Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Wal-Mart Inn & Suites

When I was in college, I never really did anything exciting for my spring break. While other friends jetted off to Florida or South Padre Island, I usually had just enough money to pay for gas for my one-hour trek home. But if I had been half as creative as Skyler Bartels, I might have had some seriously crazy stories to tell. Enjoy...

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Worship Leader, or Lead Worshipper

I witnessed a really cool thing the other day. I was at the church, getting ready for the Saturday evening service. I was the worship assistant for the weekend, which meant that I was sort of the emcee for the service: I welcomed people, ran through some announcements, read Scripture, prayed, and invited the ushers up for the offering. It was about 45 minutes before the service was to begin, and all of the last-minute preparations were going on: soundchecks, double-checking the PowerPoint slides, running through songs one last time, etc. Currently, our stage is adorned by a rather large stained glass-esque picture of Jesus and some traditional Christian symbols. It was while the band was running through one of their songs that I witnessed this cool thing. The worship leader for the weekend was a good friend of mine, Geoff Smith. While he was singing, instead of facing 990 empty seats, he was turned with his back to the auditorium, facing the huge picture of Jesus. I don't know why he did this. Maybe he was trying to hear the band and the other vocalists better. Maybe he was trying to not be distracted. Or maybe, as I imagined it, he was simply doing what he was called to do, and that is worship God. Maybe he was so caught up in that Jesus hanging behind him that he didn't care what was happening around him. Too often we get caught up in the idea that church is a show that we come and consume, instead of realizing that it is a participatory event. We think that those that are up front are in some way more important because they are up front. In reality, they are just one of the worshippers, just like anyone that is sitting in our comfy seats. But we like to be entertained instead of having to participate and present our bodies as living sacrifices, which is our reasonable act of worship. "Let someone else do it, and let me watch," we think. And that is the wrong attitude to have, if you ask me. I wish we could all just turn around more often and stand face-to-face with Jesus and let it be about Him and me...

Monday, March 20, 2006

Kelly Clarkson Video

Before anyone starts slamming me for having the Kelly Clarkson video playing on this blog, let me explain. Two of my students from the youth ministry I used to volunteer with in Ohio are currently in LA trying to make it as actors. They have already appeared in an episode of Charmed, and now are in this video, 'Walk Away.' I have to give them some props, and as much exposure as I can. So now, the three or four people that actually look at this blog will know who they are, too. They are the twins that are singing while washing dishes and wearing rubber gloves. Enjoy...

Thursday, March 16, 2006

I'm Too Busy for God

That seems to be the message that I have been hearing lately. Specifically, it has come through loud and clear in two articles I have read recently. This one, from Christianity Today, talks about the abundance of new Bibles that are coming out that "hope to make God's word digestible for the masses not in years, but in weeks, days, and—yes—even minutes." First, there's The Bible in 90 Days, a Bible and a curriculum that allows the reader to get through the Bible in - you guessed it - 90 days. But maybe that's too much of a time commitment for you. If so, there's the HCSB Light Speed Bible which combines the Bible and speed reading to get you through the Bible four times in one day. Four times! And finally, there is the 100-Minute Bible which condenses the Bible to 20,000 words in about 60 pages. I think it reads something like this:

"First, there was God. Then there was Adam and Eve, they sinned, then there was Abraham, who was the father of Israel, who became enslaved to Egypt but Moses led them out and they wandered for a while. They liked God, then they didn't, then they did, then they didn't, did, then didn't, and so on. Then came Jesus. He healed and preached and loved. Then He died, but He rose again. Then the Church was started and Paul wrote a bunch of letters. Then there was some crazy stuff that happens at the end featuring horses and trumpets and bowls. The End."

What does it say about us that we need Bibles that we don't have to spend a lot of time with? We're too busy to really spend time in the Word, right? I mean, we have work, and family, and extracurricular stuff, and church stuff. We need something to get us a quick fix in the Word, but it can't take much time. Is that really the best approach to the Word of God?

And then I ran across this article and pictures of a drive-thru church in Daytona Beach. People drive up just like you used to do at a drive-in movie theater. You watch the service from your car, someone delivers the Communion elements to you there, and then you drive away. Again, what kind of message is this sending. That we're too busy to even get out of our cars? That church is really just a show, so why bother participating? That we don't need the community that church is supposed to be about, and instead, I'm in a hurry to get to my real community on the golf course? Now that's the kind of church I want!

Now, before you think I'm getting all high and mighty on you, keep in mind that I admit that I am just as bad as the next guy or girl in this area. I like to think that I am soooo busy in my life that I don't have the time to really sit down and quiet myself and take time alone with God, whether it be through prayer or time in the Word or worship or whatever. I busy myself with some important things, but also with a lot of inconsequential things. Spending time with my family: important. Watching American Idol: inconsequential. Being with my youth group students: important. Goofing around on the internet: inconsequential. May God help me to be more like Martin Luther who is widely quoted as saying, "I have so much to do today that I should spend the first three hours in prayer."

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Johari Window

OK, so I was surfing over at my friend Nolan's blog, and I came across this thing called a Johari Window. It was invented by Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham in the 1950s as a model for mapping personality awareness. By describing yourself from a fixed list of adjectives, then asking your friends and colleagues to describe you from the same list, a grid of overlap and difference can be built up. (from the website - italics mine) I have started one for myself, and would love to hear what you have to say. If you are looking at this blog, chances are you know me a little bit. So help a brother out and make me more self-aware by clicking below and following the directions. Thanks...