Worship Music… or…it’s so pretty, don’t matter what we say…right?!

SO, I’m checking and updating my calendar at church…and there is nothing that goes better with updating your calendar than a little Family Force 5. For all of y’all who don’t know who that is, they are a crazy awesome band that has good wacky music you can dance to. The greatest part of them is that they are a really clean alternative to what the world offers. Anyhow, I was jamming out to their new remix album, when all of a sudden the mood changed in my office! Instead of an upbeat tune that causes my toes to tap and (gasp) hips to swivel, the music turns soft and dare I say melodic! The voice croons sweetly, and I feel as if I need to…ya know… sing along in a worshipful style. Swaying along to the music as I raise a hand in “praise.” Only, here’s the deal… the song is anything but worshipful! It’s all about throwing up one’s hands in celebration in a jubilant manner, as if one were at a party! (Here is the track) The music did not  match the lyrics. This is further evidence to me that what really makes a song worshipful is the lyrics. When doing praise and worship, how much of what we do is driven by emotions? Emotions are so deceiving! We often confuse our emotions with the movement of the Holy Spirit, and I believe music plays a key part in this… Have you ever noticed that churches who do alter calls never use fast upbeat music during them? The whole reason for this is to play on one’s emotions in order to invoke decisions! Music can be a dangerous thing. It can invoke feelings inside that can cause amazing outcomes! 

later days!

 

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Back to School… Thoughts on re-creating that image!

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So there’s this crazy movie called New Guy… I’m sure you’ve seen it. It came out quite a while ago, and if you haven’t, it’s on Netflix. Anyhow, as I was sitting and thinking/praying about all the guys and gals heading back to school in just a mere week, I couldn’t help but to be reminded of this movie. You see, in the movie, the protagonist (main character) must leave his high school (where he is a total geek/nerd/all around punching bag dude) and enter an entirely new school environment. He takes this opportunity to change his “image.” By change his image I mean he becomes the total cool/mysterious/hot guy who the girls wanna date and the guys wanna be! All of a sudden he morphs from the school laughing stock to the school hero! All he has to do is change every single aspect of who he is! He uses cooler verbiage, ditches his old friends, tells a few lies, and changes his wardrobe. He stops liking the things he really likes, and begins loving the things he truly hates! It’s that simple! If I remember right, I used to think that every school year brought with it the opportunity to become the “cool” kid. The chance to recreate that image. And I really get it! We all want to be popular…we all really want acceptance… But I still have a nagging question in the back of my mind… Why? I mean, if you have to change your likes and dislikes, if you have to lie about who you truly are… is being “accepted” really worth it? And also, if those “friends” are accepting you based off of what they think you are instead of who you really are…do they really accept you? Or are they really accepting the person you pretend to be?
How awesome would it be to be truly accepted for who you are, and loved enough to feel comfortable in your own skin?! I really think that this is what our churches are supposed to look like! When I read the book of Acts, I see a picture of very diverse people joining together, loving one another, holding all things in common with each other, for the sake of Jesus! How awesome would our youth group be if we could be a place where a kid can come and just be real?! To be accepted even if he/she might be into, say, the Ninja Turtles (just throwing that out there!)
It really begins with us. In order to be accepted, we must first accept. In order to love, we had to be loved…and in order for another to love, we must love them! So on your first day of school, are you going to do what all the rest do? Are you going to convene with your friends of like-minded conventions, then create a pecking order from swag to drag? Or are you going to determine to be comfortable in your own skin, and allow others to be comfortable as well, accepting them, and loving them, for their unique differences?
More importantly, in our youth group, are we going to begin accepting and loving one another as Christ loves us? “For as the body is one and has many parts, and all the parts of that body though many, are one body-so also is Christ…God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the less honorable, so that there would be no division in the body, but that the members would have the same concern for each other. (1 Cor. 12:12-25)
Later Days

Check out what I built on Minecraft, or, hey a new form of escapism! Yay!

