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Top-of-Mind Mondays

  • The Social Media Summit set off a wave of ripples that I never expected. If you are wanting to launch/build/execute a big dream in your life, you owe it to yourself to try. At least try. There’s no telling what’s on the other side of that effort.
  • I may be biased, but I think my wife’s blog is pretty great.
  • Have you ever read the Behance staff blog? It’s great. Like, great. Please check it out. They moderate comments–I love that. Is it possible to have a crush on a corporation? If so, Behance … I’m looking at you. 😉
  • Did you know that I have a personal blog over at JustinWise.net? I’m moving posts on social media and blogging tips over to that site. BeDeviant will continue to focus on faith and cultural relevancy.
  • In my neck of the woods, trick-or-treaters come the night before Halloween. We call it beggar’s night. Anyone else? Or is this a distinctly Des Moines thing?
  • Speaking of trick-or-treaters, we had a boy, couldn’t have been more than 10, show up on our door dressed as a pimp. A pimp! Cane and everything.
  • I can’t wait to tell you all about some of the projects we have cooking for 2011. It’s really going to be quite a year.
  • The response to the Deviant Apprenticeship was a little greater than I anticipated. I’m still gathering some thoughts to send to everyone who’s interested.
  • What was the last book you read?
  • We put together a subscribe page for BeDeviant thanks to a helpful hint from friend John. Have you had a chance to visit it? Check it out and get hooked up with everything that’s going on here.
  • Des Moines is becoming our home more and more these days. I love it here. I love the community and the opportunities that seem to spring up here daily. Plus, we take care of our own. Here’s the Twitter feed dedicated to a former Des Moineser who passed away yesterday. RIP, Jason Schippers.
  • Amped to be a part of LifeServe and Exponential. Giddyup!
  • What’s the latest and greatest in your world, deviants?

Love Your City

I was inspired to do this video post after visiting with some friends at the #CIB meet-up this morning.

What do you love about your city? Further, does anyone outside of your church know that you live in the city you’re in? If not, you may want to check out the video below and get involved in some offline community. Take a peek.

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“Apertures” | A Napkin Sketch Production

A few friends put this piece of art together in less than 48 hours. All things considered, this is brilliant.

Do yourself a favor and check this out.

Apertures // 48 Hour Film Project 2009 // Des Moines from NapkinSketch.

Stuck on the Sidelines

907603811_9372af6d94Last night I went to the Des Moines 48 Hour Film Festival with my wife and a group of other friends. Hollywood it wasn’t, but I was treated to a wonderful batch of original short films by some of Des Moines’ finest.

Some were funny,
Some were touching,
Some were weird,
Some were just plain awful.

Before we left the historic Fleur Cinema, I was struck with a thought: “These people are making it happen. Regardless of the artistic merit of their film, they took a chance and created something that did not exist before. They assembled teams, all of various sizes and skill levels, picked a genre, and then made a film in 48 hours (or less.) They acted on their passions instead sitting on their haunches, waiting for the film to make itself.

Impressive.

The film makers had a dream (more than one of them mentioned pursuing a film career full-time would be a “dream come true“) and they did something about it. It left me feeling overjoyed (for them) and convicted (for me). I felt convicted because I couldn’t remember the last time I took a chance like that, putting all my skills, talents, hopes and dreams on the line without knowing the ending.

Without knowing what people would think.
Without knowing how the bills would get paid.
Without worrying if it was “Christian” enough.

I determined that I’m tired of being stuck on the sidelines. I’m tired of hiding inside of my holy huddle, pretending to close my eyes to all the beauty and light and life I see around me in the lives of people who don’t go to church. I’m tired of thinking in “Us” (Christians) vs. “Them” (non-Christians) categories. It’s not that I don’t want to be a teetotaler, it’s just that I can’t.

Some of the films last night were crude, lewd, and non-sensical. I blushed at a few of them. The filmmakers cussed. And I’m pretty sure that one of the film’s entire crew was high for most (if not all) of the process. But for some reason, I felt more “ministered to” by the passion of these filmmakers than I have anything else in quite awhile. How does that work? I don’t know.

Could it be that God works through people, powerfully even, who don’t know him?

Matisyahu: Wonderfully Bizarre

I learn so much from this man and his music. Here’s his interview with Juice Magazine’s Joe Lawler for Des Moines MetroMix:

The @LosWhit Challenge.

Des_Moines,_Iowa_skyline_after_Dark_-_pathawks.jpg

Here’s the thing: Carlos Whittaker has a crazy popular blog. A lot of people like what he has to say on Twitter, too.

I catch a post of his every now and again, and today I happened to notice “Where Did You Grow Up?” In it, he states the following:

Whenever you ask people where they are FROM, there is always some followup statement that sounds something like:

‘Oh, but I grew up in LA’ or ‘Oh but I grew up in New York’.

Like they somehow must right the wrong in their lives that has led them to Des Moines, IA.

Oh, Carlos. How could you know that people who grew up in Des Moines (and currently reside there) would actually read your blog?

