Archive for March, 2010
When it comes to kids, there are certain constants – dirty diapers, middle of the night feedings, etc. One of those constants, doctor visits, struck us on Friday and taught me another lesson:
SOMETIMES, YOU’VE GOTTA TRUST YOUR GUT
You see, Lucy hadn’t been feeling well for a couple of weeks. Maybe it was allergies or a cold, but whatever the reason, she was congested, sneezing, coughing, and generally not feeling well. We discussed it with the doctor a couple of weeks ago and he told us to spray saline into her nose and to use what I affectionately call “The Sucker” to suck out all the juicy stuff, which we did. But something told us that there was more than just some nasal congestion.
As Lucy’s cough got worse, we became more and more convinced that there was something more than just a cold. When she began sleeping less and eating less, we decided to take her back to the doctor. So, on Friday, Melody took her in and guess what? Double ear infections!
Now, a few days and several doses of Amoxicillin later, Lucy is almost completely back to her old self. At the same time, Melody and I are emboldened as parents. We know our little girl and we know when there’s something wrong with her.
As I consider this fact, the pastor in me wants to say “And God knows us, even better than we know ourselves”. That’s true, but I think there’s another lesson here. It is this: For people who are actually following Jesus – people who are devoted to a relationship with God – it’s OK to just trust your gut sometimes. In other words, if you know God, stop waiting around for him to tell you what to do and, instead, follow your gut (heart, spirit, or whatever you choose to call it) and do the thing you know you should do.
Fear of the unknown can be paralyzing, especially when it comes to God. For people who view God as a stern disciplinarian, not knowing exactly what he wants you do to can freeze you in your tracks. Even people who know God as one full of grace and mercy can become like statues when faced with a decision. But the bottom line is that if we are in a relationship with him, then we already know a lot about him and about the kinds of decisions he would make.
Sometimes, we just have to trust our gut and move forward. If he wants us to do something else, he’ll certainly let us know.
This talk from the Web 2.0 Expo in 2008 may be the greatest motivational talk ever. Mom (and others) I apologize for his salty language, but Gary Vaynerchuck is a passionate guy. The funny thing is, I think he’s almost right. Almost. Here’s a guy who has (almost) figured it out. You take the thing you’re passionate about, add absolute determination and hard work, and you find yourself doing something significant.
But here’s why I say he’s almost right. Because the thing that he’s passionate about is boring compared to what I’m passionate about. His hard work is wholly unrewarding compared to my hard work. The significance of his legacy is not nearly as great as he thinks it is. Why? Because Gary Vaynerchuck still thinks it’s about him and about us.
But here’s the thing, I think every church planter and pastor needs to see this video. Everyone who has ever felt like God was asking them to do something and giving them a passion for it needs to watch this. Every missionary, human rights activist and college student determined to change the world needs to listen to the words Gary is speaking.
Why? Because he has tapped into something fundamental in the human soul. What he has stumbled upon is the thing that God has placed inside of us that allows us to do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” He has found an echo of the voice of God inside of us.
Take his words and apply them not just to the thing your passionate about, but the thing that God has made you passionate about. “Hustle” at the things that God puts in front of you. You want significance in your legacy? Work for the only One who was here long before you and will be here long after you. The passion that Gary exhibits in this talk should be reserved not for Web 2.0, but for a king – for The King.
If we can become as passionate about Jesus as Gary is about wine, web and whatever else, we can absolutely change the world. Jesus isn’t about Web 2.0. That’s WAY too boring for him. What he’s up to is World 2.0. And we’ve been invited to be on his team of initial investors. Let’s sign up and take the plunge!
Todd Hunter has tithed for 32 years and says it never really impacted his life. In this interview from RecycleYourFaith.com, Todd kind of calls himself out for it. I think it has far reaching implications for how we think about giving in the church.
I like the honesty from Todd on this subject and I like that he is “thinking it through.” I believe there is a danger, however, in looking at things like tithing or worship or generosity and saying, “How has this impacted my life?” In other words, “What did I get out of this thing?” We begin to dig ourselves into a deep hole when we start to look at our relationship with God as a transaction – I give God 10% and he gives me ________ or I volunteer X amount of hours at church every week and God gives me ________. I agree with Todd’s conclusion that there is a fundamental generosity that is being taught in scripture and I don’t believe that Todd is viewing his tithe as some sort of transaction with God. I just think there is danger that a phrase like “How has this impacted my life?” could lead some people down the wrong rabbit trail.
In fact, I think a better question to ask is, “How has my giving impacted others?” If you can’t answer that question, then perhaps you need to dig a little deeper. I look at my church giving over the years and I can see how it has impacted other people – through ministry to people from many walks of life, through outreach to the community and help for people in need, through the building of a community that helps to carry the heavy load of tragedy and that celebrates together in times of joy. Outside of giving to the church, I’ve seen how others benefit from other forms of giving (whether monetary or otherwise) and how a small thing can make a huge impact on a person’s life.
