Give Your All aka “Crush It!”

This morning, I preached at my home congregation.

The theme was “Give Your All” and the focus scripture came from the 12th chapter of Mark — the story of the widow’s mite. And while I love that story, it was used enough in the service (including in my children’s focus moment right before my sermon). I wanted to bring something a little different.

So I talked a little about Gary Vaynerchuk‘s new book, Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion. I met Gary at Big Omaha and we had a fun interchange during his Q&A. His passionate approach to business got me thinking about what a passionate approach to God might look like.

I guess that’s enough of an intro.

I will say this, however. For the five years that I’ve run this blog, I’ve never actually posted video of myself giving a sermon. I’ve posted partial contents before and I’ve given a bunch of sermons at different congregations, but never actual video. This is kind of a momentous. So please be nice.

You can view it at Vimeo, too.

Rob Bell vs. Joel Osteen

Jesus Wants to Save Christians

Religion in the United States has seemingly never been more polarizing. Christians have gotten a bad rap and in some ways it is deserved.

There are some big personalities speaking for Christians in America. Joel Osteen. Rick Warren. Pat Robertson. Glenn Beck? It’s just like different versions of the same voice.

There’s one voice that I wish was speaking a little louder.

Rob Bell.

From the Mars Hill site:

Rob Bell is the Founding Pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church. He graduated from Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, and Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.

He is the author of Velvet Elvis and Sex God, and is a coauthor of Jesus Wants to Save Christians. He is also featured in the first series of spiritual short films called NOOMA.

I was introduced to Rob Bell through his NOOMA videos and I’ve been listening to him since. Velvet Elvis is one of the best books on Christianity that I’ve read, not because it is cool, but because it is true.

He puts scripture into context (and man, is he ever versed in scripture), he uses wonderful analogies to make points and he challenges his audience to think critically about their faith. I like that.

This week, I listened to the audiobook Jesus Wants to Save Christians, the terrific book he wrote with his friend Don Golden. How can you go wrong with chapters named “Swollen Bellied Black Babies” and “There’s Blood on the Doorposts of the Universe”?

Bell is a voice of Christianity that is tolerant and aware, but also extremely well-versed. He uses scripture in a relevant way that puts it into the context of the age in which it was written to help us understand it and apply it today. Some of the voices I listed at the beginning of this post can be a bit extreme and some of the best intentions can get lost and they can drown out people like Rob, who really need to be heard.


Communion Table

Today was about as typical of a Sunday as it could be. And that’s really one of the main reasons I love Sundays. They are predictable, sure; but there is a comfort to them like an old pair of sweatpants or your favorite chair.

We woke up and went to church early for a priesthood meeting, I ran around trying to fix computer issues I was having, and we had lunch with some good friends and an awesome 8-year-old.

We napped. I mowed. I showered.

It was a good day. Sundays usually are. And now, as I close out the first weekend of my Every Day in May project, I’m happy. I’m going to go hang out with my wife and dog and enjoy the rest of my weekend.

Velvet Elvis

Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell

I was a little hesitant to follow up reading The Shack by reading Velvet Elvis, Rob Bell’s manifesto on “Repainting the Christian Faith”.

I’ve been following Rob Bell’s work since I first saw one of his NOOMA videos, which really do a great job of making Christian ideas accessible to a wide swath of the public. Even his sample videos on the site do a great job of getting across the messages of the videos.

I had a decent idea of what the book might be, but I was still really looking forward to reading Bell’s thoughts on Christianity in long form, rather than in 10-minute video consumption. Even despite what I thought the book might be, I was so thrilled when I read it.

Sometimes, it’s tough to be a Christian. There are people and organizations that don’t exactly give Christianity the best face. However, when reading through Rob Bell’s book, I got a glimpse of what Christianity could be.

Through the pages of Velvet Elvis, I took copious notes in the margins, underlined passages and phrases that I loved, and overall just soaked in the ideas that I appreciated most.

Now, this book will not be for everyone. It treats Christianity and Scripture as a flexible, living, breathing organism rather than a rigid set of rules. This form of Christianity is not for everyone. But I found a lot to agree with and I thoroughly enjoyed it.