Thursday, April 27, 2006

Congratulations Becca and Scott!





As of 6:28am this morning, my college roommate Rebekah and her husband Scott are the proud parents of beautiful baby girl Samantha Jean. Congratulations!

What I'm listening to: Norah Jones' Feel Like Home

Nice

I wanna go to school here.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

I admit it...

I watch American Idol.

There is something about watching a bunch of people who think they can sing try and fail. And try and succeed. I just can't not watch. It's weird, but I just love it.

Yes, my IQ probably drops each time I watch it, but since I don't watch much TV anyway, I consider it my guilty pleasure. It may not be one I'm proud of, but nevertheless it's my vice. Listening to good songs get butchered and bad singers gain notoriety just for being bad. That can't be a good thing, can it?

I do, however, hating watching the audition process. The people who are so bad and think they are good on just simply being made fun of by the producers and I take issue with that. It's really sad to watch someone of them, how bad they are and how stupid they make themselves look. (And honestly, there is something really wrong with Paula Abdul judging people's ability to sing.)

May I reveal my favorite? Well, that's tough, because they are all even matched this year (not in greatness, but in a level of above-average mediocrity that's not so bad.) But for some reason, I just can't help but not love this guy:





I'm a sucker for the underdog and how can you not appreciate a guy who never misses a note and is deaf in one ear?

There is one other contestant that defies all that American Idol stands for and that is Taylor.



I seriously don't know what it is about him, but when he performs, I can't take my eyes off the stage. There's just something about him that inexplicable. Besides his awesomely bad fashion taste, his voice is lovely and unique and makes me smile.

I will also admit that I don't usually care who wins. It's just fun to watch the competition. (And watch them fall on their face.) Hee.

What I'm listening to: Josh Groban's Closer (And I'm melting into a puddle of goo.)

Monday, April 24, 2006

Ooooo...shiny...

Bejewled

How could you not love a game that involves jewelry and blowing things up?

What I'm listening to:The "Dee Dah Day" CD mix my friend Shannon gave me. (It's a long story.)

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Generation, Schmeneration

My small group leader asked us all our ages last week. The range for us is 26-34 years old and she has a niece that is struggling - struggling with finding her place and purpose in the world. She's divorced with two kids and she feels she doesn't belong. So our group leader asked our ages because she wanted to know if it was a generational issue.

Hmm. I'm always intrigued by people who like to blame things on "generations". Sometimes I think that's simply a cop out. Generations are defined by a number of things - the era you were born and grew up in, in particular. But in recent years - Gen-X and Gen-Y for example, tend to be defined by their attitudes (Typically, you don't see much of the Baby Boomer generation being defined by that). George Barna uses this for generation definition:

Elders (born prior to 1946)
Baby Boomers (born from 1946-1964)
Busters (born from 1965 through 1983)
Mosaics (born from 1984 to 2002)

I'd never heard the term "Mosaics" before I read Barna, I've heard them called Gen-Y or Millennials, with a slightly different ago group attached to it. I have a close friend that considers herself a Gen-Y, although she was born in the Gen-X era. Which is where this issue becomes blurred. What defines your generation? When you were born, what you grew up around or what your attitude is?

I'm a Gen-Xer (or Buster, as Barna defines) since I was born in 1975, but I don't have a stereotypical Gen-X attitude. Why? Because I chose not to. So I ask the question: If I feel disconnected from society (like my small group leader's niece does) is that a choice I make or simply an end result of the culture I grew up in?

It's weird. Years ago I felt the constant need to defend my generation. We're the slackers, the disconnected, the under-achievers with Master's Degrees in Shakespeare working at Starbucks. In a small way I connect with that attitude without any knowledge as to why. Kind of like the first time my faith was questioned and I was asked why I believed what I believed. I didn't know. So I found out. Now I don't defend my generation. I just choose to let my actions prove the sterotypes wrong.

We have more power than we know. We define our generation by our behavior, our choices, our attitudes. We also have to power to not become what others expect us to be.So no, it doesn't matter what generation you put yourself in, I guess. But don't let that preconcieved notion shape you who you are. Be who you want to be - no one else is near as much fun.

What I'm listening to: Steven Curtis Chapman's All Things New
What I'm reading: Miroslav Volf's Free of Charge and I'm still stuck on George Barna's Revolution

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Shield of Faith

It's been a crazy couple of weeks and I have much to write about. For now, I'll start with this.

The Armor of God

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

Ephesians 6: 10-18


You know what I find interesting about this passage of scripture? That I've read it a hundred times and last week I noticed something for the first time: the shield of faith and what it does.



A shield is that extra piece of armor that is held in front - the first protection against the enemy.

The shield goes first.

When I realized that in the context of what I'm going through right now, I knew what God was trying to tell me. Faith is what you step out in. It goes before you, and acts as a shield to protect (in my case, my heart). Even if I do make the mistake, I still need faith "that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears." (Phil. 1:6)

Okay, God, I get it. *Sheepishly crawling back into the corner*. I'll get out of the way now. Don't mind me.

What I"m listening to: Switchfoot's Nothing is Sound

Monday, April 10, 2006

Has it Really Come to This?

I think I found it - the bottom of the barrel for CD mixes. And it is bad.

