Remembering transformation does happen...

I just sent the letter below to all my Team Leaders at Four Corners. I rarely share these but this note struck me as I wrote it because I often forget I get to be part of the "greatest news" on this little planet. Maybe this note will remind you too...


Lately I have been struck by this saying, "the greatest news ever heard". I'm an avid news reader and most news is NOT good...it's actually mostly depressing. And it is that fact that makes this above saying POP for me...

Jesus offers us hope, redemption, purpose, wisdom, direction, salvation and so much more in this often dark and confusing life...and what better news could we share with our friends, neighbors, co-workers and family!

Sometimes I find myself embarrassed or feel like I'm imposing on people with this news. I wouldn't feel this way if I found the cure for some deadly disease and I would tell my friends of a great book or restaurant I have found. But for some reason this "greatest news" makes me hesitate...

So here's the challenge...DON'T hesitate the next time you think about asking a friend about joining you at church or the next time a friend tells you of something difficult happening...tell them you'll be praying for them. Or the next time you see a new person wandering the halls of Four Corners...say hi and even think about asking them "You want to come serve alongside me...I love it and I think you would too!".

You are in a position to watch this "greatest news" transform people's lives all around you. You are in a position to watch your teams grow as you grow. You are in a position to be part of impacting this community and generations to come for eternity. God is working through you and I to transform this world...let's make the impact reach far and wide.


Non-Traditional Marketing continues

It's been interesting to watch various products whether they be films, bands, TV shows, shampoo or shoes attempt to take advantage of the so-called "Internet Buzz Factor". Some campaigns lately have been the movie "Cloverfield" and the TV show "Lost", which have created an online mixture of online entertainment and promotion. The latest is "Scarlet". You may have seen ads on TV and in magazines, huge billboards and more touting this new daring TV show. It turns out it was all a campaign for a new line of LG flat screen TV's. Whether or not it is actually a successful methodology or just another flash in the pan is yet to be seen, but this kind of viral campaign seems here to stay.


Interesting new films :: Henry Poole, Chaos Theory and more

Just watched a few trailers for some new little films that look worth the watch. Entertain thyself...

Henry Poole
Chaos Theory
The Happening


FREE Church Resources for a limited time!

The Church Box has ARRIVED! Head on over to The Church Box to see Four Corners Church's resources in action. We've been working on this idea for over a year and Paul did a great job getting the final phases up and running. We're excited to help churches be better equipped to creatively talk about the message of Jesus and its impact on our lives.

While we test the beta site you can get 3 FREE downloads if you enter the coupon code CHBX2008 during checkout. Don't miss out on this great deal and give us feedback about your experience.

"Excellence gets me paid."

My brother just sent me a great blog from Larry Winget about what he believes is one of the greatest lies people are believing these days...that passion gets you success.

"Excellence is what moves you to the top. And hard work doing the right things is what makes you excellent. To tell people that passion is the key to success does those folks a great disservice. Because somewhere down the road, they will discover that no one cares or shares their passion. They will find out that while they are passionate, they haven’t done the work to be really good, they know nothing about selling or marketing, leadership, management, finance, their competition, serving customers or all the other facets of a successful life or business. All they have is their passion. Try cashing that at the bank."

I have to agree in the end. I do have a large passion about my job but in the end my passion gets little done. Instead it provides the launching pad into the things that require hours and hours of hard work very few people see and appreciate. My passion is simply the beginning.


Breaking 1,000

I looked at my Google Analytics for "Beautiful and Grotesque" and it passed 1,000 unique visitors earlier this month. Thanks for taking time to read and visit!

Do you worship work?

I have said this a few times on this blog but it's worth saying over and over. Oswald Chambers is the man...his perspective always challenges me to view this life just slightly different and shakes me when I'm settling too much. Here's something that hit me today in "My Utmost for His Highest".

"Beware of any work for God that causes or allows you to avoid concentrating on Him. A great number of Christian workers worship their work. The only concern of Christian workers should be their concentration on God. This will mean that all the other boundaries of life, whether they are mental, moral, or spiritual limits, are completely free with the freedom God gives His child; that is, a worshiping child, not a wayward one. A worker who lacks this serious controlling emphasis of concentration on God is apt to become overly burdened by his work. He is a slave to his own limits, having no freedom of his body, mind, or spirit. Consequently, he becomes burned out and defeated. There is no freedom and no delight in life at all. His nerves, mind, and heart are so overwhelmed that God’s blessing cannot rest on him.

