Nicki Minaj: The Night Is Young, But We’re Getting Old

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I was home all last week with a newborn. When I’m home I listen to a lot of podcasts, sports radio, and pandora. I haven’t sprung for spottily mobile yet; once I come into some money I’ll make it happen. A song came on my pandora called “The Night Is Still Young” by Nicki Minaj. If your unfamiliar with Nicki don’t google her, you will regret it. Anyways, the chorus is: “The night is still young and so are we.” That lyric caught my attention because Nicki has been out for a while. I googled her age and she is actually 32 years old. That may be young to some people, but in the context of the message behind song, 32 is no spring chicken. The majority of the song is about getting wasted and “living it up” while you still can. The fact that 32 is considered an acceptable age to stay out all night clubbing and hooking up is absurd to me. We have obviously seen a huge shift in America where the growth and maturity of our teens and young adults is being stunted. People are marrying later, playing more video games, living with their parents longer, and caring about their future less. Its called delayed adolescence. It’s somewhat of an epidemic. Nicki’s song really sparked some thoughts on this epidemic.

Now I don’t know how to change the cultural standard on when it’s time to grow up. I don’t know how to get all the 27 year old men to move out of their parents house; or how to stop playing video games into the Wii hours of the morning. (See what I did there? That wasn’t a typo.) But I do know that the Bible speaks to every modern day issue. The apostle Paul, and Jesus Christ himself, give us some good direction about how to get some direction.

1. Find some new friends

Surround yourself with people older, smarter, and more mature than you. If you’re single start hanging out with some solid married couples. If you’re newly married, start hanging out with people that have been married longer than you. It’s easy to hang out with people that are in our same stage of life. It’s comfortable, we can stay complacent. It’s more work to develop friendships with people who intimidate us a little bit. Paul tells younger men/women to learn from older men/women in Titus 2. Paul basically says: Learn, grow, mature. If you’re an older man/woman: teach, train, instruct.

2. Men: find a woman, and marry her.

Marriage is obviously not the answer for everything. But nothing forces us to mature more than marriage. I thought I was a mature 22 year old, until I got married…. I was sorely mistaken. So if you love Jesus, have a good job, and are in a solid community, find a woman and put a ring on it. In Matthew 19 Jesus said a man shall leave his father and mother cling to his wife. I don’t think Jesus intended a 15 year gap in-between leaving your parents, and finding your wife. It’s not rocket science.

So thanks Nicki for giving us some fodder for this discussion. I hope when you read this blog you’re not offended at my comment on your age. I truly don’t think you’re old. I just think our thirties should be about raising our kids, not raising our glass in the club.

 

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Compassion for the Lost

I have been reading and reflecting in the book of Jonah the past couple of weeks. I love this book and if you have not read it in a while, I encourage you to take 30 minutes to read the whole book. I find myself laughing out loud by myself from all the irony in the book. Here is a short breakdown:

  1. God sends Jonah on a mission to warn to city of Ninevah that God would destroy it because of its great evil.
  2. Jonah “runs” from the presence of God (as if that is possible).
  3. The sailors who do not have a relationship with God seemingly fear and respect God more than Jonah does.
  4. Jonah spends three days inside the belly of a fish. I cannot imagine the horrific smell of living inside a fish for three days. I have heard it called a  “port-a-potty” with fins. The fish eventually vomits him up.
  5. Ninevah repents and the king himself steps off his throne, removes his royal robes, and puts on sackcloth to show his remorse that they might not be destroyed.
  6. Jonah becomes angry and wants to die when God relents from sending disaster to Ninevah.
  7. Jonah becomes angry and wants to die a second time when God allows the plant to die.

God teaches Jonah through the plant that Jonah is more angry that the plant died (angry enough to die) than for the exceedingly great city of Ninevah- where there were more than 120,000 people who did not know their right hand from their left hand….

The story of Jonah reminds me that I serve a God full of compassion, full of grace and mercy, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.[1] God desires that no one perishes, but that all reach repentance.[2] So, what does this mean for me today? Regardless of my past or my shortcomings or my failures, God wants to use me to share Jesus to a lost world.

There are approximately 7.3 billion people living in this world today. God has called his followers on a mission to go and make disciples and to share Jesus with a lost and hurting world.[3] We do not wait for the call because it has already been given to us. God will use us no matter where we are placed to share Jesus with others. I want to feel the heartbeat for those who are lost and do not know or believe God’s salvation for mankind. If you have not felt that heartbeat recently (or ever), ask God to share his compassion for lost people with you, pray fervently for it and he will change your heart. Ask God to show you more specifically where you can make a difference in the lives of those around you. He is able to do far more abundantly all that we ask or think according to his power at work within us.[4]

[1] Jonah 3:2

[2] 2 Peter 3:9

[3] Matthew 28:18-20

[4] Ephesians 3:20

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New Kid On the LPC Block: Pastor Michael Anderson

I love writing blogs like this one.

If you have been connected with life @ LifePoint these last 5 years, you know that change is a big part of our DNA. Growth always means change and change has a way of positioning us for new growth opportunities. As a local church family we have experienced tremendous growth in recent years, and as a result, change has abounded.

