Friday, July 25, 2014

Why Coke's New Campaign is Eternally Refreshing

In case you haven’t noticed, Coca-Cola’s new “Share a Coke” campaign is creating quite the buzz these days.

Since its launch in early June, the campaign has highlighted the newly designed coke bottles, whose iconic logos have been swapped with over a thousand millennial names and a catchy hashtag to boot.
















It's, no doubt, a genius advertising ploy, which will help one of the nation’s most endearing products trend into more favorable marketing territory, especially after last year’s misfocused health-centered approach.

But perhaps what’s most encouraging about Coca-Cola’s latest crusade is how it has placed generosity back in the limelight, while also making community just as much of a refreshing appeal as the product itself. Considering the self-serving age we live in, you gotta give Coca-Cola major props for successfully pulling this off.

Yet, it’s the drive’s impeccable timing, which may be the sneaky-good wildcard in all this.

Think about it: Like location in real estate, timing is everything when it comes to smart marketing…and in the case of Coca-Cola, the tables turned once it considered how connectedness is trending in greater measure, especially among young people.

Basically, what Coca-Cola did was:

1) Consider the current social landscape…
2) Identify with the individual…
3) Identify with an entire generation…and…
4) Connect the two by a heart-warming maneuver…that also just so happens to contrast the cliché, commercialized idea that the individual is equivalent to the center of the universe.

I mean…seriously. It’s like Coca-Cola asked themselves what Jesus would do if he ever got his hands on an icy, cold bottle of coke….and then ran with it…

However, this story goes much deeper than a megacorporation’s winning move.

‘Cause when we twist the lid off this year’s campaign, we not only see 16 ounces of fizzy tranquility, but also a brewing evolution, where the selfless approach to harmonious relationships takes center stage.


And true, we’ve seen this communal side of Coke before, thanks, in part, to those fun-loving polar bears skating their way into the frozen tundra of our imagination.

But it’s entirely different when a creative stroke becomes something personal…something real and interactive…when the idea of sharing something refreshing starts inspiring us to dream about ways we can bless one another.

How awesome is it that God would use something as simple as an effervescent beverage to remind us why we’re here...and how even a popular product, like Coke, can challenge the world to be strong and courageous.

So next time you buy a coke, don’t just shake up the happiness, but give God thanks for the people in your life, how He inspires them…and then begin to pray that as people encounter random acts of carbonated kindness, they’ll find the eternal refreshment they've been looking for.

Until then, I encourage you to be the living embodiment of Proverbs 11:25 (NLT):

"The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed."

Stay thirsty, my friends.

#shareacoke                                                                                                                     #makeitreal


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Sunday, July 20, 2014

LEGACYouth: Pump Up the Prayer

To understand the power and place of prayer, we must first recognize that the actual power-source is God, not so much in the words we say. So when I say “power of prayer”, what I mean is, “the power of God accomplished through prayer”… an open line of communication with the mind and presence of God in us. Secondly, we must accept the truth of what God says about prayer in His Word:
  • 1 John 5:14-15 – “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”
  • Philippians 4:6-7 – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
  • James 5:16 – “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
When we dig into God’s Word, we find that prayer is:
  • Our best connection to God. Thus, it’s important to make sure we are praying the way He has instructed us. Because if we truly want to see results from our prayers, we must pray like Jesus taught us to pray (Luke 11:2-4), which as we’ll later discuss, involves quieting ourselves, positioning ourselves to listen to God and dying to ourselves (practices Jesus modeled many times during his ministry).
  • An effort of will* (Oswald Chambers)…a pre-requisite to faith & a requisite of faith. A.J. Gordon once stated, “You can do more than pray after you have prayed; but you can never do more than pray until you have prayed.” In other words, prayer expands your faith which, in turn, stirs up more prayer! It’s a snowball effect worth getting wrapped into (see right image). You see…often times, if we’re struggling in our faith, then we’re struggling to connect to God. And if we’re struggling to connect to God, then we’re likely not believing something we need to believe or visa-versa.
The point is: If we’re praying without believing, then we’re essentially the living embodiment of 2 Timothy 3:5 (…having a form of godliness, but denying its power), “Pharisee praying” our way to powerless religion. We must have faith to have supernatural breakthrough in prayer, yet if our faith is weak, we shouldn’t be afraid to ask God for help through prayer.
  • An extension of God’s character… a channel by which His nature can flow through so we can encounter His healing power (James 5) and experience breakthrough, transformation and glory. Often times, we get so focused on telling God what we need, we forget that He actually wants to speak and meet with us, that He wants to show us how to be like Him! It’s not He’s the Wizard of Oz, only caring when you actually show up. And it’s not like He’s passively mosing about in heaven either. After all, He created mankind so He could have a relationship with them!
Also, we find what prayer isn’t…
  • ...a religious motion (or thinking we can control God through a 'works mentality')
  • ...a complaint department
  • ...demanding a granting of wishes (as if God was a magical genie)

