Thursday, July 26, 2007

My love affair with music

for my birthday this summer, my son decided to give me his ipod...the one that i had given to him last christmas. he says its too big and he'd rather have a smaller one. i'm ok with the deal.
over the past month, i've grown more fond of it everyday.

i love music. in my freshman year of college, back in the dark ages, i was a music major. i started playing a trumpet when i was in fourth grade and kept playing it all the way through high school. in college, my original dream was to be a concert french horn player. no joke.

in my second year of college, god really got ahold of my heart and things began to change. one of those changes had to do with music. it was the early seventies, and rock and roll was changing the landscape where young people were living. that included me.

in the midst of my personal spiritual journey, i began to be captured by the new music styles that were creeping into my traditional church experience. my life was a fixture in the worship wars that were beginning to be fought in sanctuaries around the country. i didn't mean to cause problems, but i'm sure my love of new music (and its entrance into the worship experience of my home church) was very threatening and extremely uncomfortable to the older folks.

anyway, i quickly learned that it was a whole lot easier to lead worship around a campfire with a guitar, instead of a trumpet. so i eschewed my beloved olds recorder (trumpet) and purchased my first guitar and began my lifelong process of teaching myself how to play it.

there's a lot more to this story. a lot.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Life is unfair

i have a good friend of mine who lost his 40k -plus full benefits job recently. unexpected. unplanned for. no discussion. no debate. no recourse. his place of employment just decided not to renew his contract. severed relationships. broken hearts and broken promises. just cruel business as usual.

he owns a home. drives a car. married. two little boys. food expenses. doctor bills. insurance premiums. utilities. just a normal guy trying to live a normal life. lover of god. lover of people. a huge lover of life.

denial. depression. frustration. anger. retaliation. worry. fear. deep sadness. anxiety. doubt. sarcasm. cynicism. vulnerability. hope. faith. determination. resolve. he's felt it all.

i hurt deeply for him, but i trust god even more. i know he does, also. but it's still tough. i wonder what i would do if that happened to me. i wonder what you would do if it happened to you. would you remain true? would your faith sustain you? would you remain resolved to do the right thing and stay faithful to your commitment to the kingdom?

i'm grateful it didn't happen to me. i'm grateful that i have the example of my friend's life of faithfulness and determination. i still wish this would have never happened to him.

Sunday, July 08, 2007


there is an interesting side bar to my sermon today. paul wrote to the church in philippi that they were to "do everything without complaining or arguing". everything. not some things. all things. all the time. everywhere. no matter what. no complaining.

now here's what i've been thinking about. we all complain. it's part of our dna. we are descendants of the children of israel. grumblers. complainers. murmurers. doubters. whiners. we're all part of the same family. but that's not what i'm thinking about. what concerns me is our apparent willingness to live in denial over our disobedience.

we all complain and seem to accept it as a natural and unavoidable part of our existence. we do it without thinking and go on as if nothing is wrong with it. and that's what has me bothered. why do we accept this? why do we act like nothings wrong?

more than that, why is it that we are so quick to say that certain things are bad, wrong, sinful, disobedient all the time, and something like complaining is casually overlooked without even an eyebrow being raised? we get up in arms about lying and fighting and cussing and stealing and homosexuality and meanness and a list of other things...but whine away our petty disappointments and frustrations without a confession of the sin or a drop of remorse. worse yet, i'm pretty sure it doesn't even bother us much, now that we know. come on people...

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Important questions

i've been thinking a lot about how well we do what God is calling us to a individual parts of the body...and wondering about how we can improve. there is no doubt that God's call is clear. unless you're asleep, the needs of people and systems and organizations and families and culture are screaming out loud and clear. so what will we do?

an area of spiritual formation that we don't spend enough time addressing is the role of spiritual gifts in the life of the believer. here's a starting point: ask yourself the following questions and see what you come up with...

  • describe your personal, spiritual pilgrimage. what led to your conversion to christ? what formal and informal training has contributed to your growth? what crises have you weathered? what have been your experiences in ministry? what individuals have influenced you significantly?
  • is God "cultivating a concern" in you for ministry? what specific needs, issues, or situations particularly touch your heart? what concerns make you want to roll up your sleeves and go to work?
  • up to now, what concrete steps have you taken to address these needs or get involved in these issues?
  • specifically identify several things you expect to accomplish through this process.
  • set aside these expectations for the moment and dream. assume you had all the resources you wanted and needed, and that God would guarantee your success in anything you wanted to do. describe what your life would look like ten years from now. who would you be? what would you be doing?
  • identify several resources God has entrusted to you (spiritual gifts, natural talents, acquired skills, experiences).
  • what is your greatest strength?
  • are there any present barriers keeping you from living up to your God-given potential? If so, identify them.
  • where do you need to grow the most?

(thanks to mark oertli at bear valley church in denver, colorado for these questions)

we'll talk some more about this stuff. it's more important than you realize.