For some, Advent may be a new concept.
Below is a good summation of Advent.
Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday have all come and gone; whether we like it or not the “holiday season” is upon us. For many of us the holidays are filled with shopping, lights, trees and parties. It is a busy and often cheerful time of the year. For others it is a stress inducing, budget stretching and even frantic time of the year. Why is it when we get through with Christmas we are more thankful that its over than it actually happened? Have we replaced the notion of Christmas with another excuse to spend money to show our love to others? For the past few years my family and I have participated in a conspiracy. What if we looked at Christmas in a new way? What if we looked past the stores, the shopping, the mountains of gifts and looked at how Christmas can change the world?
Americans spend $450 Billion on Christmas EVERY YEAR… let that sink in for a minute. $450 BILLION DOLLARS EVERY YEAR for Christmas. Now, did you know it would only take $20 Billion to ensure that all people in the world could have access to clean drinking water? Something seems a bit incongruent here. This is where the Conspiracy comes in. (Everyone loves a good conspiracy right?) The Advent Conspiracy is a different way of looking at Christmas and the in-breaking of God into the world. Advent Conspiracy (or AC) is based on four primary tenets:
Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More and Love All.
The focus of Advent Conspiracy is centered around the notion on how Christmas can change the world. The very first Christmas 2000+ years ago was radical and counter-cultural The idea of a God (of any religion) coming to earth to dwell, live, serve and teach was something that never entered into people’s minds. However, because of this indwelling of God, we now put ourselves on trajectory to be in communion with God for all times. The creators of this movement sum it up well when they write:
“The time of year when worshiping Jesus should be the easiest is often the hardest. The invitation to join the Advent Conspiracy is a call to remain in the gospel of Jesus and worship him—no matter how strongly the cultural demands of Christ pull at us. The transformation initiated by Jesus I no different today than it was the day he was born—the source of joy, peace, and hope hasn’t changed.” (Rick McKinley, Chris Seay, and Greg Holder, Advent Conspiracy: Can Christmas Still Change the World? (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2009), page 34.)
AC doesn’t advocate not giving gifts, but they do advocate giving meaningful and thoughtful gifts. Does Uncle Steve really need another tie? Instead of rushing through the aisles or online if we took some time and gave thoughtful gifts, then the gift would equated with love, not with the notion of “the heftier the price tag the more I love you.” Why go into debt to show that you love someone? One of the most memorable and meaningful gifts I was given was a group of 3 x 5 note cards held together by a simple ring. My wife’s aunt, uncle, niece and nephews had all taken the time to write things that they loved about me. It wasn’t the newest piece of technology, it wasn’t my favorite movie; it was a paper note cards and a metal ring. It meant so much because they took the time to think about me instead of buying something just to buy something.
That’s the power of the Advent Conspiracy.
AC gets back to the heart of the Christmas story, not the flashy gifts of the Magi but the humility of Christ and the love poured out by God to all of humanity. Imagine what we could do if we chose this Christmas to share our love in ways that can not be wrapped and placed under a tree. What if we took some of the money that we would have spent on each other and gave it to people who were in need– then Christmas could change the world. Advent Conspiracy allows us to think about how we celebrate Christmas in a new and exciting way.
Below is a video from AC and some of the organizations that you could give gifts through this Christmas. Let’s make this Christmas one to remember!
Join the conspiracy!
Below is a link to a sermon I preached entitled “Remember Me In Your Kingdom” based on Luke 22:33-43 (Christ The King Sunday 2013)
(Recorded by Voice Record Pro by Bej Bej Apps for iOS)
Tomorrow, millions of people will gather across this great nation to celebrate Thanksgiving: the time in our calendar where we pause to give thanks for the year that has past, for family, loved ones, new additions and to remember those that have gone on before us. We share stories, we laugh, we cry…and for many of us we eat too much. For centuries, families have gathered together to pause and to say thanks, even if it is just for one day.
This year, however, I am going to make a bold statement: I am declaring that Thanksgiving to some is obsolete, if not dead. Why such the bold statement? It seems that since the day after Halloween, the focus has been on lights, bows, trees, candy canes, Santa and the Christmas story. In a mad dash to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and in the midst of people complaining about the store employee not saying “Merry Christmas” we have forgotten to stop and be thankful.
