Weird Worship Wednesday: Dreamgirl’s Move

dreamgirlsLast week, I confessed. Sometimes I find worship music in some unlikely places.

I was on my way home from a business trip. I’ll never forget it. Though the trip had been primarily about work, I had found some time to introspect and meditate on some ‘snags’ that I have fought to free myself from for years. As I was praying through some of my new found enlightenment, this song came on my iPod. I threw it on repeat and listened to it all the way home – a two-hour flight.

Sometimes we carry weight that isn’t ours to hold. And it can be as simple as telling it to move on. (Matthew 11.30, Matthew 17.20).

I listen to this song at least once a week to remind me – those issues, hang-ups, and inner-voice tracks I continually listen to – they don’t belong here anymore. And I worship. Thank you Jennifer. Thank you Jesus.

Weird Worship Wednesday: Taylor Swift’s 22

Music.  It just speaks my language.  It doesn’t matter if it’s good, bad, genre-specific, or disdained by the rest of the world.

It always has.  I’m a child of the 80’s – music was a secret code.  And we lived and died by lyrics we couldn’t even sing because they were unintelligible.

Because of that – and the fact that I’m just weird – I find worship in some weird places.  So I’m starting a new Wednesday blog series until I run out of music or something shinier catches my attention.  It’s the first of some…weird worship Wednesday.  Welcome to my world.

I decided to post this one first because I knew how much my boys would despise that I even have this on my iPod.  It’s OK – I can take the scrutiny of my peers AND my children.

I’ve been following Jesus for a long time…long before I turned 22. And every time I hear these lyrics, my heart is overwhelmed with His story of youth ministry and marriage and the long obedience in the same direction that a faith walk usually is. Think about it:

“Everything will be alright if You keep me next to You.” This life. Ugh. There are days when it just feels heavy. Truth be told – sometimes God is so silent, I wonder if He’s stopped speaking to me. But even on those hard days, as long as Jesus is hanging on to me (and more importantly, I’m hanging on to Him), I’m alright. He has me right next to Him – like a Dad crossing the street with His toddler. I have to remember not to wrench myself free from His grasp.

“You look like bad news. I gotta have You.” Choosing to follow Jesus with abandon means completely giving up control over my destiny. That’s a rough day for a control freak – and sometimes it makes the faith walk not the most pleasant trip I’ve ever been on. Some days, that makes Jesus seem like bad news. On more than one occasion, I’ve wanted to pick up my toys and go home. But I just can’t. I’m inexplicably drawn – and even though some of my days are filled with harsh realities – I gotta have Him.”

“It feels like one of those nights – we ditch the whole scene and end up dreamin’ instead of sleepin'” Oh, how I love this line!! One of the most profound joys I have is dreaming about youth ministry with Katie. After 26 years of doing ministry, there have been moments where I was on auto-pilot…getting done what I could do because I knew how to do it. But the BEST times have been stepping outside that realm of ‘ministry sleep’ and dreaming all the ways God could reach His hand into the families we meet!! I still love that part! It’s when the hand of God is most ‘real’ to me.

“Everything will be alright if we just keep dancing like we’re 22.” Twenty-two. I had just married my best friend in this whole world after four long years of chasing her down. We moved cross country with a U-Haul and first month’s rent – no jobs, no emergency fund, no family…no safety net of any kind. We were living on love and faith…and it was decidedly terrifying and terrific. But life started moving and we somehow became distracted by all the things in our peripheral vision. Our strongest, most solid days as a family, have always come when we kept dancing like we were 22. This journey is a faith journey – and most of the steps we take are along a path where the future is unclear. Sometimes, even the next step is a hazy one. And it’s always OK – because though the steps can seem unclear, the future is never uncertain.

“You don’t know about me – but I bet you wanted to.” OK….maybe not. I told you…weird worship Wednesday. Wait ’til next week. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Thanks, Taylor…for pointing me to Jesus in some weird way.

Don’t Worship Your Seniors

graduation-landingSenior Sunday is just around the corner.  And with it, all the pomp and circumstance.  Honoring and recognizing the seniors is a nice sentiment – and we have always done it in our ministry.  But sometimes we cross the line with our graduates….in my humble, but accurate opinion.

When we focus as much or more attention on our seniors than we do on Jesus, we’ve crossed over into ‘senior worship.’  And here’s a news flash – that doesn’t just happen on Senior Recognition Sunday.  If you reserve the best bus spots for seniors, you’ve crossed a line.  If your seniors’ continual complaints about 7th graders have caused you to re-work your entire ministry, you may be in danger of putting them higher on the list than they should be.  If your senior Sunday festivities include kids walking in to “Majesty”, decked in their grad gear and waving to their subjects…you’ve definitely gone too far.

Honor the seniors – absolutely – they’ve come a long way, baby.  But do it in a way that puts the focus on Jesus, not on them.  Otherwise, you may be missing the depth of this verse in Luke 14.

When Jesus noticed that all who had come to the dinner were trying to sit in the seats of honor near the head of the table, he gave them this advice:  “When you are invited to a wedding feast, don’t sit in the seat of honor. What if someone who is more distinguished than you has also been invited?  The host will come and say, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then you will be embarrassed, and you will have to take whatever seat is left at the foot of the table!  “Instead, take the lowest place at the foot of the table. Then when your host sees you, he will come and say, ‘Friend, we have a better place for you!’ Then you will be honored in front of all the other guests.  For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”  (emphasis mine)

Tomorrow, we’ll bring you some tips on honoring those seniors well!

Real Stories from SYMC #2

Jesus.*

Surely you knew the Sunday school story was coming?!  Seriously – from The Shelter to the speakers, the peer panels to the prayer room, the sack chairs to the sound stage – Jesus is present.  He awaits your arrival with baited breath.  He prays for you – comforts you – holds you up.  He brings times of refreshing in the desert and rejoices over you with singing (and possibly turntables).  He’s the burning bush – the thundering bass – the still, small voice.  He is in your hotel room, the ball room, and the rooms you think no one knows about.  Thankfully, He is omni-present – so even if you don’t make it to SYMC this year…Jesus knows where you are and meets you there.

We’d love for you to meet Him here!  You still have a day to drive.  Go get in the car.  Jesus is standing at the window watching for you.  You don’t need Facebook, Twitter, or even a conference to connect with Christ…simply a heart willing will do.

*Artwork by Art Vader at http://hypnotizedmonkey.org/OsborneGallery/Art_Vader.html – This guy has Darren’s favorite depictions of Jesus ever!!