Thus, when we consider what prayer is, we find it to be a practice designed by God for a purpose, with a purpose. However, the purpose and practice of prayer doesn’t stop when our mouths do. Contrarily, if there is any power as a result of our prayers, we’ll find it supported by progressive action (i.e. “follow-through”).


Because again, if what we pray isn’t evident in our lives, what that say about our faith?
Truth is: if prayer is abandoned, then our calling as followers of Christ will (reference Kathy Matz’s ‘see the Scripture, see the prayer’ approach) be compromised as a result of hindered connection. And if our calling is compromised, if our connection is removed, then prayer will become just another motion of ministerial agenda.
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Consider the athlete. An athlete cannot perform as effectively without specific warm-ups and cooldowns relative to the sport. As the warm-ups and cooldowns relax the muscle and increases flexibility, the functions of the athlete become enhanced. Ultimately, the warm-up and the cooldown not only boost performance, but also amplify the “follow-through”.
Now, let’s relate this to spiritual warfare.
Imagine God is your conditioning coach, who desires to see you develop greater flexibility (submission) and “faith muscle”.
You hear God tell you, “_____, let’s build your “faith muscle”!
You respond, “How do I do it?”
God answers, “By choosing to pray and expecting me to answer!”
Think about it: If faith is the race we’re called to run well (Hebrews 12:1), then prayer is the warm-up and the cooldown! And if faith is the race and prayer is the warm-up/cooldown, then the “follow-through” is the evidence of a transformed life running with strong spiritual stamina.
Or perhaps think of prayer as a force that triggers the avalanche of holy dependence on God! With greater dependence, comes greater trust, with greater trust, comes greater belief, with greater belief, comes greater endurance, etc.**
…meanwhile, as our faith start taking off, we find our fear and anxiety melting away as God’s nature permeates the territory those strongholds occupied.
Now consider weed killer. Like RoundUp, the power of prayer can exterminate the worldly weeds that stunt spiritual fruit development. And when liquid (faith) levels run low, the “s-prayer” can be pumped to better the progression of the fluid flow with greater accuracy.
How do we use the “s-prayer”?
Simply pump up the prayer, pump up the faith…and then spray it over harassing principalities, the lies of the enemy…anything contradictive to God’s Word and His promises. You’ll find a fear of God springing forth out of the places where there was once fear of man, fear of failure, etc.
Bottom line: Pump up the prayer! Believe in the victories that will come as God reinforces your strength. Do not be afraid to serve the Lord with prayer that doesn’t quit. Make the choice to pray so you can relish in the joy of communing AND communicating with Him!

The next time you dive into the Word, remember you are exercising every fiber of your heart, mind, soul and strength towards the perfection of God’s will. He never lets go, so why not do the same?




Footnotes

*will = deliberate course of action as a result of one’s faith

** etc. = Romans 5:3-5 (i.e. perseverance à character à hope)



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Monday, July 14, 2014

LEGACYouth: A Taste of "Humble Pie"

When examining ourselves, it’s important to inspect the type of humility we carry. After all, when we look at the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5), we find meekness taking center stage…not only within the Beatitudes, but also at the heart of who Jesus calls “blessed”. Thus, when we consider humility’s placement within the Beatitudes, we can better understand the role it's meant to play in the life of the believer.

