What we can learn from Avicii’s ‘Wake Me Up’

I can’t help but enjoy this song with it’s driving beat and catchy lyrics.  Plus it helps that it’s on iTunes radio all the time!  After having heard it multiple times, I went online to check out the music video.  I found that this video is a beautiful picture of what the Church should be like.

Here’s 3 things we can learn from Avicii and his song Wake Me Up:

1. Come:

Judgement is a relationship killer.  That is one of the fastest ways to make other people feel uncomfortable.  So, if your goal is to push people away, and keep people from coming to your church, work hard at judging them.  People are longing for a place to fit in and be welcomed.  That is where the Church comes in.  The Church should be the place where everyone no matter who they are, or what they’ve done should be accepted and loved.  I love how in the video the woman rides her horse up onto the bridge and looks out over the modern city with a twinkle in her eye as if to say, “Ah… I think I have found home.”  That’s what it should be like for people who walk into our churches for the first time on a Sunday morning.  Make it so that they are not afraid to come in to your church.  Do whatever it takes to break down that barrier.

2. Connect:

People don’t stay in a place because they have cool lighting and an awesome sound system.  People find themselves getting rooted in an environment because of their connection with other people.  I love the scene where they pile into the back of the truck as they head off.  There is something about the smiles and laughter of the few people together.  They have a relationship there that is looking to meet the needs of this confused and searching traveler.  They bring her right in, invite her to do whatever it is that they were already doing, and head off into the sunset together.  How are you at connecting people with your small group of friends?  That’s the power of relationships- connection.

3. Contribute:

Being a part of something, feels way better than watching something.  (Unless it’s an MMA fight)  When you get involved in an organization, church, or any other club your level of buy in goes way up!  People feel a sense of ownership when they move from sitting on the sidelines to being an active participant.  In this video, you see a whole sea of people who are actively engaged in what is happening on stage.  There are not rows of velvet chairs neatly lined up as if you are in a movie theater observing something.  No, these people are participating in the show, they are as much a part of the experience as the lights and sound waves booming from the stage.  How are you at helping people get plugged in to be apart of your churches service projects, or serving teams?  It’s vital!

Why do all this?  Why go to the trouble of helping people through this three step process?  Because you’ll find that there are people who will echo exactly what the woman said at the end of the video:

Get up!  Pack your things…

Where are we going?

Somewhere we belong…

I love hearing people say, AH… I’ve finally found my church home.  Every person has a story, and every story matters to God!  Let’s work hard to help people find home.

~Peter

Saints or Sinners?

Saints or Sinners

When you walk into church on a Sunday morning, who do you see around you?  What are those people like?  Are they people who have it all together?  Do they struggle?  Do they doubt?  What do you think and feel?

I know that walking through the front doors of a church can be incredibly overwhelming for some people.  Some people are afraid that if they come to church their skin is going to burn from the holy light that is in that space like some sort of exorcist movie.  They believe that they have done so many horrible things that they won’t ever be accepted in a place like this.  Maybe that is how you feel, or used to feel.  Interestingly enough, the way that we view others affects the way that we engage with others.

It comes down to this?  Do you see church as a collection of saints, or a collection of sinners?

One of the primary reasons that people don’t spend more time engaging in confession and accountability is because they are afraid of being judged by you and me.  Too often we think that the church is a collection of saints and that we are the one sinner that slipped into that community.  That couldn’t be further from the truth.  In fact, we are all sinners, we are all people who at one point in time or another were separated from God.  Too often we believe the lie that I can never measure up, or I’ll never change.  We loose hope and we start to just throw in the towel.

Don’t buy the lie.

That’s the amazing thing about Jesus.  Anyone can come to Him and find that there is still hope no matter how dark their world may seem.  It is because of Jesus’ death on the cross that each one of us with our bruises, scars, and warts can come before God and be seen as beautiful and clean by Him.

The church is not filled with better people, just people who are better off because of it.

So what do you think?  In an honest moment here, do you lean more on the side of seeing people as saints, or sinners?  Let’s take a poll.

~Peter

The Remix Conference

Breakout Speaker, Peter Gowesky

Are you a young adult?  If so then you need to check out this conference on September 28th, 2013.  I will be one of the breakout speakers there and I would love to have you come join us for this awesome local one day conference.  I’ll be leading a breakout session called, “P90X Your Spiritual Walk”.  At The Remix you will connect with other people your age, and most importantly with God.  I can’t wait to share with you how to kick your faith up a notch.

Check out this year’s promo video:

The theme for this year’s conference is, “THE FATHER’S LOVE” and it is based on 1 John 3:1 that says, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”

In order to sign up click over to www.remixconference.com.  Sign up is cheap, only $25 a person!  Don’t wait, do it now.

~Peter

Building On Our Legacy: Christian Art

When you think of Christian Art, what do you think of?

Thomas Kincade

Thomas Kincade Christmas

The Jesus Painter

Jesus, Mike the Jesus Painter

maybe if we are stretching it a bit even Kirk Cameron

Fireproof the Movie, Kirk Cameron

Christian Art has been with us throughout the years.  It has come in all different forms and styles.  Christians didn’t really have their own art early on because much of it was destroyed in the early centuries.  However, symbols began to emerge and over time as Christians started to develop their own cemeteries and places of worship, art began to take hold.

Why talk about art?  This was supposed to be a series on people and the legacy that they have left.  The art was developed by people, and the art tells a story of people.  One of the earliest artistic symbols that has made it throughout the many years is the fish.  Christian Fish SymbolThe fish became very important to the Christian community because one of Jesus’ great miracles was to multiply the fish and the loaves and feed 5,000 people.  Yet, even more than that miracle the fish became tied to the sacred time of communion.  The fish was found in scenes throughout history and has taken on a symbolism of it’s own.

