En France: Update

Jennifer and I’ve had a wonderful time here in northern France for the last several days. In the mornings I’ve been teaching the students at EDEN discipleship school, followed by various activities in the afternoons, and nights of worship in the evenings.

I’ve been lecturing on redefining the gospel “according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:2), and its resulting impact on the function of evangelism. The discussions with the students have been wonderfully inspiring, and I’m excited to see them unleashed on local villages later in the week as we find creative ways to demonstrate sacrificial love personified.

As always, it’s not the places that we visit that leave a lasting impact on us, but the people we meet. Here are some of their faces.

Follow the pics here and here.

Beaucoup d’amour,

ch:

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Learn Like You Eat

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[Image from The Incredible Book Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers]

Teaching people is a lot like feeding people. Since I’m familiar with the idea of feeding people in our restaurants, the analogy works well.

Some people hate your food. They don’t like it, and won’t have it again. Others didn’t like it before, but they were forced to see you a second time because a friend dragged them in. They actually hate your food so much, they’re prone to throw some back at you. Like a monkey that throws poop. Or a spitting llama.

Other people enjoy your food, and really appreciate being at your establishment. But you’d never know it by the way they talk. Nor do their faces give anything away. They’re a hard read with no kickback. The only reason you know that they like your food at all is that they keep coming back. But even this could be because of neophobia.

The people you really want to see are those that down-right love your food. They walk in with wide eyes, they eat on the edge of their seat, and always ask you for more. If you’re a buffet, they’ll bankrupt you; if you’re a fine dining locale, they’ll bankrupt themselves. And then die of fat cancer. (Hopefully they tell all their friends about you before they die).

•••

I do a considerable amount of teaching. And imparting, demonstrating, coaching, counseling and mentoring. In fact, as a pastor and a geek, I’m in the business of passing on everything I know and everything I do—it’s a prerequisite for the position. And while any one of us in key places of teaching others could be and should be spending long hours perfecting our craft, there’s something to be said for asking our students to perfect their craft.

Of learning.

To me, the “eaters” that are the most frustrating are actually not the first group I listed above. People that hate my instruction are at least being honest with me. As long as we can get past their personal attacks, we usually end up having a decent and civil dialog in which they express they don’t want to hear anything I have to say. And I don’t want to share anything with them (citing the pearls before swine algorithm), so we’re cool.

And the third group is certainly not the segment that frustrates me the most either. Eager learners? Frustrating? Come on. That’s like being upset that the state fair just have you 100 free VIP tickets to see REO Speedwagon with all your friends.

The people that are the most confusing, most disconcerting and most draining are those that you can’t tell if they’re excited to be learning from you or not. They showed up, which is a good thing. But you’re fairly sure they’re thinking about baseball while you’re talking. (Which is great if you happen to be a baseball coach. Not so much if you’re teaching them about marriage, audio mixing or writing technique).

You’re probably going to learn something today. It may be by accident, it may be because you’re paying to be in a class. But either way, the chances are that one person or another will be involved in the educating process, intentionally or not. So try this on for size:

• At least act like you’re interested. If you’re not interested at first, sometimes the acting bit influences your reality, especially when a bad attitude is getting the best of you.

• Take notes. Copious note takers are the quintessential markers of eager learners. Having a notebook says, “I came prepared, expecting to learn something worth writing down, and because I’ve written it down, I’ll most likely look at it again.” Fewer things tell a teacher that you value their knowledge and experience than taking notes does. (Oh, and be sure to look up occasionally too; nothing makes a teacher curious as to whether or not you’re drawing pictures of ligers than zero eye contact).

• Ask genuine questions about the situation. Not edgy questions, not baited questions and not barbed questions. Ask honest questions that you’re interested to know the answers to. The best teachers are those who love dialog. So resist the urge to sit there stiff and mute, and say something.

• Thank your teacher twice. Once when the lesson—accidental or otherwise—concludes, and a second time a few hours later. I spent a few hours pouring into two different guys yesterday in two different meetings, one on media arts, the other on his life-course. Both guys were thankful for the meetings as they left my office, but by the end of the day, both had sent me a meaningful text message, thanking me for specific aspects of my investment. Guess who’ll be getting follow up meetings with me.

