504 Java Profile

504 Java Profile
Two of my favorite things

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

On What I Learned in Worship Today

Today I got to worship at my own church instead of doing ministry somewhere else.  I love being home and sitting next to my bride in worship. I look forward to hearing my pastor, Dr. David Crosby preach. He is an amazing communicator and leader.  But today, before he spoke, the music touched me.  Robert is our worship leader and he is outstanding as well. Music has always been emotional for me, but today was special. I confess that I can be snobbish about singing in worship.  Why do we have to stand up all the time? How would the music guys like it if we made them stand up while we preach?  But I digress. Today I was humbled.

I have known the music reaches a different part of our brain than words or pictures.  I get that sometimes the rhythms and cadence of music communicate deeply. I got it all over today as I watched two men in my church. Both were born with Downs Syndrome.  One of them has been my friend for most of his life.  Mike was born while I was youth minister to his two older sisters and currently, both Mike and I volunteer for the New Orleans Zephyrs minor league baseball club.  The other person I observed in worship is much younger, but was inspiring to watch nonetheless.

Mike has always served as a kind of guest conductor.  Whenever music is sung at our church, you can see him caught up in it from his place in the pew.  He waves his arms like the music leader, completely sold out to worship. It is his way of participating.  Today, the other young man was singing.  He sang every word of every song, completely caught up in the moment. He modeled for me the old saying that we worship "for an audience of One." I have not seen such uninhibited praise very often.

I confess and apologize for underestimating what God does when He connects with our hearts through musical worship.  It is an amazingly universal language. It sings over us, draws us in and lifts us up.  At least it does if we aren't preoccupied with our posture.  I repent.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

On the Dance of Discipleship

I wrote a poem for the introduction to my online discipleship class. I figured I would share it.

The Dance of Discipleship.

We dance with God. We dance with each other.
Picture a square dance.

God is our "caller" and we coordinate our movements to His instructions.
We are in a choreographed yet spontaneous movement where we also take cues from each other.

We learn some steps, we listen to His voice, we connect with fellow dancers.
We share, we create, we lead and we follow.

We dance.

On Social Media and Self-Revelation

I am a recent resident of the "Twitterverse" having been coerced by some of my friends (thanks Randy Hall, Alvin Reed and especially Paul Turner) who have chided me about not being current despite my role as a youth culture student and youth ministry professor.

I have told some of my friends that I go back and forth between finding it hard to believe that anyone really cares what I have to say and feeling a bit narcissistic because I hope that someone cares what I have to say.

Well today while still on my very first cup of coffee, I sort of categorized my social media participation.  I use Facebook to keep up with the comings and goings of my friends. I scan the news feed and see what is up--who is having a birthday, baby or trip out of the country.  I don't do Farmville or Castleville or other games because I am not really clever enough to collect all the stuff you are supposed to collect. I let other people know where I am traveling or about cool things going on in my world.

I use Twitter to post my odd observations about life.  I realize I am not very inspirational and usually I have to ask someone if it is okay to post because I don't have the best filters on the planet. I like to read the 140-character thoughts of others, but it kind of makes my head spin.  Plus, I really don't care that your lunch burrito gave you gas but I do kind of think it is funny.

I use my blog to write about what I believe God is showing me.  I try to create words that inspire or observe, and I know I am not all that controversial (here at least) as I do not really engage in the denominational wars du jour or comment on political issues.

My early morning revelation is this:  Regardless of the medium, I am selective about what I let you know.  Whether I try or not, whether I admit it or not, I only let you read what I think is witty, or thoughtful (though usually falling short of profound), or clever. 

I have never tweeted "I gossipped today" or "I lusted today" or "Today I put someone down so I could look better."  I have never posted a picture on Facebook with the caption, "Here I am in a place I have no business being."  On my blog, I have never gone to the depths of the insecurity I occasionally feel or to the details of confession that I occasionally need or to the revelation of struggle that I often have.

Come to think of it, I don't see very many other people revealing the dark side either.  We put our best tweet forward in order to present a person that may or may not be as together as the cyber-words might indicate.  I suppose the danger is that I might forget that God knows me whether I tweet/update/post or not.  He desires that my words would be sincere and transparent and even desperate.  He reminded us that He knows us and King David crafted the words to our prayer:

Ps 139:1-6 (NASB)

139 O Lord, Thou hast searched me and known me.
2 Thou dost know when I sit down and when I rise up;
Thou dost understand my thought from afar.
3 Thou dost scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And art intimately acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O Lord, Thou dost know it all.
5 Thou hast enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Thy hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high, I cannot attain to it.

The psalm goes on to remind us that God knew about us as we developed in the womb, that He knows our thoughts, that He knows what will happen each day--when we will succeed, edify and encourage and when we will fail, tear down and become angry and selfish.

I like the translation of a few of the later verses in verses 17-18 of the same Psalm, but this time from Eugene Peterson's translation, The Message:

Your thoughts — how rare, how beautiful! God, I'll never comprehend them!
I couldn't even begin to count them — any more than I could count the sand of the sea.
Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you!

Since those two verses are too long to tweet, let me just repeat the last line as my prayer.

Father, let me rise this morning and live always with You!