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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

New Friends

Making new friends, can be very challenging....or on the other hand, can be very interesting.  Since Marcey and I have been married, we have had a couple experiences where we really didn't know very many people that we would call our "friends." 

Our first experience in developing family friends, came shortly after we got married and began attending a church that neither of us had any connections to.  We really enjoyed the church, but most of the people our age weren't married, and those that were a bit older than us and were married, had kids.  Fortunately for us we were able to become friends with a few older couples and eventually we began to meet people our age that were married. 

I find the whole process interesting, because we met people and began relationships with people who would help us through many rough times and a few relationships are stronger than I ever thought possible.

As you can imagine and as I have shared many times before, we moved away from many of those friends and have had to develop some new relationships.

As Marcey and I ventured on a journey of establishing a small group, I could begin to see ways God was working before I even knew.  He created various connections with people that in normal circumstances I wouldn't have had a lot of interaction with.  We again had started building new friendships.

What I find interesting about friendships and relationships is that the more I pursue them and develop them, the stronger I feel connected to Him.  I see things and experience things that had I allowed myself to stay isolated I would have missed out on the gifts, experiences, and lessons God is trying to teach me. 

I find it curious that God designed us to be in relationship with Him and others and slowly but surely our society has been growing to where we are more "connected" than ever before yet we are so isolated from each other.

I find it interesting the circumstances that I have been in and gone through over the last few years and how I can see many of them as key pieces of connection in many of my most recent relationships.

I find it amazing how much God works in our lives and many times we don't even realize or think about how He has been working and believe our life is completely a result of own personal actions.  While our actions do play a part, I know God plays a responsive role to each of them and " God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Offensive

I know the last blog I titled, I'm offended, but today's somewhat goes along with it, and I couldn't think of a better title.

Yesterday, I got to have a 30 minute conversation with a gentleman from work about God.  He mentioned he noticed that I carried my Bible with me to work and was curious as to why and what I was studying.  In the course of conversation he mentioned that he was a Seventh Day Adventist.  He also mentioned that he found it interesting that I would bring my Bible to work, because you don't see many people taking them to church, let alone to the work place.

It was a great conversation.  I didn't know a whole lot about the denomination, and still don't, so I was a little hesitant at times to share my thoughts and beliefs because I didn't want to offend him.  He is an older gentleman, always super nice,  and I don't know how easily he is offended.  However, the thought continually came across my mind.

The more I have thought about it, I begin to wonder if I had offended him with sharing any of my beliefs.  We both shared different thoughts, and seemed to agree on most topics.  Yet, the thought kept coming to my mind.

Then today, I realized I don't have to worry about if I offended him, if I am speaking the truth.  I was speaking in judgement or condemning, but rather just sharing thoughts and views about God and how they compared to what each other believed.  I'm not saying that I should have thrown all caution to the wind, but I should be able to have an open conversation about who God is.

I often wonder how God feels about the fact that we have so many denominations and are split by our views of Him.  Shouldn't followers of Christ be able to co-exist with each other and have open conversations about Him.

Maybe I am just one of those people who have been around enough Christians that say either you believe the same way they do or your going to hell.  To a certain extent, I was one of those people at one time.  On the other hand, as I spend time with my kids, I have had to realize that I have to be a little different with each of them.  They each respond to situations differently.

If God is our Heavenly Father, couldn't it be true that He has to do the same with us?  He knows how He has to interact with us, what is good for us and what isn't, and what we need to thrive.  Who are we to say all Christian's have to believe the exact same thing on every topic.

I am not saying that there is no white and black, but only grey when it comes to God.  I do believe He has certain guidelines that separate life and death.  There are differences that a good friend of mind called "salvation issues."

What if we began looking for the commonalities in what we believe and are open to discussion with our fellow brothers and sisters and work towards rebuilding Christ's church and focused less on "the color of the carpet and how it can cause people to sin."

Anyway, it's just my three cents for the day.  Like I said, it was a great conversation, I just wish I could work through the worry of offending and just enjoy the fellowship.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Accidental Racist

It appears as if this song, Accidental Racist, by Brad Paisley is getting a lot of discussion lately.  While I don't like to always jump on what everyone else is talking about, I thought there were some interesting conversations to be had over the song.

I find it interesting that so many are saying it is a terrible song.  When I listen to it, I can hear a very similar song being sung by so many Christians and often get a similar response from others.  To me, it reminds me of how much we have to apologize for that "Christians" did in the name of Christ and how much we have done as "Christians" in the name of Christ that has really caused more damage than good.  It also reminds me of how important it is to try to line our actions up with what Christ taught now, so that we don't pose hindrances for those in years to come.

I'm sure there is a lot more I could say about it, but I will let you hear it for yourself.

Take time to listen, let me know what you think.  *** Alright the video I originally posted has been removed.  You can find the lryics here.  


Friday, April 5, 2013

Busy-ness the drug

I came across this blog post today and I really enjoyed it.  Partially because it went along with what I was talking about yesterday. 

Is Busy-ness a Drug - Shauna Niequist

Busy is both my drug and my defense. By that I mean that I use busy-ness to make me feel numb and safe, the way you use a drug, and I use busy-ness as a way of explaining all the things I dropped, didn’t do well, couldn’t pull together, as a defense.

And I’m telling you this because I want to stop. I want to drop the drug and the defense, one from each hand, letting them fall with heavy thunks, and I want to live a new way.

Continue Reading here


Thursday, April 4, 2013

When is life too busy?