•••

You have learning opportunities all around you. It might be an argument with your wife, where you look eagerly to see if you’re wrong, take a note on something she’s asking you to do, and followthrough with a text later in the day, thanking her for what she revealed in you. It might be a run-in with a boss or a co-worker. Or maybe you’re in school and recognize you’re not on the edge of your seat, and you never even thought about thanking your professor.

It’s your proactive response to these moments that dictates how much you value the wisdom and life experience of others. You just don’t owe it to your teachers, you owe it to yourself. Because it’s you’re own time you’re wasting if you don’t appreciate them.

Eat up,

ch:

Three Tips on Believing Intentionally

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I believe in chocolate milkshakes.

My friend believes in french fries. Extra large portions of them.

My Amish neighbors, pictured above, believe in role playing the 1800s when it’s 4°F out.

Still other people believe in overworking, while some, underworking.

But I have a strange allergy to dairy. So while I believe in chocolate milkshakes, they don’t believe in me. My french fry loving friend has enough french fries stored in his tissue to live off them for the next six months; he’ll be the first to tell you so. My friends that overwork never see their kids, and those that underwork can’t provide for them. And my Amish neighbors spend a lot of time getting from point A to point B with icicles on their beards.

Literally.

The point is, every desire we have has a cost, and when desires become beliefs, those costs become more extravagant.

Desires themselves are normally benign. I don’t view wanting chocolate milkshakes or french fries as inherently wrong, nor are a good work ethic or finding time to relax. Sure, riding around in a black box pulled by a horse is kinda weird, but once in a while, I’d like a ride.

Belief, however, is far more prejudice.

When we believe in something inferior, excuses against superior reasoning are suddenly far easier to come by. We embrace the abstract at the expense of the obvious. We’ll ignore the fact that we’re overeating, overtired or overestimating, and carry on conducting ourselves in ways which right-minded observers scratch their heads at. And they should. Without the same level of belief, a bystander only sees an overindulgent desire.

Of course, all this is conditional on what, exactly, we believe in. If the desire is a superior one, it has a way of producing the best in us. Everything around us seems to flourish—to benefit. And instead of ignoring important things, we’ll tend to ignore the frivolous in favor of the paramount. Desires that are superior have wide-reaching ramifications when they’re believed in. We know that a belief is superior because its fruits are likewise.

Chocolate milkshakes, for example, when believed in, only succeed in making me happy for a little while—until the sinus infection and stomach cramps set in. Likewise, french fries, overworking and or horse buggies make for a more interesting and colorful human experience—but only to a point.

Here are a few tips on making sure that only your best desires actually become beliefs, and your poorest ones don’t:

Examine The Fruit

If you’re sick and tired of how little you produce, how much money you spend, how little rest you get, how few friends you have, or how poorly you actually know your family, those are probably very good indicators that the desires you’re entertaining are not life-giving ones. Your fruit should be your wake-up call that your roots are drinking from the wrong soil. Uprooting old patterns and behaviors can be a challenge, but it’s the only way to see different fruit growing at the end of those branches. Start by observing what proverbial fields other successful trees are spending their time in, and make moves in the same direction. Chances are, the people who’s desires and beliefs you want to emulate are reading instead of watching, listening instead of talking, and serving instead of indulging.

Recognizing you have some bad desires is not bad itself—it’s actually quite positive—but failing to move when you now know you’d better, that is, in fact, quite bad.

Make Yourself Accountable

Since behavioral nearsightedness is a common human condition, it only makes sense to surround yourself with more eyes. Having friends around you whose lives you admire provides you with a superior vantage point, and, frankly, it’s not one you can afford to be without. Give them permissions to speak into your life, ask them for input regularly, and don’t get mad at them when the actually give you input you don’t like. Your future self will thank you.

Hold To Your Standards

As I said before, desires aren’t inherently wrong, at least in their most elemental form. I desire food, companionship, sex, warmth, entertainment. But the moment any of those (and more) take my time and attention away from other priorities, I’ve effectively created an object of belief—also known as an idol. This is why standards are important. Put your desires up against your standards and see how they compare. When my desires are exceeding my standards in frequency or magnitude, I’ve got an idol. Of course, having standards assumes you’ve subscribed to some. I’d recommend the mandates of Jesus Christ, if you’re looking. His message to a large crowd gathered on Mt. Eremos in Israel is a pretty good place to start.

