Saturday, October 31, 2009

Apostolic Choir Electrifies Verizon Wireless Competition

My family and I attend Atlanta West Pentecostal Church in Lithia Springs, GA. For the last two years our choir has competed in the National How Sweet the Sound Best Church Choir competition sponsored by Verizon Wireless . You may well ask, "What is an Apostolic choir doing competing in something like that? Aren't we there to worship God and not just perform?" Well....yes. Can we do both? Our choir decided to try it out and see.

First, a video was sent in to the local HSTS committee and we were chosen to perform at the local Atlanta level. In 2008 the choir had no idea what to expect. Suffice it to say that they did super well and managed to secure the Best Large Choir, Best Overall Choir, and the People's Choice award. Since they won Best Overall Choir in the regionals here in Atlanta, the choir got to compete in the national competition. Here is their performance, for which they won the People's Choice award again!

Okay, fast forward to 2009. The local competition was held at Philips Arena in downtown Atlanta and was attended by over 10,000 excited, mostly Christian folk. As you know, each local church has its own culture, so we were all a little uneasy as we merged with other church-goers not of our "brand". With Hollywood type lights, celebrity judges, and cokes and popcorn, it wasn't quite Sunday morning worship service. There were to be eight choir performances, and ours was to go seventh. All the groups sang wonderfully, and there were moments of superbness as well as some genuine God worship. That is, until the choir from Atlanta West Pentecostal Church got up to sing. When they started to sing their selection, Anthem of Praise, it was as if the place was electrified by a huge heavenly lightning bolt. Every soul in the place shot to their feet with a roar of sound as the power of the annointing of the Most Heavenly God filled that arena. They absolutely killed the song, but still it was so much more than a performance! When it was over, the worship would not stop, and even the judges were dancing before the Lord. Check it out Here! The official website does not record the judge's remarks, but you can view them on youtube.

So many people who were there said that they had to check out that Pentecostal church to see what was going on. We have seen record attendance since then with a tremendous outpouring of His Spirit for the hungry. More about this later.

The choir will compete in the Nationals this year on November 7th in Detroit, MI. If you can go, go! You will not regret it!

What do you think of this choir?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Disney Offers Refunds for Baby Einstein Products

One blogger notes:

“Call it the perfect storm of parenting. Who doesn’t want to believe that there is a magical, wondrous, no-parental-guidance-required product that will turn their kids into Mensa members? The combination of our lack of time, our paranoia over our kids performance, and our faith in technology primed this generation of parents to accept the clever advertising around "Baby Einstein" as truth, just as parents before us have seized on corporal punishment, or the teachings of Dr. Spock.”

As Josh McDowell states, “Kids spell love T-I-M-E.” Either you give them your time and attention, or you don’t.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Forum 2009: Communion

Professor Jared Runck let a Spirit-filled Communion Service to close out Forum 2009.

1971 vs 2009 -- in the South

I watched Remember the Titans the other day in school. It's really a movie that I enjoy, but the message it carries has never been more ironic, nor more needed.

Thirty Years Ago
The movie is set in 1971, someplace in Virginia. The black and white schools are being forcibly integrated because "it's the right thing to do", but nobody's happy about it. The town in which Remember the Titans is set is predominantly white, and the new black coach [Denzel Washington, whoop whoop!] has more than a few complaints, including bricks thrown through his window. In that movie, as in most PC movies, it's white vs black, and the Black Man is the victim and the white man his dominating foe.
These Days
That is just not the case anymore, at least in my corner of the globe. In my school, a nice big high school in Georgia, it's 75% black and "we whites" are in the minority. I mean in no way to foster hostile feelings by anyone against anyone for any reason. However, I do observe that many people in my school, who happen to be black, have their own stereotypes against whites. Black people are no longer the victims here: they are in the majority and have their say. Certainly many poor young people who are African-American look upon me with contempt and mistrust because I am white. I do not know them. I have never met them. I try to be a nice person, especially with acquaintances who don't know me.
The Background
My parents are from the North, though we lived in Arkansas for the majority of my childhood years. Arkansas, you guys! Think the good ole South.

The truth is, I didn't understand racism until I moved here to Georgia. Why? Because my parents, in the North, didn't really think about it. And the people in my small town didn't foster it. Racism was a foreign word, one vaguely recognized from our textbooks in third grade. In fact, one black friend of mine, I spent a lot of my time trying to impress, because she was in gymnastics and matter-of-fact, she was just cool. Black? It didn't mean anything to me. All the things people say, the "I Have a Dream" speech, the decrying of judging people based on their color, it came true in our town where people didn't even MENTION racism.

