Thursday, June 1, 2017
Saturday, May 13, 2017
In the church community we call the day the congregation gathers to spruce up the interior and exterior of the grounds, "Work Day." Some congregations do this more often than others, but it's a needed effort, even when a congregation can pay a maintenance staff to work throughout the year. Going to Work Day the last time does not aleviate your needed hands, and mind, and help this time. Your own house needs constant "this time" help. So does God's House!
It’s Work Day at my church, but I’m in Missouri for a wedding. Habits HURT when they are broken, and it is our habit to be at Work Day! I say "our," because I’m thinking about when I would take 2 and 3 year old Morgan and Madison to Work Day.
Parents with small children, I KNOW it’s stressful, and even feels like you don’t get much accomplished, but I promise the couple of hours you put in FAR OUTLIVE the time you and your children were on site. It does far more than the "partial jobs" you might contribute because you’ve had to leave it to wrangle a wondering child. When you do this stage properly (by building Kingdom-first habits) you get to BASK in my present stage of being the mom of young adults who habitually weigh all their decisions by God's scales! I am living out such goodness right now in my 18 and 20 year old children!
Do you know WHY our (carnal) world/society came up with, "take your child to work day?" It is because even they know how longterm-productive such a "non-productive" day is! If they have that much insight, shouldn’t WE?
I must add the impressions we leave on our teen offspring when we take them to a non-kingdom event though the church has something scheduled. It says to them, "You can pick-and-choose your faithfulness." Perhaps your family needs a family-away day. If your teens know you're ALWAYS at EVERY church event, and they see and hear your lament at being forced to choose another event, I think that's fine. But it should be so rare it doesn't happen more than once a year. It's not as if the church calls all-hands-on-deck for a Work Day every week. I would suggest spending the first hour of the family day contributing at the Work Day, before heading out to enjoy family time. It instills in very impressionable teens: kingdom-first (kingdom-first, of course means, God-first.) I often hear great men and women of God say about their upbringing (if they were raised in a church community) "My parents were at the church every time the doors were open!" They do not merely mean "when the doors were open for a worship service." They mean their parents modeled for them how to WORK for God, give their talent and time to God. This has been the example I have tried to follow because I want Morgan and Madison to be THAT in the Kingdom of God. "That" doesn't just happen. It's cultivated by parenting on and with a purpose.
Today, with my adult children who are still fluttering about my nest, we will have a conversation after the wedding here in Missouri, about how our contribution at Work Day was missed. We will talk about how much we would have benefitted, and how the Work Day would have benefitted by our three sets of hands and feet. We are out of state, but God's House's to do list is not out of mind.
TAKE YOUR CHILD TO WORK DAY.
Why? Because habits HURT when they are broken, and these kinds of habits will be a safeguard in our babies' lives as they go through the many stages and trials life brings.
Thursday, March 2, 2017
Emotions are important in our worship experience. God Himself is very emotional, we find in scripture that he felt (feels) & expressed jealousy, anger, compassion, joy, even what we'd describe as romance! It's incorrect to describe "all that emotion" we express in a worship service as "just" emotion. There's nothing minimal, or wrong about expressed emotion. Emotions are the gateway to honesty. A person may stand stoic, without expression, and lose everything and everyone they love. Whereas, if they succumb to the emotional intensity in their soul, out explodes tones of voice, facial expressions, sometimes even tears, all of these giving the hearer the opportunity to see the honesty of the soul. Relationships are often saved because someone took their guard down and through emotional expression the reality of matters could be seen. Through emotional expression, the hearer knows how happy, or angry, or broken the speaker is.
If a person comes to a worship service determined not to be emotional, they typically find church boring. (They also, typically, are callusing and hardening their heart). But if they'll allow themselves to feel and express their emotions toward God, those people will greatly benefit from attending church. Open emotions signify open honesty. A person may be very guarded in their daily lives, but all guards should come down before our Creator.
Music is emotional. Sounds can be emotional triggers. When personalized ringtones first came into existence I spent a bundle having a ringtone for each person close to me. Even still several people have their own text-tone, & ringtone. But, as I transferred phones or carriers I would sometimes lose a tone. If I am, today, in a public place, and someone else's phone happens to use a former ringtone for someone I may not be as close to anymore, then my heart skips! If someone calls or texts that I haven't heard from in a while, the ringtone alone causes my heart to race! If I hear music from my teen years that is connected to slumber parties, or concerts I attended with friends, my adrenaline races and my soul longs for those people I enjoyed that music with.
Songs within the church trigger the same emotional responses. When we sing a hymn, people aged in their fifties and older are quick to their feet, arms in the air, tears staining their cheeks. Their typical response about styles and genres of songs is that God is more "in" the hymns than in modern music. The hymn was at one point "modern music." But as with all fads, they've been shelved and have made way for new modern music. As a music director, I positively delight in scheduling music for different generations and watching the "popcorn" jump up response across the auditorium. Just as the fifty and older crowd respond emotionally to the hymnal, the thirty to forty year olds have their trigger songs as well. They now call them, "the old songs," but I taught them the songs when they were considered modern music, pop songs played on the christian radio station. The responders were sixteen to twenty years old when I taught the songs. Now that we've moved on to even newer music, when they hear their "old songs," that they haven't heard in five to ten years, their emotions are triggered just as the older generations is triggered by the hymns. Then we sing a worship song currently playing on the radio and those aged thirteen to thirty-five respond the most greatly. During this kind of music the older ones in the congregation respond out of self-discipline and unity, but not because they feel any attachment to the song itself.
