Advice for Teen Girls When Talking To My Wife

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My wife, Jennifer, is an amazing woman. And she was an amazing teenager.

Yes, she was in a relationship too young. And got out of it. And was in a second relationship with a guy who needed serious counseling. And she got out of that one too.

She also walked the talk as a Christian.

She did her first 40-day juice and water fast at 15 years old. (And still was first-string on her soccer team). When her other friends were off partying at midnight, she was laying on her face next to her flag pole, praying for revival in her school. She was devoted, outspoken for Jesus. And was still Homecoming Queen.

She was a rockstar.

As a teenager.

Because of this faithfulness, she addressed thousands of her peers in arenas around the country. Multiple times. And sang in front of 25,000 teens on the Mall in Washington, DC. All to give glory to her one true love, King Jesus.

God rewards those who pay a price to follow him.

Ladies, if you have my wife’s phone number or are friends on Facebook, don’t text: “So, can I ask you a question?”

Listen, I love that you admire her. So do I. Either ask your question, or don’t. Pretending like you’re weighing your options when you’re stepping up to bat with a Titan of faith is unbecoming.

And if you’re going to ask for her pearls of wisdom, please mean it. In other words, don’t insult her by throwing them in the mud after she gives them to you. Her time and her testimony are valuable. They’re gold, and then some. If you really value her, decide in advance that you’re going to model what she’s modeled for you. Or don’t bother asking. You’ll be wasting your time and her’s.

Ladies, you have this sneaky way of so desperately wanting her advice when you don’t have a boyfriend, conveniently throwing yourself into Jesus. But the moment that cute boy comes along, you suddenly vanish off the map for six months.

Here’s my advice: don’t expect to get the life she has without paying the price she paid to get it.

Wisdom is purchased, not transferred.

Start saving early.

“Wisdom is supreme. Get wisdom. Yes, though it costs all your possessions, get understanding.”

King Solomon of Israel (Proverbs 4:7 WEB)

Do you want to know why she’s such an amazing woman? Because she sought wisdom, and chose to cling to it even when other things seemed more enticing. This was hard. She was not proven faithful when life was easy—she became great in the midst of adversity. I could not ask for a more remarkable, more intelligent, more steadfast, more beautiful, more passionate woman than her. She paid for every one of those attributes, and more.

If you want role models, true female models, they’re out there. Most aren’t on the covers of magazines, and most won’t give you the answers you want. Just make sure you’re really going to do what they say before you ask for their pearls; they get tired of being insulted as soon as your fancy changes.

“Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.” Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew 7:6 ESV)

To those of you who have listened to Jennifer, and in turn, listened to Jesus, you know who you are, and I applaud you. Thank you for treating my wife’s wisdom with the honor it deserves. Your lives are testimonies of God’s faithfulness to those who pursue him at any cost. I love you for honoring the Jesus in my wife. Carry on.

Christopher

Podcast for Artists and Leaders – Creativecast Launch

Creativecast iTunes Launch Headphones Christopher Hopper

After 15 months of encouragement from close friends, and two months of hand-holding from Mike Kim, Creativecast has hit iTunes with three inaugural episodes.

If you’re not yet a podcast listener, consider this your maiden voyage. And if you already are an avid podcast addict, I hope this new subscription will find its way into your routine.

WHERE TO FIND CREATIVECAST

iTunes: Creativecast Podcast
Website: creativecast.fm
Twitter: @creativecastfm
Facebook: /creativecastfm
Behind the scenes shots:
Instagram: @creativecast

WHAT YOU’LL HEAR

Creativecast was birthed for a few different reasons, many of which I outlined in my original post [READ: So You’re Starting A Podcast?]. But speaking to creative hearts who are concerned with serving others around them is at the epicenter of this movement. I want to serve you. Whether it’s gleaning a few pointers for your already mature endeavors, or you’re on a steep learning curve for how to be a creative leader, Creativecast is made with love each week to inspire you in your pursuit of influencing your church, business or familial culture.

