Give Victory a Chance

An amazing thing happened this past weekend.  It helps if I set the stage a bit.

My family has never been accused of being particularly athletic.  The greatest accomplishment I ever experienced on the field of sport was with my high school marching band.

Now, people generally assume that a guy my size had to have played some kind of ball at some point in his life.  When asked what position I played in high school, the answer is always easy.  I played bass drum.

So, it was with a certain mix of trepidation, bemusement, and hope that I watched as my son began his first experience with organized football.  I am not one of those sport parents who imagines that their child is destined for a pro contract.  My interest is to present him with enough opportunities to discover what may or may not click with him.

All of that said, an amazing thing happened this past weekend.

His team won.  His team won and he played a big role in the success.  I saw the light in his head come on and saw him begin to understand the game and enjoy himself.

In watching him play, I was struck by a simple thought.

You can never know for sure that you don’t like something if you never experience a measure of success with it.  You owe it to yourself not to quit without first experiencing a taste of victory.

Sure, it’s easy enough to decide to stop when it’s hard and you don’t understand and it all seems pointless.  But only until you get to a place where you have pushed past the initial awkwardness and difficulty and experienced a little epiphany, you won’t be able to distinguish between your dissatisfaction with the activity/job/responsibility/role/etc and your apparent lack of success.

It may not be that you dislike what you are doing.  It may simply be that you have yet to see what it’s like when you are successful in it.

Give victory a chance.  Then decide if you want to quit or not.

Living with the Asterisk

The asterisk is the little guy in the corner who gives you your first warning that the statement you’ve just read may not be as simple as the statement you’ve just read. He is your gateway, your Looking Glass, into an entire world of fine print and legal jargon. All for the purpose of allowing two competing mindsets (marketing vs. legal) to occupy the same space.

Marketing wants to tell you all of the AMAZING things that will happen once you buy-consume-read-attend-clickon-watch-etcetera their item. Legal wants to tell you that it’s not their fault if it doesn’t really happen.

And, the reality is, whether we see it or not, we’ve all become accustomed to adding asterisks to what we see in our lives. We’ve been trained as consumers since we were small children to see between the lines of marketing and legal.

Remember, opening a Cracker Jacks box for the first time? There was a PRIZE inside!! OMG! Never once did I stop to think about what kind of prize could actually fit inside a Cracker Jacks box. All I knew was there was a PRIZE inside!! A prize that you couldn’t just go buy at the store. No, my friends, this was a prize that you could only find if you were fortunate enough to have the very same box of Cracker Jacks that I had. But you weren’t.

And opening it to discover the teeny baseball card, or tattoo, or whatever prize from the Island of Misfit Toys had found it’s way into my box left me a little deflated. But I knew from then on, I knew that Mr. Cracker Jack’s definition of prize and mine were not the same.

It becomes so easy to apply the same asterisk thinking to faith. Sure, we know that Jesus said to love your neighbor, to turn the other cheek. We know He said to take up crosses and follow Him. But, I mean, that’s not really what He meant, right? Where’s the legal fine print to tell us exactly what the terms and conditions of our love, sacrifice, and discipleship are?

We’ve read John 10:10 about Jesus offering us life and life more abundantly. To the full until it overflows. Or that God promises to heal, to save, and to redeem. But, surely, that’s just marketing talk to get me to become one more church consumer, right?

Maybe they didn’t have the asterisk in 6 AD.

What are you waiting for?

Woke up with this question bouncing around my head this morning…

What are you waiting for?

As I was coming up in church there was always a sense that we were waiting on God to bring revival or to do something stupendous to that would be like flicking the first spiritual domino in a long chain of dominoes. Always hoping that we would be able to say “I was there!” when whatever hocus-pocus took place.

It was something that we all hoped for, but I’m not sure we really expected. Like Santa, the Easter Bunny, or Keiser Soze… But we continued to march in place wishing for it to come.

But that leads to the real thought I’ve been pondering…

We’ve never had to “wait for God” on things. It’s always been us. God has never held us back from advancing the kingdom or moving forward. It’s always been us, slouching towards greatness, but too afraid or weak to really try.

I don’t believe there has every been a time where we’ve been so pure and put together that we are simply at the starting gate waiting for God to arrive.

I believe God has great dreams for us and this world. But, let’s not naively think, that He is just biding His time. We are not waiting for the great “end-time revival”. We ARE the great “end-time revival”.

Hello, my name is…

For the past nine months or so, I have been thinking and writing and talking to God about identity.  

Who am I?

Why am I?

You know, the basic existential questions that make up most teenage angst and mid-life crises.

The big question I have been asking is, “What am I using to define who I am?”  

I have come to the revelation that I am relying on other things for my identity outside of what God has done. 

And now those things are being peeled away.  Some by my hand.  Some not.  The things I have used to define myself are being removed.

Tumultuous and invigorating.  Terrifying and exhilirating.  

There are some big changes coming.  I will share them as I am able.

Meanwhile, I am discovering a whole new me.  

Anyone with me?

New Hillsong Album – “This Is Our God”

Wanted to share this with you… I look forward to the release of the album later this year.  The two songs featured are “Healer” and “Desert Song”.  If the rest of the album is anything like these, I look forward to spending a significant amount of time on the carpet face down…

 

Essential Relationships for Worship Leaders – Intro

Leading worship is, above everything else, an exercise in relationship.  And as much as it is about the connections between God and man, it is as much about the people who are all lifting voices together.  To lead effectively is to navigate all of the different relational dynamics.  Regardless of your natural skill, each of these relationships has a way of coloring your corporate time of worship.

The Bible is very specific about how our interpersonal interactions affect our worship.   Ephesians 5:19 says we are to speak psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs one to another.  Matthew 5 tells us that if we are worshipping and we remember that a brother has an issue with us, we should stop and go make it right. 

It becomes apparent that God is not intending for us to focus on Him only, but that corporate worship should be about building the body of believers who are gathering.

Over the next few posts, I want to take a look at some of these essential relationships, including pitfalls to avoid and ways to strengthen. 

So, before you go into your next rehearsal or lead your next service, who do you need to go to and put things right?  Have fun!

Confidence in awkwardness…

Talking with a filmmaker friend recently about artistic expression within the church…

It seems that finding genuinely creative thoughts, concepts, stories, and images is difficult within the church world.  Every movie is either about what Jesus did or will do.  Cross and Rapture.  That’s it.  

I think the struggle stems from the feeling that we have to present answers to the world.  

As ministers, I think we must strive to be clear and understood.  But is that the same goal for art?

I believe art is less about providing answers than it is about asking the right questions.  

Art is subjective.  It’s about creating an emotional response within the audience.  Art doesn’t lend itself to “holding the audience by the hand” explanations.  

If I have to spell out the meaning for you, I am condescending to you and robbing you of the discovery of meaning within your own life.  I am providing you with the meaning I want you to have and not the internal, resonant impression that you create within yourself.

But trusting you to understand means willingly creating blanks or gaps.  I intentionally create holes that I refuse to fill.  Holes that you must fill with your own experience or thought or spirituality.  

It’s in the gaps that God dwells.  What if, instead of me telling you, I created a place of awkwardness and pondering?  What if, instead of answering questions you are not asking, I mirror the deep questions of your heart?  

What if I could be confident in awkwardness?  Confident enough in the love of God to meet you in a place of uncertainty.