When is life too busy?  This is often a question I have to ask myself.  Not because I necessarily want to know the answer, but because I remember the ramifications in my life of when I know for a fact I was too busy.

People have different schedules and they are filled in many different ways.  I know one person who works all day and has something going on most nights.  He is lucky if he gets one day a week off.  On the other hand I know another person who works 5 days a week, but does very little outside that.  Personally, I work a 5 day week,  have other things going on 2 nights a week plus various events including church each weekend, all while trying to find quality time with my family. 

When I think about life and how busy we have become as a society, I wonder how much of life we are actually missing, even if we are "busy for the Lord."  I wonder if God desires for us to live a life that is slower paced to where we can enjoy His creations.

Even with not being nearly as busy as I used to be, there are times when I feel like I am missing out on the rest of what God has for us.  We get so busy "doing" that we forget to see Jesus for who He really is. 

A good friend of mine used to bring up the story of Mary, Martha, and Jesus on occasion.  It was always a reminder for me that we can get so busy doing that we miss out on the blessings of Jesus Himself. Take time to read it, it can be an encouragement just to sit before God. 

I read a book a while back called "Simple Church."  It very much intrigued me, because it so much resounded with who I am.  (It also reminded me of Google and Macintosh, so simple it makes sense.)  It spoke of how often our churches get so filled with trying to "do" so many things that not only do people get stretched thin (remember 10% of the church do 90% of the work), but many of the things we do, aren't done well. 

As I think about that concept, I wonder if the same implications are true for ourselves and our families.  Do we try to do so much that we run ourselves thinner than God intended?  Does the quality of what we do suffer because we try to do too much?  Do we continually miss out on the things God has for us, because we are too busy?

I think God would rather each of us do a few things well and become skilled at it, than for us to keep trying to do so many things that we are okay at.  That however, is another post for the future.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

How do you decide?

How does one go about deciding what is important and what is not?  I've spent a lot of time trying to figure it out. I still don't have the answers I want. 

I know that God is supposed to be first and foremost in our lives. I know that we are supposed to live our lives as if everything we have belongs to God. I know we are to be good stewards.  I know we are supposed to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.  I know we are supposed to love our neighbor as ourselves.

 I know the Christ said the last two were the most important of the laws, but what about when it's not so black and white? 

I think about the things in my life that I am very passionate about; music, small groups, my family, etc. I think about how important they are to me and how much time and energy I am willing to invest in them.  On the other hand, I know some who spend very little time investing in their family; don't really care about small groups; and if they happen to be into music don't believe practice is even important.

How does one decide what is important when it comes down to what God has laid on your heart and yet it directly rubs against the grain of someone else.  I know God puts "sand paper" people in our lives to help us to become more of what He wants us to be, but sometimes you can be getting rubbed with very coarse paper rather than the fine.   The coarse keeps wearing you down while the fine would smooth you out.

I trust God and I know He has his plans. I know there will be conflict in life and I know conflict makes us better if we can let God show us how. 

So here is the question again. How does one decide what is important when it feels like God says one thing and life and people around you say something different? 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

I miss it


I have heard many phrases like "the grasses is always greener on the other side, but that's because its AstroTurf" and "you never know what you have until it's gone." I have always fully believed it.  I still do.

For quite some time now, I have limited myself to how much I play guitar.  It's not that I don't like to play, nor is it that I don't want to play, its almost that it hurts to play very much.

A few years ago, I was regularly playing with a group of guys that really taught me how to love worship music. Yes, I know worship music isn't the be-all-end-all of music by any means, but the experience of playing with a group and being able to get lost in the emotion and experience of the situation is something I will never forget.

The guys I played with were great musicians in their own right, but when you put them together something was just right.  For me, I felt like a brand new guitar player getting to play with world class musicians.  They could make just about anyone sound good.  God blessed them.  God used them.  He still does.

However, a couple years ago that all ended for me.  I moved away.  I found a few other musicians to work with, to play with, to create an experience with.  They too were great musicians.  They weren't as experienced in worship music, but there was hope.  That too came to an end with another move.

I have spent well over a year trying to figure out what to do. I miss playing with those guys.  I miss the experience. I miss feeling like I am in the midst of God's presence in music.

I've been told over and over again that if you have the heart of worship you should be able to worship God regardless of the quality, style, or setting.  For some reason, even though I feel like I have a heart for worship I can't.  There is just something about being connected with people in worship that makes it that much more real to me.

Sure I can worship on my own, by myself at my house, but it is still not the same.  God designed us to be in relationship with one another.  I can't imagine that it is any different when it comes to worshiping Him in music.  I think He delights when a group is so in love with Him that they want to do the best they can to express that love through music.

If you were reading my blog last year, you may remember me touching on the subject of playing my guitar and how music was a major part of my life in the past.  However, I have let it go for some time and haven't really said a whole lot about it.  It was almost as if I was distancing myself from it.

Recently, I began to really realize I know a few people that are great musicians.  They love their craft and are dedicated to it.

One of my biggest hesitations with getting back into playing regularly is that I know it takes commitment.  At the first church I mentioned, we had weekly practices, the members were committed and we grew as a group.  After that first move, I became a youth pastor and the musicians I worked with respected me and were eager to play together.  They would practice, try anything, and we grew.  Now, few people even know my love and passion for true worship.

I have a hard time, sometimes, with playing together to just be playing together.  I long for the days when both the relationship and music were important enough to invest time into .  I miss the overwhelming sense of God's presence.  Maybe I am just naive about what worship really is.  Maybe I am longing for something that I will never have again.

I just know I miss it.