How do I know that? Because I was insulated from it for much of my young life.
Right Now
I simply am amazed at the continual hue and cry for "victims" in the US, regardless of who they are. You could say that everyone in America has been a victim at some point. But the truth is, from my limited and very young experience, we [my generation] are at least equal. Everything possible has been done to ensure a level playing field, at least in the academic arena. For us, it is no longer, "Can the long-standing Caucasian population grit their teeth and bear the African-American person being shown equality?" It is more, "Now that equality has been attempted multiple times, and many things have changed, can we all co-exist in peace?"

Is the Biblical word 'Fool' the modern-day equivalent of 'Racist'?

This article Should Christians Use the Word Fool? contends that the modern day meaning of fool is "someone lacking in judgment or prudence". Therefore, "Fool" is no longer the moral indictment that it once was. This author says that, today if you want to launch a vicious assault on someone's character, you should use the word 'Racist'.

the word racist is being used to maliciously assassinate people's character and reputation if they disagree with an approved (by race-hustlers) agenda. If you have been tracking the current on-going assault against Rush Limbaugh, you have witnessed a demonstration of what I am describing.

The word racist has morphed into a malicious hate-word that is being used for the same purpose that the word fool was used for in the days of Jesus: As a method of angry, hateful, personal assault on someone's character. Matthew 5:22 is not about criticism or disagreement; Matthew 5:22 is about the politics of personal destruction, the sin of attempted character assassination.

Do you agree or disagree? Check out the above, maybe a little rambling but interesting nonetheless, article.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Forum 2009: My Calling - The Arts

After Jason Sciscoe offered his dynamic general session on "Giftings vs. Callings" we broke into 4 separate electives - My Calling: The Arts, My Calling: Business, My Calling: Full-time Ministry, My Calling: Community Salt & Light so that everyone could get greater focus on their particular calling.

Here are pictures from the My Calling: The Arts session, moderated by celloist Brittney Jones (Music), Darryl Wilson (Graphic Design/Illustration), Kent d Curry (Writing).

Like Mother, Like Daughter

We've all heard the saying, (especially you, guys, who are attempting to choose your Proverbs 31 woman wisely) that women will eventually turn into their mothers. Take a look at Mama, and that's what Honey's going to look like on down the road.

This article explains how that little saying may hold some scientific weight. A study published by the American Society of Plastic surgeons "found that daughters' faces tend to follow their mothers in terms of sagging and volume loss, particularly around the corners of their eyes and lower eyelids" due to the fact that "mothers and daughters have the same skeletal and cellular make up."

Ladies, is this thrilling or chilling news?

I must brag and say that to me, the news is thrilling. My mom would kill me if I put her exact age on a blog for the World Wide Web to see, but let's say that my dear one is close to applying for membership in the Half a Century Club. People say we look alike to the point that some have mistaken us for siblings instead of a mother/daughter pair. If homegirl looks this good now, when I approach half a century, I won't have anything to worry about.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Windows 7- The Awkward Aunt in all Our Lives

Okay, you know that Aunt that you have that is just.....really really annoying? You love her and all, but she will leave voicemails 5 minutes long counting down the days until the next big family gathering complete with annoying details in her life that you don't really care about...and then when you meet her, she is just obnoxious beyond comprehension with just enough caffeine in her system to fuel a small third world country?

Okay, well maybe you don't have that annoying Aunt, but let's just imagine you do...

Well that Annoying Aunt is sort of becoming Windows 7....

If you are in a cave somewhere, let me inform you...Windows is releasing Windows 7 as an easier and better replacement of the disaster that was Windows Vista...and Windows is doing it with one of the weirdest advertising campaigns known to man....

Witness Exhibit A:

(I love how the ones at the party are trendy 20's white guy with glasses, mid 30's black guy, early 40's soccer mom, and early 60's grandma which covers almost every demographic and combined makes one of the absolute weirdest mosaic of friends ever)

But now to add to the madness,
I present to to you: Exhibit B-The Windows 7 Whopper Sandwich
Never mind that this sandwich is complete with death as it's sidekick via heart attack, and thus could never be sold in the tightly legislated United States, but let's just focus on the weirdness of the marriage of Burger King and Windows 7....Sure some may like Burger King's food, but does anyone really want Burger King as it's vehicle to advertise? I mean, if I was posting myself asin a dating profile, the last place I would want it showing up is in a Burger King complete with nauseating 7 pattied burger....