Whether you’re a producer, painter, pastor or parent, there’s something for you here. And I encourage you to download, put your earbuds in, and start listening.

But more, Creativecast needs your feedback.

PLEASE, SPEAK UP

Since this show is meant to serve you, it must be informed by you. This means we need your questions, your comments, your feedback. You can find the show notes for each episode at their respective posts on creativecast.fm. Whether it’s there in the comments section, or on one of Creativecast’s numerous social media platforms, we’d love to take your questions.

Lastly, please consider leaving a review on iTunes. These reviews really do help get the word out and reach more people with tools that are free and valuable. If you enjoy the show, and you believe these first three episodes are beneficial to you, please leave a review.

Thanks for listening! See you in the Creativecast,

Christopher

Creativecast iTunes Launch iPhone Christopher Hopper

Ask Simply, Receive Broadly

Many people ask, “God, do you want me in job A, or job B?”

But what if God wants you in job C?

Now the Lord has to speak outside of the perimeters you provided him, and you’ll be far less likely to accept what you did not conceive of yourself.

Learn to ask more simply so that you can receive more broadly.

Christopher

Overcoming Selective Perception – Where National Geographic’s Camera Got It Right But The Comment Got It Wrong

Jennifer and I often find ourselves driving down a road that we’ve traveled thousands of times (literally), when we notice a new house, an old building gone, or a large change in the landscape.

“Woah, I never noticed that!”

The more frequent the road for us, the more startling the change to us. Sometimes we just look at each other, incredulous.

“How are we so blind that we didn’t notice that?

Just this week, one of us (I won’t say who) noticed that an entire nursing home, complete with out buildings and an admin wing, had been torn down.

For eight months.

If you’re chuckling right now, it means you’ve had similar experiences, which means none of us are alone in this condition.

This same effect, however, can also play out on much more meaningful subjects.

People.

A National Geographic photo posted on their Instagram account this morning is a prime example:

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I felt compelled to comment:

@find_ch forget climate change; what about the immediate caustic effects of those walking through it?

@wiccat Agree to you!!

@wiccat thanks for the kind comment. I think sometimes we can get so caught up in generalizations, especially if they suit our own ambitions, that we fail to notice (or comment on) the thing that’s staring us right in the face. This is a perfect example. The climate’s changing? OK, the jury’s still out even as to why. But right now, I see a beautiful girl who’s walking through carcinogenic smoke—and that’s not the lead line? [sigh]

Exclusive perception.

We tend to see what we want to see. The object of our passion becomes the blinders to our perception by distorting reality. We don’t notice the obvious because in our own distorted reality, the obvious thing literally isn’t there. We’re induced into a state of virtual blindness.

We need healing.

Usually this comes in the form of a good coach (some who “sees” more than we do), an epiphany from God (a revelation found in spiritual awakening), or a jarring life experience that snaps us out of our stupor (a visit to Cambodia, let’s say).

Such “wake up calls” help us then divest ourselves from a singular passion and reinvest in a passion that is itself inclusive—that has many passions within it. But, since we can’t be poly-sighted in every scenario, we must make a values call by becoming passionate about the right issues.

What are the right issues, you ask? Aren’t those utterly subjective?

The right issues are those that always place the needs of hurting people, all people, above politics and policy, no matter how revered. A politic that itself has missed the care of a person is a flawed politic, and therefore a flawed virtue. Because the needs of hurting people are always the right issue to champion.

There is no more noble cause, no more clearer lens through which to view the world, than to empathize with another individual and meet their need. It is precisely what King Jesus did for humanity, and it’s the lifestyle lens that helps us overcome bureaucracy with benevolence.

The only set of flawless virtues that I know of are not those of any present nation or civil contract; though there are plenty of good working models, even the best is far from adequate. For even a system that proves idealistic for one people group turns out to be hostile for another, since there is nothing in civil contract that can inherently transform the condition of the human heart.

The kingdom lens.