The Greek word for fish is ICHTHYS.  This also was used as an acrostic for the phrase, “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior”.  All of these things helped hold the Christian faith together.  As the Church was forming and spreading throughout history, these symbols and more began to pop up all throughout art.

While in Israel, I took several pictures of some of the ancient art.  Here are a few pictures…

Mosaics, Christian Symbol

Graffiti at the Church of the Holy SeplechurCarved into the wall at the Church of the Holy SeplechurHoly Spirit, Dove

As you can see, Christian Art has been around for centuries and will be for many more to come.  It has played a pivotal role in the Christian faith.

So, here is a question for you.  The Christian Fish has showed up all over the place.  Where is the most interesting place that you have found the fish symbol?  Tattoo, Bumper, T-shirt… what else?  

~Peter

A great resource to read up on Christian History is a book by Justo L. Gonzalez called, “The Story of Christianity”.  You can purchase it at Amazon.com here.  
 
Other Posts in this series:
1.  Augustine of Hippo
2. John Chrysostom

Building On Our Legacy: John Chrysostom

Legacy of FaithIf you had asked someone from Antioch in the year 400 if they knew John Chrysostom, no one would have known whom you were talking about.  After explaining a bit more about whom you were looking for they would likely have said, “Oh, you mean John of Constantinople.  Sure, everyone knows him!  John of Constantinople did not get the name Chrysostom till at least a hundred years after his death.  This man was used incredibly by God. Saint John Chrysostom, Icon

From the start he was a step ahead of the rest.  John was a monk, but before becoming a monk he was a lawyer.  He was trained by some of the best in the world.  John was trained by the famous orator Libanius.  Libanius was a Greek-speaking teacher of Rhetoric at the Sophist school.  He was as good as they come.  Libanius was once asked who should take his job when he was to retire.  Libanius responded, that John Chrysostom should. However, Libanius quickly clarified, “that will not be possible because the Christians have laid claim on him.”

How cool is that?  Chrysostom is the type of man that has added so much value that the world is clamoring to get a hold of him.  I have often thought this, but never written much about it.  The Church should be the one who is leading the charge in the arts and sciences.  What if we produced the best work?  So much so that the pagan teachers wished that they could be replaced by those who have dedicated their life and their craft to the Lord.  Imagine!  Well, that was this man John Chrysostom.  Make no mistake about it, God was using him uniquely.  God had empowered him to preach the gospel with skill and clarity.  Chrysostom made it his goal to preach it faithfully.

Chrysostom was so desired that when the position of bishop opened up in Constantinople they had to take John by force to the town.  They didn’t do this because John didn’t want to go.  No, the people wouldn’t let him go!  This was a man who was loved by all.

One of the many things that Chrysostom did was to bring about great reform to the church.  For too long the church had gotten sloppy.  They were sloppy with regard to their sexuality and their money.  Hmmm…  Good thing we don’t struggle with those issues anymore.

The priests who were supposed to be living celibate, or sex free, lives decided that wasn’t really for them.  So they figured out that they could bring a “spiritual sister” into their home.  This woman could stay with him since they weren’t married and that would scratch their itch.  This was completely unacceptable to John.  He set them straight by ensuring that the spiritual sisters were kicked out of the house and that these priests began living celibate lives.

With regard to the finances, John found that the church was entirely too ornate and wealthy.  It wasn’t that the ornateness by itself was an issue, however the ornateness paired with the growing poverty in the streets around the churches made this a horrific tragedy in his mind.  The church was spending money on itself while abandoning the needs of the people.  John turned to craigslist.  He just went off and craigslisted a bunch of stuff the church owned in order to meet the needs of those around him.   (okay, not really craigslist… But you know what I mean!)

This made John an incredibly popular man, while at the same time making him an incredibly hated man.  John, however, could handle this.  John preached a message that sounded much like the script of the movie Blood Diamond.  He says this, “The gold bit in your horse, the gold circlet on the wrist of your slave, the gilding on your shoes, mean that you are robbing the orphan and starving the widow.  When you have passed away, each passer-by who looks upon your great mansion will say, ‘How many tears did it take to build that mansion; how many orphans were stripped; how many widows wronged; how many laborers deprived of their honest wages?’ Even death itself will not deliver you from your accusers.”  WOW!

The Church, Hagia SophiaJohn preached the word faithfully, from his heart, with incredible skill time and time again from one of the largest churches in all of Christendom, Hagia Sophia.   This is one of the reasons that John Chrysostom has left the legacy that he has.  Even when he was exiled for preaching the truth no matter what it cost he remained faithful.  The emperor Arcadius banished Chrysostom to the smallest town he could find.  The goal was to minimize the voice of John Chrysostom.  This didn’t stop John.  John may not have had a pulpit, but he had a pen.  He began to write.  Thankfully he did.  We have many of his works today because of the writing that took place then.

John Chrysostom on his deathbed traveled to a small church in order to take communion.  At this small church John uttered some of the most beautiful words that could have come out of this legends mouth.  He said, “In all things, glory to God.  Amen.”

John of Constantinople was given the name Chrysostom because it means golden tongue.  John’s colleagues and his own teacher wanted him to teach and lead in the market place.  John was wanted by everyone and on all sides.  However, John didn’t give in.  He remained faithful to the calling that God had placed on his life.  He preached the word faithfully and with great courage.

I would like to thank John Chrysostom for being an example of humility and also of integrity for the church.  I wish that we had learned from you early on.

~Peter

A great resource to read up on Christian History is a book by Justo L. Gonzalez called, “The Story of Christianity”.  You can purchase it at Amazon.com here.  
 
Other Posts in this series:
1.  Augustine of Hippo