Archive for May, 2008

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Let Your Love Go

May 30, 2008

Hope that is hidden is selfish. Love that is held back is wasted.

In track my favorite race was the 1500meters. (100 yards short of a mile) In a sprint like the 100 yard dash, it’s easy to give it your all, to go all out, because its short and the race is going to be over in seconds. In the 1500, it much harder to give it your all for the whole race. It is easier to find times to hold back. The worst feeling at the end of any sporting event or whatever it is is leaving knowing that I didn’t give it my all, that I could have given more.

When it comes to serving at a church, sometimes I leave with the same feeling, where I know I could have given more, where I know I held back. What do I hold back? Love.

I love Jesus, and I love worshipping Him. I love His creation of music and the part it plays in bringing Him glory. I love technology and the part it plays in bringing Him glory. I love His church, His message, His people, and His community.

So what I am tempted to hold back every Sunday, (let alone the rest of my week) is that love. It’s vulnerable and scary to fully engage, to fully enter the moment, to fully give myself away emotionally in whatever I’m doing. It’s easier to hold some back. Jesus didn’t do that, He didn’t hold back, He invested Himself fully in whatever moment He was in. And here’s the thing, when I don’t invest fully, people feel it. Love comes out in the way I treat people, love comes out in the way I worship. There is a noticeable difference in our offering of praise on Sunday or our service in the community throughout the week, when I hold back love. When we let all our love go, for God and for people, we encourage the community to love more.

Let your love go.

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Viva La Vida

May 27, 2008

I wrote this post in my head on the elliptical this morning at the club.  I was listening to the song that is playing now if your volume is turned up.  Its called Viva La Vida by Coldplay.  I was listening to it over and over again.  Its the kind of song that draws all kinds of emotions out of me, positive and negative, and just the mood of it inspires me on the journey of life. 

As I was listening the speaker blew out in my right ear.  So in my left ear I had the glorious sound of Cold Play in all its goodness, and in the right, a distorted, scratchy, horrible sound, that was almost unbearable.  My choice was to leave out one ear and just listen to the left, or stop listening to the song all together.  I turned it up.

What’s ironic is also on my right side is a knee that doesn’t work at all right now.  My choice is to stop exercising all together, or use my good knee to do some cardio rather than none. 

The ear phones and my legs are like my life.  At the same time that I have wonderful, hopeful, awesome things going on, I have distorted, painful, lame things going as well.  At times the emotions these two bring together feel so overwhelming that I feel I would trade in the good stuff if it meant none of the hard things happened either.  But I don’t have the option of just taking out one ear phone when it comes to life. 

Viva La Vida means Live LIfe.  I love that title.  My Savior embraced it all when he came here for me.  The joy, the sorrow, the love, the agony, he lived life and lived it well.  And so for another day I choose to live in the noise of the two ear phones blaring into my life, both good and bad, and I will turn it up.

 

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Vision

May 22, 2008

glasses

My vision has always been good. 20/15. When I was young there was a period of time I lied about it being bad because I liked a girl who liked glasses. I don’t remember if it worked. Although I can see well, I am color blind. Color deficient to be politically correct. I see color, but supposedly I see it different than you. All I know is there is some test and when I take it, I fail and they tell me I’m color blind.

So when I take in the view around me, looking at the same thing you are, I see it differently. My vision is different than your vision.

When you work at a church, you are involved in a lot of conversations about what church is, what church should be about, and what it should be doing. At times it seems like no one sees it exactly the same way. I’m not just talking about leadership; I’m talking about everyone in a given church. There are smart, gifted, passionate people who know the Bible inside and out, and have different expectations, emphasis, and priorities for what’s most important and in what order.

So in a church of 100, or 500, or 2,000 or 10,000, whose vision should we trust? Who should we pray for continuingly that God will give clear and accurate vision to? Who should we seek to encourage, protect, build up, love, fight for and lock arms with? And when God gives me my own unique vision, whose vision should I seek to line that up with and make sure it is not at cross purposes? At Sunset Presbyterian, his name is Ron Kincaid. And before you think this is a suck up devotional, think again. When it comes to doing a good job at this, I am still a little boy who needs to become a man.

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good times

May 21, 2008

b-ball belly

Hadn’t seen this pic for a while, cracked me up.   Thought I’d post it. No, Allison was not pregnant in this photo, just bloated.  KIDDING.  I asked her if I could write that.  As I write this I’m watching Ava who is now 9 months old, sleep soundly on Allison.  This is rare, very rare.  She is not a cuddler, and does not often fall asleep anywhere but her crib.  She was moving in Allison’s belly non stop, and has never stopped since.  If you ever see me smile like this please tell me I look like a dork. 

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frustrated ex slave master

May 20, 2008

I heard an amazing message this last weekend on sin, maybe one of the best I have heard.

One of the analogies that stuck out to me the most, was when the pastor talked about sin no longer being our master.  We know this as Christians, we have heard it thousands of times.  But he went further with it, describing how sin is a very frustrated ex slave master, who still kicks and screams and shouts for control.