As a music director I feel it's important to sing songs from every generation so that each age group has opportunity to worship emotionally. I mentioned before that worship can be done out of a discipline, and for the sake of unity. If we only worshiped when we felt emotional, that'd be very spiritually immature. It is cleansing for us to worship emotionally. God created our brains to respond to music. God is not at all put-off by our emotional expression in worship. When we feel emotional in God's presence and allow ourselves to express it, God takes advantage of our guard being down and can do a beautiful work of healing in our souls.
As a music director I urge every generation present at a worship service to worship and praise regardless of the era or genre, worship simply because God is worthy. Physically engage during a worship service. Also, for the sake of unity, physically engage by clapping, singing, raising your hands, standing, kneeling, etc. Powerful things occur, not because of what kind of music is playing, but due to unity!
I urge music directors to have a steady stream of music for all generations in attendance. In my church we do a hymn every Sunday morning. Every Sunday night we do songs for as many generations as we have time for. And every Wednesday our music is typically geared toward those thirty and younger. I encourage music directors to kindly nod knowingly and smile the next time an elder tells you that there's something "more special" about the ancient songs than the modern ones. Let them enjoy and brag on their first-love without you needing to defend the new musical-love affairs being made by the new generation. And, don't forget, when you're an old music director, keep modern music coming, even if you feel it's immature, or simple.
Remember that every generation deserves to have a bridge extended to their soul through the power of music in a worship service.
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
When I was in South Korea I experienced something very poignant to what I'm experiencing as an American citizen; I met a ninety-plus year old man and his wife. I was honored to meet them as I felt great awe that I was talking to humans who'd survived both WW2, and the Korean War. They'd also endured the Japanese colonization. If I were meeting he and his wife on the street I would have been honored to merely meet their persons. But it was a HUGE DEAL to me, double the honor, that I was in their home! I quickly learned, however, that this was considered HIS home, not "theirs."
I had brought them dinner. It was literally my ticket in the door, which I gladly paid as I was greatly desirous to meet them. But this gave me no rights in his home. His fifty year old daughter instructed me where to sit, but he had me move to a different seat. (It wasn't clear why.) He corrected his adult-daughter from having me address him by his easier to pronounce first name, to the more proper (but very difficult to pronounce) family name. I held no rights over the dinner that I had brought into the house. He thoroughly enjoyed it, and I sat passively until he signaled permission for us to partake.
The truth is, I completely enjoyed myself. I didn't mind one inconvenience I experienced there. (Only "inconvenient" in that it was different than my habitual culture.) I cleaned the table after eating and washed the dishes. I was in awe of his survival and experiences. I was honored to be in his home, I quickly acquiesced to whatever I was told, and further still, I looked for ways to serve.
But, it did take me a bit off-guard when this man who was lord and high-king of his apartment-castle expressed his lordship over the borders of MY country! How could this man who so firmly believes in the borders and walls of his home not "get" the borders and walls of a country? How could this man who'd endured the terrorism of the Japanese invading their borders and way of life not "get" that the United States of America must protect its own borders and way of life? He certainly "gets it" when he thinks about Japan & North Korea.
I'm going to guess that he didn't put two and two together because he's inundated with left-wing news media who is blind in one eye and can't see out of the other. I'm betting he only gets information from sources who has no more wisdom than to believe that open borders is "kindness," when in fact, we're welcoming wolves in refugees clothing. I do NOT believe all refugees are wolves. But I do believe that in the same way I'm going to be careful about who I let in my house (the place where I protect and comfort my children) our goverenmemt should be just as diligent about protecting our American way of life. Let those who need help come labor with us. Let those who will (as I did in his house) sit where we say, speak as we say, and respect the rules of "this house," these great Untied States, come on in!
The wall and the vetting is resonable. I appreciate those who are speaking on behalf of refugees and immigrants. But wisdom says, "Lets have a conversation before I let you in my house." The Bible tells us to be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. We are in danger of annihilation if we're only harmless as doves. I'll leave the topic of arms to someone with more guts than I. But I'm not afraid to say that we should be wise as serpents in our goodwill efforts to welcome and host strangers. The Bible also
tells us that we should host strangers, for they may be angels! I believe "angels" is both a symbolic word, and a reality. But, regardless, we need to know if they are with us, or against us before we give them equal reign in our "home." For the safety of our children, for the security of our way of life, for the peace of our nation, we must know!
The southern border wall is a no-brainer to me. The wall is the equivalent of a visible home. It's an honor to enter someone's home. Those who want that honor should approach the front door, not sneak into the back window.
Let the church minister to the needs of pilgrims and strangers, and let the government protect.