We Need A R-evol-ution

Civility...definition, "courtesy, politeness" -
an endangered species

The past few days have given us the opportunity to witness the decline in civility in the public eye. First, Representative Joe Wilson (R-South Carolina) arrogantly shouted out during President Obama's address to the joint session of Congress, "You Lie" - you may view the video here.

Last night, although I wasn't watching the VMA's on MTV, I saw the chatter across the internet regarding what Kanye West did while Taylor Swift was making her acceptance remarks for Best Female Video of the year - you may see Kanye's actions here.

The definition above, extracted from a few "dictionary" websites across the Internet, is weak and lacks the necessary punch needed to counter the lack of civility present in our society. This is nothing new, lest you think this is a "race thing" it's been going on for a while. In the country music scene, you have Toby Keith that has been an outspoken critic of the Country Music Association (CMA) awards - article here.

So, what's the problem with the above definition?

It is weak. Politeness, can be extended, all while hijacking a conversation or situation, and stabbing someone else in the back. For example, "Excuse me (that would be polite), I'm happy that you won that award or were recognized for that achievement (more politeness), but the real recognition goes to so-and-so."

What just happened?
  • Politeness was extended (sometimes more than once)
  • The situation was turned from the original intent to your intent
  • You made the situation about you, even though you tried to make it about someone else
  • That is called selfishness
And it's rampant in the world around us...

For example, our 1st Amendment rights to free speech have been hijacked in the name of selfishness - I have no doubt as to your rights, but there's something to be said for timing, tone and context.

Rep. Wilson's timing couldn't have been worse - it's terribly rude, inconsiderate and selfish to interrupt the President (or ANY public speaker). The tone was hateful and dehumanizing - something that ought never happen. The context was the worst possible scenario - the beauty of our society is that after the fact, we can express our opinion, we just need to do it in the right context - for Rep. Wilson that context would have been after President Obama's speech.

Kanye's timing couldn't be worse - he made his remarks, intended to be about Beyonce, about himself. His tone was crass and careless (also demonstrated by his action of taking the stage...something that never should happen...notice the word usage - "taking the stage" - the stage is a privilege not a right, one is given the stage, the stage ought never be "taken"). And the context was awful - Kanye has a blog and an appearance on tonight's Jay Leno show - that should have been the context of his opinion.

We need a Revolution

George Washington had his list of 110 Rules of Civility - list found here. While they may seem old-fashioned and outdated, one of the common denominators is this: Consider Others First.

Romans 12:10 puts it this way, "Honor one another above yourselves."

In the book titled, "The 25 Rules of Considerate Conduct" - author P.M. Forni offers advice for us all. At a glance, here are his 25 rules are (note: I've bolded the ones that are appropriate to these two situations in mind):

1. Pay attention
2. Acknowledge others
3. Think the best

4. Listen

5. Be inclusive
6. Speak kindly

7. Don’t speak ill
8. Accept and give praise

9. Respect even a subtle “no”
10. Respect others’ opinions
11. Mind your body
12. Be agreeable
13. Keep it down (and rediscover silence)
14. Respect other people’s time

15. Respect other people’s space

16. Apologize earnestly and thoughtfully (note: both have done this)
17. Assert yourself
18. Avoid personal questions
19. Care for your guests
20. Be a considerate guest

21. Think twice before asking for favors
22. Refrain from idle complaints

23. Give constructive criticism

24. Respect the environment and be gentle to animals
25. Don’t shift responsibility and blame

I recently preached a sermon and blogged saying in effect, "We need an Honor Revolution." Today, I say we also need a Civility Revolution. We need a Revolution!

We need a Revolution of Civility - one that affirms the worth of people rather than exerting some sort of self-imposed superiority. We need a Revolution of Civility - one that listens first with the intent of hearing the heart of the other person rather than waiting impatiently or interrupting someone to spout out our self-declared importance of opinion. We need a Revolution of Civility - one that respects people rather than gazing down the nose of our self-exalted position.

We also need a Love Revolution (By the way, if you look at the word Revolution, you see the word "love" spelled backwards. I've bolded it in the paragraph above...that's because love goes against the flow, is hidden in the many facets and dynamics of day-to-day life and and can be found even in a revolution). Join me in coming days as I blog about Revolution - a Love Revolution.

(By the way, pastors and church leaders, are you prepared for this type of interruption in your service...I sense that if we don't see a Revolution in Civility, we will see this type of debate taking place soon. While I'm all for dialogue, one of the reasons I embrace twitter, facebook and commmenting on the blog, timing, tone and context are also important).

In Light of Eternity

"If you see a light at the end of the tunnel - RUN!"

Perhaps you've heard that before, perhaps in a movie, perhaps joking around with a close friend. The problem with it, is that it's wrong. Today, I want to encourage you to run toward the Light...

Yesterday I mentioned that I'd be posting about an amazing thing that happened to me this past weekend.

On Sunday, I celebrated another birthday - I'm not one that cares too much about a lot of fanfare on my birthday, I prefer to keep it pretty simple, eat some cake, and enjoy a relaxing day!

This year was no different in my expectations. I did, however, ask my wife to plan a simple date for us to share since it was on the weekend and the grandparents wanted to keep the kids. I decided we would attend church with the grandparents since that's something we're not often able to do, it was a holiday weekend and I purposely scheduled a "down" weekend in terms of ministry and speaking.