But the opposite case is equally true--once our concentration is on God, all the limits of our life are free and under the control and mastery of God alone. There is no longer any responsibility on you for the work. The only responsibility you have is to stay in living constant touch with God..."

This is an issue I wrestle with constantly. I strongly identify myself with my work, especially creative projects I invest a lot in and this leaves me open for peaks and valleys. And although if you ask me about where my focus lies as a "pastor"...I would never want to admit to the extent that my intense focus could actually me called a form of worship. My prayer is to maintain my "constant touch" with God to an extent to bring true freedom in my work.

THE OFFICE :: Dwight Shrut and bears

My wife and I love "The Office". Thank God it has returned from such a long hiatus...and it returned with a bang. The dinner party may have been one of the most uncomfortable episodes I have seen on TV, ranking right alongside "Curb Your Enthusiasm". And the profound irritation Kevin shows from simply having to walk a few blocks for office renovation are the brilliant satiric pieces about the human idiosyncrasies we all have in one way or another (then they amplify it exponentially, of course) is such great comedy. Take a look at the continual wisdom of Dwight Shrut and his PSA on black and brown bears.


193 Marketing Ideas

I'm always looking for new ways we can communicate to people about Four Corners Church and what God is doing there. One of my favorite blogs Brand Autopsy has a link to a great piece by Sam Decker about guerrilla marketing ideas. Maybe you'll find a few just like me...

Future Revolutions?

Time magazine published a list of what revolutions in thought, industry, politics, religion and more may be coming our way...some interesting editorials to read on each:

1. Common Wealth
2. The End of Customer Service
3. The Post-Movie-Star Era
4. Reverse Radicalism
5. Kitchen Chemistry6. Geoengineering
7. Synthetic Authenticity
8. The New Austerity
9. Mandatory Health
10. Re-Judaizing Jesus


The Child-Man is rendering young men impotent?

A fascinating article in the "City Journal" by Kay Hymowitz sheds light on this disturbing trend of men (if they can be called that) stalling their development as a man until early 30's...the literal putting off of becoming a man in exchange for every self-absorbent desire imaginable matched with a complete lack of depth in almost every relationship.

Do I sound too irritated at this trend? If so, I am. When a culture puts its selfish desires ahead of all else it is only a matter of time before the core rots away...or as CS Lewis put it, "the soul shrinks and shrinks". It's the modern day hell on earth if you ask me...the idea that somehow the best years of our lives happened between 16-20 years old and the rest is downhill from there. If that's so, pass me the Zoloft.

The most disturbing part of it is the consequences this will have on families and faith communities. I watch how much my boys watch my every action and word...the influence I have without even noticing it many times is humbling and immense. In a faith community so many times, it is the wife or girlfriend that brings the grumbling man to church because she desires their relationship or parenting to have a source of authority and purpose. He sits there through the service waiting to head home to mow the lawn on his new John Deere, watch Nascar with his drinking buddies, or play hours of video games online. I may be over-generalizing but I think this is a critical issue.

Are you "Emergent"?

I have been a reader of Leadership Journal's blog "Land of Ur" for some time, and I have heard the term "emergent" Christian tossed all over the place lately. In one of their latest blog postings the following from Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck's book "Why I'm Not Emergent" is quoted and cause quite the response. I found it interesting but, moreover, it's a good laugh:

You might be an emergent Christian: if you listen to U2, Moby, and Johnny Cash’s Hurt (sometimes in church), use sermon illustrations from The Sopranos, drink lattes in the afternoon and Guinness in the evenings, and always use a Mac; if your reading list consists primarily of Stanley Hauerwas, Henri Nouwen, N. T. Wright, Stan Grenz, Dallas Willard, Brennan Manning, Jim Wallis, Frederick Buechner, David Bosch, John Howard Yoder, Wendell Berry, Nancy Murphy, John Frank, Walter Winks, and Lesslie Newbigin (not to mention McLaren, Pagitt, Bell, etc.) and your sparring partners include D. A. Carson, John Calvin, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and Wayne Grudem;...