Love, for example, or graciousness, even forgiveness—these desires can be believed in without restraint. The Apostle Paul actually wrote that there are no laws against such desires. In other words, there’s no penalty for believing in something like kindness too much. I’ve never seen anyone get a ticket for being too self-controlled with their driving of a car.

Click here for a complete list of what kinds of desires you can’t do too much of, desire too deeply or believe in too passionately.

Q: What are some desires you’ve had to wrestle through? What ones have turned into life-giving beliefs, and how did you get there?

ch:

China Bound

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Tomorrow morning at 3:30am, I begin the long voyage to China. I’m excited to see a new land, one which I’ve read so much about. But I’m sad to be leaving my family, and will miss deeply.

For the interests of security, my mission will remain simply that I’m going to encourage leaders dedicated to shaping China’s future.

I’ll be back on the 24th, eager to see my wife and kids, and to share all the exciting news from the trip with those nearest me.

“Souls or I die.”

–William Carey

Thanks for lifting me and my team up.

ch:

New Look, Same Incredible Resource: Nina Hopper Vocal Studios

I’m very proud to announce that my amazing, talented, and enigmatic mother – from whom so much of my personality is derived – has officially begun taking new vocal students here in Northern New York.

For those that know about Nina, her diverse musical background, and her history in the greater New York music community, this is an obvious blessing for those in her new home of Jefferson County. Since moving here 10 months ago, I’ve been eager to see what she (and my father) will impart to this region to enrich and beautify the lives those who live here; the joy of appreciating and creating music being just one of those contributions.

For those who don’t know about her, I’m excited to see their response, for she is one of the most talented, enthusiastic, joy-filled people I’ve ever had the privilege to know. And her passion for the arts is certainly one of the main reasons I am thriving as an artist today. I owe her a deep debt of love.

So help me spread the word, if you don’t mind; at the very least, tell those you know in Northern New York about her website. She’s accepting new students at the moment, and getting a terrific response. I’m so excited for her, and for those whose lives will be touched by her just as mine has.

Go make some noise!

ch:

The Bumblebee and Qualifications

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Yesterday Luik accompanied me to Jefferson Community College in Watertown, NY where I addressed the Intro to Business class. Having him beside me was a great encouragement (and let us have a Daddy/Son date to CiCi’s afterward, followed by some indoor rock climbing at Black River Adventures).

During the final Q&A section of my “lecture” (how tedious sounding!), I addressed a question that lead into the subject of what makes us qualified to do what we’re doing.

Certainly, I want my doctor to have gone to school and be qualified to operate on me.

But often the people that accomplish the most in life are sometimes the least “qualified.”

In my address, I mentioned Igor Sikorsky – father of the modern day helicopter – and his famous if not endearing quote about doing what we should not be able to:

“According to the laws of aerodynamics, the bumblebee can’t fly, but the bumblebee doesn’t know anything about the laws of aerodynamics, so it goes ahead and flies anyway.”

Most of what I’m doing today I’m technically unqualified for. I’ve never been to college for music, art, pastoring, film, design, literature, creative writing, business development or franchising, let alone fathering or parenting. By all secular accounts, I shouldn’t even be allowed to operate a candy bar stand.

But I don’t know that I shouldn’t be able to do this stuff, so I just keep doing it anyway. (Thanks Igor).

This is certainly not a cop-out for getting an education; but an education should also never be a cop-out for hard work and diligence. (Nor is entering into a mammoth amount of ambiguous debt my recommendation either).

Qualification has far more to do with experience than it does with approval. Test results and certificates approve us, but only time and our capacity to embrace correction truly qualify us. ch:

Sex

As per my promise to the students of Believer Chapel Youth (BCY), I’ve made my notes on tonight’s message on “Sex: What They Don’t Tell You” available as a free PDF. My prayer is the information within strengthen’s your resolve to honor and guard God’s desires for your body, and fuels your passion to live as an example for a generation that needs rescuing. ch:

Download Free PDF: “Sex”

Strength is Often a Who

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Jennifer and I had our final night of ministry here in Switzerland last night. I walked into it knowing my body was failing, and I’d have no voice by the end, so I asked Jenny to be prepared.

The band played amazingly well, and this was the most I’ve seen the Swiss dance yet! But sure enough, my fever, cough, and soar throat took their toll, so by the time I finished our 1.5-hour set, I could barely speak. I managed to squeak out a few lines for the expected message, and then passed the mic to Jennifer.