Sounds pretty simple (ok, and maybe boring)...but God interrupted the span of about 7 or 8 minutes during church on Sunday morning completely without warning. We were in the middle of worship, and moving toward participating in communion. The worship team was singing a song I have never heard before (I've included a YouTube worship video below). The lyrics are:

You awaken my heart
From slumbering
Meet me in mourning
And you speak to my grief

You're the light in my darkness
The delight of my eyes
The hope of the daybreak
When the sun's slow to rise

I trust that every moment's in your hands
You're the God of my days

The King of my nights

Lord of my laughter
Sovereign in sorrow
You're the Prince of my praise
The love of my life
You never leave me

You are faithful
God of my days

You unveil my eyes
Help me to see
The arms of my Father
Encircling me
You're a constant companion
I am never alone
Your love is the banner
That's leading me home

My eyes are on You
My hope is in You
My faith is in You
My eyes are on You
My hope is in You
My faith is in You

During this song and communion I had a wonderful mid-life crisis. It's one that I've had before, just never in this fashion. In just a few moments of time, God began to help me see once again the journey of life He has us on. Full of life-changing decisions, but they pale in comparison to eternity. Complete with opportunity for adventure, yet quite boring if He's not involved. He helped me to see: 1.) my birthday - in light of eternity; 2.) my life - in light of eternity; 3.) my contribution - in light of eternity.

I left that service, and now have spent the last 4 days, glaring intently through the lens of eternity - because everything, every-thing, e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g is dismally small compared to eternity.

This type of awakening in one's spirit is usually reserved for a funeral of a close friend or family member; perhaps a parent, or a brother or sister. But God, by His Spirit, chose to interrupt my worship of Him to remind me...

In light of eternity, He's all that really matters!

  • He's the God of my days (and my birthdays)
  • He's the King of my nights (those lonely seasons where darkness and solitude are all that are found)
  • He's the Lord of my laughter (bringing joy that sustains through every season of life)
  • He's Sovereign in sorrow (reminding me that in my sorrow and sadness, all I need do is trust Him)
In light of eternity, He's all that really matters!

Isaiah says it this way:

The high and lofty one who lives in eternity,
the Holy One, says this:
“I live in the high and holy place
with those whose spirits are contrite and humble.
I restore the crushed spirit of the humble
and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts.

Isaiah 57:15

In Light of Eternity...
regardless of your situation...
regardless of your relationships...
regardless of station in life...

He is the God of my Days


Fearless - the sermon series and the book...

I'm preaching a three week sermon series in a couple of weeks in a local church...when I heard the title of this book, I knew I had to have it! I had already felt like God was saying, "This church needs to learn to be fearless again...they have been locked up in the past, in fear and in dread of the future and it's time to be set free" - so, I quickly DM'd Michael Hyatt @ Thomas Nelson to let him know of my interest in the book.

My three weeks of sermon titles are shaping up to be along these lines:
  • What's Next?
  • Is it Over?
  • Fear Knot
Having this book has been a useful and practical resource in personal preparation for preaching this upcoming series. I always find it easier to minister "out of the overflow" as they say. So, I have been very intentional about facing my personal fears, evaluating them and working toward overcoming them - tomorrow, I'll write about one of those - it's going to be an amazing post about something God did in my life this past weekend.

This book also helped me see the fears of others (some I haven't embraced), understand them, and also embrace the Biblical solution to those fears - in typical Lucado fashion, this book is full of plenty of "ah-ha" and "wow" moments (as well as a few "uh-oh" moments that get a little personal).

Here are a few of my favorite quotes:
  • "It's not the absence of storms that sets us apart. It's whom we discover in the storm: an unstirred Christ" (p.8)
  • "Fear, at its center, is a perceived loss of control. When life spins wildly, we grab for a component of life we can manage: our diet, the tidiness of our house, the armrest of a plane, or, in many cases, people. The more insecure we feel, the meaner we become" (p.9)
  • "The fear that you are one big zero will become a self-fulfilling prophecy that will ruin your life." (p.25)
  • "Putting your worries into words disrobes them." (talking about prayer) (p.85) - italics mine
A little more information:

(full disclosure here - I received an advance copy of this book for free in agreement to review this book on my blog site. I was not, however, forced to write a positive review - the review is my own personal opinion and a postive review was not part of the review agreement)

5 Student Ministry Values to Embrace

I'm going to venture out in an area that I haven't wandered in for a while - student ministry.

I spent close to 10 years in youth ministry - ministering to middle and high school students - but that's been quite a while ago. I've had the opportunity to speak to some youth groups and minister in college settings since then, but things have changed - drastically!

My college roommate is still in youth ministry and I admire that. There are others that I know that have stayed in it for the long haul - for me, it was honestly a season of preparation for the next season that God had for me.

So, I've been thinking about some values that I would pass along to those that minister to students - if you're a student minister, I'd love to hear your input - am I off base, out of my league, close, or dead-one (doubtful about that).

But before I tell you what the five values are - here's why I feel I'm qualified to speak about this: I have a teenage son - that's called OJT.

  1. Talk -spend time talking with teens - that means listening! What is it like in their world. Go where they are, listen to what they listen to, see what they see - that's what Jesus did.
  2. Text - it's the language they use. Get over your hangups and stop making excuses about not knowing how, it being too timely to learn, etc - it's not about you. It's about reaching them. Learn to text and you learn more than you could ever imagine. Teens, by the way, are still suspicious of twitter.
  3. Time - teens need time. Time with you, time with people that care about them, time to process, time to grow, time to believe - time!
  4. Transfer - help them know they are world changers. Transfer a belief in them that helps them see that they are valuable and will make a huge difference. Transfer some belief, some confidence and some ability for them to make a difference
  5. Truth - teens are hungry for the truth - are you ready to give it to them? They will question everything - that's not so bad. In fact, it'll make them a more formidable force for world change to see the life of Christ lived out because they will own it.