If your idea of quintessential Christian discipleship is Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, or Desmond Tutu; if you don’t like George W. Bush or institutions or big business or capitalism or Left Behind Christianity; if your political concerns are poverty, AIDS, imperialism, war-mongering, CEO salaries, consumerism, global warming, racism, and oppression and not so much abortion and gay marriage; if you are into bohemian, goth, rave, or indie; if you talk about the myth of redemptive violence and the myth of certainty; if you lie awake at night having nightmares about all the ways modernism has ruined your life; if you love the Bible as a beautiful, inspiring collection of works that lead us into the mystery of God but is not inerrant; (read MORE here)

I can't figure out if this list is inerrant or simply inspired? I'm off to Starbucks to think about it. Am I emergent?

READ THIS: Parent's Tension List...brillant stuff

We just finished an amazing series called "Align" at Four Corners. Not only was the church as a whole moved but my family has been deeply stirred. Although there are a lot of insightful things talked about this list from Ben hit me. I feel this tension everyday as I raise my boys...wanting so badly to be a great dad and a great example in every way. This list summed it up for me...what I want for my kids:

  • I want my kids to buy into what is right; not simply know what is wrong.
  • I want my kids to make intentional choices; not simply go with the flow.
  • I want my kids to see themselves as God sees them; not simply by the label that sticks (smart, athletic, tall, fat, etc.).
  • I want my kids to love the truth; not simply avoid lies.
  • I want my kids to take responsibility; not simply take the easiest path.
  • I want my kids to move out when they are older; not simply hang around home.
  • I want my kids to respect me; not simply obey me.
  • I want my kids to think reflectively; not simply parrot back my answers to life questions.
  • I want my kids to own their faith; not simply mimic mine.
  • I want my kids to become learners and critical thinkers; not simply straight ‘A’ students.
  • I want my kids to choose friends; not simply become friends with those in close proximity with them.
  • I want my kids to love people; not simple avoid conflict or be nice.
  • I want my kids to take joy in healthy sexuality within boundaries; not simply “not go too far.”
  • I want my kids to respect authority; not simply avoid getting caught.
  • I want my kids to love church; not simply go without complaining too much.
  • I want my kids to follow Jesus; not simply avoid sin.
  • I want my kids to share the message of Jesus; not simply isolate from the world.
  • I want my kids to have a healthy marriage; not simply a great wedding.
  • I want my kids to give back; not simply take.
  • I want my kids to be passionate engagers of the vocation God calls them to; not simply sell out to the most dollars.
  • I want my kids to be generous; not simply do their fair share.
  • I want my kids to love growing and developing; not simply arrive.


Get HULU'ed today

Most people know by now that media is not the same as it was just a few years ago. There are so many more outlets for distribution than ever before. HULU is a brand new site that offers mainstream content (current and past TV, Sports, Movies and more) for FREE. That's right...you could watch last night's "South Park" or "The Jerk" for free right now. I'm continually amazed at how the media landscape is transforming.


Dear God...

I have read POST SECRET for a while. It's clever way for people to submit postcard size pieces of art that communicate often difficult and disturbing messages. And now the idea is blossoming. A friend sent me a site called DEAR GOD where people write their prayers (and/or statements) to God. Makes for an interesting read...


Daft Punk and Church

I was watching Granger Church's Easter service and they have an amazing performance using Daft Punk's "Harder, Faster, Stronger" to help people understand the viral culture we live in...it's brilliant and fun.

Apparently this video is also causing a flap within the church community...so be it, I say. Innovation always has plenty of critics. Thanks Granger for a great interactive idea.


Musical Nostalgia

Jill and I sat down at iTunes and started just listening to the volumes of music I have...3753 songs to be exact. We laughed and even cried at some of the songs we heard. Music is such a powerful force that taps something deep within us. Memories that have laid dormant for years suddenly jump to life with such vitality my emotions are surprised and I can't help but have a visceral reaction.

Jennifer Knapp's "Martyrs and Thieves" makes me get teary as I remember being thousands of miles away from Jill as we wrestled with our relationship. Should she move to Georgia ? Should we get married?

Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds" reminds me of the sunny Spring days at Miami University throwing frisbees...emerging from hibernation of the winter with speakers propped on window ledges and laughter echoing.

Live's "Selling the Drama" has memories of freshmen year at college where my musical wings expanded and new tastes came into being. I fell in love with so many of the perfect "college" bands...Dave Matthews, Jackopierce, The Samples, Vertical Horizon, Rusted Root, Guster, Over the Rhine, Indigo Girls and so many more.

It was a fun meander down memory lane...now back to the Beastie Boys, Jane's Addiction and Metallica.

Muxtape...mix tapes are back!

I have a long history with mix tapes...ask my wife. It was the beginning of our relationship...I loved to make mix tapes that were fast-paced on Side 1 and slower-paced on Side 2 (especially for the ladies). I was what one could call a Mix Master. But the iPod has come into existence and tapes faded into the twilight. A gaping a void was left until now...

Muxtape is a website that resurrects the mix tape online. Upload MP3's into a mix tape and share it with friends. So here's mine...enjoy and maybe make your own too.


"Christians love..." (a loving epic list of quirkiness)

The Christian sub-culture in America is a very funny place beneath the surface and one man has set out to list many of the quirks and quizzical observations one can make. Don't miss reading this list...here's a sample:

#106 -- The Side Hug
I'm talking of course about a "full frontal hug," one of those sinful abominations where you just wrap your arms around a friend and embrace them. That's why Christians the world over have pioneered the "side hug." In the side hug there's no risk of two crotches touching. Instead of face to face, you go side to side, putting your arm around the person and your hip against their's. Still having a hard time mastering it? Pretend you're taking a photo and you're both looking at the camera together. The side hug, or A frame as it is also called, is safe for the whole family, friendly and above all holy. I don't know the exact scripture reference but try the book of Psalms.

#105 -- Wishing your testimony was more exciting
Have you ever met someone that seemed bored by their own testimony? While they are telling it you can see them thinking inside, "I wish this was more interesting." I know a couple like that. Whenever he tells his testimony people in the room start crying. And then they laugh and then they think and reflect on their own lives. His testimony is like a George Lucas epic adventure. And then when his wife tries to follow that she usually says something like this:

"I grew up in the church. I gave my life to Christ when I was 5 years old. I had a sip of a Zima alcoholic beverage in high school and felt really convicted. I rededicated my life to God."

It's a pretty dull story, but on some level being given a new life should never be deemed as "dull," regardless of the details. On some level, we should all be happy with our stories. And, I've never met someone that recovered from a horrible car accident, defying the odds to live again and heard them say, "Yeah, I mean my recovery is cool, it's nice that I am where I am, but I wish I could have been crippled for a little while. Not forever, but just long enough so that I had to learn to walk again and could have been more dramatic and sweaty and maybe been in a Garth Brooks video."

Read some more at Stuff Christians Love.


Planning for Personal Growth...a new adventure

In the last year, as a church, we involved ourselves in a coaching network that has kicked our butts in great ways. I have felt a significant growth in myself and the systems of Four Corners...a maturation process.

We talked as a staff this week about our plan for personal growth. For me, although I have a plan, I have never actually documented it and had someone help me stay both accountable and disciplined. So, needless to say, I'm going to try and nail my "plan" down and will blog about some it soon. Here's a tidbit for now:

• Personal growth is necessary for spiritual growth
• Personal growth precedes church growth
• Personal growth requires a plan

"How Evangelical Are You?" and other important questions

Lark News has been a site I find refreshing in the midst of a church-world that takes itself so seriously. It's not that salvation, Jesus, Heaven and Hell or "loving your neighbor as yourself" aren't to be taken seriously...but come on folks, unbutton your cleric collar and laugh a little. I find it hard to believe Jesus that walked around frowning and acting as if smiling should be an action reserved for the pearly gates.

Lark News is no doubt written by "insiders" who are looking for a way to let out a little steam with a healthy dose of sarcasm while making interesting insights into the Evangelical sub-culture today. And speaking of Evangelical (I'm still foggy a bit on what this means exactly), take this quiz to find out how Evangelical you are. And better yet, become a reader of Lark News and brighten your day a bit.