What followed was about 20-minutes of profound encouragement on the pursuit of intimacy with God and being more concerned with his heart than the condition of our own. You had to be dead not to be moved.

Like Paul, I’m slowly learning:

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. [2 Cor. 12:10]

Sometimes the strength we’re looking for is the gift found in other people afforded only when we step aside.

Continued prayers are greatly appreciated as we fly for Madrid, Spain this morning. This is the first trip in years that Jennifer is at 100%, and Levi is rocking Europe like a champ. I, however, am far from being on top of my game.

Thanks for all your encouragement and prayer. You are the best readers ever. ch:

Resisting Squishy Pot Syndrome

by Jennifer Hopper

[PHOTOS BY: JENNIFER HOPPER]

No, I’m not about to reveal the secrets of curing soggy marijuana leaves. (Hippies).

This week I had the joy of speaking for a YWAM School of Worship in Yverdon. Pictured here with my dear friend and translator Sylvain Freymond (also one of Switzerland’s most beloved worship leaders and songwriters), I shared on accessing God’s heart of creativity and principles of group leadership. Teaching in this format – a pair of two-hour classes each day – is something I look forward to, and something I’ve become good at.

But I wasn’t always good at it.

Ten years ago I was asked to teach eight-hours a day for five days straight in northern France. I was scared. Mortified would be a better word. I compiled the notes of every sermon I’d ever preached and scribbled countless reminders of sermons I’d heard preached growing up. I thought for sure that I’d share everything I’d ever learned in first two-hour block.

Back then I was a nervous wreck. Today I’m thrilled for the opportunity.

That’s because some of the greatest joys in my life have only recently been discovered.

That may not seem like a very meaningful statement, but given the fact that our culture largely broadcasts what you should be enjoying right now, waiting for things is hardly status quo, nor is the process of building long-term expectation.

Have sex now. Make lots of money now. Be popular now. Get what you want now. Don’t wait. And if you do wait, you’re missing out on everything. 

But acting prematurely has some serious side-affects.

A pot that decides it should be filled with water before it’s fired in a kiln becomes a pile of watery clay by the end of the day. No matter how ready it thinks it is, the potter knows the vessel is simply incapable of fulfilling its purpose without engaging in the process of development.

Sure, I should have been happy with the opportunity to preach for a week ten years ago – and to a certain extent I was – but it wasn’t enjoyable. I needed time, coaching, and experience before I was truly ready to look at the invitation and discover the joy of doing it.

Becoming a husband and father has been much the same process. Oh, how I argued with God countless times, telling him I was ready for marriage, pleading (and pushing) for my spouse to be revealed. But he knew the vessel needed to be fired. And to a certain extent, I’m still being fired.

God is never late and he’s rarely early. He knows what he’s doing, and he will not be held hostage by pop culture or our adolescent demands.

Just remember that some of the greatest, most enjoyable moments in your life have yet to arrive. Recognizing the process is just as much a part of the arrival helps steady our impatience and temper the steel of our expectations.

Plus, being a squishy heap of soggy clay is downright embarrassing. Get fired and be useful long-term. ch:

Cornerstone Church

Just a simple, loving, and very grateful shout-out to our new family at Cornerstone Church in East Longmeadow, MA. Dr. Tim and Debbie Moore, and all their amazing staff, went above and beyond the definition of hospitable.

Saturday evening’s service with Youth Impact was as powerful as it was memorable: who will ever forget Dillon plowing me over for his tissue box? Contend for you faith!

And this morning both jennifer and I felt overwhelmed by the congregation’s love and appreciation for our ministry in music and the teaching of the Word.

We look forward to a return visit. Much love and appreciation to you all. ch:


Eat Your Words

Most of my posts are written in bed from my iPhone. One eye open, my thumb pecking out the words.

No sooner had I finished yesterday’s, than a knock was on my door. It was Luik, crying. “I spilled the milk.” (The punniness wasn’t lost on me).

What he meant was, he dropped and broke open an entire gallon in the kitchen.

One look downstairs and I was eating my words from my post:

“The grateful are never disappointed.”