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So Sunday morning I was conversing with some of my youth guys about the game Minecraft. For those of you that don’t know about the game, firstly I would like to ask you why you have been hiding your head under the rock in your back yard. Then I would explain to you that it is a virtual reality game in which you “mine” for various objects, (wood, hay, stubble…) build great works of architectural achievement, (no I’m not kidding! Check out the link for reference) all the while fighting away the bogeys that come out at night. When I first heard of the game, I was amazed at the various things that one might do in this virtual land where you can build anything. I even downloaded an app version for my phone and began mining away. It became fun digging deep into the earth, making tunnels, and I became kinda addicted to it. I built a really cool underground bunker, but could not save my work because the free version would erase whatever one built whenever the app closed. I was even tempted to buy the full version in order to build to my heart’s contentment, and also have the ability to save my creations.

       Then I began to think… all that work for such little gain. I mean, seriously, when you power down the program, what are you left with? A blank screen staring you back in the face. Until you power it back up again, you are in what we like to call the “real world.” 

       Then I began to think some more. Games have gotten so advanced. Those that are in the gaming community will know that online universes such as E.V.E. take days to “travel” the expanse of the game, have their own currencies and exchange rates (for real money!). You can really become whatever you desire to be in these games! You can be an elvish Lord in Warcraft, or kill a dragon in Skyrim! There are a host of online RPG (Role Playing Games) that one can choose from…check it out! You can even become addicted to these games, exchanging reality for virtual reality; and to be honest, who wouldn’t like to be someone else doing something different for a change! 

    But again…when you turn it off… you end up staring at a blank screen. And you can’t help but realize, its only a matter of time until the game ends. Until a disaster happens and you miss the save button, your hard drive gets wiped, or your fail safes fail to save. It’s the second law of thermodynamics, right? The law of entropy that tells us everything within a set system must come to an end… 

    And that brings into question this life, itself! You may have been reading this article all along thinking “Those poor RPG fools. They cannot see that there is a REAL world out there! Made to conquer, to live, to explore!” But the law applies to the “real world” as well!  The old man sitting by the fire in the castle that he has built for himself is no different than the boy who has created a virtual Valhalla for himself out of Minecraft bricks. He will die, and he will not be able to enjoy his material kingdom anymore.

   That’s why Jesus tells us in Matthew 6-7 to forget about collecting/building our “stuff” on earth. They can’t last. He tells us to forget about what we cloth ourselves in…the moth will get them (or we will grow out of them, as was my case) in the end. (Funny story, I had this awesome Ninja Turtle shirt back in the day… until I used it to put out a fire.) The only treasures that we can enjoy forever are those that the law of entropy can’t touch.

   So I guess it might be fun, escaping once in a while to build a wicked cool palace in Minecraft. It might be neat to work hard, save hard, and have that condo in Florida to sit around in. But after a while, shouldn’t we get back to building things for the REAL world? 

 

 

Moving from Posterous…

Well, I was about to publish this amazing idea that came to me while talking about Minecraft with a student this Sunday. It was gonna be all inspirational and special, and make you think and whatnot. When I opened my blog page, I discovered that Posterous was going to be shut down by Twitter, and therefore I was going to lose my blog. Sad day!!! So I decided to move to WordPress. Gotta admit, it almost feels like I’m moving in real life! I had to copy and paste the stuff I wanted, and delete the stuff I didn’t. I had to design a new page (still not convinced on the color scheme… too light if you ask me!) and create a new “about” page. I hope you like the new space…just take off your shoes first please! Also, that post about MineCraft will come soon…I promise!

      Later days!

The universe of Paul; or stay with me here, this is where it gets interesting!

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Anyone recognize the alien above? Well, if you do, then you should not have watched that movie…like I did. I hate to admit that I sat through the garbage that is Paul. The reason that I watched it, as if I need to explain my sin, is because I love those two actors that were also in “Shawn of the Dead,” as well as “Hot Fuzz.” I figured that this would be another movie like those two; filled with British humor….it was not. What it was filled with was a message. A message that religion is dead, that humanity and evolution are to be worshiped instead of a creator, and above all there is no right and wrong. They took the premise that because there was such a thing as a sentient being from outer space that was in fact just like us but evolved into a higher intelligence, this then disproved the existence of God. And therefore, if one were to disprove the existence of God, then there is no basis of right and wrong. Stay with me here, this is where it gets interesting.

