Monday, December 22, 2008

Why do Americans need smaller homes?

Maybe the environment would benefit.  Maybe it would help the country to develop a better economic stability if we built more smaller homes.  But those aren't the reasons I'd suggest the country needs to downsize.

I've found that the more time my family spends in the same room, the better balance we have. If I have a big home, my kids are in their space, I'm in the yard working and my wife is doing her stuff to up-keep the home in her space.  The little amount of time that we all actually spend at home is not spent together.  

In a smaller home, my family spends a lot of time together.  That time is time that we are building our relationships.  That's time that we are learning to love each other.

I'm hopeful that the economic downturn will have some benefits for the family.  Smaller homes can lead to better family relationships.

How does your family use the space in your home?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Worship Styles

The issue of worship styles is like the issue of abortion.  Everyone has an opinion; everyone hope that their side will win; but no hit of an end is coming soon.

This issue was raised once again this weekend.  Some people don't want to attend a certain service because the worship leader that is not of their style will be leading.  Hmmm.

"Why don't you like his style?" I asked.

Their response, "We just don't.  We know that some people do, but we just can't worship to that style of music."

I return, "Then is it worship that you are doing when the music is of your choosing, or are you just feeling good?"

They didn't understand me. But that's OK.

Worship to me is about service not about feelings.  It is hard to think about the word in a modern Western mindset because we are not encouraged to worship anyone.

So, think back to a time when there were kings and queens ruling the world.  Worship is a monarchical term--It's from the world of all powerful rulers.

A subject was to worship a king.  He would do this in several ways.  First, he would serve the king to provide him with a great bounty or victory.  Second, in the king's presence, the subject would lower himself so the kings greatness was demonstrated.

Interesting, when you look that way, I don't see any reason that worship was about making the subject feel good.  Sure, feeling good may be a side benefit if the kingdom prospers, but the king was still the one who decided if the subject was to receive any benefit at all.  The subject just served.

Music may be part of the worship of a king.  For those who are gifted, the king may offer a ministry of music.  Songs being powerful motivators may be part of the gathering of the subjects but the song would certainly be chosen by the king, not those gathering.

I can't find a single verse in the scripture that connect worship with music.  You know, something like, "David worshiped God by playing his favorite songs."  There are examples of wonderful music in both Testaments, but I wonder if it is more notable that the words used for worship mean "to pay homage" which means to pay respect.  The word for worshiper (λατρεύω) comes from a word that mean "to serve."

It doesn't sound like these terms are about me feeling good when I do it.  It sounds like the focus is always on the king.  If the focus is on God when we worship, why do we need to enjoy the music at all? If we serve a King who desires our obedience as our sacrifice isn't our obedience to His commandments the greatest worship.  And if the greatest commandment is to love God and love others isn't worship then the way we demonstrate great love to God and others?

And if someone else is hurting or lost and needs what the church has to offer, is the most loving thing to break down walls that would make them feel uncomfortable?  Perhaps our music is that thing.

So I ask one last question about worship...
Is is possible that the greatest form of worship might be when I put myself into a place where I'm completely uncomfortable, with music I can't understand and that hurts my ears, in order that I might help save a new generation of hurting people for the love of God?

I'm not sure we can call feeling good worship at all.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Safely Watched

Once when my daughter was younger
I allowed her to stray

the crowded room and shiny things
and she was caught up in her world

She strayed a couple isles
Picking up shiny things

She walk away with out knowing
her distance from her safe place

I didn't want to walk away
but when I called her she didn't come

I didn't let her leave my sight
I followed her close behind

But she wasn't looking for me
She was caught up in her own desires

Freedom was fun for a moment
No one told her do not touch

But freedom can be scary
when you discover your aloneness

Her safe place had left
her freedom now confusion

I didn't go to her right away
I allowed her to know her emptiness

That fear I'm sure will reminder
that her place is with her father

I'm not sure her exact emotions
they flooded her face so quickly

At first it seem confusion
then more a bit like pain

The glitter than had drawn her attention
was now meaningless and a barrier

She began to search for me in the vastness
she looked in the faces of others passing by

But strangers were not safe
It was her father she desired

She her confusion turn to pain
she called out to her father

With out delay my heart broke
and my desire was for her

So I stepped out from behind the shiny things
Swooped her into my arms

"I was her sweetheart
I'll never leave you"

"I was afraid daddy, I need you
Don't leave me again"

Our love is now focus
her desires more pure

But what I'm learning
what I'm wondering

Was that my child there
that day?