The values of the kingdom of God are universal (they are best for all mankind, everywhere, regardless of race or culture), they are eternal (they have everlasting effects on the individual), and they are inherited (not earned, but gifted, sometimes even to those who aren’t aware of the Gift Giver—such is the largess of grace). The kingdom is in fact the superior and supreme ideology and methodology in serving humans out of our collective depravity.

It’s how we see.

It’s how we perceive.

When our passion becomes Jesus, our values become kingdom ones, and our empathy becomes action. Because, for the first time, we don’t see a mission. We don’t see a cause or a campaign.

We see a face.

Christopher

“But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.”

James the Just

So You’re Starting A Podcast?

You know that queasy feeling you get right before a big exam?

Like, you’re pretty sure you know all the material—at least as good as you think you can know it—but you’re also pretty sure there’s going to be that one question that sinks you? And that you wore the wrong underwear? And that you showed up the wrong day?

That’s how I feel right now.

Because I’m taking the “I’m not sure I can do this” and “why haven’t I done this sooner?” leap into podcasting.

Podcasting Is Popular?

I know, right?

It’s ironic that podcasting has any traction at all. I mean, we actually have video calling capabilities right now. We’re the friggin’ Jetsons! So why a modified version of (gulp) radio? Do radios still work?

A better question to understand the usefulness of podcasting is, do our ears still work? And further, do our imaginations?

For all the amazing things we produce visually, there’s still something we humans love about purely auditory experiences. This would be a great moment to inset a latin-based psychological term that scientists use to explain this phenomenon. If there was one. Which there may be. But I don’t know it, and I don’t feel like Googling it.

We also still do plenty of functions in our daily lives that require us to be focused on a cognitive primary task but likewise allow us to use our ears to benefit from a background secondary task.

Driving a car.

Working out.

Doing housework.

Crocheting.

Knitting.

Some people might argue that crocheting and knitting are the same thing, but anyone who’s had their grandmother school them on these trades knows they’re light years apart.

As much as we might dismiss podcasting as a modern throwback to a bygone means of production, the reality is that podcasting is insanely popular. In fact, iTunes reached over 1-billion subscribers this year.

That’s about three time the population of the United States if you like statistics.

That’s about 9.4605284 × 1024 meters in light years if you like really obtuse statistics.

So Why Am I Podcasting?

People like podcasts if the content is interesting, if it has something valuable to give, and if it’s entertaining.

I think I’m entertaining. At least my kids think so. Because I can talk like Elmo and Yoda, mainly.

Check.

I can be interesting. But that largely depends on who I’m hanging around with. (More on that in a second).

Check.

And I have enough life-experiences at this point to offer value to anyone who has a long enough drive or big enough pot holder to crochet.

Check.

I’m podcasting for personal reasons too.

I need to keep myself sharp. As an associate pastor, I don’t speak publicly as much as my senior pastor. Which means my speaking gift gets rusty from misuse. Podcasting—while not preaching, and sometimes like teaching—forces me to prepare and speak with an audience in mind. And I like that.

I’ve also been encouraged by my dear friend, Mike Kim, who’s a podcasting phenom. A whiz kid. A wonder whirl. A idiot savant without the idiot. And because I’m only as interesting as the people I have around me (see earlier note), he’s agreed to co-host my first ten episodes.

Jackpot.

Having a recording studio at my disposal is a plus, too.

What Are You Going To Podcast About?

Great question.

Like most of us, sometimes our greatest strengths can also be significant weaknesses. One of my strengths is that I like a lot of stuff. Music, writing, theology, technology, leadership, business, art, history and my favorite: family. So while a particular subject matter stream may take a while to materialize (you know, that one subject that makes something “brandable”), I’m going to cover it all. Because I can. It’s my podcast.

And either this thing takes off because you help make it awesome, or it sucks, and after Mike is done co-hosting, we dig a shallow podcast grave and bury it.

Here’s Where You Come In

I’d love to field questions from you. From funny to deathly serious, this is your chance to hear me answer your questions in front of a live (no) studio audience (nope) of thousands! (That’s a lie).