With that said, it should be no surprise how one of the sneakiest, most underrated tactics of the enemy involves humility, more specifically, a replacement of what it is with a compromised version. For Satan knows full well if he can cause a logjam at the point of humility, we won’t be able to hunger, show mercy and love as effectively. Thus, it’s important we’re continually aware of our humility gauges as we aspire to be more like Christ.

As a refresher, let’s start look at some Scriptures about what true humility looks like:

  • God gives grace to the humble.” ~ James 4:6 (ESV)
  • So if there is any encouragement in Christ...complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility…value others above yourselves.” ~ Philippians 2:1-3 (NIV)*
  • Humility is the fear of the Lord…” ~ Proverbs 22:4 (NIV)
  • “…walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” ~ Ephesians 4:1-3 (ESV)
  • Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.” ~ James 3:13 (NIV)


  • See how this set of verses connects back to the Beatitudes?

    For instance, starting out in Proverbs 22, we see humility equated to the “fear of the Lord” (i.e. a love of what God loves & a hate of what God hates), which essentially covers the first two Beatitudes. Then immediately following, we have humility landing as the third Beatitude (“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”).

    Yet, for the remaining verses, we’re given snapshots of humility’s evidence, each pertaining to a succeeding Beatitude. For instance, in James 4:6, we see a connection to Matthew 5:7 (“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”) And in Ephesians 4:1-3, we find a link to Matthew 5:8-9 (“Blessed are the pure heart in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”)

    So it’s fascinating to see what leads to humility and what flows out of it.

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    Now, let’s talk about stumbling blocks in our quest to apply humility.

    Sometimes, the enemy will trick us into thinking we have to self-loathe if we want to “decrease” (John 3:30); other times, he’ll try to get us to buy the lie that we’re inferior compared to other people…and that somehow, this helps us “value others above ourselves.”

    But this is just a twisted lie in twisted truth form.

    You see, Satan would love for you to think taking up your cross means taking on the weight of sin…that in order to get to a better state, you need to embrace a stronghold as part of a “one step back, two steps forward” philosophy.

    But think about: how does this make sense when we consider Christ already took sin on…and conquered it! Clearly, the devil, as the father of lies, has no respect for history or redundancy.

    Truth is: You can’t beat yourself up to heaven. Being like Christ doesn’t mean we gotta lash ourselves 39 times or persecute ourselves in order to show God and others how sorry we are.

    After all, as Francis Chan says, “Humility isn’t pretending you can’t do anything right(see video clip below).

    On the contrary, humility starts when we begin to understand our need for Jesus…and aren’t discouraged about it!** Once we’re no longer ashamed (of the Gospel or of ourselves) and once we’ve accepted who we are and who God is, we can accept His grace and watch it permeate everything else!

    Thus, arriving at the place of humility means we’ve broken through our disappointment with a greater hunger to know God more…and to the point His grace makes sense as the only answer to being who we’re called to be.

    So go ahead and get yourself a piece of "humble pie"***and dig in! 'Cause once you encounter its sweetness, it won't be long until your mind, heart and strength starts to transform.

    Just remember…humility is like underwear; wear it, but never show it.

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    Footnotes

    *Note how this relates back what we’ve been discussing in Acts, particularly Acts 4:32: “All the believers were united in heart and mind…and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common." If you doubt this type of "church" can happen today, then you probably haven't tasted what happens when unity, community and humility come together.

    **Since godly sorrow, not despondency, is the type of mourning alluded to in the second Beatitude.

    ***In this case, we'll let "humble pie" refer to authentic humility as defined in God's Word.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

LEGACYouth: Do This in Remembrance

Most of us are familiar with the Last Supper, when Jesus introduced communion, charging his disciples to: "Do this in remembrance of me".

But what does it really mean to "remember"?


