Thursday, April 21, 2016

Being "Real"

As a musical worship leader (I play keys, and occasionally sing or play auxiliary percussion) I think a lot about being 'authentic' and what it means to have integrity; that is, to be the same person at all times, and to not be fake with who I am or what I believe.

There is a lot to be said for authenticity --- you shouldn't put on a mask every day to conceal your real self. I do not want to be one person on stage, and a completely different person at all other times. I often feel like I am that way.

However, it's not about doing the same things at all times. It's about who you are, and why you do the things that you do. So, I believe I can lead worship at some times, and talk about dank memes at others, without losing integrity (and if you don't know what dank memes are, don't worry about it).

Paul says in 1st Corinthians 9: "To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law, so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings." 

Paul did not lose integrity by becoming all things to all people. Rather, he did it to build a relationship with them, and then through that relationship he brought them to faith.

One of my favorite bands of late is twenty øne piløts. Now, unlike a lot of their fanbase, I don't have serious struggles with depression or mental illness. Many of their lyrics do relate to those issues, because the creator, Tyler Joseph, has severe struggles with those things.

What drew me in is how consistently real they are. They do not cover up their problems; they do not sing about cheap pleasures, like sex, drugs, or money. They sing about what really matters to them. The other cool thing about them is that they are, indeed, both Christian, but their songs do not in any way require faith to appreciate, and their lyrics can all be interpreted for each individual listener. They have, quite literally, saved lives (just read the comments on their videos to see). They also are real about their spiritual doubts --- they even have a song entitled "Doubt".

One of my favorite verses is from "Ode to Sleep"

And the trees wave their arms and the clouds try to plead,
Desperately yelling there's something we need,
I'm not free, I asked forgiveness three times,
Same amount that I denied, I three-time mvp'ed this crime,
I'm afraid to tell you who I adore, won't tell you who I'm singing towards,
Metaphorically I'm a whore, and that's denial number four.
Now, not all of their lyrics are that loaded with biblical reference (the story of Peter's three denials). But it's a beautiful description of how, even in their intensely real lyrics, they fear showing their true intentions. And indeed, I'm glad they aren't a "Christian" band. If they were, they would not have anywhere near the following they have (probably) and they would not reach the people that they do reach (the depressed, the broken, the doubting).

I love this band, because it's a great example of how they will be what they need to be to reach the broken. They believe, though it may be tenuous at times, but they still relate on an intensely powerful level to their listeners without preaching to them. (Also, the last line of that verse is pretty much the most vulgar they ever get!)

The point is, you do not need to be speaking the Gospel at all times in order to be a Christian with integrity. This does not, by any means, give you license to say whatever you want then claim you are just following Paul's footsteps. However, it should give you the freedom to build relationships with people by doing things that will help you connect with them.

That got a little rambly and twisty, but I hope it makes sense.

Song of the day: Taxi Cab by twenty øne piløts. This deserves a little explanation. It's one of their older songs, when the band looked a little bit different, but there are a lot of Christian themes in the lyrics. I invite you to open up the description of the video where the lyrics are and see if you can find them. I'd love to hear interpretations!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

U r dum

Picture a football field. That football represents every fact you could possibly know

If you were to cover it with how much you know now, how much would you cover? (bascially how much do you think you know)'

If you would use anything more than a grain of sand, you're lying. Really, you couldn't say more than an electron.

This post is about the sheer amount of things there could be to know, and how insanely little us humans can actually know. And to think --- God knows it all.

Let me get you thinking about all the things you do not know:

How many people died on May 14, 1490?
How many tournaments have there been for Call of Duty?
What did Alexander the Great do on his 8th birthday?
How many grains of sand are on Lake Superior's beaches?
What was the name of the 141,582nd person to ever be born?
How many sins did George Washington commit on July 4, 1776?
How many people are praying right now?

Stars, electric guitar, Halo, baseball, atoms, the ocean, Zimbabwe, potatoes, trees, Wi-fi, anatomy, the Mayans, pianos, geography, geology, giraffes...

I could go on for pretty much forever. There are just so many things that we could theoretically know. To consider ourselves anything more than stupid is, well, dumb. Nobody in the universe knows more than .000000000000000000001% of all you could possibly know.

Think of this a different way.

Lets say every person you ever meet knows 1,000 things you don't know (a ridiculously low number). This can range from what they ate for lunch yesterday to the name of every character in their favorite book to facts about WWII.

There are 7 billion people or so. That means you could meet 7 billion people who each know a thousand things (again, a very low estimate) that you don't know. 7,000,000,000 x 1,000 = 7,000,000,000,000.
Willy Wonka - Oh really? Tell me more about how much you think you know

That's 7 trillion things you do not know. And God knows them all.

But amid all that, He still knows you.

Psalm 139: 1-3
You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.

Song of the Day: You Know Me, Bethel Music

Friday, April 15, 2016

Repetition in Worship

This one's going to be quick.

Some people don't like how a lot of modern worship songs are repetitive.

Revelation 4:8

"Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying:
Holy, Holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty who was, and is, and is to come."

That, along with Rev 4:11, gives us a pretty clear example of repetitive worship - for eternity. Of course, rich imagery is also another great aspect of worship, and you see that throughout the Psalms, Hannah's prayer in Samuel, and many other places. There's times for both. But neither should be disregarded as worship, and both can be embraced as a means of praising God.

After all, any truth about God is worth saying more than once!

Song of the Day: Here as in Heaven - Elevation Worship (singing starts at 50 seconds)

Sunday, April 3, 2016

THIS will take 3 SECONDS of your TIME!!

You probably clicked this thinking, "Maybe I'll be able to read this in 3 seconds" because that's what I made it sound like in the title. I also used capitals to denote a false sense of urgency.

Haha, clickbait.

Anyways, I actually would like 3 seconds of your time. Actually, I'd like you to take three seconds of your time.

I'm talking about reactions. This goes back to a post I did nearly two years ago now about the book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People which everyone should read.

Here's my point.

When you're going to react to something, take *at least* three seconds before words exit your mouth hole. Please.

Say someone announces a change in schedule. Before saying, "This ruins EVERYTHING!!" just take three seconds. Think, "Hey, maybe this really won't affect my life much" or "Hey, I can adapt to this easily and move on within 5 seconds so maybe I don't need to say anything".

If someone takes the time to formulate a sentence/idea and toss it in your direction, please, at least take 3 seconds before giving an opinion on that idea. Especially if that idea requires you to change something about yourself or your plans. Most people will naturally react negatively to any change that might be presented, whether that reaction makes any sense or not.

Here's the thing: You are in full control of your reaction. You can control how you feel about a change.

I might get shot for that kind of statement, since people love to (myself included) blame their circumstances for their actions/reactions. Don't believe me? Well, come out from under that rock.

This is extremely clear politically. Left-wingers tend to blame rich people for ruining everything, and any problems created by lower class people are caused by the environment they grew up in. Right-wingers tend to blame the government for creating their problems, or ISIS or whatever.


The actions of rich people don't *force* you to take out loans that weren't worth it. The government isn't trying to restrict your rights by taking away guns, they're trying to keep people *safe*.

Now, these are big issues I'm talking about, but this is extremely applicable to every day life. What this all boils down to is patience.

And if you want to really go crazy with it, take 5 seconds. When someone is done speaking, just pause. Process what you heard. Make sure you understand what just happened before words flow out of your face.

I'm not great at this, but it's something everyone can work on.

Song of the Day: We Wait for You (Shekinah Glory) - Cory Asbury (?)