Sunday, May 31, 2009

Godly enough...

So, today is Pentecost. At 168 we heard about some history behind the day, in particular the connection between Acts 2 and the Exodus 19 story when the Jews were on Mount Sinai after the escape from Egypt. Much of this came from Rob Bell's message of May 10. (If that link is stale, start here.) The Exodus story has a lot of similarities to Acts 2: fire, wind, and more. There is actually an even stronger connection than the similar events, in that Pentecost is actually celebrated on the same day as the Jewish holiday called Shavuot or the Festival of the Giving of the Torah. When did that holiday start? Yup, on the foot of Mout Sinai the day the winds came. The "Pente" (five) came from the fact that the trip from Egypt to Sinai took 49 days, and Shavuot was therefore the 50th day.

So, back to 168. At the end of the message/discussion, Tracy set out some bread, partly for communion elements, and partly because the celebration of Shavuot is tied to the beginning of the Jewish summer wheat season. There was also some juice to complete the elements. We put on a video of Revelation Song, by Kari Jobe. The idea was that we would get up and take communion when we felt so moved. What kind of spontaneously happened was folks started serving communion to each other. Very powerful stuff. We were pretty much all done as the song came to its dénouement. We've all had more and less meaningful communions in our times. This was most definitely a Good One.

Once that was completed, Steve lead us in In the Secret. And then I spontaneously played Meet With Me. I don't know why it didn't hit me Friday when I was putting the music together, but Meet With Me is about perfect for Pentecost. New and Old Testament connections, it's all there.

So, what about Godly enough...

That came about because this was another week when I ask Steve to play a song and it was already on his list of things to play. His email response started out "Oddly enough I already pulled that one." My response was "No, it was Godly enough." It is alway great to have confirmation that the song is the correct one for Him to hear.

That's all. I hope you have a Blessed Week. Shalom.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Coincident Paths

Last night wifey and I went out with another couple for a few hours without children. A rare opportunity for both families to find good alternatives simultaneously. We went to a nearby pub, mostly populated by much younger folks, and had some beer and bar food. We know these folks quite well, which means we can often have meaningful conversations without the risk of offense. Good thing, since I am not always known for social graces in lieu of honesty.

The conversation wandered through recent kids' sports activities, and ended up, as it often does, discussing theology and church. Specifically the acceptance of practicing homosexuals into the church body. It was interesting because one of those at the table took a very traditional approach, along the lines of "love the sinner hate the sin" although without actually using that tired - and nearly meaningless - cliche. Underneath though, there was the implication that this person was less than comfortable with the local church openly welcoming practicing homosexuals.** The idea, I think, was that by accepting these folks, loving these folks, we put an explicit stamp of approval on their behavior.

I'll admit, I'm not debating the correctness (or sinfulness) of homosexuality here. What I am hoping to point out is that until we can openly love everyone, openly accept everyone, we don't need to worry about what to do with them. What we are commanded to do is love our neighbors. If you really believe homosexuality is a sin, then what better way to convince a homosexual of this than to bring them to Christ, and let the Holy Spirit do the work? Leaving them outside until they change themselves is simply not an option.

In a recent Leadership Journal, John Ortberg wrote a great piece titled "The Sin Tamer." Here's a snippet:

The problem with what might be called the "victorious Christian living" mindset is not that it takes sin too seriously. The problem is it inevitably becomes selective about which sins God hates the most, and they always end up being somebody else's sin.
That quote kind of says it all. Unless you are going to preach against gluttony or sloth and reject the participation of overweight or lazy people, they why the major focus on homosexuality? I can imagine some reasons, for one, it's easy. (The same reason why we in New York continue to increase taxes on tobacco and alcohol. Who's going to argue?) We all know that we are not to judge, but this in practice is extremely difficult. Ditto for loving others, especially those unlike ourselves.

So, what's up with the title? My point on Coincident Paths is that regardless of what you or your church believes regarding homosexuality, we have many, many, struggles to overcome together before we need to nitpick about how bad a sin it is, or if it is a choice, or how fast they'll catch fire in hell. Wait until you can turn to the gay person in the pew next to you, look them in the eye and say "I love you." When together we get there, I think we will all find that the options and possibilities open to us will be quite different. Quite different indeed.

That's all for today. I could probably go on for hours, but the sun is shining.


** I keep saying "practicing homosexuals" because even most conservative sects have generally accepted the membership, and in some cases the leadership, of openly gay people committed to celibacy.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Hit the Road, Jack?

Everyone faces changes in life, including moving to a new church. So, how do you know when it is time to say goodbye? I can imagine a few indicators that may or may not work for you:

  1. You feel that your skills are not needed anymore. Maybe there are adequate replacements, or maybe you are just not being asked to help out in ways that you were before. In either case, perhaps there are other places where you can apply yourself productively.
  2. You feel your help is not as needed as in the past. Times change, and so does the utility of any given person within any given organization. Maybe the organization has evolved in ways that no longer suit what you successfully did before.
  3. Maybe your skills are no longer up to standards. Have you let yourself drift away, perhaps focusing on other things, and now what used to be easy is not so easy?
  4. What if you just know that God is calling you elsewhere? You can argue all you want, and all that does is cause real stress. And in the end He will win anyway.
There are different options for approaching each of the above. For #1 and #2, you can either stay in the organization and do something else, of find somewhere else to do your thing. For #3, you have some soul searching to do. Why did you let your skills deteriorate? Is something else more important now? Assuming you have developed other ways to have an impact, does your organization need this new you?

#4 is the tough one. What are you going to do?

Last, I guess you can just suck it up and hang around anyways. Assuming you're not fighting God on this one. We all go through phases of life, friends come and go, as do interests and abilities. To face these inevitable life changes is hard enough, to throw your life into an uproar every time can make things very difficult.

So after typing this, I'm back where I started. THanks for visiting.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

168, Church, and The Chapel

Well, again I've been away for a while. Things have been going well on Sundays at the 168 celebration times. Steve and I have been playing a tag-team with music since we are having such a hard time getting together for practice times. So far though it has been working. We have somewhat different styles, nothing better or worse here, just different. So, the practice thing will be really required before we can play together to any great degree of cohesiveness.

The rest of life is busy and sometimes confusing. I still have a foot in two churches, which is fine by me, but some folks still have a problem with it. I mean, if I or my family have to do certain activities elsewhere because they are simply not offered at a church, it wouldn't seem to be an issue, right? Apparently, wrong. Hence, I straddle organizations.

On a more positive note, the 168 music team went to the Christian Musician's Summit May 14 & 15 at The Chapel at Crosspoint. What an amazing experience, with amazing people, in an amazing facility. If you are involved in a modern worship team at any level (team leader, instrumentalist, vocalist, audio engineer, song writer) you will benefit from this conference. Lots of small breakout sessions where you get to pick the brains of experts in each respective field. Did I mention it was amazing? I sat in a room for about 90 minutes with 25 other folks asking Paul Baloche questions about song writing. Where are you going from there? And there are plenty of opportunities for plain old worship (with 1000 of your closest friends, lead by Paul Baloche & band every morning for an hour) or others worship leaders in the afternoon. And Friday closed with about two hours of Lincoln Brewster.

I'm still trying to process all the information.

That's all for now. Back to work.