And just like the annoying Aunt, I know that one day me and Windows 7 will unite, and I will become equally as frustrated with the system as my own Aunt.

Forum 2009: Jason Sciscoe on Giftings & Callings

Bro. Jason Sciscoe dynamically delivered the Word around the theme of "Giftings vs. Callings."

Forum 2009: Behind the Scenes

Allow a few quick thoughts from the planning committee.

  • Every year you host a conference -- or, in our case, an Un-Conference -- it is supposed to be superior experience, but somewhat different from the previous years. The character of the attendees and different speakers can keep it fresh, but ultimately it's the way God chooses to move that creates the surprise.
  • We call this the Un-Conference because we shy away from the traditional big name preaching and singing/music, not because it's bad, but because there are more ways to minister at an event than through just preaching and singing.
  • Maybe you're not surprised that this can be a very hard sell in the Apostolic movement, even among supposedly forward-thinking 20somethings.
  • So this year we took some Un-Conference risks.
  • Apostolics Like Smart People! We decided to highlight the decidedly un-sexy topic of textbook creation in one session because UGST professor Jeffrey Brickle has some unprecedented opportunites (for an Apostolic) to contribute a chapter to an academic textbook entitled The Fourth Gospel and First-Century Media Culture, as well as write a textbook related to his area of expertise (Orality) for the Society of Biblical Literature, as well as contribute sound files to a future edition of the PC Study Bible. This session, which also featured Profesor David Norris, was the best attended session at that time period.
  • We also decided to follow a raucous session on "When is Music Secular?" - full of laughter, a metal music clip, and disagreeing panelists - with Communion. We even had accompanying music (a first for us) as everyone came forward to take the body and blood of Christ. Of course the Lord moved -- with men breaking into tears, and women proclaiming numerous needs being met.
  • This made for a nice bookend to Bro. Jason Sciscoe's opening general session on "Callings vs. Gifts" that turned into a move of God with most everyone worshiping or breaking down at their seats. Soon he began praying with them as they stood or kneeled. At least one attendee said her fear fled when he gave her a word from God on her future.
  • He's a grand God who ministers as we allow Him. This year's edition of the Forum made me wonder if we give Him enough different ways to reach all of us. Or if even the Un-Conference only channels God to move through certain, pre-determined formats.
  • Maybe our imaginations are too small, hidebound to our preconceptions on what a conference is supposed to be. Sometimes we have to take a risk.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Forum 2009: Coffee House

Every Friday night, after the Roundtables, we kick back at a coffee house for informal chatter. Hyphen T-shirts were a hit. The variety of quality people -- like-minded achievers, as we coinged them -- were a hit. The fruit and coffee was a hit. The guitars and saxophone, by Campus Ministry's Andy Alexander, were a hit. The sore feet from standing too long were not a hit.

Of course there are more (different) pictures on our Facebook IQ Forum. If you're not connected to us, start today!

Forum 2009: Roundtables

Roundtables are 10 minute blitzes on a single fiery topic -- Pentecostal Profanity, Reaching the World at Home, Words We No Longer Hear (and what it says about us), Hollywood Influences Our Daily Lives, Emerging Adults -- with a premise shared, then argued over 10 quick minutes.

It's always a highlight because everyone around the table affects the discussion. No 2 tables are alike, even though the moderator starts the same.

Why I Love the Forum (2009 Edition)

We were mid-discussion during Saturday's "When Does Music Become Secular?" panel. The audience was discussing the point that music was sticky--a single listen sticks in your heard, while other art forms require more time.

Mid-argument, to prove music's superiority, John T. asked skeptically, "How many people go to art museums?"

Slowly, one hand raised, then another, then another. Within seconds about 85% of the room had their hands raised. Then the people who don't attend art museums started raising their hands to fit in. Everyone roared.

