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Welcome! The primary purpose of this blog is to explore and encourage around what it means to be winsome and sent into the world for God's glory. If you are new here, the definition of "lighthouse-searchlight" or our missional journey is a good place to start. Come peruse the blog and add me to your RSS feed!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

facedown, pt. 2

Encouraged by some responses to the "Facedown" post, I'd like to press a little further in two ways.

The first has to do with musicians and worship. I feel free to write this because 1) I am a lifelong musician; and 2) the music director I work with agrees and understands this 100% and has helped diagnose the challenge. I believe one of the biggest challenges facing church musicians (and church music) is the reality that nearly all serious musicians train from an early age to be performers. I was one of them. I started playing piano when I was five, started classical training at 7, and continued that formal training until I was 22. Yes, I studied the art and the theory and the interpretation, but it always ended with recitals and public performance with me taking a bow. And it's not limited to formal training. I started writing and recording music (and playing in band) in 9th grade, and that has continued in various forms until today. We were either looking for places to play for an audience or submitting our recordings to record companies to "hit it big." In some variation, that is the background of many musicians, including church musicians.

So, what does that mean when we bring someone who has been performing organ recitals for 16 years in to be our organist? What does it mean when we bring a 20 yr. old guitarist in to lead our praise band? Do you see the problem? And the solution isn't as easy as saying, "Play for the Lord." Musicians - and I - are nearly hard-wired for performance.

Secondly, for all we smug, spiritual pastors nodding knowingly about the musicians we work with, we face the same reality, but it's ever so more subtle. Again, I point the finger first at myself. Is not the pulpit our instrument? Do we not go to seminary and train in public speaking? (At least I did.) How do you use gestures and intonation and pitch to best communicate the text? How easy it is for the focus to move off the text and onto me! And then there's all the stuff from the first Facedown post. What is a "successful pastor?" Do I run the church well? Do I have good business sense? Do I visit often enough? Do I entertain from the pulpit? Is the church growing in numbers and budget? Will I one day become a "tall steeple pastor?"

In addition to the training I've described above, I was also raised to be a go-getter, 110%, smart, successful person. I've competed all my life - in school, sports, and anywhere else I can.

Yet I am convicted that good pastors (and good musicians) must deflect attention away from self and onto Christ. We point away from ourselves perhaps only after we have experienced godly brokenness, humility, and dependence. That's Jesus' model for ministry, but boy doesn't that sound weak?

Friday, November 16, 2007

sermon blog

I apologize for not blogging in a while (especially after Hans was so kind to link to me twice at presbyweb!). I have been trying to set up a sermon blog in my free work-on-the-blog time... and particularly trying to add streaming and downloadable audio to the sermon site.

I'm still pondering the best layout, but I did find a free host for as much audio as I want to publish at last.fm. It treats my sermons as original tracks for a band album and allows high quality uploading. It even partners with amazon.com to "sell" this content, though I am pricing the sermons as 'free' and they have yet to appear on amazon. (maybe because they are free?)

I realized that few people may listen when the text is right there on the screen (though I do think the 'live' version is better than the draft manuscript, which is what gets printed). I may re-arrange and have an audio index table separate from the manuscripts. Anyway... I'm just excited to have an easy (and free!) way to stream the audio.

I'll try to get more posts up here soon.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

facedown


While traveling this past week, I listened to a recorded sermon called "Ten Shekels and a Shirt" by Paris Reidhead (mp3 and text). One part that especially stood out to me was an exchange with a Chinese Christian who had visited America. Someone at home asked the man, "What impressed you most about America?" The man replied, "The great things Americans can accomplish without God."

It was this same week that I read of Bill Hybel's repentance over Willow Creek's ministry approach and his desire to confess, repent, and redirect as God would lead them. And this, arguably the most "successful" of American churches! What will Willow look like more fully in God's strength?!

I've got just enough drive, determination, and talent to be dangerous. If I keep my nose to the grindstone and pour myself into ministry, it looks pretty good by any worldy (or even "Christian") standard. I am enthusiastic about Good Shepherd and what is going on here. But I have also been aware of a kind of "ceiling" in terms of energy, blessing, multiplication, etc... This recognition has been rolling around in my heart for some time now, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it until I heard "10 Shekels".

I don't think Good Shepherd is "without God," but I do think we are doing a lot on our own steam, talents, energy, etc... And I think God would have me and throw myself wholly into His arms... and lead the congregation in doing so. What is missing? It is not creativity, drive, organization, volunteers, programs, or even solid teaching. But what is missing is me prostrating myself before the Lord of the Church and recognizing that unless the Lord builds it - every single brick of it - I labor in vain. What is missing is my utter dependence on the strength of the Lord shining through my weakness. And if I wonder about the congregation discovering this reality, it needs to start first with me.

Why put this in a blog? I have shared this with the church in the newsletter, in sermons, in conversation, and want to share it on the blog that others might be convicted and encouraged... and to hold me accountable. Any of you who know me (and even those who don't) - ask me how I'm doing. Will I move forward, as Matt Redman sings, facedown before the Lord?

Let it be so.

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