Ultimately though, Todd and I agree. We should be giving generously, gladly and eagerly. We should give in anticipation of the good that will come from that gift. And, I’ll add, we should give to God knowing that he first gave to us and that he has a better plan for our money than we do. That’s a lesson I’ve learned over and over and continue to learn.
Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
2 Corinthians 9:7
Have you ever had a friend hand you a CD and say something like, “Hey, check this out. This is my son’s band. They are going to be HUGE!” Such was my conversation nearly 10 years ago with Randy McCoy, the father of Autumn In Repair drummer Brandon McCoy. The band he was referring to was a group of high school friends called Three Way Stop. The CD, though rough and musically immature, gave me a glimpse into the potential of this band – specifically the songwriting and vocal potential of frontman Steve Jones. I remember thinking “I don’t know about HUGE, but there’s talent here. If these guys want to and are willing to put in the work, I think they can do something.”
Fast forward to 2010 and the elder McCoy is still advocating for “his boy”. Some of the players have changed, but the core duo of Brandon McCoy and Steve Jones have continued honing their sound since those high school days. The result is a new band called Autumn In Repair. A few years ago, I had the privilege of producing an indie EP for these guys and was exposed to some of the songwriting prowess of not only Jones, but McCoy as well. Though the two seem to approach songwriting from very different perspectives (and each is good in his own right) the combination of the two is where this band shines.
In their self-titled debut (Varietal Records), the Kansas City group presents a kind of Our Lady Peace meets Wilco meets Coldplay vibe that is all at once entertaining, thought provoking and worshipful. The album opens with an acoustic guitar and Jones’ raspy vocal on “Freedom Doxology” before exploding in anthemic shouts of “Let freedom ring out here!”
What follows is a collection of some of Jones’ solo writing efforts and some outside material, all worthy of multiple listens. The catchy “Sing Holy” is a solid worship song that I’m sure will make its way into many set lists over the coming months, while songs like “Draw Me” and “Great Is Your Love” are more suited for listening than they are for congregational singing.
The real gems of the album, however, come in tracks 9, 10 & 11. While most albums are front-loaded with the best material (and perhaps this one is sequenced with song accessibility in mind) this record saves some of the most interesting and moving tunes for the end. All three of the final tracks are co-written by Jones and McCoy.
At the intersection of Plain White T’s and Delirious stands “Desire”, a song that seems to be heavily influenced by the band’s friendship with label-mate Jeremy Riddle (McCoy is Riddle’s drummer and Jones credits Riddle for helping to refine the songs on the project). This song teeters between intimate conversation and bold declaration, with lyrics like “Oh, to live in deep obedience and for Your words to be my own,” followed by shouts of “This is my desire!”
On the heals of “Desire” comes “Rest Your Head”, an emotionally-charged ballad that has Jones singing “Don’t be worried, rest your head” like his life depended on it. Upon first listen, I was moved nearly to tears on a day that I was not in a particularly emotional mood. The final refrain promises the listener that “Your soul will find its way back home,” a lifeline for those who feel adrift in this crazy world.
The final track, “Seeds” is simple in its structure and production, but almost feels like a “To be continued…” tag at the end of a great movie. Here’s to hoping that this journey will be continued for Autumn In Repair and that they find room for more Jones/McCoy co-writes on the next album.
Have you ever stared at a blank wall for what seems like forever, engulfed at its incredible complexity and beauty? Yeah, me either. My little girl, however, does it all the time. Evidently, there’s something I need to learn from Lucy about…
THE WONDER IN THE WORLD
Tiny fingers gripping and releasing a pink blanket. The single thread running through the ribbon that attaches her pacifier to her shirt. And yes, a solid orange wall in her nursery. For Lucy, all of these things represent a world of wonder and amazement. In her 4 month old mind, everything is new, fresh and exciting. Even the most mundane things, like a light bulb or a couple of toes, provide endless entertainment and fascination for this little one. Every reflection, movement or noise is a new amusement and every object a new world to explore.
For me, these are the things I walk past every day – the things I kick aside on my way to more important things. These are the things I take for granted. And while it may not be a big deal if I walk past a wooden block without a notice, I suspect that there is an endless list of things I should notice and that I should be in wonder of, but that I’m too busy to pay attention to.
On that list is a conversation with someone who is giving me every indication that they are hurting, but I am looking past them and just waiting for the conversation to come to an end. On that list are the countless numbers of ways God has blessed my life (I tend to ignore the ones that don’t involve money). On that list is the incredible complexity and beauty of nature – something I have long failed to spend enough time admiring. In short, that list is long.
But Lucy has taught me something about the mundane. She has taught me that we can find beauty, amusement, information and wonder in those things that we typically walk past or gloss over. She has taught me that I need to slow down, examine things and appreciate their intricacies. I need to stare at things on occasion. I need to question, to gaze and to be amazed. Thanks for the lesson, Lucy!
Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.