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Monthly Archives: May 2011

Jesus Rides the Subway

Recently I took some of the youth here to the Third Day, Tenth Avenue North, and Trevor Morgan concert here in Macon, and an interesting trend for me presented itself.  Now let me preface this by saying that I love Tenth Avenue North and Third Day, but I was blown away by Trevor Morgan. His songwriting and voice just cut right through, and his album “The Blessed and the Broken” is a great album.

Trevor’s song “Jesus Rides the Subway” is a very well written song, and the chorus gets me every time I listen to it. “You can lay your burden down, you can lay your burden down, Maybe you’ve been kicked around, but you can lay your burden down.” Wow. I mean it’s simple and repetitive, but when you hear Trevor’s voice come through it really cuts through.

My favorite part of the song is the end where Trevor sings “Jesus went to church on Sunday, Sat in the back and sang the hymns. Jesus went to church on Sunday, but they did not recognize Him.” How true this is. Jesus tells us that whatever we do for one of the least we do for Him. It says in scripture that the righteous ask Jesus when did we do this for You?

The people that are truly following Jesus are forgetting or ignoring the social constraints that many of us are living within. The point I take away from the passage is that Jesus may not look or smell like we want him to, but it is Him none the less. And Trevor’s song makes the point that we will miss Jesus if we trust Him to look just like us, to wear the same clothes, or even go to the same school.

The other thing that I take away from this song is that we have to go find Jesus sometimes, now it is true that the people who need Jesus are right around us. But even those people who are physically right next to us we will have to go out of our way, out of our comfort zones to truly touch. Like the story of Mother Teresa, she touched those whom the Indian society thought were untouchable. She went into a place with what was thought to be a highly contagious disease and she loved people.

Everyone of us has a Calcutta that we need to truly see in the world around us, whether it’s the rough neighborhood or if it is just the neighbor we really do not care for. Calcutta’s are all around us. Yes, Jesus would have ridden the subway, because he aimed for the people that people forget. How can we no longer forget or just easily push to the side the people whom society has already marginalized?

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Posted by on May 24, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Transitions

This week has been a pretty cool week around here, we had a great boost to the membership of the church on Sunday morning with our 12 new confirmands joining, and now a part of our youth ministry. But it is a reminder of transitions getting ready to happen, and the almost constant transitions of life.

Here at Mulberry we are getting ready to welcome a new Senior Pastor next month, and say goodbye to our current Senior Pastor as he moves into a new role within the church. But this Sunday made me reflect and think about transition and all that it entails. Many people hate transition or change, while other welcome it with open arms and a sense of excitement.

For me change is not always easy, and the process is almost always difficult and hard. There are many things that impede change, our selves often being one of those things that impedes change.  Humans are creatures of habit, whether be a good or bad thing I will let others decide, but it is a fact.

Sometimes change comes in one catastrophic, cataclysmic event, and other times it takes the time table that feels reminiscent of tectonic plates. One of the things I have found hardest about change is the fact that it is always in God’s time, and his clock often does not match our clock.

How we deal with transition and change shows a great deal about our character, and about our ability to “deal” with life. Especially when the cataclysmic change hits us we reveal a lot about ourselves. For me the hardest change is not the instantaneous, but the tectonic change that takes months or years.  Often that change does not feel like change at all, but more like being stuck in the mud with no way out.

How we deal with change can often define us, how will you and I be defined? How will we embrace the things that God has in store for us so that we may be the best for God? I don’t know about you, but I am in a constant state of striving to live my life ever more fully into the purpose that God has for me. How are you coming along? Frustrated? Fulfilled? Or just fair to middling?

 

What is Ministry?

So this question has plagued me for a long time. Being Seminary educated I was lulled into believing that ministry is a full time, paid position in a church. Even though we read resources that talked much ideas that were very contrary, I had been put into a kind of dream idea about what ministry is.

I don’t have a witty or academic definition for what ministry, but let me tell you a few ideas about what ministry actually is now that I have been in the ministry full time for almost a year.  Here is the most basic idea of ministry it is something that is done for God or for the church, hopefully with other members of the body of Christ.

Luther had an idea about ministry also, it was the Priesthood of All Believers, where all members of the body are to be in ministry in some way.  This obviously doesn’t mean full time paid ministry, it might mean being a part of a ministry group, writing cards to visitors, or helping restock the pews on a random Thursday. There are lots of types of ministries, some of which do not take place within the four walls of the church (GASP…)

Ministry can take place anywhere and at any time, it doesn’t have to be planned, it does not even have to be organized or recognized by the church.  Talking to the person on the street, listening to your friends problems, or doing random acts of kindness are all ministry.  There are no formal committees, no boards to report to, and no budgets to worry about.

In short our lives are to be much more about how we live and love the people around us.  We are in ministry when we truly strive to live like Jesus lived, when we try to love our neighbors as ourselves. The time I take to talk with and pay attention to the lonely older widower who lives on my street, that is ministry.

When I give the quick gift of a smile to someone around me who may feel like the world is crashing down around them, I am in ministry.  There is no one way or style of ministry, there is certainly no set place that ministry has to happen. The thing we have to remember when we try to outsource our ministry to those paid people in the church, is that ministry is not just theirs, it’s all the people of the church. How can we live into ministry in a greater way in the coming days? How can I (and you) truly see our entire lives as a ministry when we give it over to God, and tell Him “do with it what You will?”

 

Music…

I have written about a lot of subjects on this blog, but I don’t think I’ve ever really written about my love of music.  I was and am a musician, I play several different instruments and I also have a passion for leading people in worship.  One thing I do not do, which some people may think different is that I do not limit my musical taste to only Christian music.

I listen to a wide, and I do mean WIDE, variety of music.  From Christian Pop, to Jam Bands, to lots and lots of U2 I enjoy different music.  I occasionally seize on an artist for a while and listen to their music over and over, but I try not to do that too often.  One thing I love is rock music, and one thing I love more about is playing music loud.

I have some friends that listen to exclusively Christian music, and there is nothing wrong with that, but for me I need more diverse options than the music I hear on the local Christian stations.  In general radio is not my favorite because no matter the station they have tendency to play  the same songs on infinite repeat.

I have even been known to get so sick of my music to wish to once again listen to NPR talk radio, which I do quite often. I think music has a beauty and usefulness that crosses so many borders of language and differences between people. Worship music especially helps us to cut across borders that we place for ourselves, and helps our hearts connect to each other in a greater way. There is so much we can say when we sing that we often cannot feel when we speak.

When you hear a person that sings from way down deep inside their souls there is something stirred within us that just cannot be moved any other way.  While I often focus on the technical skill of musicians there are some people that just have a power over an audience, despite any type of technical flaws they may have.  When we worship through music, especially as a group, something powerful happens.  We are all united literally, connected to one thing that is common to us all at that point.

Music is something that I will always love, and especially love making.  When I remember that music is worship, is where my heart goes to God most clearly I know that its power cannot be estimated.  Thank God for music, and especially worship through music.

 
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Posted by on May 3, 2011 in Uncategorized