In the film they had this sweet beautiful young woman who was a product of her independent, fundamental Christian upbringing. This young woman was by all meanings of the word “Backwards.” She took one look at Paul the alien and assumed that he must be a demon or some hell-spawned mixture of the “bones of fornicators and the sinew of thieves and gluttons.” (thank you Will Ferrel) Because to believe that he was an honest to goodness space man would mean that everything she was brought up to believe in had been a lie. When she finally accepted the “truth” that there was no god, and therefore no creation, she took this understanding to a whole new level. She began to see that there was no reason for her “not to cuss, or have sex, or anything like that.” She then lost all of her “inhibitions” and “joined the party” so to speak.

And it is right here that the movie’s premise shoots itself in the foot. You see, they had the woman come to the conclusion that without God there is no moral code, no right or wrong. She can therefore live her life in such a manner that is convenient to her, throwing all feelings of guilt aside. But they did not play this scenario out in its entirety. If I had written the movie, I would have had the nice young woman, upon the realization that there was no true moral, turn around and kill the rest of the cast. You see, if we take this idea to its furthest reaches, then we come to the conclusion that it is indeed ok to kill, plunder and destroy. In the fictional universe of the story, it is ok. There are no moral standards to live by because there is no God.

But in our universe, there have been no definitive proof that there is no God. No aliens running around, no fully evolved species to bear witness that evolution in its entirety (note: I am not suggesting that some forms of evolution have not been proven, but am suggesting that we have not seen, first hand, one species change into another yet)  is correct. In fact we have seen the opposite proven, that there must be some sort of creator. Morals or the reality of a “right” and “wrong” are a proof of God. I like the way the spoken word artist, Propaganda, puts it…

“ And you, smarty pants, don’t front
Like the little you know about our universe
you ready to draw conclusions about its origins?
Maybe we don’t know as much as we think we do…
Science still can’t explain yawning.
Like you never took your world view to its furthest conclusions?

That if human behavior is just what protoplasm does at this temperature,
then there is no need for humanitarian effort,
because these atrocities weren’t wrong,
IT’S JUST THE UNIVERSE WEEDING OUT BAD GENES.
Them is fingernail-on-chalkboard words, ain’t ’em?”

-Later days!

 

Desperately seeking Hawthorne

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When I was in school, we studied a multitude of writing styles. I was enamored with the modernists, with their take on reality in Literature. I loved reading Virginia Woolf’s “Miss Dalloway,” and would spend hours taking in the ominous glow of Eliot’s “Wasteland.” I think above all I enjoyed the works of Hemmingway during this time. His gritty to the point writing style wasted no time on detail. Here was wordplay in action, without grandiose descriptions.

I also studied the transcendentalists, such as Thoreau and Emerson. I loved Hawthorne above all others of this time period, and became lost in his works, such as “Blithedale Romance” and “House of Seven Gables.”  His characterizations of both character and setting could ramble on for pages and give a setting so rich in texture that the reader would be engulfed in the scene placed before him.

I feel today as if I have traded in my Hawthorne for a Hemmingway. I’m uncertain if this is a bad thing, because getting to the point is what most people desire to do in today’s society. Facebook is a never ending stream of three lined updates; Twitter is even shorter and faster than Facebook, and no one seems to take the time to really read or write for form and function. I have to admit that I rather enjoy coming up with short little quips that might make the “friends” laugh or think each day… But I feel as if I have given up on true in-depth writing. On really taking some time and allowing my brain to produce coherent sentences that flow together and make paragraphs. Even now this is tough for me. What used to take a few moments feels like eternity. If I may be so crass, It feels as if I have “composition constipation.”

Perhaps that is why I am going to try starting a blog yet again. Perhaps I will get over this notion that it is impossible for me to truly compose my thoughts in an organized form; yet more likely than not I will fail at this new endeavor. It stands to reason that there will be very little feedback from this blog, as there are very few who actually take time to read blogs anymore. Perhaps I should just send a tweet/post/whatever google + calls them about my topic and conclusion. Whatever the case, it will be interesting to see If I can track down my inner Hawthorne and give my Hemmingway a break.