John stopped talking.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Forum Day 2: Music

Wow. That's really all I can say. Forum was awesome. The music session today really impacted me. I have to admit I went into it thinking I would not get much out of it. However, I must admit I was wrong. The question comes to mind. Should we as Apostolic Pentecostal young people be abstaining from secular music? I never really sat down to think about it. Music has the ability to completely transform emotions, it can move your spirit, and it is very powerful. Music by its very nature is designed to touch the heart and soul. Think about it. When you are listening to love songs what emotions does it elicit? When you are listening to rock n roll what do you feel? During worship service at church, what are your actions?

Now I am not saying I am going to throw out all my non Jesus music. I do believe there is secular music that is good. Truthfully, my Ipod is filled with everything from Worship to Country to Elvis. It really all boils down to this: if you feel convicted or if the emotions and actions the music elicits from you are not Godly then you might want to rethink what it is you are allowing into your Ipod, car, stereo or computer.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Forum Day 1: Giftings, Callings & The Arts

Day 1 of The (5th Annual) Forum at Gateway College of Evangelism in St. Louis is over in a blur. I'm exhausted with too many responsibilities tomorrow, so naturally I'm blogging.

  • Every year we try to foster an atmosphere of non-confrontational dialogue and disagreement. The surest sign we've succeeded is when the 40something people who don't know each other break into spontaneous laughter together. When people are comfortable, they're unafraid to laugh. The enter room laughed thrice during the panel alone.
  • Attendees from TX, IA, IL, MO, OK, OH, not counting Gateway and UGST students. Although the Forum was created for 20somethings, the reality is it's focused on anyone wanting to engage contemporary society. It's exciting to see a few 40somethings sneaking in to attend and interact, offering wisdom and experience to the energy and idealism of youth.
  • Biggest surprise to the planners was how the attendees chose their electives. Rev. Micah Wisdom shared the Key Note Address on "What's Possible Today," using inspiring examples of what Aps with imagination are creating today. Jason Sciscoe did a spectacular hour building that on "Physical Giftings vs. Spiritual Callings" that turned into fervent prayer and supplication. God surprised us again. 4 electives were then offered to turn inspired Callings into physical realities: Business, Full-time ministry, Community Salt & Light, and "The Arts: Music, Graphic Design, Writing." We were suprised when the biggest group went into the smallest room--"The Arts."
  • On reflection, this shouldn't have been a shock --this generation is hungry to create. Plus, there's precious little in Ap events today about pursuing our Artistic callings (though I understand there were recent events in Louisian & Texas along these lines). Still, it was a charge to see 19 people of all ages soak in methods to pursue their artistic calling -- and even get more traditional Apostolic leadership to support these creative sowers. Hooray for our future!
  • Pictures this weekend. Sorry -- a man's got to know his limitations.

Forum Day 1: Your Calling

Greetings to all fellow bloggers and readers alike! My name is Samantha Bean. I am a Sophomore at Gateway College of Evangelism. Lord willing, in just a few short years I will graduate with a degree!

Today kicked off the first day of The Forum. What an amazing move of God in the sessions today. Bro. Jason Sciscoe discussed Spiritual Gifting vs. Physical Calling. What really struck me was the statement, "How many people come into the church or grew up in the church who are no longer here?" This amazes me because following this statement we discussed the fact that these people who are filled with the Holy Ghost and know truth never really found their calling in life. We are to be disciples of God. We must always be productive in His kingdom doing something whether that project is our 'calling' or not. Jesus never called anyone who was waiting around on God's voice to say THIS is your calling. Remember, even if you personally do not know what specific ministry you are called to please always do something for the kingdom of God. It could be you that saves someone's soul.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Why Michelle's Hair Matters

A certain article in Time was brought to my attention about Michelle Obama's hair. As I read it, I found striking similarities between the politics attached to African-American women's hair and those attached to Apostolic women's hair. An excerpt:

Many Americans have dismissed this hair hubbub as simply more media-driven noise — like the chatter about Michelle Obama's sleeveless dresses, J. Crew cardigans, stocking-free legs or, for that matter, recent (shocking!) decision to wear shorts in the Arizona heat. But for African-American women like me, hair is something else altogether — singular in its capacity to command interest and carry cultural baggage. (emphasis mine)

If you're an Apostolic woman with an abundant amount of "glory," perhaps you can relate to similar issues that African-American women face concerning their hair. Instead of cultural/racial politics, the issues surrounding AP women's hair revolves around religious conviction. Your hair holds the same power to command interest and it carries similiar "baggage" in that it very sharply distinguishes you from the mainstream. In both cases, there's an interesting dichotomy of pride and shame.