This got me thinking, “I wonder if he has ever been to Des Moines. I wonder if he would ever want to come to Des Moines? Gosh, maybe I’ll ask him!”

So, Los, with the cautious optimism of a second grader about to win a state-wide spelling bee, I ask: Would you like to come and visit Des Moines?

Here’s what I’m proposing for your visit to the capital of the Hawkeye state:

  • A visit to “Baby Boomers” to grab some of the chocolate chip cookies that President Obama had served at the inauguration.
  • (If you come in August) A visit to the Iowa State Fair. Words fail to describe the essence of this world famous fair, but one can sum it up in two words: Mullet hunting.
  • A chance to preach a Thursday night message at Immersion. You can preach on whatever you’d like. You can even talk about your blog. (Update: You can also lead worship at Immersion if you wish. Thanks, Andrea!)
  • A t-shirt of your choosing from Des Moines’ own SMASH.
  • A tour of downtown Des Moines via DART (Downtown Area Rapid Transit).
  • A beverage of your choosing from Mars Cafe.
  • The admiration and respect of thousands of Iowans.

Whaddya say?

I hereby decree this to be the “@LosWhit Challenge of 2009 And Beyond!” Will you help spread the word?

Encourage Los to embark on a journey he shan’t soon forget! Beg, plead, encourage, and share your stories of the bliss that is Des Moines with Los. You can find him here:

  1. His blog: www.RagaMuffinSoul.com or www.CarlosWhittaker.com
  2. His Twitter: www.Twitter.com/LosWhit
  3. His email: carlos[at]carloswhittaker[dot]com

So for you fellow lovers of Des Moines (or those of you who you enjoy a good challenge), join me in the “@LosWhit Challenge of 2009 And Beyond!” Tell your friends and let’s get Carlos to Des Moines!.

Hitting a nerve.

134_5_3.jpgSo last week I posted on ignoring a homeless beggar that I saw on the side of the interstate when coming into work. He was young, comfortably dressed, and smoking. I chose to ignore him and not give him money because in one hand he held a sign that said, “Hungry – Please Help,” and in the other was a lit cigarette.

He chose smoking over food.

I think many of you felt the same way I feel – struggles and all. This is what some of you said:

Andrea: “In those moments I have to think not of the earthly person “begging” but of the Heavenly Father who for whatever reason has allowed them to cross my path that day. For me to keep driving (and I sometimes do) would move me one step further from being the life of love that I so desire to live. Whether they need it or not is none of my concern.”

Dave Sandell: “I used to have similar struggles with this issue, and after much soul-searching, I think what’s most important is that I believe Jesus works with your heart’s intent. So if you give the beggar with a cigarette $5, you’ve given Jesus $5.”

jwagnerdsm: “Regarding professional beggers, they provide a service by assuaging our guilt about not doing more to help the poor by making it easy to slip ‘em a few bucks and then get on with our uncomplicated lives.”

It looks like a lot of you have experienced this phenomenon of beggars and the struggles that follow. My question today is this, “does it really matter if they use the money we might give them for food or shelter or cigarettes?” In other words, even if they say they will use the money for food and instead go and use it to buy a beer/cigarettes/meth, etc., should that really matter?

I seem to be revolving around the fact that those who are truly less fortunate would welcome a hot meal over a few bucks any ol’ day. But, does kindness happen when we give or when what we give is used to benefit said person? In other words, is kindness when I place $5 into the hands of a beggar or does kindness happen when that $5 is used to buy food/beer/cigarettes, etc.? Is it in the act or the benefits of the act?

What do you all think?

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No love for Babylon.

Of all places, today I heard from God while listening to a song from Sublime.riverofbabylon.gif

The song’s called “Rivers of Babylon,” a re-make of a Bob Marley song by the same name. The lyrics go something like this:

“By the rivers of Babylon
Where he sat down
And there he wept when he remembered Zion.
Oh from wicked, carry us away from captivity
Required from us a song
How can we sing King Alpha’s song in a strange land?
So let the words of our mouth
And the meditations of our hearts
Be acceptable in thy sight”

This is taken almost word-for-word from Psalm 137, a psalm that tells the heartache and pain of the Israelites when they were taken from their homeland and forced to live in a country that was very much not their home.

The concept of feeling a divinely-inspired allegiance to a geographical location is something that I’ve come to only appreciate as I’ve grown older, and especially as of late. My friend Dave loves Chicago. My friend Drew loves his home in Colorado. Another friend of mine declares that the city in which she finds herself now “saved her life.” Clearly this is something that is not a new concept.

I’ve come to feel a love and appreciation for my city, Des Moines. I love this place. I love it even more after watching her go through the drama and pain of the Floods of 2008 in the last few weeks. I felt the pain of the Psalter as I watched the Des Moines River nearly consume the downtown area of Des Moines. As I thought about what it might mean to have the coffee house where I grab my Tuesday morning Americano destroyed, my heart reflected these words:

“How can we sing King Alpha’s song in a strange land?”