We have made some significant moves this summer to position our leadership team for the days ahead. Some of you are aware that of the families represented on our full-time staff, four of us have given birth to new babies this year (Caggiano’s, Murch’s, Cassese’s, and Saccenti’s) and one staff member has gotten married (‘Vanessa Ruff,’ now ‘Vanessa Lyon’). These exciting events have triggered a half-dozen staff transitions already this summer, all of them occurring in-house at LPC.

New mothers Jordann Cassese and Kristie Saccenti have both resigned their administrative positions to begin their respective journeys as full-time stay-at-home-moms. The admin staff has been soundly re-tooled with three amazing ladies taking on new roles. Junior high director Courtney Huskisson has replaced Kristie as the Executive Assistant to the Lead Pastor, and Nursery Director Jennifer Hampton has taken on an expanded role, including the front desk and admin duties from Jordann. Legit, right? Just wait, there’s more. We have also added Audrey Rogers to the staff as the Family Life Administrator. Audrey is married to teaching-team member Demetrius (who is on staff at Western Seminary), and they have 3 super great kids. The Rogers have been at LPC a couple of years. Finally, Children’s Pastor Vanessa Lyon is embarking on a new challenge as she takes on a different portfolio this fall. Her duties will include missions/outreach and biblical literacy (overseeing classes and the Center for Leadership Development).

In-house transitions provide some significant benefits, but at times we need to look outside the LPC community to fill a specific need. This is where a guy named Michael Anderson comes in.

Michael and Allison Anderson have been married for 4 years and are raising two mighty little men named Judah (18 months) and Desmond (4 months). Michael has a B.A. in Practical Theology from Seattle Bible College and is looking forward to furthering his education at Western Seminary in the days ahead. For the last few years, he has served as the youth pastor at Inspire Church in the Skagit Valley.

Michael’s passions include being a Dad, reading various books, hobbies like golf and cycling, and living life as a die-hard…wait for it…Dallas Cowboys fan. His presence on the team is one more step in the direction of one of our main staff goals: having at least one super-fan for every NFL franchise on the payroll.

Michael joins the team as the Family Life Pastor. He will be working to equip parents and families to learn the gospel, live the gospel, and lead others to the gospel. His experience in working with families of all ages and dynamics, and his passion to see people plug in and grow in the local church will be major assets to our community. His presence triggers a shift in our current structure in Family Life Ministries. As the fall approaches, the pastoral oversight of Family Life (families with children in the nursery, kids, youth, or young adults ages) will look like this:

Michael Anderson: Family Life Pastor (overseeing birth-5th grade)
Drew Saccenti: Family Life Pastor (overseeing 6th-10th grade)
Sam Cassese: Family Life Pastor (overseeing 11th grade-youth adults)

We are very excited to welcome Michael, Allison, Judah, and Desmond into the LPC family. Be sure to tell him how great Tony Romo is when you meet him.

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Grow in Your Faith: Podcasts

If you’re anything like me, you’re always looking for new ways to grow in your understanding of God, Scripture, and the Christian life. It wasn’t that long ago that in order to broaden your knowledge, you had to drive to a church building or a conference, or open a 1,500 page concordance or a theology book that was actually made of paper.

These days, technology has made this pursuit far more convenient. Every week, there are sermons that were preached in Texas and podcasts that were recorded in Nashville that I can access without ever leaving my living room. Podcasts are a free, easy way to access some of the best teaching out there.

Here are a few podcasts that I’ve found especially helpful:

LifePoint Church Sermons: You may not be aware, but every sermon that is preached here at LPC is available to listen to (or watch) online within an hour of the end of the gathering. If you’re out of town or just out of our auditorium on a Sunday morning, this is a great way to stay caught up.

The Village Church Sermons: Matt Chandler is one of my favorite authors. His book, The Explicit Gospel, shaped how I view my faith. He pastors The Village, which is located in the Dallas metro area.

A Jesus Church Sermons (Westside) and (Bridgetown): A family of churches just over the bridge in Portland, AJC preaches expositional sermons that are very in tune with the culture of the Pacific Northwest.

The Gospel Coalition: Founded by Tim Keller and Don Carson, TGC is an amazing resource for the Church and the Christian. This podcast, which they release multiple times a week, is a great resource as well.

To Be The Church Podcast: I wasn’t going to post this blog about podcasts without self-promoting our podcast, To Be The Church. Each week, we focus on what it looks like to be the church together, covering different “ologies” and topics relating to the Church.

So grab your smartphone, put in your earbuds, and learn.

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Kids in Community

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Micah Shea Cassese

This past week my wife and I celebrated the birth of our first kid, Micah Shea. Meeting my son for the first time was a feeling that I’ll be working on articulating for the rest of my life.

After a couple of days the time came for us to bring him home. We were leaving the safe and controlled environment of the hospital (not to mention the glorious “nurse’s call-button”) and bringing this completely helpless baby into the confines of our home.  We would become completely responsible for him…and no one seemed to object. So home we went.

We came home to the same house. The same dishes were in the sink, the same bags were thrown on the floor, and all the signs that someone had gone into painful, sudden labor here were still there. Yet something was very different: Me.