Eyebrow-raising style
There's also a tie-in that I see when it comes to style. Though images of black hairstyles seen in the media may garner its fair share of raised eyebrows, I see an interesting parallel with different, though no less eyebrow-raising, intricate and at times exaggerated Apostolic styles that set people abuzz at the latest convention.

Suffer for beauty
And the sacrifice. The article references a humorous Chris Rock documentary which mentions the amount of money black women spend on their hair. According to the article, a University of Indiana study shows that black women often sacrifice workouts for the sake of their hair. Apostolic woman with abundant hair, when you close your eyes, do you envision a bathroom counter littered with hair products, too? Can you think of times you've "suffered for beauty" financially, emotionally or physically when it came down to your hair?

Hair = Position on the social ladder?
And what about what the upkeep says about the wearer and her status? Michelle Obama's hair and the way it is maintained is a reflection of her status as First Lady, and even more than that, makes a statement about the way a First Lady's hair, in the dominant culture, is expected to be maintained. A silky bob communicates something different than a curly 'fro. The same might be said for the status of Apostolic women with hair perfectly coiffed as opposed to the dreaded and much shunned "down and stringy."

A black family at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue signifies a shattered political barrier, but our reactions to Michelle are evidence that it takes more than an election to untangle some of the unique dilemmas black women face. Thanks to her, our issues are front and center. It feels a lot like when nonblack friends and colleagues ask those dreaded questions that force us to reflect and explain: whether we can comb through our hair, if we wash our braids or locks and the most complicated of all — why it all has to be such a big deal. (emphasis mine)

Apostolic woman with abundant hair, do these questions ring familiar? "How often do you wash it?" "How do you get it that way?" and even naively intrigued though slightly invasive, "Can I touch it?" The fascination or even derision that African-American women's hair evokes can be compared to the same that Apostolic women's hair evokes. In both cases, it causes the owner of that hair to reflect on her choices in maintaining her hair (straightened, natural, braided, long and uncut) and it gives us pause when we try to explain to those outside of our world why we do what we do.

PS - Perhaps I will write a dissertation one day about my experiences as an Apostolic woman with African-American hair. I'll spare you for now.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Emerging Adults or Lazy Post-Teenagers?

Want your fascinating read for the week? Check out this article about a new categorized aged group entitled "Emerging Adults" (18-29 year olds delaying their entry into adult hood). If you have more time (I wish I did), check out the book that inspired the article.

I will voluntarily say that I am one of these emerging adults. I am 24 next month and still live in my parents house as I attend grad school and see no prospects of moving out in the near future nor do I really feel inspired to. I had been observing this trend for about a year now when I realized all of my friends from high school all returned home after college to live with their parents again and none of us seemed too worried. I attributed this to two factors: First, an overabundance of undergraduate graduates and not enough jobs to appease this market, but also I argue that this staying immature longer (or emerging) is due to a higher gestation period where the young stay with the parents. We know that the humans have the longest gestation period of any species on earth, and thus we have the most successful species. Does it not seem logical that a longer gestation period in my generation will amount to a relatively more successful generation in coming decades? (Of course I make this point in jest).

Perhaps most shocking in the article is the highlighting of this quote, "In statistical analysis, there was no relationship between exposure to religious training in childhood and any aspect of their religious beliefs as emerging adults — not to the current classification as agnostic/atheist, deist, liberal believer, or conservative believer; not to their current attendance at religious services; or the importance of religious beliefs, or the importance of religion in their everyday lives; not the their belief that God or a higher power guides their lives or to the certainty of their religious beliefs in emerging adulthood."...Yikes....

While I have yet to read the book, I can assure you that it's material like this that will help clear up some of the confusion of the current generation gap we are witnessing in our movement (and which I am sure will be in conflict/brought up constantly this weekend at the forum)....

The Un-Conference is This Friday!

Attention all non-traditional Apostolics! We want your thoughts on: Giftings vs. Callings; Is anyone loyal to their local church anymore? Doing More with Less in Small Churches, and how would you spend $10m on Apostolic ministries?

It's The Forum in St. Louis, this weekend (October 23-24).

We call it the Un-Conference because it’s about dialoguing on contemporary topics, not a list of big-name speakers (who may or may not be qualified to speak on his/her topic). Don’t be afraid to come alone. You’ll leave with friends of like-minded faith.

And yes, we're hoping to blog at least some of it...