Monday, July 28, 2008

Joe Jackson

Sunday the local Assembly of God church had an outdoor service with guest evangelist and former NFL Vikings star Joe Jackson. The music was top notch. It turned out I knew two of the musicians through Boy Scouts. There were also a few friends in the congregation.

Joe preached a few hard topics. Probably the most difficult was based on Zechariah 3. This is where Joshua stands before God and Satan, and Satan is there to accuse Joshua. The message here is that Joshua's defense was left to God. He did not speak, God did. When we rely on ourselves to defend against Satan we will always lose. That's God's job, not ours. If we speak up, it is our own arrogance speaking, and the only thing we serve to do is drown out the voice of the Lord, our One True Advocate.

The point is not that we should never to anything to defend against Satan. We can control our behaviors and our situations to the best of our abilities, and not leave openings for Satan into our hearts and lives. Still though, when the moment arrives - and no matter what we do it will arrive - we are to call on the name of the Lord. His name does more damage to Satan than any defense we could conjure.

Another interesting idea is how Satan attacks. If you have never had a drug or alcohol problem, then Satan will not tempt you with a free bag of pot. If you find it straightforward to maintain a marriage with fidelity, then he will not tempt you with the young and pretty wife of your neighbor. If you have no challenge with gambling, then he will not tempt you with Las Vegas. So what will Satan use to attack you? I surely don't know, but I know who does. That person's face is in your mirror.

Of course, knowing (or hoping to know) where Satan will attack means that you have to be honest enough with yourself to admit you have some shortfalls. If you are so arrogant and blind that you cannot even name a few of your own faults, I'd say you should fall on your knees right now and thank God for your perfection. Whether or not you acknowledge your weaknesses, know that these are the places where Satan has an opening. And he knows it just like you know it. These are the times and situations that we most need the Lord. Just open your heart enough, and invite Him in.


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Social Life

One of the main struggles wifey and I have had is separating our social events from the small group that Praise Team has evolved into. That separation means consciously engaging folks, and making new friends, that are outside the Praise Team. Last night was one of those events, and it was a great evening for all.

We have been trying to hold regular campfires in the backyard this summer. There have been several, and last night was the latest installment. Present were Tracy (of Thursdays With Tracy fame) and family, and our friends Shawn and Erika & family. These families had never met, but both wifey and I had the feeling that it would work, and it really did. Throughout the evening there were several connections between the two that no one expected. We had great discussions, and lots of laughter.

For me the recent revelation was the importance of spreading out our social connections. When we face changes in life, such as moving on from the current musical engagement at church, we have to be prepared for the social implications that will come along with the decision. For the last few years, our social lives have not only been almost exclusively with friends from our church, but specifically with friends from Praise Team. This adds considerably to the stress of making changes. Since some of the folks will ever understand or accept our reasons for moving on, we do not expect the social connection to remain so strong after we leave. Therefore if we are unprepared in advance for this gaping hole of social activities, the decision becomes all the harder.

So, I will fall back to the Boy Scout in me, and just Be Prepared all the time. We never know what God will hand us, and we never know the reaction of our friends will have to those events. Make sure that you always have a circle of true friends, and you will be immune to the ebb and flow that will naturally occur in life as we progress through this Earthly Vale of Tears.

Friday, July 25, 2008


Well, again I have to crawl back here and try to figure out why it is so long between posts. It's easy to say I am too busy, or maybe I lack inspiration and don't know what to type about. Both are not outright lies, but they are not the whole truth.

Sometimes I guess I am afraid of what I might say. I'm afraid of what these fingers will produce in the form of ideas and controversy.

So today here I am considering my place in the Church, and my place in the church. While I am not sure of the former, I am at least confident. But I am very shaky in the latter. Can I let the Praise Team go without a guitar player? Is it God's will, or mine? Are the problems I see in my church real to God, or are they just pet peeves on my part? There are plenty of pat Christian answers to the question "How do I know God's will?" Everyone seems to be so sure of themselves, which is disturbing enough. But when they are so sure of God's will in my life, then I have to say I am ready to turn and run.

What is the church? Can you participate in the church when you are not on board with the pastor? In my church, plenty of people are headed in the right direction, and could use help and encouragement to get where they are going. Can I continue along that road as a helper and worker without allowing myself to be drawn further down and away from Jesus by the pastor? Can anyone be expected to do that? I just don't know. I know it doesn't not feel right to be on the platform every week as a worship leader and know in my heart that the church leadership is out of touch with reality. Often it is hard to convince myself that Jesus is the first thing on their minds when approaching a new challenge or problem. It seems that it is more about people and politics, personalities and money, ego and self promotion. Ouch. The truth hurts, but that is another post.

I guess I have some serious thinking and praying to do. Mostly I know it is an uphill battle. Many thanks to you for listening.


- Dave