Another one that stuck out from the talk was that we think we control and manage sin.  Sin has some goods, some pay off.  We think that we can come to sin, on our terms, grab some goods, then turn around and go back to righteousness.  It doesn’t work that way.  In reality when we sin, we hold our hands out to it and say, "Please, handcuff me, be my slave master, I give up control to you."  That is freaky to think about.

And finally, the last analogy.  When Paul talks about the reason not to sin in Rom 6, its not because I owe it God, its not to gain favor with God, its because as Paul describes it, I died to sin, God took the handcuffs off, it is no longer my master, I have been set free, so why go back?  Am I obligated to God?  Is that my motivation?  Am I obligated to my wife?  Certainly there is some responsibility to her, some obligation, but it is a willful choice.  It is me saying, being with my wife, being married, and all that comes with it, the responsibilities and obligations that come with it, is better than being single.  So I  have to  make a choice.  Submit to God, the Creator, the one who knows me by name, loves me, died for me, rose for me, cares for me?  Or an ex frustrated slave master bent on my bondage and destruction? 

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Musicians and "church" music

May 19, 2008

Today I met with one of the musicians who plays at Sunset, Randy Johnson.  Randy has played at Sunset for years.  He is an amazing piano player, who has a background in jazz, gospel and many other styles as well.  He has given an amazing amount of time and energy and love for this church.  His brain thinks on a higher plain than most musicians I know, his ear for substitute chords and progressions other than I, IV, V sometimes leave him a little bored and unchallenged playing a lot of the songs we sing. 

It is an interesting topic when it comes to music and the church.  There is a high priority in recent times on "singability", songs that  are "accessible" for the whole congregation to join in on.  Get too complicated particularly on a song where everyone is singing,  and the argument is that while you may engage some, particularly musicians, you can lose a lot of people at the same time who just want to identify with the melody and lyric and sing there heads off.  These songs still need excellent musicians, who can play in tune, in tempo, with dynamics, with passion, with excellence,  listening to one another etc.  Many of the current songs are built though and identified with reoccurring simple themes from the piano or electric guitar.  Again its not that these songs don’t need good musicians to play them and play them well.  When they are played with mediocre players, most people, even non musicians know something is "off".  But often times musicians who like to be challenged in music theory while they play, feel trapped and limited with the sound or simplicity of some current worship styles and songs. 

What do you think?  Do you think overall current music has been too dumbed down in the church and that it is hurting the church?  I personally don’t.  (obviously there are exceptions but on the whole I love the direction of where a lot of main stream music for the church is heading)  I think the challenge is for these awesome musicians, who the church needs desperately, including ones as amazing and smart as Randy, to find ways to take their musicianship and breadth of experience to bring as much life, energy and passion into some of this new music as they would playing a song that had 5 impromptu key changes or maj 7th chords with a sharp 11th around every corner.   What say you?

By the way, I just read this post to Allison.  Not only did I have to reread it to her because she zoned out as soon as I said I, IV,V, but when I was done, she let me know that this post was incredibly boring.  (I asked for the honest feedback) Hopefully not as boring as some current church music :).

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Right there all along

May 16, 2008

I inherited a lot of good traits from my father. One that I could do without is losing things. It seemed as though my dad lost his keys on average of twice a day. Or his wallet. Or his cell phone.

I have had many times in my life where I was so frantic leaving the house, anxiously looking for my phone or keys or wallet, only to suddenly realize that I am holding the very item I’m looking for. It was right there all along.

At church we talk a lot about reaching out to people, about being inviting, welcoming, and warm. We talk about living out our faith, and sharing our faith by loving people. I think the reality is I like talking about it more than I actually like doing it. Doing it is so much different than talking about it.

Some time ago my church hired an IT guy named Chris. I asked Chris if I could write about him and use his name. He graciously said yes. Chris had been attending our church for some time, and then responded to an ad in the bulletin about IT work. His office is in the same office building that I am in.

I kept things on the surface with Chris. I did this for lots of reasons. You can sense from Chris that he brings some baggage, some pain, and is an outsider to church culture. Don’t get me wrong. I said “Hi” when I saw him. I went to him with computer problems. Inside though I know the difference in my actions of accepting someone and extending myself, or shutting them out and keeping them at arm’s length.

The other day God tapped me on my shoulder and spoke to my heart and said, “Jay, wake up man, and treat this guy with some respect and love, quit shutting him out.”

Chris and I went to Starbucks. (Where else?) In our conversation, I asked Chris what connections or friends he has made at the church, after attending there for months and now working there as well. His answer? 0. Zip. Nada.

I have to change. I have to stop talking about reaching out and loving people and actually do it. I’m tired of being a hypocrite about this type of thing. If I can’t reach out to Chris, who is right here, right in front of my face, what chance to I have of helping my church become an inviting place? Who is your Chris right now? I’ll bet there is someone. I bet that in all the frantic energy we spend talking about, praying for, and planning about how we will be a friendly place to be, that just like the keys that were already in your hand, someone is already in your life, they were right there all along.