After all, we can remember the cross cognitively, but still miss the heart of communion (see 1 Cor. 11:26-28). We can memorize John 15:13 ("Greater love has no one than this...that someone lay down his life for his friends."), discuss topics like about salvation & repentance, but still leave church service without a desire to truly change (which we'll define, in this context, as a burn to be more like Christ & living a life of truth...not just a desire to stop sinning).

Point is: Jesus wants our "remembering" to inspire change within us.

And when we study the Word, especially the early church in Acts, we find communion to be a powerful symbolic expression of worship bringing spiritual truth to life in concrete ways and shaping the identities of early believers as a redeemed people.

Thus, it's worth taking a closer look at what communion is and how it can help us in our walk with God today.

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When we look at the biblical concept of remembrance, we find it to be a call to worship & a call to action.

And when we drill down on the opening chapters of Acts, we find the church embracing both of these calls.

With the call to worship, the early church responded by commemorating the freedom that was theirs. In other words, they not only reflected, but celebrated Christ's ultimate sacrifice. Within their celebration was a shared joy in self-examination (1 Cor. 11:28), reconciling relationships, and the actual partaking of communion together (Acts 2). For they knew communion was more than simply a 'taking of the elements', but an intimate response to unconditional love. In turn, this helped prevent communion from becoming a religious motion.

With the call to action, the early church responded by knowing and living out Jesus's intent for communion. For they knew if Christ deemed something worth remembering, then it was meant to be employed as a repetitive practice. And since early Christians considered communion to be the external expression of a daily internal relationship, it was able to become something far more real than a symbol or tradition.

If we think about it, communion has some things in common with the Fourth of July.

With respect to our independence, we don't just say, 'Yeah, we're free.' No! We find people all over the country given free time to commemorate the freedom that is theirs! Businesses close, families come together and communities gather for feasts and fireworks...all for the sake of celebrating freedom and making gratitude an evident expression.

When we consider the early church, we find them doing just that! They remembered the price that was paid (past reflection), understood the freedom that was theirs (present action)...and out of it, were compelled to shape how they lived their lives* (future hope).

So essentially what we see happening at the end of Acts 2 is a committed church understanding the power of communion (a sincere hunger & commitment for change) and community together. As a result, they were able to experience God's life as the life connecting them.

Bottom line: Remembrance is more than a mental exercise, but a recognition of God's involvement in our past, present & future. When we fix our eyes on the prize (Hebrews 12:2 & Phil. 3:14), we'll find it leading not only to passionate worship, but appropriate action, greater trust in His promises and better understanding of His word and will.



*In other words, communion helped the early church maintain a lifestyle of repentance

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Saturday, July 5, 2014

The "More" Predicament

We live in a world medicated by “more”.

Whether it’s money, entertainment or even spirituality, we’re people naturally drawn to the supplemental joys in life.

I mean, why order a measly little quarter-pounder when you can sink your teeth into a beefy triple-patty thickburger? Why drive one car when you can sport two sets of hot wheels? And why settle on one job exercising a fraction of God-given skillet, when you can work multiple jobs and increase income utilizing more?

No-brainers, right? Pursue the excess and reap the fulfillment.

But let’s get serious: is this American dream mumbo-jumbo all it’s cracked up to be? Is more always better? Or is less sometimes more?

Truth is: In today’s culture, we’re all hustlers. In fact, you have to work hard not to be busy.

Why? Because our capacity to engage multiple ambitions is fueling our need for purpose at an all-time high.

Seriously…has anyone noticed the surge in people pursuing multiple careers…and how this move is being driven by possibility more than necessity?

It’s like we’ve replaced “living life to the fullest” with “living life to our fullest”.

Now, don’t get me wrong…I get how wearing multiple occupational hats is sexy. I mean who wouldn’t want to boost a résumé with an extra shot of creativity, diversity and versatility.

But it’s this thirst for relevance that not only erodes unity in community, but also numbs us to what is of utmost importance.

At some point, we need to wake up, smell the roses…and realize a high-octane culture does not entitle us to chase every single dream that flutters onto our radar.

So later on, I'll continue this series with by discussing ways pastors and ministers can strategically navigate through all the cultural hullabaloo to rightfully lead the church down God’s intended path.

Stay tuned...

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