Monday, September 12, 2011

NOJ = Not Over Joyed

I'm not a mother, obviously. Nor am I a parent, but I am a son ... and I know that look, tone and disfigurement that MY mom used to get when I was irritating the mess out of her. That "I swear if you keep pushing I'm going to straight up bite you in half" kinda look.
I think I might have spotted that look about 1000 times this past weekend.
No I wasn't trapped on an island with my mother, I was at Night Of Joy. The disfigured faces, with the scowl and crooked finger, weren't donning the wicked witch outfits either ... they were employees ... disfigured from the thousands of tyrant like youth groups ... and I don't blame them ... I might have worn the mask that night a few times myself.

My wife and I were in line, surrounded by teens and their leaders. We know from past experiences what to expect on the NOJ nights ... so we weren't surprised. Like a pack of hybrid banshee parrots, they square off. One youth group against another, their love for "Jesus" and then throwing the challenge back "how about you?!" ... and then the random yelling of something that solidified that they were some sort of parrot hybrid ... "Hello!! ... HELLO!!". Then, as if on queue, the pushing started. Some of the older, more mature youth decided the line wasn't moving at the pace they were used to. Needless to say ... I put that mask on. As we approached the cast member in charge of placing us in our designated areas ... I could tell he was wearing the mask ... the cast member who instructed us on how NOT to ride the ride ... wore the mask as well ... Even the cast member who really just pushed the button to start the ride ... you guessed it ... masked

I knew this would happen ...
It happens every year (that I know of).
The forcefully rude and belligerent hybrid banshee/parrots have ruined Night Of Joy

But should I take this rant to focus on the undisciplined, out-of-control pubescent miniature adults? ...... or their leaders?

By the end of the last NOJ night, Tobymac was on stage singing about "Greater things are yet to come, greater things are still to be done in this city" and all that was running through my already embarrassed, fully frustrated mind is ... "'Frustrate them like Jesus' might be the slogan for next year"

Now let me clarify. This animosity isn't directed at the hordes of rambunctious kids, I was one ... I know how it is.
It's directed towards their leaders.

It feels as if, in the last few years, "Leadership" and "Christianity" have interwoven themselves ... Even though I don't think they should (which is a blog in and of itself) nonetheless it needs to be recognized. If in this trend of "building better leaders", we should see better leaders.
Forgive me if I'm folding bad leaders in with great leaders but, I did not see 1 real good leader of the said "rambunctious kids" at NOJ.
From Space Mountain to The Haunted Mansion, you couldn't escape that "scowled" face from the "Most Magical of Employees" ... They were literally screaming at kids to "Stay in their seats, Keep your hands in the boat, please don't throw things, no yelling in line please" ...

Where are their leaders?
Setting an example for them, showing them discipline, exuding a Christ-like respect and servant attitude to those who are SERVING THEM?

To put it bluntly, I don't think Paul when saying "I become all things to all people, that I might win some" was giving leaders permission to "become like rambunctious, disrespectful youth groupers that you might win some" ... because I'm sure based on whatever I saw at NOJ, you didn't win any ... if anything you irritated them into the opposite direction.

Bottom line is this.
Leaders, step up and take care of your youth group.
Parents, don't expect your leaders to carry all the weight.
Take care of the testimony you carry.
Take care of those who are serving you.

Keep in mind that even though it's expected at the "Christian Night"
That thousands of hybrid banshee parrots are attending and will likely be ... well ... you know.
It doesn't need to go without good leadership.

Until Next Time,

Friday, September 9, 2011

Top 5 Post-Summer Songs

I was debating doing a blog like this, but I really like music and love to share it even more.
If you asked my wife about my music selections, she might use words like "erratic" "anarchical" ... which I don't mind.
So forgive me if the styles jumble like a bag of Chex Mix ...

Alright, song #5 I was flipping through a friends Spotify playlist when I saw this band. Cute name, I thought ... the song was hooky, interesting, pop but just enough off center to make me love it
Foster The People - Pumped Up Kicks

Moving on to #4!
When I first listened through the song, I had to fight not to think ... "Did Switchfoot just rip of Lenny Kravitz?" But this song grew and grew on my critical musical mind. "I been to hell and back again" caught me ... I thought ... oh yeah, this is going to be good ... and I was right.
Switchfoot - Dark Horses

So that brings us to the hump of the list, song #3
This song was actually a bit of a surprise for me ... Don't get me wrong, I have an soft spot in my heart for bands like Two Door Cinema Club, MGMT, Bat For Lashes, M83, Caribou ... but I hadn't really ever heard of Strange Talk, but again thanks to Spotify ... I have now added it my fav's
Strange Talk - Climbing Walls

Song #2 is relatively easy ... HUGE NTB fan.
I think it's safe to say I have what some people might call a "man crush" on the boys ... but nonetheless ... from the "Soon To Melt Your Face Off" album "The Reckoning" enjoy :)
Needtobreathe - Drive All Night

This is where the difficulty set in ...
Since before "Parachutes" I've loved me some Coldplay ... So when I heard "Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall" ... I leaked a little ... it was so good ... but so was "Major Minus" (another song an a small EP) ... there was one difficult decision. There was yet another one in the wings. Mat Kearney dropped a new album called "Young Love" ... like a moth to a vintage dress in a womans closet ... I snatched it up and fell head over heals for "Ships in the Night" So, 2 #1's ...
Coldplay - Ever Teardrop is a Waterfall

Mat Kearney - Ships in the Night

AH! SO GOOD!! I hope you enjoyed this little tid bit of musical expression ... If you have any you'd like to share feel free to comment!

