Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Power Of A Focused Life

I've been listening to some sermons about having a focused life, been VERY challenging to me during the season that I've been in.

If you guys are hungering for more, I definitely encourage you to listen and APPLY some of the stuff Bickle is talking about in this series (Power of A Focused Life). Do it:

Virginia Tech House of Prayer Teaching

You need to register to get them...don't worry they don't spam you :)
"The YOUTH RESPOND"
[NOTE: 3 different responses are below]

[Below are replies to Andrew Strom's article, "TO THE YOUTH OF AMERICA" - which can be found at- http://www.revivalschool.com ]

My name is Jenelle. I am 19 years old. When I was younger my family and a lot of our friends went through a lot of bad stuff with this church we went to. There was a church split, a lot of corruption, and some real cultish stuff between the pastor and the congregation.

My family and many others were ostricized for having disagreements with what was going on, and that scarred my family, specifically my three sisters, who one by one got caught up into the world and themselves. I decided I never wanted to get sucked into all the things they went through, and I kept seeking God for guidance.

High School was very hard for me. I had friends, mostly everyone liked me. I was funny, outgoing and I was a good friend. That was the problem. Everything was too good. I was never satisfied with always trying to satisfy. I wanted to be different, set apart. I didn't feel comfortable being comfortable. You get the point. I was basic- ally the only Christian in high school. I didn't know how to really be set apart, so I just prayed. I prayed and wept for my friends almost every night my junior year, and things started happening. My friends started to come to me and open up and ask me questions about God. It was really exciting for a while, but then they slowly stopped asking questions, and for whatever stupid reason, I stopped praying. I became very frustrated and I lost hope. I had planted the seeds, I listened, I waited, but I was done waiting. I wanted results. So I basically gave up. I figured it was my turn to have fun and so I acted as perverse and foolish as everyone else. I said my little prayers once in a while to check in with God to make sure He hadn't abandoned me yet, and God forgive me, I kept Jesus on the shelf for when I needed Him the most. Next thing you know, I was standing in front of hundreds of people accepting my High School Diploma. While I stood there smiling at the crowd, I looked at the faces of all the students and teachers, and I felt like a failure. I had gotten two awards, something I had been waiting for for years, and I couldn't shake the thought... "Would I, if I had never given up?" I realized then I never gave up on the students, I had given up on God.

Since this time last year, I have gone to Africa and preached, and written worship songs that the adults ooh and aahh over. And I feel I am right back where I started, trying to make all my friends happy. I won't be satisfied anymore with adults looking at me and saying "You are so special. You have such a heart for God." If I'm so special and if I have such a heart for God, then why am I sitting in this pew hearing the same message about "God is so good" and "He will never leave nor forsake us." Why am I not out on the streets telling people about it? Too many Christians have way too much knowledge, and far too little faith, including me.

Going to church is stressful for me. I have a lot of walls up from bad experiences with pastors and "organizations." I can't sit in church without thinking at least 5 times, no matter how good the sermon is: "Why are we sitting here... why is everyone in here a firm believer in evangelism, and yet there are no unsaved people?" I recently read your article "To the Youth In America." I immediately went in my room and wept and repented for my complacency. I used to see this vision when I was alone. It was only a moment but it sticks clear in my mind. Thousands of teens together, praying and singing. But, they are never jumping up and down or enjoying a moment of blissful worship. They are weeping. They are on their knees, wailing for God to use them and to save this generation. There's a stage too, but the person on stage isn't calling out "repent, repent!" They are on their knees as well, asking the same: Forgive me, use me, and save this Generation.

I believe the church does need to repent (more than once have I had to walk out of a service to stop myself from screaming or breaking something), and I believe the youth of this generation are called to not be comfortable and to challenge the religious. What you wrote in that article reminded me of a song I just wrote. It's about America in it's sickness, and how the only way for it to heal, is to start with ourselves. It's not just about the government or the rich, but for me, it's especially for Christians. [-BELOW]-

"God Save America"

We've got all this and we've got all that
And we know who we are
We've got the sick and
We've got the orphans
How are we any better?

God save America
We've lost ourselves
Stand beside us
Forgive us
For the poor are still poor
And I've lost nothing

Some lose hope and never find it
Some succeed and
Live life blinded
When we lose we
Still have more than
Some could ever dream of having

God save America
We've lost ourselves
Stand beside us
Forgive us
For the poor are still poor
And I've lost nothing

God Save America
We've lost ourselves
Stand beside us
Forgive us
When we gain more we forget all the poor
We gain more and forget all the poor.

Me and three other young people are "taking over" (with the board's permission, thank God) this Christian coffeehouse that has become a little non-denominational performance thing for Christians. (The original vision was for teens, but it failed). It is in a perfect location for outreach, and we are very excited because there are so many youth groups and barely any outreach in my area. Please, I ask you to pray for this coffeehouse, because there is already opposition and we are so desperate to see change.
---------------------------------------------
(2) "LET the YOUTH RISE UP!"
- by 'Revolution'.