I felt a sense of responsibility like I have never felt before. I felt an instinct to protect. I felt the reality that more people were depending on me. And moreover I felt a desire to be better…in every way.

I want to know God more. I want to know my Bible better. I want to exemplify the character of Christ. I want to lead my family in prayer more often.”  These are some of the thoughts that have been on my mind this week.

At the same time, I’ve felt a little guilty. Why do I need a child to inspire me toward godliness? Shouldn’t I be more disciplined regardless? I should have had my act together!

I think the quick answer is “no,” I shouldn’t feel guilty. Here’s why:

The Bible calls us to not neglect meeting together because when we are all together we spur one another on. As Christians we shouldn’t isolate ourselves from each other because we each play a particular role in our community and contribute to the growth of others. What my thoughts and feelings have taught me this week is simply that even children of the community have a role to play in that process.

I love being around the older men at LPC in general, and in particular the older men in my LifeGroup family. They provide wisdom, share their experiences, and spur us young guys on with their examples of masculine godliness. That’s their role in community.

I thoroughly enjoy spending time with my brothers, my other 20-30 somethings. I look forward to meeting up for lunch or coffee and hearing about how they are running after God. My peers challenge me, give me ideas, and help me remember that we can accomplish much together. That’s their role in community.

And finally, we have children. Seeing infants, toddlers, and all children running around can be a reminder that there are little eyes watching us. They are living visual aids of the responsibility we have to teach the next generation to know and fear the Lord. These little ones influence us to be diligent and to watch our own lives closely, because they are depending on us. That’s their role in community.

So let not any of us neglect meeting with one another, for we all have a role to play…even the kids.

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The Bucket List

The concept of a bucket list is pretty well known. It is a list of experiences or achievements that a person seeks to fulfill before they kick the bucket.[1] There was a movie made a few years ago staring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman entitled The Bucket List. They played characters who had been diagnosed with cancer so they decided to “see the world” before they died.

While I am in favor of living life to the full; embracing adventure and experiencing amazing things, I challenge the notion of having a bucket list. I think it is unfriendly to Scripture. As children of God who have been gifted with eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ we have an eternal perspective. With an eternal perspective we don’t really believe that we have to cram all the fun possible into this short life do we? If you know the goodness of God and really believe in eternal life a bucket list doesn’t make much sense.

As children of God we are to live with a sense of purpose and urgency. Our lives must consist of more than the pursuit of happiness. We are to live our earthly lives for the will of God.[2] You and I can’t do everything this world has to offer and do the will of God. There simply isn’t enough time and we don’t have enough energy. We have to say no to some things so that we can do a few things well.

Does the will of God include enjoying the things of this life? Sure it does. God wants us to enjoy life, but within the context of our relationship with him and our pursuit of him. Should we have fun and pursue adventure? Absolutely.[3] Yet, the mission of God must be paramount. Remember the words of the Apostle Paul. He said, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”[4]

[1] That is, “die.”

[2] 1 Peter 4:1-2

[3] I’m going to save things like high altitude climbing and flying with a wingsuit to a time when death isn’t a strong possibility.

[4] Phil 1:21

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BOOK REVIEW: The Stories We Tell by Mike Cosper

I love stories. In a recent sermon, Andrew outed me as a lover of melancholy movies. And it’s true. I’m a sucker for a story that portrays life as a real, difficult, hopeful struggle. There’s just something inside of me that longs for a book or a TV show or a movie that is an echo of real life. And up until now, I had no idea why that was.

I picked up Mike Cosper’s The Stories We Tell: How TV and Movies Long for and Echo the Truth a few weeks ago, and I finished it much quicker than is normal for me. I simply couldn’t put it down.

In this book, Cosper outlines the gospel: the creation, fall, redemption, and consummation stories that fill the pages of our Bible. He reminds us of the truth of Scripture, he shows the reader that God himself is full of creativity, and he encourages us as Christians with the idea that we were created in the image of a creative God.

The stories we tell are all a part of the story he’s telling. We tell stories because we’re broken creatures hungering for redemption, and our storytelling is a glimmer of hope, a spark of eternity still simmering in our hearts.[1]

While Cosper does a great job giving us a “theology of storytelling,” the true gift in this book is how he uses popular movies and television shows to prove to the reader that all of us (Christian or not) are telling, watching, reading, and listening to stories that long for the gospel concepts mentioned above. From TV’s Friday Night Lights to the big screen’s The Hobbit, from Tina Fey’s 30 Rock to Woody Allen’s Manhattan, from CBS’s How I Met Your Mother to AMC’s Mad Men, so many of the stories we tell echo and long for the gospel.

If you’re a film buff, a student of story structure, or even if you just curl up with Netflix a few times a week, I highly recommend Cosper’s work. It will give you a new appreciation for the stories you consume, and as Cosper says, “If we’re thoughtfully engaged, our watching can be educational, edifying, and even a cause for worship.”[2]

CLICK HERE TO BUY THE STORIES WE TELL ON AMAZON

1. Mike Cosper, The Stories We Tell, p. 33
2. Ibid., p. 29

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