Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Can You Go Back?

Driving in the car makes my brain search for things to occupy it's time. Yes, I think that cars are simply a way to get from one place to another and that "driving" is overrated and simple if you just use common sense. Anyway, I digress...

When I drive home from work I almost always pass the Church building that I spent about 12 years of my life in and out of. Most days I just pass it without even noticing, other days, my brain is still searching for something to think about and that building can open up doors that my brain walks through before I can stop it.

The other day I wondered if I would ever go back for a visit and I imagined how it might go - what I might feel. This is not the first time my brain pondered this and the result was not much different than usual - it might be fun to see a few friends, but it would be more trouble than it's worth. It would simply be a social visit and not about worshipping God.

Nothing new there, that's just about where my brain stops with that subject - but the other day it kept going...

Can you go back?

For most of my life, I was surrounded by a "sub-culture" that I called my "Church family" or just "Church". The "Church of Christ" was IT and that's all I knew. My grandparents, my mom, my friends, most of my extended family in some way, shape or form associated with this group. I went to a Christian college - that is to say a college associated with the "Church of Christ". At least MY understanding of what the "Church of Christ" was. My "world" was a certain size and shape and everything beyond that enclosure was just not important - not relevant.

God has lead me somewhere I didn't expect, but I am convinced that He led me and I'm just glad that I stumbled my way behind Him enough to get to where He wants me to be. For many years - maybe 10 or more - I have come more and more to the conclusion that A cappella worship is a preference, a style, not a mandate. Even when I wandered to where I call "Church Home" now, at first I still believed that my preference was A cappella worship, but that based on my options and what God had put before me that worshipping in a "non-A cappella" style was OK. In fact, I felt that it would be good to be able to go "back and forth" if needed and not be hindered ONLY by the "make music in your heart" clause.

Now my brain poses the question (as I'm driving home)... Could I go back?

The answer is generally "No". Not because I want to make a statement about the correctness of my position, not because of some resentment. Just simply this. I have grown and my view of God and His kingdom has also grown - it's a great deal bigger now. My world is bigger now and frankly I don't believe it would fit in the door of that building.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Things I've Learned on Tour 2008

OK, so Heartbeat Choir tour 2008 is now "history" - oh wait, that was last year. Let's try that again.

The "noise" has subsided on this year's tour... "Beyond the Noise" - HBC Tour 2008 is over. As always, it's bittersweet. On one hand, it's almost always good to be home and this time is no exception. By the time we rolled into the building last night I was tired and I didn't feel 100% well. Also, as is usually the case with teens on trips like this, the closer we got to home, the louder and more crazy the bus got. No sense in fighting it - the kids are going through the same thing the adults are going through - they just express it differently.

On the other hand, it's the "end" of a labor of love. This tour and this program was one of the best things God has allowed me to be a part of. The tour went as smooth as any of us could have imagined - God is good and His hands were all over this. The kids gave us no unexpected or out-of-the-ordinary problems. In fact, they were routinely WHERE we needed them to be WHEN we needed them to be there. Every stop we had comments about how great our kids were and how they blessed those around them.

As the tour progressed, they also did something amazing...

Every youth worker, student minister, choir director and chaperon on just about any trip like this asks their students to expand their world and try to get to know people outside of their close friends. We ask them to do this, but we know it's hard to do. They did it. It was heartwarming to look back and see almost every student sitting with someone else so often that we had hardly any way to tell which seat they had "laid claim to" at the beginning of the tour. It was nothing short of amazing - God was there and He was smiling.

Here's some of the things I learned on tour this year:
  • Never let kids go to the pet store while on tour.
  • Restrict the use of large fountain drinks on the bus.
  • When God sends you somewhere that feels uncomfortable at first, just relax and get ready to be changed.
  • Girls are afraid of bugs - even ones that don't bite and are completely harmless.
  • Surround yourself with great, Godly people and God multiplies the results.
  • Drink wristbands at an amusement park are GENIUS.
  • "The Beast" is the best wooden roller coaster I have ever ridden ("Son of Beast" was a bit disappointing).
  • Too much of a good thing is bad - case in point - cologne.
  • Not all DVD players are made the same.
  • Never, ever question what God can do with those that are ready to be molded.

"...Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." 2 Corinthians 3:7-18