How could I enjoy the things I enjoy about downtown Des Moines somewhere else? Where would I get sushi with my friend Lincoln? Where would the Farmer’s Market go? Where else would I get that incredible view of the Capital when strolling down E. Locust? Phew.

All that to say, I heard someone say this past week on the news, “it’s just stuff – all this stuff can be replaced” when trying to rationalize the tragedy of losing everything they had to the flood waters. I understand their heart, but all that “stuff” makes up a “place” and a place makes up a “home” and multiple homes make up a “city.”

So take heart wherever you are, and thank God for the place you reside. Chances are, he’s knitting you to your home in ways you can’t even imagine. Do you see this in your own life? Where’s your “homeland”? Are you unable to sing because you find yourself in a “strange land”? Let’s hear it…

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Top 10 (Part II).

spc_top10_starmystery_440.jpgIf you missed it, I started a Top 10 list on Monday of some of my favorite things. This is the second half of the list… Here we go:

5. Downtown Des Moines. Maybe it’s true, the old adage: “You don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone.” Although Downtown isn’t in any danger of being “gone”, the floods that are slowly creeping in down there made me think twice about what a nice place Downtown has become (in the words of a friend of mine from Denver, “Des Moines looks cool”). Let’s hold those waters off and continue making Downtown into everything it can be.

4. “Friends” on DVD. Shut it. Just save your snickering and snide remarks – my wife made me do it! She’s a full-blown “Friends” addict from her college days and after two years of marriage, she has slowly roped me in. Alas, I stand defeated.

3. “When the Levee Breaks” by Led Zeppelin. Good. Old. Fashioned. Rock. And. Roll. Plus, I had it on repeat last night while driving around downtown Des Moines, praying for the contrary.

2. Martin Luther. I grew up in a Lutheran Church, but I never really got into it as a kid. Now that I’m in seminary and working in a Lutheran church, I have had a chance to dig just a tiny bit into Luther’s theology and teachings. God used him (and continues to use him) to liberate a lot of people from the spiritual imprisonment of a corrupt and damaging doctrine. He helped shift an entire culture’s picture of God and the Bible, connecting them (and us) with a clearer picture of their Heavenly Father.

1. Free time. The older I get, the more I covet time to do simply nothing. After I got married, I finally surrendered to the inner-homebody lurking within me. The “nightlife” for me is my favorite spot on the couch with my wife on the other end, a bowl of ice cream, and maybe the latest flick from Blockbuster Online. Hands off my time, suckas!

With that said, for those of you who are so inclined to pray, I’d like you to all join me in corporate prayer for our beloved Downtown. This prayer was originally posted here:

God of Creation, we come before you asking for your mercy. Just as you quieted the waters of a raging lake and walked on water, so now we’re asking for you to calm the waters of the Des Moines River. We’re asking that you would move in power and strength and would supernaturally cause those waters to recede. We declare your mercy for the people of Downtown Des Moines – mercy for their homes, businesses, families, and lives. We stand in agreement with your word in that you promised Noah that you would never send another flood that would wipe out all living things on the earth. We stand on this promise for Des Moines, specifically. Would you cause this flood to purge and cleanse what needs to be cleansed – not only in our city, but in our hearts and minds as well. We love you, God, and declare that you are the giver of all good things, even the very next breath in our lungs! We desire your mercy, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Prayer for Des Moines.

The Levee“”If it keeps on rainin’, the levee’s gonna break…” Great Zeppelin song, but not exactly the words that Downtown Des Moines (and other waterlogged places in Iowa) want to hear.

For those of you who aren’t in the Des Moines area, we’ve gotten massive amounts of water in the past week and more is forecasted in the days ahead. We need some relief from this water!

One of the best things about having a blog like this is the ability to reach literally millions of people at the push of a button (“Publish,” to be exact). I believe that God loves to answer prayer, but even more so when multitudes of his image bearers are praying the same thing! With that said, I’d like any and all who are comfortable to join me in prayer for the city of Des Moines (and please forward this to your friends who may be so inclined to pray as well):

God of Creation ((Genesis 1)), we come before you asking for your mercy. Just as you quieted the waters of a raging lake ((Matthew 8:23-37)) and walked on water ((Matthew 14:22-27)), so now we’re asking for you to calm the waters of the Des Moines River. We’re asking that you would move in power and strength and would supernaturally cause those waters to recede. We declare your mercy for the people of Downtown Des Moines – mercy for their homes, businesses, families, and lives. We stand in agreement with your word in that you promised Noah that you would never send another flood that would wipe out all living things on the earth ((Genesis 9:11)). We stand on this promise for Des Moines, specifically. Would you cause this flood to purge and cleanse what needs to be cleansed – not only in our city, but in our hearts and minds as well. We love you, God, and declare that you are the giver of all good things ((James 1:17)), even the very next breath in our lungs! We desire your mercy, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Keep praying for Des Moines. Pray for her – even if you don’t consider yourself a “pray-er” or “spiritual person.” God desires to hear from you more than you know!

Photo credit: www.iowaflood.com .

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