It is time for the youth to get serious about God! Why are we letting the devil take over our world, schools, and even our churches? Why are we sitting by and watching our friends get further and further from Jesus? Lets take no more of it! I myself am a teen so I know what supposedly Christian teens are doing. We are letting our friends and people in our church gossip, lie, etc! We are afraid of g anything because we don't want to appear uncool or a goodytwoshoes. Well, the choices are now in front of you.You can't be in the middle any more! It is time for you to stand up or sit down!
--------------------------------------
(3) KIRSTEN writes:

I am 17.... I see what you see, and my heart groans and weeps. The Lord moved me to Mexico for the summer. I have no room, I live out of a suitcase of freebees and thrift shop clothes.... all I have to do is learn Spanish to widen my sphere of who I may minister to. I have nothing to do but meet with God and encounter Him in His word.... I dont know the whole reason, but that is what I am doing....
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Saturday, June 25, 2005

20 Things to Know in Your Twenties -- RelevantMagazine.com
1. Live below your means
2. Live life an adventure, do not merely it. Slow down and see where God may take you
3. Honor God with your resources. Its a discipline cultivated over time
4. Get a clear picture of your 'dream' spouse.
5. Stop wrestling with god -- obedience
6. Wiat on God's timing
7. Do not settle for anything less than God's best
8. Take time to fill up. Learn to rest
9. Critique your bookshelf. What you read (or don't read) says a lot about you.
10. Pay God, pay yourself, pay your bills.
11. Establish perspective. Know your strengths and weaknesses. You're never as good as people say you are or as bad as people tell you.
12. Invest in people.
13. Pay your dues. Be faithful with the little and He will give you more.
14. Christ doesn't call the qualified, he qualifies those he calls
15. Face your fears.
16. Guard against the tyranny of the urgent. Prioritize daily. What are the most important thing you must do today? Do not allow others' crises to become yours. Establish boundaries. The things you don't manage you WILL lose.
17. Enjoy your freedom. Explore places. Work hard, play hard. Don't lament what you don't have. Enjoywhat you do have.
18. Establish disciplines. Structure provides more freedom.
19. Write down your pryaers.
20. Dream.

And most importantly. Living out of position instead of condition.

You are, according to the word of God (from Relevant again):
The ABC'S of my position. I am..

Accepted in the Beloved Ephesians 2:6
Bought with a Price 1 Corinthians 6:20
Crucified with Christ Galatians 2:20
Dwelt by the Holy Spirit 1 Corinthians 3:16
Enslaved to God Romans 6:22
Freed from slavery to sin Romans 6:18
God's Child Romans 8:14
Heir of God's Riches Galatians 4:6-7
In Him Complete Colossians 2:10
Jesus' chosen inheritance Ephesians 1:4
Kingly Priest 1 Peter 2:9
Light of the World Matthew 5:14
Mastered no longer by Sin Romans 6:14
New Creation 2 Corinthians 5:14
One spirit with the Lord 1 Corinthians 6:17
Perfect in Christ Hebrews 10:14
Quieted in the reality of who God is Psalm 46:10
Raised up with Him Ephesians 2:5-6
Seated in Heavenly places w/Christ Ephesians 2:5-6
Transformed into the image of Christ 2 Corinthians 3:18
United to the Lord 1 Corinthians 6:17
Victorious through my Lord 1 Corinthians 15:57
Wonderfully made Psalm 139:14
Xpistos (greek for Christ) workmanship Ephesians 2:10
Yoked with righteousness 2 Corinthians 6:14
Zealous of good works Titus 2:14

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My last post for awhile, I'm off overseas for the month of July. Sorry to disappoint all (2) of my faithful readers. :)

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

"TO the YOUTH of AMERICA"
-Andrew Strom.

I write this as a musician and a radical. Christian Youth of America, your generation is dying, and I need to ask if you are EXTREME enough to provide the answers. We know there never was anyone more "Extreme" than Jesus. But what about you?

Christian Youth, I need to ask why you sit in the padded pews of your fathers while all around the darkness takes your cities and your friends.

I need to ask why you worship the great god of Entertainment, just like your parents before you - but a bit 'louder' - and think that is "radical".

I need to ask why you think it is "extreme" to slam and mosh, when all the while the devil owns your streets, and fat Record Companies line their pockets with your cash.

I need to know why you have allowed the system to make you a slave - a "consumer" - a clone. I need to know why you can be sucked into buying $150 shoes and $200 sunglasses - while 30,000 children die of starvation every day.

I need to know why you will not cry out to the rich money-preachers "REPENT". I need to know why you still enjoy it when they tickle your ears and never speak of Hell. I need to know why you accept it when their gospel sounds like a toothpaste commercial - all slick and no substance. Well-dressed drones with plastic smiles, selling you the latest line in snake-oil. WHEN WILL YOU WEEP?

I look at your piercings and your tattoos and your hair and I still have to tell you: You are nowhere near EXTREME ENOUGH. The outward appearance will not do.