This morning, a man I work with asked me to play a CD he found it in the parking lot (he wanted to hear it first to see whether to keep it and put it in lost and found - he was kidding, of course, if you knew him, you would get it- he's just weird) but the title written on the top said "Crazy Mix #1, which peaked his curiosity. A lot of high school and college kids work in our production department so he was thinking it would be full of hip-hop/rap-type stuff. I’m guessing on many of the artists and song titles, so much of the following list may be wrong, but you’ll get the idea. Here’s what proceeded to come out of my computer:

1.) Roxette "Listen to Your Heart"
2.) O-Town "All or Nothing"
3.) En Vogue "Free Your Mind"
4.) George Michael’s "One More Try"
5.) Gloria Estefan’s "Rhythm is Gonna Get You"
6.) ? probably called "Someone’s Watching Over Me". Sounds like a classic cheesy movie Disney-type song
7.) ? No idea on the name of the song and I refused to listen to it all the way through. Sounded like a bad KC and Jo-Jo song.
8.) Kelly Clarkson "Behind Hazel Eyes"
9.) ? Something about "My milkshake brings all boys to the yard" which is gross enough as it is.
10.) Of all things, "Lollipop" What the huh?
11.) "Mambo #5"
12.) ? Something about "being your lady"
13.) ? Something about "Where O Where Can My Baby Be?" sounded like Dave Matthews Band gargling.
14.) A rap song that continually repeats "Can I Have it Like That?" Ew.
15.) Sounded like Nellie Furtato maybe titled "Work it Out"
16.) The Pretenders (the only redeeming element is the presence of The Pretenders, but not this song.) "I’ll Stand By You"
17.) A sad little rap song probably called "Doncha".
18.) P.Diddy/Mary J Blige/Sting "I’ll Be Missing You"

Seriously? Of the songs you recognize because I got close to the artist and song title, is this not the worse CD mix you can possible image ever being created? This what the future of America is listening to. Yikes. My ears hurt.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Being Called

God doesn’t called the qualified… he qualifies the called.

It’s a favorite saying in my current circle of friends and while I appreciate the sentiment, I’m not sure I’m comfortable with the attitude of "throwing caution to the wind" because I fear this saying can promote that.

So here comes a fundamental question: "How do you know when you’re called?"

There is a necessary amount fear that goes along with being called. The fear of not being good enough, the fear of not knowing how it will end up, the fear you are going to really screw it up, the fear that we really have no idea what we are doing. (i.e. faking it). I believe fear is necessary because there is something to be said for a reality check. There is such a thing as righteous fear – in the same sense there is a righteous anger. It’s all about doing the right thing. My pastor in college once told me "Just because you feel something doesn’t mean it right." It is in the same manner we should judge our calling. I may feel called to an action or profession, but that doesn’t mean it’s right. In the same way, if my initial excitement and determination about a calling has waned, that doesn’t mean the calling was misunderstood in the first place. We have put such a value on our emotions that reality checks are somewhat of a commodity.

I have no trouble admitting that my time here in Nebraska, leading worship where I do, hasn’t been full of doubt, fear, disappointment, frustration and even some anger. However, it wasn’t until years into it that I was absolutely sure God called me here at this time and moment. Moving back here? Taking this job? Was all about gut for me. The same was with in choosing which undergraduate college to attend. It was a gut feeling, with a little heart mixed in. I did doubt my decision my third year at Sterling, and that is when the pastor of the church I attended said to me, very matter-of-factly (that was the Denny Prutow way) "Just because you feel something doesn’t mean it right." (Just writing about it makes me miss him).

So here’s the rub: my problem with being "called" is that I want to know now what I may not know years into it: that I absolutely made the right choice,

Yeah, I know what’s you’re thinking "What about faith?"

I’m not doubting God. I’m doubting my ability to hear him in the right way.

I visited a church this morning - a rarity for me because I'm usually required to be at my own church on Sundays. I always love doing it, though, so I can see what other praise teams do, what guitars they use, etc, etc. The sermon was about listening to the Holy Spirit. The pastor offered no practical things to do to get better at it, and he directly addressed the issue. He sighted John 3, specifically verses 8 and 9.

So? In this passage Jesus tells me "the Spirit gives birth to spirit" so it stands to reason, I think, that if I am in step with the Spirit, I will be able to hear him in the right way.

It's funny. I started this post on Friday with a very different outcome in mind. Guess God knows what he's doing, huh?

I was feeling so disheartened on Friday - the support I was hoping for (in regards to me going back to school) didn't come through. But if one person's lack of interest/support causes me to doubt my calling then who am I trusting in? Myself and that person - not God. And he has so many times before, spoken to me clearly (and not so clearly) but he's never failed to talk to me. If my inital fire has waned, so be it, but as Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians "Do not put out the Spirit's fire." I think even if I tried I wouldn't succeed. Have I learned nothing from Balaam's donkey?

What I'm listening to: Fleetwood Mac's Landslide
What I'm reading: (a new edition to come what may) George Barna's Revolution, and Ted Dekker's Red

Friday, April 07, 2006

Forgiveness and Stuff

As we enter Holy Week, I leave you with the amazing words of another... Corrie Ten Boom.




It was at a church service in Munich that I saw him, a former S.S. man who had stood guard at the shower room door in the processing center at Ravensbruck. He was the first of our actual jailers that I had seen since that time. And suddenly it was all there – the roomful of mocking men, the heaps of clothing, Betsie's pain-blanched face.

He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing. “How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein.” He said. “To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!” His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often to the people in Bloemendaal the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side.

Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him. I tried to smile, I struggles to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I prayed, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your forgiveness.

As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me. And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world's healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

My New Guitar

What I'm listening to: The Eames Era's Second EP

A Martin D-15. Complete genuine mahogany construction. Herringbone decal rosette. East Indian Rosewood fretboard.



I've been drooling over it for months. Sometimes, after a crappy day at work, I'd go into the sound booth at the local music shop and just play.



The dark, rich tone is different than every other guitar I've played and I've played 'til my fingers begged for mercy.



It's pretty. And I'm in heaven.