We all learned the story in grade school. Pilgrims came to this land on a ship called the Mayflower. They settled the land and after a difficult time with the land and the weather, they met some Native Americans. They helped work the land, grow crops and around harvest time they celebrated together with a grand feast, the first Thanksgiving. It was in this same spirit that the tradition has continued for so long.
For some, Thanksgiving has turned into a stopping point on the road to Christmas shopping and excess. It seems that every year the start date for when “Black Friday” sales begin is getting earlier and earlier. Some stores are opening on Thanksgiving Day to entice people to come and buy their holiday gifts at low, low prices.
On one hand, I understand their reasoning of trying to bolster the bottom line – especially in light of the past few years decline in the economy. But why has the day when people are supposed to be thankful for what they have been given turned into just another Thursday? Can we not give thanks for more than just a few hours one Thursday in November before making a mad dash to buy more and more things? What about the employees of these stores? Not every employee of a company can demand that they take the day off. What about their traditions? What about their family time? How will they give thanks?
While this might sound like I am being cynical, please hear me out: I am not. Thanksgiving is more than about turkey, stuffing and family; it is about the recognition that for most people, by virtue of living in the United States, we live a life of luxury, comfort and even excess. We should be thankful for what we have – not thankful that we have things but pine away for that flat screen for $100 at Wal-Mart.
I am not anti-gift giving, or even anti-captialism, but I am anti-acquisition of things for acquisition’s sake. Is forgoing the sales on Thanksgiving really going to put a damper on one’s holiday shopping? It’s puzzling to think that in one breath we can go around the table and say one thing we are thankful for, while in the back of our mind we are hoping that Aunt Shirley won’t take too long because we have to get to the store by 6pm if we are going to purchase one of those TVs or a Playstation 4 or an iPad Mini.
As a Christian, I find the words of Jesus are all the more true this time of year: “Stop collecting treasures for your own benefit on earth, where moth and rust eat them and where thieves break in and steal them. Instead, collect treasures for yourselves in heaven, where moth and rust don’t eat them and where thieves don’t break in and steal them. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21, Common English Bible). Our heart this time of year should be centered around thanks for the beauty of this earth, the world that we find ourselves in and even extending Christ’s love of wholeness and reconciliation to those who go without most of the year.
Thanksgiving should be a reminder to us all that despite the things we are envious we don’t have, we have a lot, more than most in the entire world. This Thanksgiving let’s not lose sight of that fact. Things can wait, sales come and go. What’s more important– saving a few bucks or making memories with friends and family? Give me the memories all day long– you can keep your sales, long lines and fights over the last Barbie Dream House.
Below is a link to a sermon I preached on November 17, 2013 entitled “It’s Not Our Call” based on Luke 18:9-14
(Recorded by Voice Record Pro by Bej Bej Apps for iOS)
Thanksgiving is right around the corner and my lovely wife created some cute turkey t-shirts for our kids. (I know this isn’t a typical Rev. Ev post but I just had to share.)
I want to thank Fruit of the Loom for sending me these shirts from their BEST Collection.
They are well made and the color are quite bright! The orange is called “safety orange” and it seems to get brighter in the sun than it is indoors. You can find the shirts here for children and here for adults.
For the turkey pattern you can go here.
Again, a BIG thank you to Fruit of the Loom for their generosity!
For a while now, my friend Ray and I have been wanting to do something different with respects to Christianity. We have had several conversations about the future of the Church and how the Church can sometimes miss the mark or the perception of Christianity is not what we believe it should be.
We would have long lunch conversations airing our thoughts and concerns, but we realized that more people probably had the same ideas as we did. We’ve wanted to do some type of vidcast or podcast for a while now but our lives were busy with jobs and families (they still are). But we took some time and thanks to Google Hangouts On Air we are able to record and converse about Christianity, theology and the like.
Who knows where this will take us but we have had fun so far.
We would love to hear from you!
Enjoy the video below.
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Below is a link to a sermon I preached on November 10, 2013 entitled “One or Two Masters” based on Luke 16:1-13
(Recorded by Voice Record Pro by Bej Bej Apps for iOS)
A school assembly speaker is gaining national attention. In Richardson, Texas a high school brought in ”motivational speaker and dating expert” Justin Lookadoo to speak to the students about relationships and dating. Lookadoo traverses the country speaking to students about the ins and out, the perils and pitfalls of dating. According to his website, he is a former probation officer with a biology degree who likes to speak to students (I guess that’s all it takes to be motivational speaker).