Until Next Time

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Do We Want Depth, Or Shallow Hugs

I started this by scripting out ways Christian music could be better, but it came across pompous and arrogant ... not my intention. BUT, in typing, I felt this needed to be said at least.

In the last few years, there has been a trend in Christian music/song-writing, a cuddly trend ... a "this is a boyfriend/God" song ... kinda trend. An "I'm only going to graze the idea of an emotion" kinda trend.

Not that those songs aren't good songs ... but some sing as if they were the cutest love song of a boy and girl, that playful, flirtatious beginning of a relationship ... then like that bad aftertaste of something sweet ... they throw the word "Lord" or "God" or "Jesus" in there, just to add another JPM (Jesus Per Minute) point ... It's ok to be a Christian/Singer/Song-writer and have a love song about the opposite sex ... truly ... actually I wish there were more.

On the flip side of the coin ...

I was driving to the gym 2 days ago and heard Mat Kearney's song "Down" come on the radio ... "He lit a cigarette felt in on his lip, Driving home on a long road with regret" sang vulnerably through my car speakers. 2 thoughts went through my head 1. GREAT story-telling ... like a painter with words. 2. It will never get the respect it deserves as a song, it should, it's catchy, great musically-lyrically, but because it has the phrase "He lit a cigarette" in it.

I can hear the Christian Culture ... "Why does he have to smoke, that just ruined the story"

In all honesty, I wish the lyric was "He smoked a PACK of cigarettes" ... Kearney is attempting to paint a story of an angst ridden, soon-to-be father ... what would you rather him use? "He chewed his fingernails?" "He paced back and forth?" ... I don't think those lines paint the angst you can feel in the song.

If you find yourself uncomfortable with a song that positions it's character smoking a cigarette, while he ponders the weight of becoming a father in the world ... yet not see the Gospels promise as the chorus screams " WE ALL NEED FORGIVENESS" ... you might not want music at all ... but an audible "gee ... you're swell"

I would love it, if Christian music were bold enough to sing about doubts, mistakes,  wanting to dance (either romantically or on "da dance flow", real-life "I'm on the verge of being a Christian" kind of songs ... the modern version of Paul's use of pagan poetry on the Mount. I want nothing more than to see an emboldened Christian Culture reaching out, with a Christian perspective/world view, into the areas of sex, drugs, rock & roll, adultery, slander, doubt, remorse, dancing, clubbing, ect. Christian music didn't accept Christ as it's Lord and Savior. As far as I know Christian music was never in Sin and needed a Savior ... Christian music doesn't need to worry about the doctrine of total depravity or the perseverance of the saints ... it's music.

Or maybe you're ok with the "God is my boyfriend" songs ... maybe you're ok with the sideways shallow hugs ...

Until Next Time,

P.S. Enjoy the song

Friday, March 11, 2011

Global Coverage Vs. Out of Sight/Out of Mind


Anytime you turn on the television and see suffering of any kind, it breaks your heart (even if we've become desensitized to it)
This morning everyone woke up to the news that Japan was hit but a surge Tsunami and devastated the coast. Millions/Billions of dollars to rebuild, estimated 60 lives were lost in the impact (so far) and the world is sending out their prayers in the form of national aid and #hashtag prayers.

We need to pray for Japan, we need to pray that God will graciously give his peace to the families of those who have lost their loved ones. But seeing (via Twitter) all of the reoccurring themes of "heartbroken" "devastation" "tragedy" with the hashtags of #prayforjapan ... got to me. Like I've already typed "We need to pray for Japan" ... but knowing what I know, and understanding what the majority of us, as the "fortunate", are aware of ... I've come to the conclusion ... if it doesn't exist on the National/Global/Facebook Coverage ... we won't care as much, unless we really invest.

My heart really does break for Japan, even a single life loss ... sucks, sincerely, and there are an estimated 90+ lives lost. But putting the numbers and prevent-ability of the statistics ... I find this:

Acording to, over 22,000 children die every day from preventable diseases (1 child every 4 seconds, 15 children every minute) released the statistic 25,000 people die every day from hunger or hunger related causes (according to the United Nations
USAID a Government funded organization posted 5,000 people die a day from AIDS

According to the statistics on hunger, the devastation of the Japanese Tsunami would be equal to a Tsunami happening 300 consecutive days to amount to the deaths caused by hunger (which is preventable) .. in one day.

I'm not trying to be insensitive, truly, only attempting to put things into perspective ... Global coverage breeds a "fad" like concern, without investment.
If we are going to invest in something ... we need to invest in the betterment of man kind ... overall ... not just what appears on the News more frequently

We, as a society, can indeed impact the world ... but only if we truly invest in the betterment of man kind ... that means find the things that are "Out of Sight/Out of Mind"
and pursuing the development of the 52,000 lives that will die today, with only the 3 statistics I've mentioned ...

Pray for Japan, pray for God's peace ... but more so ... Pray for those who don't have the privileged of Global Coverage