disgrace.  Whether it’s a televangelist or a sports super star or a naughty Hollywood mogul, we revel in the sin of others.

And I’ll be clear: Tiger messed up.  Big time.  What he did seriously damaged or even destroyed his marriage, his reputation, his contracts, and his career.  Somewhere down the line, his seemingly innocent compromises led to disastrous ruin.  He blew it.

But so have you.  And so have I.

And so has every single person who gleefully reports every sordid detail of this unfolding mess.  Every reporter, every anchor, every talk radio wag…all of them…and all of us…in some way live lives of a duplicitous nature.  True, it might not be to the extent of Tiger, but all of us are one bad decision away from wrecking our lives.

Make no mistake, even hidden sin will be dealt with.  It might be through the wrath of God as we read in Achan’s story, or it might be through the gracious covering of the cross.  And in a sense, every single private sin we’ve ever committed became a huge public spectacle at Calvary.  Our sin and rebellion is a big deal to God.

This is why scripture has a clear prescription for continually coming to God with our sin.  It’s why we’re encouraged to confess to one another and give people permission to speak into our lives when we’re heading down the wrong track.  It’s why we’re called to lives of perpetual repentance and examination of our own stuff.

It’s also why there’s a clear prescription for dealing with the result of our sin.  Because we will fall, be it a huge public disgrace or an intimate sin against a holy God.  We will have friends who struggle with sin.  But as one of the tag lines for one of Tiger’s ads reads: it’s what we do next that counts.  It’s how we deal with the sin that will speak to our love of the sinner.  It’s how we move toward reconciliation that will help determine restoration.

Before you’re too quick to speak ill of Tiger Woods or even the guy next door, perhaps you should check out the scriptural prescription below.  And Post, if you’re reading this, have your people call my people.  Daddy needs an island.

  • The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9)
  • Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. (1 Corinthians 10:12)
  • “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. (Matthew 18:15)
  • How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye. (Luke 6:42)
  • Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. (Galatians 6:1)

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