Through his “Are You Dateable Quiz” Lookadoo gives teens a definitive answer on their status in the realm of dating. His quiz parallels with his “Dateable Rules” (read them here) some of which are textbook gender stereotypes and Christian theological distortions.
Here are a few of them:
Dateable Girl Rule 1:
Accept your girly-ness. You’re a girl. Be proud of all that means. You are soft, you are gentle, you are a woman. Don’t try to be a guy. Guys like you because you are different from them. So let your girly-ness soar.
Dateable Girl Rule 6:
Be mysterious. Dateable girls know how to shut up. They don’t monopolize the conversation. They don’t tell everyone everything about themselves. They save some for later. They listen more than they gab.
Dateable Girl Rule 9:
Let him lead. God made guys as leaders. Dateable girls get that and let him do guy things, get a door, open a ketchup bottle. They relax and let guys be guys. Which means they don’t ask him out!!!
Dateable Boy Rule 1:
Being a guy is good. Dateable guys know they aren’t as sensitive as girls and that’s okay. They know they are stronger, more dangerous, and more adventurous and that’s okay. Dateable guys are real men who aren’t afraid to be guys.
As you can imagine many parents had concerns about this particular speaker especially when they did not know about it or consent. Parents contacted the school and took to social media to spread the word about the assembly.
While reports have come out stating that the speaker did not speak about his religious beliefs, he did speak about the ins and outs of relationships.
To be honest, I think his “rules” are bogus. They come from a place where boys and girls are divided into classes and in the end boys win. Making girls out to be “damsels in distress” and boys are “heroic warriors looking for an adventure” doesn’t equate a relationship.
Relationships are built upon respect and mutuality not antiquated thinking when it comes to gender roles.
This particularly hits home for me when it comes to Girl Rule #9.
Picture this… a 16 year old husky, acne prone, tuba player who has a crush on a cute blonde haired girl he has been friends with for a while. While he is extroverted with his friends he can’t seem to articulate the words to ask out this girl. Then one glorious day, this girl breaks rule #9 and ask him out to the movies! (I know Justin Lookadoo is gasping…) After that they began to date and I am happy to say that I have been married to that beautiful blonde haired girl for nine years. Had my wife listened to Lookadoo’s crazy rules who knows if I would have ever have garnered enough intestinal fortitude to ask her out. If that had not happened who knows what my life would be like today.
This is not “Pleasantville” where we live in a perfect “Leave It To Beaver” style world full of “awww shucks” and Dad smoking a pipe while reading the paper. This is the 21st century where we have advanced our notion of relationships to the point where we make them “official” by updating our statuses on Facebook. Girls need not be afraid of breaking some rule or social etiquette when it comes to dating. I am sure there are hundreds if not thousands of teenage boys just like I was just hoping that a girl will ask them out. Girls, hear me, if you like someone, you my permission to break rule 9 and ask them out, sooner rather than later. You never know what might come of it.
Lookadoo’s rules interject theology that many Christians do not stand for. Again this goes back to Rule 9 which claims that God made boys to be leaders. Okay Mr. Lookadoo (I still have trouble believing that is your real last name) if this is the case then why in the Biblical record do we find women in prominent roles of leadership, authority and at the heart of the Gospel? Should girls disregard the Biblical stories that promote women in the same roles as men? Deborah the Judge– get rid of her? Queen Ester– don’t need her? Ruth– that’s just a nice story? The women who found Jesus’ tomb empty– I guess the men had “manly things” they had to take care of like hiding and running away.
Holding the view that women are just side show pieces to prop up the work of men is not found in the Biblical record… sure you can make it fit but you can do that with anything. (Also, some of the men found in the Biblical record probably wouldnt fit the bill of date-ability either.)
Girls today need to be taught that there is a God who doesn’t favor boys more than them. If we are all created in the same Image of God, created by the same Loving God and that same God knitted us in our mother’s womb, then why would having two X chromosomes disqualify someone from serving, leading, taking charge and being a strong person?
Lookadoo believes he has uncovered the secret formula for relationships… yeah you and every other author in Barnes and Nobles in the “Relationship” section.
It’s time to empower teenagers and have meaningful conversations about dating, relationships and all the craziness that comes with it.