Friday, August 31, 2012

lost and found

"The Bible is not a road-map that shows you exactly which route to choose, exactly which turns to take. When we pretend it is, we cheapen the hard beauty of it." 
"The goal of this thing is not getting there safe, getting there quick, taking the simplest route. It’s not really getting there at all, because, if we are moving in the love of Christ, then we are already there. Each leg of this journey is its own destination." 
"The beauty of all this lostness lies in the fact that we are never really lost, not to him who sees us. Not to him who knows every stone of this, every tree and building, every dark alley, every resting place."
- Addie Zierman

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sermons, rock bands, and other contemplations

So recently I was talking about forgiveness in my own special way.  Then there was the bit about using an example from my life for a sermon.  That made me think about pastors and the responsibility they have.  I mean, not only are they responsible for knowing and living out the things they preach about, they are also responsible for the fact that they spiritually lead others.  The Bible says that those in leadership positions are held to a higher standard of accountability, but what does that mean?  It's enough to give me ulcers.  And make me think about the reason I'm kind of afraid to give sermons anymore.  (Or be in a rock band.)

I went on a long missions trip the summer I graduated from college, and the tech guy on the team was also a Christian ministries minor maybe?  Anyway, his job, aside from connecting the right wires, was to give sermons/messages/whatever you want to call them at the places that wanted us to do more than just music and drama.  He had this one sermon about forgiveness that was really touching the first few times I heard it.  He was on the forensics (speech team), so he was very good at delivering a memorized thing in a natural-sounding way.  But after the first several times, it really started to sound rehearsed, especially the more I got to know about him.

We were hardly close friends by the end of the months of preparation and the weeks of actual touring together, but I knew him a little better, and I learned that one of the things he really struggled with was forgiveness.  I wonder how it felt to him to keep giving that speech over and over again when he couldn't live it out.  Did it make his heart harder (to borrow biblical language) every time he gave his Do-What-I-Say-Not-What-I-Do speech?  Did it make him feel more guilty?  More like a failure?

There's a saying about how the message we most want to preach is often the one we most need to hear, but what happens if we keep preaching it over and over again and don't actually learn from it?  Maybe if you look at it as a performance, you don't mind?  I mean, professional musicians earn their keep singing and playing the same songs over and over and over.  How do they not hate the songs and the sounds of their own music after that much repetition?  How does it not end up sounding like meaningless noise that isn't worth spit?

In my writing, I write about the same things over and over.  I attack them from different angles, creep up on them from new directions, link them to different pitons, but they're often still the same ideas.  How do I not get tired of it?  Narcissism?

I wish I knew some pastors I could ask about this.  Your thoughts?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Words I Can't Say

"It makes me feel good to know you like my company."  A friend of mine said this to me, and it made me respect him even more.  Which he would totally know if he could read my mind but likely will never know because it seems like I can't say things like that out loud.

"I'm really glad to have you as a friend."  He just says these things.  Can you believe it?

I can't claim he does so without embarrassment, but it's all the more admirable because he is obviously embarrassed, but he thinks it is important for him to tell me these things.  And then I sit there not making eye contact like a chump, feeling strangely glad that I think he can tell I am okay with his company even if I am apparently incapable of saying so.  And also glad that he likes my company, as I am, on the whole, less likeable company than most.  : ) 

Not that, apparently, I can say this to his face.  I hope he understands that, me being who I am, that fact that I hang out with him means the things I don't say.  Or maybe he can read it here where I can write things I can't say.

Some things need to be said.  Often those things are the ones I can't say.  Why is it so hard for me to say these kinds of things?  Why do I never think to say them first?

Apparently, my brain believes it is important that I say things first sometimes.  If I say, "I feel the same way" or "Me, too," in response, I feel like that's cheap and insincere, like it doesn't count if I don't say it first, or something.  (Count for what, I don't know.)

It's been this way since I was a child and could never seem to be the first one to thank my dad for taking me out for free pizza I earned reading books.  I would sit in the car reminding myself to remember to say it, but then we'd go inside, and the food would come, and I would be eating it, and my sister would always say, "Thank you," first, and I would feel I had lost.  (At what, I don't know.  But it seems like this is related to my current hangup.)

Are there things that you find it difficult/impossible to say to others?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Someone use this for a sermon

When I was very young, around 3, I lost my hearing for a while.  We don't really know how long because it didn't seem to bother me.  Recently, a friend who went through something similar said the adults in her life knew because she told them she couldn't hear them.  Apparently, I didn't.  It just never occurred to me that it might be a problem, I guess.  My mom says I could still sing on pitch and everything.  Weird.

I was learning to read at the time, and my teacher said to my mom that she thought I had some sort of hearing problem.  My mom was pretty frustrated with me at this point because she thought I was Evil Rebel Child #1, the One Who Wouldn't Listen to her.  After she dropped the unabridged dictionary behind me to test the hypothesis, and I didn't even flinch, she knew there was a problem that wasn't due only to my stubbornness.

So here's the sermon tie in: my mom thought I was choosing not to listen, but the truth was that I couldn't hear.  Isn't that maybe a helpful example to explain depravity?  It's not that we're choosing not to listen to God, it's that we actually can't hear Him even if we want to.  Our sin (like my ear infection gunk), gets in the way and plugs our ears, so even if we want to listen, we can't hear.  We can't even tell if someone is talking.

I hesitate to compare the Holy Spirit to tubes in the ears because it's a super imperfect metaphor that dissolves on contact, but, well, some intervention from outside us needs to happen to open up the ear canals, so that we can choose whether to listen.  Once I wasn't deaf, I was still certainly accused of selective hearing frequently, but if I wanted to listen, I could.

Any takers?