Archive for October, 2010

Cultural reality check: Sara Bareilles

This post was written by a friend of mine from grad school, Jason Coker at  The essence of the song that Coker speaks to and the issues it hits on reveals the need for a missional approach of ministering within our society. I appreciate Coker’s words and have included his post in full.  What are your thoughts?  Leave a comment.

Cultural reality check: Sara Bareilles

by Jason Coker at

The churches I attended growing up regularly engaged with pop culture  – in a condemning way. Pastors often read rock-and-roll lyrics from the pulpit as evidence of the  “satanic” influence of the world.  Back then we still thought we were in charge.

As an adult I’ve enjoyed engaging with culture from the perspective of a missionary. That is, borrowing from the anthropologist, I enjoy trying to understanding this strange culture into which I’ve been called. When I quote here from pop songs, films, and literature, that is the perspective I tend to represent. Most of you know this already, but one thing is painfully obvious:

We’re no longer in charge (and it’s a good thing, too).

Case in point: Sarah Bareilles’ recent song King of Anything. Using thinly veiled evangelical catch-words and images, the lyrics portray the response of a woman who is triumphantly bitter about being evangelized. That kind of expression simply wouldn’t be tolerated in Christendom.

If you haven’t heard it already, I’ve embedded the lyrics and video below. Listen for yourself. Then, post your thoughts. What can we learn from Sarah’s song? How should we respond?

Keep drinking coffee, stare me down across the table
While I look outside
So many things I’d say if only I were able
But I just keep quiet and count the cars that pass by

You’ve got opinions, man
We’re all entitled to ‘em, but I never asked
So let me thank you for your time, and try not to waste anymore of mine
And get out of here fast

I hate to break it to you babe, but I’m not drowning
There’s no one here to save

Who cares if you disagree?
You are not me
Who made you king of anything?
So you dare tell me who to be?
Who died and made you king of anything?

You sound so innocent, all full of good intent
Swear you know best
But you expect me to jump up on board with you
And ride off into your delusional sunset

I’m not the one who’s lost with no direction
But you’ll never see

You’re so busy making maps with my name on them in all caps

You got the talking down, just not the listening

And who cares if you disagree?
You are not me
Who made you king of anything?
So you dare tell me who to be?
Who died and made you king of anything?

All my life I’ve tried to make everybody happy
While I just hurt and hide
Waiting for someone to tell me it’s my turn to decide

Who cares if you disagree?
You are not me
Who made you king of anything?
So you dare tell me who to be?
Who died and made you king of anything?

Who cares if you disagree?
You are not me
Who made you king of anything?
So you dare tell me who to be?
Who died and made you king of anything?

Let me hold your crown, babe

Another Nugget from Seth Godin

I give you this one in it’s entirety.  It speaks for itself.  In the first 4 days this post was up it was “Liked” by nearly 2000 facebookers and retweeted nearly 1700 times.  That’s a lot of buzz around weakness being strength.  Sound familiar?  Try 2 Corinthians 12:9.

Demonstrating strength


Defer to others

Avoid shortcuts

Tell the truth

Offer kindness

Seek alliances

Volunteer to take the short straw

Choose the long-term, sacrificing the short

Demonstrate respect to all, not just the obviously strong

Share credit and be public in your gratitude

Risking the appearance of weakness takes strength. And the market knows it.

Some Solid Financial Advice in An Unexpected Place

Whenever I get a chance to visit Barnes & Noble I love to frequent the Management & Leadership/Marketing & Sales sections.  I just enjoy reading these books.  One of my favorite authors in this section is Seth Godin.  Godin writes about, “the post-industrial revolution, the way ideas spread, marketing, quitting, leadership and most of all, changing everything.”  If you’ve never read Godin, he often writes in very short, pithy paragraphs that give his books a proverbs like feeling to them.  You can pick up any of his books, open it randomly, and likely get something useful from the page.  Try it.  You’ll understand.

As effective as Godin’s writing style is in printed form it is even more so in digital form.  It has been suggested that his blog is the most popular in the world written by a single person.  I was perusing some of Godin’s older posts recently and stumbled upon a nugget of financial advice that I love.  It is succinct, to the point, and challenging; it’s counter cultural.  Godin’s sentiments are very Dave Ramseyish.  Freedom!!! Here is my favorite part of his post.

My suggestion: Go to defcon 1, and do it immediately. Shift gears to live well below your means. That means:
No restaurants
No clothes shopping
No cable TV bill
No Starbucks

It means:
Take in a tenant in your spare bedroom
Carpool to work
Skip vacation this year

Eat brown rice and beans every night for dinner. Act like you have virtually no income.
Entire Post

It’s Just one Study…but Disturbing Nonetheless

Came across this article today from October 1.  It highlights the findings of a recent study.