The time is coming when an army of young warriors will hit the streets - fearless and bold beyond anything we have ever seen. Even death itself will hold no fear. They will cry to the church "REPENT" and to the comfortable, "SELL what you have and GIVE TO THE POOR". They will be hated and despised by religious authorities. They will openly decry the TV preachers and eschew the watered-down pap that passes for 'gospel' in our day. They will reject sin and love people - even the homeless and the very least. Utterly pure of heart, they will befriend the prostitutes and the gang bangers. They will look and sound just like Jesus.

With great daring and ruthless aggression, this army will make war on the devil and the darkness. Their music will be hymns of battle. Their sound will ROAR over the crowd. Truly these shall be the 'Sons of Thunder'.

Christian Youth of America, can you not hear the call of God in this hour? All heaven awaits the moment when you will arise and ACT on behalf of your generation.

To the Christian Youth of America I say:

It is time to get "EXTREME".

God bless you all.

-Andrew Strom.
http://www.revivalschool.com

NEWS: The Gospel among children in China

"For several years, an impressive revival has been taking place in China,"
reports mission agency Open Doors. The wave of revival also reaches
children and youth; numerous Christians risk sharing the Gospel with
children despite the ban on evangelising minors. "Anna" coordinates a whole
network of Sunday school teachers whose vision is to start a Sunday school
in every Chinese village. Every three months, around 100 new Sunday Schools
are opened.

Sunday School teachers are more dangerous than pastors Christian activities
are forbidden on principle, and because they influence children's thinking,
the Chinese government considers Sunday school teachers more dangerous than
pastors. If the Police track down a Sunday school teacher, he or she is
arrested and sent to a labour camp for two or three years. Sunday Schools
now have a significant influence on Chinese society; children are important
because of the restriction on only one child per couple. Children from
Christian families often bring their non-Christian school friends to Sunday
school; if the son or daughter converts to Christianity, they generally
influence the entire family. "The Gospel reaches at least five people - the
child, parents and grandparents," says Anna. When asked whether the
children understand the importance of being discreet about their
Christianity, Anna says "Even small children understand very well that
being a Christian can land you in jail. We tell them that God protects
them, but do not hide the risks. Matthew Chapter 10 is one of the
foundations of our teaching. Children understand the message with
astonishing maturity."

Already 40,000 Sunday Schools There are an estimated 40,000 Sunday Schools
in China, some with twenty children, others with a few hundred. "My husband
and I deliberately chose not to have any children of our own in order to be
able to concentrate on this work. Some 300 million of China's 1.3 billion
inhabitants are children and youths. Imagine - the future Chinese President
may be sitting in one of our Sunday Schools!"

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Steve Job's Stanford Commencement Speech

Stanford Report, June 14, 2005

This is the text of the Commencement address by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple
Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, delivered on June 12, 2005.

I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: "We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?" They said: "Of course." My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one
example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, its likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something - your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky - I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation - the Macintosh - a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn't know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down - that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me - I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I retuned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple's current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.

My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything - all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I'm fine now.

This was the closest I've been to facing death, and I hope its the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960's, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Worship: Honor This Purpose

Wow. Another good reminder.
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, "I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless." --Genesis 17:1

Without argument, most things are at their best when they are fulfilling their purpose and design.

For instance, a piano is made with a specific purpose: to produce music. However, I happen to know that someone once stood on a piano in order to put a fastener of some kind in the ceiling. Some artistic women have used piano tops as family picture galleries. I have seen piano tops that were cluttered filing cabinets or wide library shelves.

There is an intelligent design in the creation of a piano. The manufacturer did not announce: "This is a good piano. It has at least 19 uses!" No, the designer had only one thought in mind: "This piano will have the purpose and potential of sounding forth beautiful music!"...

Do not miss the application of truth here. God was saying to Abraham, "You may have some other idea about the design and purpose for your life, but you are wrong! You were created in My image to worship Me and to glorify Me. If you do not honor this purpose, your life will degenerate into shallow, selfish, humanistic pursuits. Men Who Met God, 23.

Worship: God Gave Man A Harp

Man was made to worship God. God gave to man a harp and said, "Here above all the creatures that I have made and created I have given you the largest harp. I put more strings on your instrument and I have given you a wider range than I have given to any other creature. You can worship Me in a manner that no other creature can." And when he sinned man took that instrument and threw it down in the mud and there it has lain for centuries, rusted, broken, unstrung; and man, instead of playing a harp like the angels and seeking to worship God in all of his activities, is ego-centered and turns in on himself and sulks and swears and laughs and sings, but it's all without joy and without worship....

I say that the greatest tragedy in the world today is that God has made man in His image and made him to worship Him, made him to play the harp of worship before the face of God day and night, but he has failed God and dropped the harp. It lies voiceless at his feet. Worship: The Missing Jewel, 7-8.
Tozer's brilliant. I would even say that man has now made "god" into his own image, he worships what he wants to see...not what, who God is. Our understanding of God influences everything we do...this is why its important to be transformed by the renewing of minds. The questions of "Who is God" don't stop when we saved, nor do they become irrelevant.

Keep pressing in, run the good race.

Thursday, June 02, 2005