Saturday, January 31, 2009

faith and force power

In the book of Judges we meet Gideon. His story is one of my favorite Bible stories because of the whole battle aspect of it all. Anytime a Bible character can kill like 30,000 men... it's pretty cool.A popular part of Gideon's story is the whole "throw out the fleece" thing. Gideon wasn't sure if it was really God asking him to kill the Midianites, so he tested God twice with the fleece.

I'm preparing to speak at a Disciple Now about faith, so this week I've been reading a lot scripture dealing with the idea of faith. When Jesus is talking to the disciples at one point he tells them that with the faith of a mustardseed they could move mountains.

As I was sitting at my desk reading that, I decided I would try it... but on a smaller scale. There's this little hole in my desk that my dad drilled so we could run a bunch of different cords from the outlet underneath the desk to the top of the desk... anyway, there's a hole in my desk. Also on my desk is this big bouncy ball that fits nicely into the hole so that it can sit in the hole without falling through to the floor... following? (I'll probably get in trouble for writing this part, but I feel a little awkward talking about holes and things fitting nicely into them.. maybe that's the teenager in me... or maybe that's the guy in me, I'm not really sure.)

So I decided I would throw out a fleece of my own. I sat the bouncy ball right on the edge of the hole in my desk, and asked God to move the bouncy ball into the hole. I prayed very spiritually and intently for about 5 minutes... and nothing happened. I have absolute faith that God CAN move the bouncy ball if he chooses, but I lacked faith the entire time that he would actually do it, because honestly it doesn't seem like God ever does anything like that anymore.

In the Bible we see God actually doing crazy things like that for people, but to be honest I've never actually had anything like that happen to me. I understand that now we have the Holy Spirit and things are a little different spiritually than in Gideon's day, but I kind of feel like God should pass some of that power along to the Holy Spirit. (Sorry if I'm completely misunderstanding the Trinity, I haven't had any formal Biblical training yet..)

My dad blogs a lot about my blog, but this time I'm going to mention his.
In this post he talks about understanding how our opportunities and experiences relate to our faith... or something like that.

Anyway, here's my question I guess: What kind of faith is needed to move stuff? Do you have to have faith that God is capable, or that he's actually going to respond in the individual situation? I just need to know because to be honest I feel like this whole faith thing can potentially give me the equivalence of force powers.. and that would make me a lot more like Luke Skywalker than I currently am, and probably a lot more like Jesus too, considering he obviously had the power of moving mountains down and Luke struggled to move the rocks correctly on Degobah.

Alright, this had completely pure intentions when I started, and now it's turned into a relation of faith to star wars.. not sure how that happened, but the intent of this was actually pretty serious and genuine... originally.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

music and church

There's huge discussion in church world about the purpose of music in worship. Obviously denominations feel differently about it, but even churches within the same denomination have tons of differences and opinions. I've always been taught that music's purpose was to help lead others in worship, but that doesn't really explain how to go about using music to do that.

An argument that often comes up is how to get the congregation to sing during the songs. The thought there is that if people are singing then that reflects their heart's desire to worship, which I think can be very true. I've always based how much a person is worshiping by how much they are getting into a song, because for me that is a pretty good way to tell if I'm worshiping. Obviously though any worship leader/churched person would tell you that "it's all about what's going on inside of the person's heart... " That is made clear by 1 Samuel 16:7.

Intertwined with that argument, however, is the battle between music being played as a "worship song" and as a "performance". There's often lots of criticism towards performance based music. I think the reasoning there is very good- if a band is simply playing music to perform then they aren't attempting to lead the audience in worship.

I still agree with that perspective to an extent, but tonight I've started to reconsider that whole ideology. I had an extremely close friend of mine tell me today that the most uncomfortable situations for her are those where she is at a worship service. This was a huge shock to me, because this is a friend who absolutely does not get put in awkward situations. She is absolutely incredible about not being socially awkward... ever! I admire her so much for that because I'm one of the most socially awkward persons there is! Anyway, she said that she always feels so uncomfortable whenever there's words on a screen and a leader at the front wanting people to get excited, clap their hands, sing, lift their hands... pretty much anything a Contemporary worship leader would be doing at a worship gathering in today's church world.

Now I'm not saying that this one girl's perspective should completely revamp the way we approach worship environments from now on, but I do think it's something to consider. To be completely honest I'd never even thought about someone feeling out of place in a worship service, especially since our services are designed to make people feel welcome.

She finished by telling me that if she could just sit and listen to music and not be expected to sing that she wouldn't feel as out of place. That mindset contradicts some of the worship perspectives mentioned earlier, but if the goal is to reach nonchurched people, then maybe our churched way of viewing worship might have to change..

