December 16, 2007

Christmas 2007

Here's the latest Christmas picture of the Lowman family taken in the blizzard after church today.

December 12, 2007

So Long Ago

When I graduated from high school, I was totally undecided about what I wanted to do. I felt some sort of a calling, if you want to call it that, about going into some type of ministry. Most of that was influenced by Ray, my youth minister at the time. At church I ran the sound system, sang in the choir, and sang specials every once in awhile, along with the normal youth group stuff. Bible college was a thought on the radar, but that meant something more than I was willing to give. So, off to the University of Akron I went to study mathematics.

That summer after I graduated, Ray invited me to work a week of camp with him at Elkhorn Valley Christian Service Camp. I had been to camp a couple of times before as a faculty brat and as a Jr. high camper. I even got baptized at camp (though not fully because of camp--I simply wanted to take communion with everyone else). Yet, I had never thought about working camp. It sounded fun. So I said yes.

Intermediate 1 (otherwise known as Jr. High Camp) was the highlight of my summer. I was already coming out of my quiet shell because of working in retail at a tuxedo shop. Camp allowed me to be "that guy". You know, the guy who is the loud, obnoxious kid who doesn't have a pause button. That was me at camp. The other added bonus was that I was the recreation guy that year. Everyone loves the rec guy. Because of those things, students were attracted to me. It blew my mind. And, I began to build friendships that went beyond that week. Back in that day, we wrote letters back and forth. I know, that's so old school. It was cool to write back and forth and encourage the students.

When Ray moved away, the camp dean of that Jr. High week became our new youth minister at my church. Jack was an odd fellow. He was your quintessential blond haired, blue eyed guy who looked like Jesus. He even had the scruffy beard to add to the look. That was about as normal as he was. He had clear shoes to show off his assortment of crazy socks. One of his claims to fame was his ability to snort very loud. However, even though he was odd, Jack began to teach me about ministry. It wasn't a straight on teaching about how to disciple or theories or anything like that. He simply asked if my best friend and I wanted to read a book together with him and discuss it. While I don't remember the book title, the main theme I remember in it was sticktoitiveness--being totally sold out to what you are living your life for. Those were some great discussions in his cold office. I began to learn some Greek words, their meanings, and why they were important. He had us helping plan and do youth ministry--not because we knew he was training us, but because it was fun and we wanted to.

The next summer, Jack moved up to Sr. High week. I was there again, with the same circle of students who I'd been writing to the previous year. It was a great time. It was a life changing time. I got to teach a class on the parable of the talents that year. I remember feeling way out of my league. I remember students coming up to me afterwards and asking me serious, deep questions about the Bible. I remember feeling totally hopeless because I didn't have any answers for them. I knew I needed to go to Bible college. That winter I decided to go to GLCC and begin my journey to professional ministry.

If it weren't for Ray and Jack challenging me to go to camp and putting me in a place to build relationships and shape lives, I'd be off somewhere doing math stuff--either for NASA or teaching in some hole in the wall community college. Because they cared and built relationships with me, subversively discipling me, I found the passion for my life--the passion that has lead me to where I am today.

They also helped me begin to build my own discipling relationships--though I didn't know it at the time. There are two students I think of most when I think back--Dawn Gates and Angie Coxson. They are the two that I most connected with. Now, almost 20 years later, we email back and forth and keep up the conversations/relationships that were started out in the middle of no where at camp.

Thank you Ray and Jack for taking a chance on a big, goofy looking high school student who didn't have a clue of what to do with his life. Thanks for giving me the chance to learn about what ministry looks like and how to do it. Thanks for helping me begin to see the importance of relationships and discipleship--things that are the bedrocks of my ministry now. Thank you Angie and Dawn for keeping up the conversations for so many years.

December 9, 2007

Christmas Music

Right now I'm enjoying a concert by the Meridian Community Band. It's a 60 plus group of musicians ranging from young adults to Sr. Saints. While they aren't professionals, they sound pretty darn good. Add to them our acoustically live auditorium at SLCC and you have a great afternoon of music.

Today is a day of different music. This morning for worship we used a different setup to the normal praise band. We had a piano, my guitar, and 5 male voices. It was quite a change to the 2 electric guitars, a bass, drums, acoustic, and piano. Now, I'm enjoying a large orchestral sound, in addition to a little Bing Crosby during the intermission. What a blessing God has given us with musical variety.

My prayer is that we as a people in God's church could grow perspective and understanding of that. It's not about the worship band in my opinion. It's about us as a people coming together to worship our Maker and Savior, no matter what instruments are used. Its about our hearts and minds as we come to celebrate.

One last interesting thing about this concert. At the moment, they are playing a Jewish piece. Right before it, two ladies from the band came down front and lit a menorah. They explained a little of the tradition and sang
HaNerot Halalu, traditional prayer sung during Hanukkah as they were lighting the candles. It was very cool in my opinion. I'm sure there would be someone to get bent out of shape that something like that happened in our church building. My thought is, there is much that we can learn from our Jewish brothers and sisters.

With all this good music, it is definitely a White Christmas tonight!