What I'm thinking, what I'm learning is
that that wasn't my daughter that day

The child lost whose was drawn by glitter
wasn't a daughter at all

It was me and I was my Father
and I was always safely watched

Monday, December 08, 2008

Why I blog

Recently, I read that a blog can be about one of two people: yourself or the reader.  I read a bunch of blogs and have found that generally true.  My blog--this one--is about me and for me.  I started it to communicate my otherwise unspoken thoughts.  It's sort of a journal.

So A World that I'm Partly Made of  is at its core a journal of thoughts intended for me as I think them through.  It is a reflection on the world from my point of view.

On the other hand, I could have written these thoughts down in a journal book stored in my desk.  But I haven't. My blog is public because maybe there is someone out there that will benefit from knowing how I think, understanding my values, and reading links to others who help me to form my thoughts.

So, if you're reading this, you're welcome to poke around, comment or leave as you like.  Since it is about me and for me, it will be raw, rough and maybe a little one sided.  I don't have it proof read which is dangerous for a dyslexic writer.  I do hope it will also be honest and insightful, and I hope that seeing things through my point of view helps you to understand your world better.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Does God like Christmas?

This time of year I get what we call the I-wanters.  That is, I see all the good sales, and I want things.

Last weekend, I stopped in the ATT store to see how much the iPhone was going for these days.  It was nice, and slightly more than I had budgeted for my birthday gift.  Since I have a December birthday, maybe I could talk Stef into bundling it with my Christmas gift.  Yeah! That's a good idea.

So....I talked to the man about the iPhone, only to find out it was the only phone in the store that required a $30-per-month data plan.  Now the $200 phone would cost me... oh... around $560 for the year over what I'm currently paying for mobile service.

So, being a smart guy, I asked the guy, "Are there any phones that you'd recommend over the iPhone.

His eye's light up as he guided me across the room to show me the new Blackberry Bold. At only $400 this phone has high rating in just about everything over the iPhone. 

Oh, it looked so nice, and there was an option of a $100 rebate.  I'll I'd have to do is order the dataplan for 3 months.  Let's see, $30 data plan times 3 equals $90.  That's $10 saving and i get to use the super fast G3 network for 3 months.  Certainly, if Stef could see the 3G's blazing speed, she'd want me to have it.  "Oh," and he added, "This phone has one of the best turn-by-turn GPS system in the world.  It even beats those that they put into Lexus and BMW cars. That's only a $10-per-month service charge."

"WOW!  I love GPS! That could only be so cooooooool!"  And it could be my birthday present/Christmas present.  Now I want it, and I want it BAD!  Let's ignor that fact that this phone would only cost me $400-$100 rebate+$90 for the first 3 monts of data service + in reality $30 times 9 because I really want the phone for the cool data feature + $120 for the monthly GPS service.  I could have this baby for only $780. Only $650 dollars more than I had budgeted for birthday and Christmas gifts.

You see, we are trying to downplay gifts this year.  We don't need stuff, but as Seth Godin points out in his bog Hungry, its the marketer's job to make me want stuff.  It's my job to realize I don't need it.

The video at the top of this unusually long post is Jon Foreman performing his song Instead.  It is a lovely reworking of the sentiments in Is. 1:11-17 or maybe Amos 5:21-24.  When it comes to Christmas, I'm never really happy.

I wonder if it is because this season has become on of those festivals that Isaiah and Amos write about.  Could God really be pleased with me when I celebrate the coming of his Son with buying myself a cell phone or buying my child a new 50-inch flatscreen TV?  Maybe I'm not that far out--maybe it is just the Wii @ $400 that I'm getting my kid to set along side the PS3 and X-box?  Or whatever else it might be that is cause me to have the I-wanters?  Can those I-wanter be what God hates when they overcome my attention on justice and righteous living?