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I Am Barrabas

I am Barabbas.

I am guilty.

I am condemned.

I deserve it.

I am shocked that my name was called instead of His.

I am amazed that my crimes are pardoned.

I am dumbstruck that He took my place.

I am grateful that He was willing.

I will never be the same.

I am Barabbas.

And I am free.

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2013 in Bible, Christianity, Faith

 

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Everybody Say “Audience Participation”

If Jon Acuff ever asked me to write a guest post on Stuff Christians Like, this would be it. He hasn’t (yet), so I thought I’d go ahead and share it with you. -Heath

One thing every pastor and/or speaker wants is an attentive audience. In the old days (before projector screens and televisions) the sound of Bible pages turning was a good indicator of an attentive crowd. Then came the day of fill in the blank “listener guides.” Seeing the audience write or frantically look to borrow a pen assured the speaker that his words were hitting home. But sometimes those methods just aren’t enough. So to make sure everyone is paying attention, a few “go to” audience participation methods have evolved over the years.

1)      The If You’ve Ever ______, Raise Your Hand Method

This method is to help the speaker connect with the audience by sharing a common experience. The speaker starts telling a personal story and then asks the audience if they have ever been in that same situation. It goes like this: “I was standing in line at the grocery store the other day. Anybody else ever stand in line at the store?” Raises his hand and expects you to do the same. As long as the speaker doesn’t admit to something totally embarrassing this one is relatively painless.

2) The Question/Answer Method

This one is pretty simple. The speaker asks a question and the audience supplies the answer. Most of the time the questions are easy enough that almost everyone can answer. For example, any question in which the answer is “Jesus.” But sometimes the questions get too complicated. I mean, how many people could actually answer how old Methuselah was when he died without consulting Google on their iphone/Bible first?

The other problem with the Question/Answer Method happens when the speaker asks a rhetorical question. Especially after asking non-rhetorical ones first. This can lead to embarrassing moments like someone yelling out “969!” in the middle of a sermon. And, yes, that’s how old Methuselah was when he died. I Googled it.

3)      The Everybody Say The Last Word I Just Said Method

This is my new favorite. And by favorite I mean most annoying. This is where the speaker stops after reading a verse or phrase and asks the audience to repeat the key word. For example: “Jesus died for our sin. Everybody say ‘sin.’” The problem with this is that it is often repeated ad nauseam. Everybody say ad nauseam. See what I mean? Before you know it a 35-minute sermon expands to an hour because of all the repeating going on.

This one also gets sketchy when the speaker asks everyone to repeat hard to pronounce words. Think Old-Testament names and places. Everybody say ‘Meshullam’ doesn’t resonate well. Unless you are going for a group sneezing sound, in which case, expect “bless you’s” and “gesundheits.” Everybody say gesundheit. Did I mention it’s also hard to stop?

Since there is no blow to the ego worse than an indifferent audience, let’s all do our pastors and guest speakers a favor and be ready to let them know we are paying attention. If you are with me just raise your hand. Everybody say hand. That wasn’t so bad now was it? That was rhetorical…

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2012 in satire, Uncategorized

 

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Real Life Conversations: The Fortune Cookie

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Another real life conversation from my family. We were eating a late dinner and talking about each of our days.

Ariel: I ate Chinese today. My fortune cookie said “You are pretty.”

Laughter.

Me: my favorite fortune cookie said “It is a nice day.” I wonder how you get the job of writing fortunes? I’d say things like “You should go home now.”

Ariel: Mine would say “Did you enjoy the cat?”

You can’t make this stuff up.

 
 

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Life Lesson #2: Expectations, First Impressions, and the Importance of Being Realistic

It was a sweltering hot night in Matamoros, Mexico. I was in the middle of a three-week stint leading worship for a missions organization based in Georgia. Their base in Matamoros housed a large number of summer staff, translators, and visiting mission teams. It was about halfway through the summer when some new staffers arrived after dinner. Some of the veteran staff members were talking with them at the door of the dining hall when I walked up.

One of my staff friends introduced me to the new group. “…and this is Heath. He’s our worship leader and speaker for a few more days. His jokes are the funniest. Go ahead and tell one.” Read the rest of this entry »

 
 

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Life lesson #1: Don’t lie, especially if you aren’t good at it

I remember my first lie. I was a toddler. My idea of fun at the time was running a circle through our lovely 70’s style Ranch. I made a track from the living room, to the hallway, then the kitchen, and back to the other side of the living room. I was fast too. Just fast enough to brush a lamp off an end table. I didn’t realize it fell until I made the circuit again.

Lap 20. “Hmm,” I thought. “ I don’t remember that lamp being on the floor.” Like Forrest Gump I kept running. While running I contemplated the consequences of the broken lamp on the floor. “Maybe it won’t be there this time through.”

Lap 21. “Hmm, still there. Maybe it isn’t really broken.”

Lap 22. “Definitely broken.”

Lap 23. Path blocked by mom. “Uh oh.” Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on January 10, 2012 in Childhood Memories, Life Lessons

 

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Weddings & Worship Leading

When the only thing you remember about the minister officiating a wedding is “We are gathered here today…” he has done a great job.  His role is to get the ceremony started, help the bride and groom connect to each other, and go unnoticed. Rarely do we remember anything about his role unless something goes terribly wrong (like forgetting the names of the bride and groom or passing out).

In a lot of ways, worship leaders should be like that. Our role is to help the audience begin to worship, connect them to the One we worship, and go unnoticed. It’s not about us at all.

To lead in worship we need to be humble. We need to live a life that honors God even when we aren’t on stage. We need to care enough about the people we are leading to reach out to them and invite them to worship with us. Then, the focus turns from the stage to the One we worship. And we disappear. And that is a great thing.

As a worship leader, how do you move out of the way? As a worshipper, what helps you connect with God?

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

A Conversation

Making sandwiches in the kitchen.

Her: “We are like Michael and Holly.”

Me: “What? Who?” (while trying to think of REAL people we actually know)

Her: “You know, like Michael and Holly from ‘The Office.’ We break out in funny voices at random times. We can’t be cool and funny and normal like Jim and Pam. We make weird noises and funny voices when we talk to each other.”

Me (in my best Yoda): “Hmm. Like Michael and Holly we are indeed.”

Point taken.

Which television character(s) are you most like?

 
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Posted by on September 13, 2011 in Just for Fun, Marriage, My Wife Rocks, television

 

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