One final thought, when people attend a concert there is no pressure to sing, yet people walk away appreciating the music and getting into the songs. Is it possible for people to connect with God without there ever being any direction given from a leader? Can songs themselves lead people to the heart of God? And if so, then maybe that's a direction the church should take worship, because the ultimate goal is to enable people to connect with God. All just thoughts... and I'm not discounting worship leaders at all.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

crumb flavored doughnuts

Last Sunday I was in a gas station to get a snack. As usual I got a Root Beer, but the food substance is always up for grabs. Debating between Shock Tarts and Doughnuts, I began to scan through the doughnut flavors. There were the usual chocolate and powdered sugar flavors, but then I saw a flavor I'd never seen before... it was called Crumb.

Now I'm not an expert on much of anything, but one thing I know is that "crumb" is not a flavor. It could possibly be considered a description of a snack, but not the flavor of a snack. There are some flavors that can be descriptions and flavors, such as Orange, but crumb is not one of those. Crumb I'm not sure can even be a description of a snack though, because crumb is a noun not an adjective. A crumb is like the decomposition phase of a snack. After the snack has fulfilled its purpose, lived its life, been eaten, it leaves behind its remains. The bottom line is that crumb, regardless of whether or not it could be considered a description, CANNOT be considered a flavor. There are tons of flavors that leave behind crumbs, so it's practically impossible to trace crumbs in general back to a single flavor.

Keeping all of that in mind, now think about the decision I was faced with when it came time for me to pick my snack for the day. Despite how absurd it is for the doughnut company to think that they can name one of their products "crumb", I decided to give them a chance. I asked the cash register lady if she knew what the crumb flavor was, and she wasn't interested in participating in the conversation. Anyway, all that to say, the crumb flavored doughnuts (and I use the word flavored lightly) were actually very good. I'll most definitely be getting them again.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

the second semester begins

I began my final semester of high school this morning. Typically during the second semester you just continue the same schedule you had during the first semester, but apparently that's not what guidance intended for me to do today. I got to my 1st period class and the teacher told me I wasn't on his roll. He said it wasn't a big deal and that he was sure "they" would work everything out, so I didn't think anything of it.

I continued through my day until I got to 3rd period Government class. As he called roll I noticed that he went through the E's alphabetically without saying my name, so I obviously raised my hand at the end and told him that he didn't call my name. He then proceeded to tell me that I was on his 1st period roll, and that I should be aiding for the library during 3rd period. I must say, it's kind of embarrassing to be in a class of 30 kids and then be asked to leave.

So somehow or another I'm now sitting in the library, and let's be honest... it's pretty exciting. The whole dewy decimal thing is a little over exaggerated I think, but other than that everything seems to be functioning pretty well in the library world.

The good news is in my normal schedule that I was following today, I have aiding 2nd period. So now that I'm in the library 3rd period I've gotten to experience life with two whole hours of doing nothing in school. It's actually pretty awesome. I'm wondering if I had not gone to guidance to correct this whole problem if they would have ever even noticed that I was missing. I mean I could have just continued to slip through the cracks of the school system for the entire second semester with two aiding periods and very little work.

Oh well.

Friday, January 2, 2009

the world spins madly on

There's a song called World Spins Madly On by the Weepies that has really made me think. I've really struggled the past couple of days to find the motivation to do things that really need to be done. There's so much stuff I'm responsible for these next few months that only I can do, and for some reason I can't seem to convince myself that the stuff actually matters.

There's a line in the song that says, "I watch the stars from my window seal, the whole world is moving, but I'm standing still." The whole point of the song is that regardless of what happens, the world is still moving forward. The reality of that really kind of shocks me. I mean I can try so hard to do so many things, but at the end of the day the world is going to go on regardless of how successful or unsuccessful I've been. How many 17 year olds have there been throughout history who have had the same desire I have to make a difference, but simply lost passion and as a result we've never heard of them or their story. Yet the world is still functioning today despite the fact that a potential world-changer never took his chance or contributed to society in any way.

The whole world is looking for contributors. Even the Christian world. I got an email just a couple of days ago that has potential to be a huge connection for me down the road. While I was so excited when I first read it, now I'm a little skeptical at the whole system we live in. There's this new Christian networking movement that is sweeping across the nation with the idea that if you can make the right connections you can put yourself in a better position to do ministry later on in life or something. Honestly the fact that I blog is probably because of that idea, but why is it even worth it? If the church in America, me included, really wanted to make a difference "for the Kingdom", wouldn't we just work harder to invest in the community we're in, rather than blogging and trying to know the right people?

These are all thoughts and not necessarily what I believe at all, but right now I feel like the bottom line is that the world needs an X number of people to make the world function, and the rest of us are just filling gaps in society or something. Whether we try and make an impact on the world is irrelevant, because ultimately the world is just going to move on without us. I guess the only thing we can hope for is Jesus being who he says he is, because otherwise we're wasting our time. The world doesn't care about individuals, the world cares about contributors.