I used 6 towels, 2 paper towel rolls, 2 different kinds of antibacterial something-or-other, and a mop. You can now eat off of the floor underneath the stove and the fridge. I found a missing iPhone, too. As well as my attitude. Did my best to sop up that rotten smelling thing.

What did Luik learn? Well, he’s suspended from making breakfast by himself for a while. But hopefully that – while dad was sure upset – he knew it was an accident and didn’t entirely lose his cool. There was cuddle time when it was all over.

What did dad learn? We need to be ready to mop up and eat our own words more often than we think.

Next time, though, I’m dumping a box of cereal on the floor and getting some spoons out for us. (Thanks Jason) ch:

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Scotland: Days 2 & 3

ch-ichat-logo.png Saturday found Jenny and I headed northeast, across the Firth of Forth (that’s “The River of Forth” to all you non-Scottish speakers) to famed St. Andrews. As in the recent pic, we met up with more of the Meldrum clan and toured the sites of the beloved town where David and Helen met during their time at university together.

From traipsing through cathedral ruins over 900 years old, to standing beside stonework indicating the exact places where Protestant martyrs were burned at the stake, to overlooking castle ruins, it was a wonderful and yet profound experience. Following a delicious open-air lunch of trout and mullet (no, not the hair-cut), I had the chance to walk on the fairway of St. Andrews’ “Old Course” (birthplace of golf) and have my picture taken on the Swilcan Bridge. (Kirk, Noel and Steve…wish you were here!). While anyone can play (for about $350+ per game), it’s only by chance that you’ll get a go at it; want-to-be golfers enter their names into a daily lottery (given the fact that so many people want to play). If you’re one of the lucky few, your name and start time are posted on a board. Fore!

We returned later that day and David, Philip and I enjoyed a beautiful walk through a nearby forest here in Dalkeith and explored a local abbey, now turned college.

I am completely amazed at the sheer amount of history here–something I could get caught up in for weeks and still only have scratched the surface. The very ground leaks with profound legacy and tradition. But the Christians here are quick to point out that they are not proud of it all.

Their founding and world-wide exportation of Freemasonry is something they are grievously aware of. And the tentacles of the occult, witchcraft and ancient druidism have left their mark. We’ve discussed, however, that while the US lacks the length of years to wager the same atrocities, we are guilty of our own exportation of filth, just in different avenues; namely our movies and TV programing.

Regardless of the negatives, the Kingdom of the Lord is forcefully advancing here and Jennifer and I are overjoyed to share in its movement–no matter how small our roll may be.

Sunday we had the honor of taking the entire morning service at the Full Gospel Church (AG) in Dalkeith. The sanctuary was packed out as a youth dance team started off with Matt Redman’s “Dancing Generation,” a song that I believe speaks prophetically of what’s on the horizon for Scotland as a whole. Jennifer and I led worship for the next hour, the people easily entering with us into the presence of the Lord; their obvious hunger and experience made them one of the easiest congregations we’ve ministered to in a while. We could tell they’ve been well taught and genuinely desire to see a move of God in their midst.

I preached a short introductory message on being hungry for Jesus to be revealed fully in our lives, so that “Christ in us, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27) may have His way in the county here.

After meeting the people, and being truly showered with love and warmth, we returned to the Meldrum’s home for a delightful lunch (not before spraying the boys next door with high-powered squirt guns!). Here we dined with a new friend, John, who was recently miraculously saved and turned around from a hard life on the streets. This guy has such a tender and kind heart, proving that the Lord doesn’t wish that even one would perish, but that all would have eternal life!

Then, last evening, Jennifer and I returned to the church and spent a longer time in worship, singing prophetically over the people and watching the Holy Spirit meet with those present in marvelous ways. Once we felt the Lord wanted to move on, I shared on maturing in Christ, speaking out of Ephesians 4 and Philippians 3.

It’s clear that there has been a solid foundation laid in this church, and from everything David has shared with us, the pastor here, the people are very much ready for what God has for them next. While I was in the shower Friday night, the Holy Spirit spoke the word “building” into my heart and, unless God changes the direction, I really feel that we’re going to continue in the vain of taking your county for Christ. We want to see souls saved, the culture changed and the society at large affected by Believers who are being obedient to the Holy Spirit in their lives.

May the Kingdom of God be advanced because of the seeds we sow here and more so beacuse of His everlasting faithfulness!

Thanks for reading and for your continued prayers,

CH