I’ll be checking the comments for your questions, as well as Twitter and Facebook, as we gear up production and shoot for a late January launch.

Thanks for reading, and soon, thanks for listening.

Christopher

The Shopkeeping Pastor

Thought this was such a thought provoking quote:

“The pastors of America have metamorphosed into a company of shopkeepers, and the shops they keep are churches.”

Eugene Peterson (@PetersonDaily)
12/29/14, 7:36 AM

It’s true on so many levels, from the way pastors care, maintain and treat everything from people and families and budgets, to physical buildings and possessions.

How we constantly try and think of new ways to serve a community, produce a constant stream of content, and pull off weekly “shows” that hopefully please both God and man.

How we’re are always looking to expand the kingdom’s influence and reach more people, expanding into “new markets.”

New ways to market what we’re doing, maintaining the integrity of what people experience (a brand).

Long hours, few reprieves.

Strategizing, praying, meeting, counseling, brainstorming, assessing, hiring, firing, accounting, resourcing.

We must have a clear mission, but never at the expense of our values. A mission without values leaves hurting people in its wake.

We’re spiritual shopkeepers in a material world. The correlations between being an entrepreneur and a pastor are too numerous to count, and the disciplines required for both are tightly bound.

Thank you, Pastors, for all you carry; thank you Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists and Teachers. May the five-fold positions of ministry continue to keep the shop lights on for those walking in the dark.

Christopher

Beware Numbness

“Numbness does not hurt like torture, but in a quite parallel way, numbness robs us of our capability for humanity.”

Walter Brueggemann, Prophetic Imagination

Beware the numbing effects of technology, commodity satiation, and comfort. They lead to comparison, abandonment of gratitude, and warped perspective on priorities.

Numbness not only disconnects us from feeling for others, but feeling as others.

Let the battery go dead for a few hours. 

Look up. 

Percieve. 

Let numbness melt away, exposing the one word society so desperately craves but so earnestly resists. 

Sense.

Encouragement To Carry On

Feeling guilty?

Like your sin has caused something negative?

Consider this: If your life was really to experience the full ramifications of your sin, you’d be dead. So if you’re breathing, you’re experiencing grace, regardless of the measure. Rejoice there!

Feeling tired?

Like you’re not sure you can take this for another year?

Everyone wants to win, but few people want to battle. Dig deep. Make it to your next meal. Don’t worry about tomorrow—today has enough cares of its own.

One step.

One task.

One thought.

One meeting.

One break.

One thought at a time.

Sometimes we take strides, sometimes we take an inches, but we’re always taking something, even if it’s just a breath of air.

“Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.'” – Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew 11:28 NLT)

Letter To Ferguson

Dear Ferguson,

I ache for you today. My heart aches to the point that I’m in a strange sort physical pain. The prophet would say I’m travailing, the cynic would say I’m wasting my time. And me? I’m not even sure what to think. But I have to say something today. Let me be corrected tomorrow, but let me not be silent today.

I recognize pain when I see it. Pain on the face of a community that has lost sense of herself, of how normal is supposed to feel. A community that has been thrust before the national eye and raped by every possible opinion, poll and plank of political propaganda possible.

The ache I have prompts me to a form of prayer. Not really with words, because I don’t know exactly what to pray. But with groanings.

I’m groaning today at the talking heads that will forget the taste of your flesh by the time they’re next meal has arrived. For whatever reason, we trust them to regurgitate our nourishment on command. Yours just happened to be the plat du jour. And I’m sorry.

I’m groaning for the beautiful person that’s picking up the litter this morning along your sidewalks. No video cameras catching his or her act of service. No one championing his or her heart to see healing brought to your town; they themselves don’t even know what to do, so they start with the only act they can think off: to make Ferguson beautiful again, one scrap at a time.

I’m groaning for a black family that lost their son. Of all people not to fault for an emotional response, it’s them. And yet their vision has cleared to desire something that smacks of the divine. I’m groaning for a white family that now must always watch over their shoulder, sharing in what so many black families already walk in everyday.