This week, the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life released the results of a nationwide poll that measured how knowledgeable Americans are when it comes to religion. The poll found that compared to other faith groups, atheists and agnostics knew most about the Bible, church history, world religions and religion in public life. Protestants trailed in religious knowledge behind not only atheists but also Jews and Mormons. – Full Article

The article relates the words of a Texas pastor who sees this study as a wake-up call to the Western church.  It speaks of the need to go beyond the attractional sermons and messages that have Biblical “sound bites” and to work on Biblical growth and spiritual growth that leads to Life Transformation.

How is your Biblical knowledge?  Does it matter?  Share your thoughts?

Found by Freedom

John 8:1-11 is a powerful story in which Jesus goes toe-to-toe with the teachers of the law and the Pharisees on the matter of sin and condemnation.  The teachers of the law and the Pharisees were trying to drum up accusations against Jesus by confronting him with a challenging situation – a woman caught in adultery that deserves condemnation and punishment.  Jesus in turn confronts those present with their own sins and says, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”  The outcome of this is that everyone leaves except for Jesus and the woman.  Jesus then declares to her that no one, including himself, has condemned her and that she is to go and leave her life of sin.

What an incredible moment that must have been for the woman.  One moment she is broken, terrified, ashamed, overwhelmed in an intense situation, and on the verge of being killed.  The next she is alone with the Prince of Peace, all condemnation gone, and given a second chance on life.  This is intense.  This is life transformation.  I try to imagine what it would be like in that moment, what would be going through my mind and I can’t help but hear these lyrics…

Where are the people that accused me?
The ones who beat me down and bruised me
They hide just out of sight, can’t face me in the light
They’ll return but I’ll be stronger

God I want to dream again, take me where I’ve never been
I wanna go there, this time I’m not scared
Now I am unbreakable, it’s unmistakable
No one can touch me, nothing can stop me

Full Lyrics

These lyrics are from the band Fireflight.  The song is a couple years old but I was just reacquainted with it this past week and the message is powerful.  From the words of the lead singer herself…

“The people in charge were ready to kill her, and Jesus speaks up for her, changes their minds and makes them feel ashamed for accusing her,” explains Dawn Richardson, the group’s fiery lead singer. “How would you feel if you were the woman? She knows she’s guilty, and yet she’s suddenly free and given a second chance.” – Source

Here’s the video for the song.  Take three and a half minutes to reflect on the power of Jesus to set captives free and the beauty of life transformation.

Thinking Outside the Box

A few years ago there was a story about a guy who traded a red paper clip for a house.  The true story is that it was a little more involved than that but it did happen.  From the man who pulled it off, Kyle MacDonald:

On July 12, 2005 I posted a picture of a red paperclip on my blog and asked if anyone wanted to trade something bigger or better for it.  A few days later I traded the paperclip, and after making 14 trades over the course of a year, I wound up with a house located at 503 Main Street in Kipling Saskatchewan.
~Excerpt from the One Red Paper Clip website.

That’s a cool story.  A paper clip being traded up to a house in one year’s time.  If that’s not enough check out the latest up-trade story that is currently under way, Down Under.

Starting with only an egg, we aim to ‘up-trade’ until we reach $1 Million, 100% of which will go to charity organizations.

A one egg up-traded to $1 Million for charity by three college students in Australia.  They started in 2009 and are well on their way.  Their last trade was a 14 day African Safari with round-trip air fair to Craig Ruddy, one of Australia’s leading contemporary artists, for an original work by him (which by the way start at $35K and have sold for as high as $312K).  The next up-trade is sure to be a hefty one.  Though most have not heard of these three guys or their 1egg1world mission yet, they will.  The million dollar up-trade will happen and their story will be made know.

Source of inspiration for these three with a dream?  None other than Kyle MacDonald and his One Red Paper Clip.  It’s amazing how one outside the box idea can lead to so much.  MacDonald traded away his original red paper clip five years ago.  Still, the impact of that one trade carries on half way around the world in the lives of three Australian college students who are raising some serious cash to help others.  That’s not a cool story.  That’s an incredible story.

I love stories where people think outside of the box and are met with incredible results.  I desire this.  I want to think outside of the box.  But not for myself.  Not for a good cause.  For the Kingdom and the King’s renown.  For the one who traded everything away for me.  The down-trade of all down-trades (God becoming human and dying on the cross) has already given me the up-trade of all up-trades (true life and my humanity back for eternity).

The questions this leaves me wrestling with and that could be helpful for others to engage in:

  • What is outside the box that I can do to impact lives for the Kingdom?
  • Is my vision of possibilities small or limited?  If so, how do I enlarge it for seeing beyond the status quo?
  • Can I leverage my energy towards something significantly larger than myself that will require others to accomplish?

What thoughts or questions are you left wrestling with?

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Jay: a nickname for Jason
A2: a nickname for Ann Arbor
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