November 30, 2005

Pointless In The End

Have you ever had a moment where you work hard on something, then change your mind and start over? I've had multiple moments like that over the past couple of weeks. It's annoying to me. Today I took some time to respond to email that had stacked up in my inbox. As I churned through them, I found myself struggling to write and get the details that were needed formed and ready to send. After working for some time, I would just give up because I needed other bits of info that were not available to me at the time. Another example could be my plan for the personal retreat. I had many projects I wanted to do. Instead, some things took longer and a couple of other things came up. I never really got to where I wanted to be, which was ok, but not.

It happened with this post tonight. I was going to write about the last couple of weeks in my life. There has been so much that has happened. Our church finished a 40 Days campaign that was very good. I took a personal spiritual retreat with friends. I got the chance to go to Ohio and spend time with family and friends, and in the process drive for 6 1/2 hours through a blizzard. This week I'm buried under a dinner drama at the church and Christmas preparations. All the while, I'm sleep deprived because of my own idiodicy and because of a sick daughter.

Yet, as I sat here and typed, I couldn't focus my thoughts. Maybe it is because there are too many thoughts there in my mind. Maybe its because I haven't slept as much as I need to. Maybe it is because I cannot focus because of all the stuff going on this week. Maybe it is more simple than that. Maybe I don't have anything profound to say.

I am not empty. I feel more alive in my life right now than I have in months. I see things I need and want to do. I have had the time to read some invigorating things that have really stirred the constant passions in my ministry. While I was away on my personal retreat I had some great conversations with friends about life, ministry, and everything else. The gears in my head are moving at a rapid pace trying to keep up and I can get thoughts out of my head. I simply cannot get two or three to string together into something worthwhile. I cannot get it on the outside. Maybe it is God making me mute, so to speak, so that I will shut up and listen some more.

So, with that in mind I end this post on wasted times that, while good, were pointless in the end.

November 18, 2005

Locked In

Right now I'm sitting at my desk in the office. There are 30 plus Jr. Highers running freely through our building under the supervision of part of my youth staff. It is a good crowd tonight--normal kids plus some new faces and friends. They must have stopped for sugar before they came because they are extra hyper--beyond the normal Jr. Higher hyper.

My quandry tonight is how this lock-in thing ever got started? Who thought it would be a good idea for people to hang out together until rediculous hours of the night for fun? Who invented such games as flashlight tag and bloody murder? And, why are we playing such games at a lock-in? Why did Little Ceasers come up with the hot and ready $5 deal? Why do we do this so often? Wouldn't a lock-in during the day serve parents better than taking their kids at night time when they are sleeping? Would Jesus be crazy enough to do a lock-in?

I guess I'm getting old.

November 14, 2005

Are We Really Listening?

Right now I'm listening to my new minidisc player. I started recording our services at the church so I can give constructive criticism to my sound guys. If you have ever been to our worship auditorium, you will know that our room is horrible. Without the chairs set up, we have almost a 4 second echo. That is bad in acousitcal terms. Add to that non-musician sound people and a bunch of rock and roll stars in my praise band and you have the recipe for not so good things. They do ok and we're working to get them better. We have some new people also interested in joining in. That is exciting!

With sound, its interesting what perceptions people have. Every musician has their own opinion. Every 3rd or 4th musician thinks their opinion was authored by God Almighty himself. (We musicians are quite peculiar creatures) Add to that the common complaint of everything being too loud from the old people and too soft from the young people. All the while, sound techs are caught in the middle.

One would hope that things were not so much a tug of war in the church. When we stand on such phrases like, "love one another" and "let the first be last and the last be first", one would think that the church is the place where everyone is forgiving, accepting, and willing to minimize what their opinions and wants for the benefit of others. However, while we as the church are very schooled in hearing and comprehending, we are dumbfounded with the concept of understanding and applying it to our lives. We are what I like to call soapboxers. We stand on our soapbox and spew out our opinions for all to hear, accept, and take hold of. Somehow, this affects our ability to hear and appreciate others opinions like earplugs. Jesus called people like this Pharisees.

So tonight as I listen, I am filled with many emotions. The sound was not that bad this week, which gives me joy and hope. Not all together singers who sometimes muddy up the melody and harmony brings me concern. Conversations that I heard before the service cause me a fair amount of frustration. It puts it all in perspective and helps me realize that we don't have it all together. We are getting there, slowly. It also helps me realize that we don't really listen to ourselves. Listening in music helps you play as a band rather than individuals playing instruments. Listening in singing makes a great piece of music on a page come alive with a unity of multiple singers. Listening in sound means everyone is heard and present in the mix.

What does listening in the church sound like? Does it mean we actually quiet ourselves to listen to the lives and opinions of others? Does it mean we will actually put others before ourselves because "love one another" is something more than three words on the page? Will it cause us to be reflective and mindful of our own words and actions, so that we are not being soapboxers? If the church were to open her ears and really listen, I honestly think we would be different. We would at least be moving in the right direction instead of moving in wrong ways or standing still.

Are you listening? What do you hear? Or, are you drowning out the life around you with the sound of your voice, your music, and whatever else you claim to be yours. May we as the church continually remember that we must lose our life so that we can put on Christ and live!

November 9, 2005

What the. . .

Sometimes I simply do not get the world we live in.

On my Yahoo homepage, I have the most viewed pictures from Yahoo's news site. This helps me stay somewhat up to date with the larger world outside of my miniscule existence and sometimes provides funny pictures, like the pope scratching his nose, though it looks like he's picking it.

Today, there were two pictures of a fashion show. This is not necessarily uncommon. When there are fashion shows, there are normally a couple of pictures that make the top of the list. However, this fashion show was different. It still had way to skinny models with way too little clothing—these were very Victoria Secretish. The uncommon thing was the caption:

A model parades in front of street children, some of whom are sniffing glue, in the drug-infested 'Barrio Triste' (Sad Neighborhood) in downtown Medellin in Colombia November 7, 2005. The event was organized to entertain the children by a member of a local charity that helps children in Barrio Triste by providing food, clothes and cleaning facilities.

Organizing something for street children is one thing. But, organizing an underwear fashion show is another thing. I don’t really get how that can be helpful to the street children, especially the ones that are sniffing glue. How does a local charity that provides food and clothing come to the understanding that this could be a positive thing? How does that conversation even come about? How does anyone with even an 1/8 of a brain come to think that it would be a good idea?

Maybe it was a marketing scheme to draw the street kids to the charity so they can reach more kids.