I’m groaning for your leaders, both spiritual and civic. Asking God to grant them immense wisdom for the long road ahead. I’m pleading with the Lord for renewed grace. For favor with one another as the spiritual try to emulate Christ, and the civic try to embody discretion.

I’m groaning, most of all, at the community of faith outside of your town. I’m sorry that in many places she too has lost her sense of identity when it comes to you, Ferguson. Where so many of her leaders seem to be silent, I find overwhelming numbers of her congregants willing to speak out of step with that of her Betrothed. They’ve failed to pray for even ten concerted minutes for you, and yet their proficiency at small-time publishing entitles them to profess their allegiance whatever emotion is on tap.

They’ve shown that their affluent position has clouded their judgement, has created a fog over the Christ that granted paradise to the thief and washed the feet of a murderer. They can’t even spell “indictment,” nor do they recognize the bitter knife they plunge into humanity when they use “white” or “black.” I groan at our collective ignorance, and our failure to live up to one person’s expectations—the one who alone has the right to expect much of us, because we claim to be sanctioned by his blood offering.

I groan for those of us who think racism is dead, failing to realize that it’s very much alive in our Facebook feeds.

Sometimes, Ferguson, I wonder just how far we’ve come. Do our people even hear us on Sundays?

Listening is a reflex, but hearing is an art. Oh, may we learn the language of artful hearing once more.

We’re not “modern man.” Despite our epic leaps—and there are many—it’s days like today where I’m convinced we’re just animals with computer screens for toys. We’re Cain pointing a finger at Able saying, “He deserved it,” while ignoring the blood on our hands from the safety of our couches hundreds of miles from you, Ferguson.

It is the epitome of gossip to think we have any right to an opinion of who you are, Ferguson, unless we live with you. Among you. Bleeding with you. And we’re sorry. For coming to our own conclusions so far from your doorstep. For failing to spend even ten minutes in prayer for your borders, your families, your leaders.

It’s in the cacophony of civil unrest that the will of society is revealed, it’s just that the majority rarely think they’re the ones under examination.

I may not be a pastor of many people, Ferguson, but I’m a pastor of people who matter. My voice may not be as loud as some who need to be saying something as spiritual leaders of our nation. But it has at least a little volume. To call people to remember they’re Christians, not Republicans or Democrats. Christians. That do the things Jesus did.

I’m praying for you, Ferguson. For ten minutes right now. It’s the least I can do as a Christian.

Groaning,

Christopher Hopper

Audible Narrator Announced for The Sky Riders: David Rheinstrom

The Sky Riders Christopher Hopper Audible Narrator David Rheinstrom (large)

I’m so thrilled to announce my partnership with voice over artist and narrator David Rheinstrom as Junar ap Leif in Book 1 of The Sky Riders. He’s a gifted voice actor, writer and game developer based out of Chicago, Illinois.

After many months of looking and waiting, I felt David’s audition not only captured the enthusiasm and adolescent dilemmas of Junar’s journey but the inflections of each supporting character, which is just as important to me. Feel free to drop him a note on Facebook.

For those of you who’ve already read TSR, I hope you find the Audible book a fresh companion for the story you’ve already come to love. For those who haven’t, get ready for a theatrical narration of an unforgettable journey above the clouds of Aria-Prime.

Christopher

Doesn’t Modern Worship Miss God?

No, not unless it’s telling you to miss God.

New Life (Colorado Springs, CO) worship leader Glenn Packiam is in the middle of a great two-part piece about modern worship, entitled “The Problem With Our Critique of Modern Worship.” Whether you’re a worship leader or a worshiper (hey, that’s every Christian) I would recommend reading it.

I know why Glenn’s writing this. It’s the same reason I would write something like this. Because when you’re in a place of leadership in an evangelical Christian church, every congregant has an opinion of how church should run, and their way is inevitably the “right way.” Much of this stems around the worship style.

Because we’re Christians, we can’t just tell people their ideas are stupid (even though plenty are). We need to be kind. And because we’re leaders, we must have a thoughtful response.

With regard to modern worship style and contexts, some people feel it’s missing God. They ask questions like, “Why do we need lights?” and “What’s up with all that bass?” which inevitably leads to “Are we running a rock concert or a church service?”

Assuming you already paused long enough to read Glenn’s article, his first point citing where critics often accuse modern songs of having “too many eruptions of repetitive monosyllabic sounds” is brilliant.

“Because it’s Biblical.”

And he brings in quotes from Fuller Seminary’s Old Testament professor John Goldingay to make the point. What might surprise many Christians today is that ancient Hebrew worship music was even more rhythmic and less melodic than anything we have today. And, if I might add from a modal study, our music has far more major chord voicings than anything they used in Middle East traditions, past or present.

But I’d like to offer a few additions to Glenn’s second point regarding the common accusation that our services are “too much like a rock concert.” Glenn does a great job of discerning how Christians can “inhabit the form” of something from the world while not being of the world. Like metaphor and diverse expression, the Church is a wonderful vehicle for an array of communications.

Here’s some more food for thought.

Firstly, what is so bad about a rock concert? Or any concert for that matter? Somewhere, the term “rock concert” has become synonymous in certain Christian circles as being “of the devil.”

News flash, and I know this might be a shocker, but I’ve been to hundreds of rock concerts and I’ve never seen the devil. I’ve never been encouraged to worship the devil. And I’ve never felt the devil. Granted, I may not have gone to the “proper rock concerts” to experience this, but even that proves my point: not all rock concerts are bad, and similarly, not all church services are good. So making a broad generalization is poor grounds for any argument.

Secondly, I’ve seen some amazing things in rock concerts. I’ve seen how lights can be used to minimize distractions and draw a crowd’s attention to something important. I’ve seen how quality mixing, thorough sound reinforcement, and poignant visual and video effects can provide an audience with a memorable, life-altering experience that they’ll never forget.

Isn’t that exactly what we’re trying to do in the church?

So if the question isn’t one of style, but really—if we’re being honest—of content, then what are we promoting with all this technology?

I’m not sure about your church, if it falls into the “modern worship” context or not, but yesterday at mine, our worship leaders talked incessantly about Jesus, lead the church in songs about him, shared scriptures from his Bible, exhorted the church to pray and intercede for the perishing in our community, and prayed for the congregation.

Huh. I’ve never been to a rock concert where that happened. Unless you’re talking about a CCM concert, which I don’t think that’s what critics are trying to cite as evidence.

The truth is, I’ve been to secular rock shows where the front man was more humble than some pastors I’ve met on a Sunday morning. Again, not all, just some. Content always trumps environment.

Why am I so stumped when critics draw the awkward and ill-informed rock concert comparison? Because they’re choosing to use broad strokes when really all they need to say is, “I don’t like electric guitars.” Now at least that would be an honest, accurate statement that we could have a discussion about. Or just say, “I’m always going to think that things were better [in whatever decade they were saved in].” I can work with that! I’m sure that I’ll always think the 90’s were the best. (But they really weren’t).

When we use stereotypes in place of facts, it’s usually because we have not thought out our arguments and believe that generalizations will further impassion our plea. The opposite is true: they undermine our arguments and turn well-meaning people into cause-driven fanatics.

If we’re going to critique anything, let it be whether or not we see the love of Jesus at work among his people. Whether or not we see people using their creative gifts to full effect in directing attention to God and creating an unforgettable experience for others. And whether or not people walk away remembering how exciting it is to see “the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (Psalm 27:13).

From Whence Beauty Came

A culture that values beauty, values life. One of our goals as leaders should be to teach the appreciation of beautiful things.

When we see significance in the complexity of creation as well as in the self discipline of creating, we esteem art to a place of tremendous influence.

Where media was but a mixture of molecules and actions, it is now an expression of something divine, testifying to the life which brought it to bear upon the sole of the recipient.

If a people can learn what is beautiful by appreciating what makes something lovely, that people will embrace the subject from which that beauty came more freely.

Man.

And then God.