Friday, November 21, 2008

Chasing Cool

I just finished writing an article on worship for a newsletter that will be included in a choral music mailing that I am told will go out to some 7,000 churches sometime in January. I am humbled and honored to have had that privilege.

One of the things I wrote about is the importance of investing in next generation worship leaders.

I have begun a weekly lunch meeting with a 20-something guy who is gifted and called to lead people in worship. The more time I spend with him, the more I learn. I have no idea if I am helping him, but I know he is helping me. One of the things we always talk about is being authentic. The age group of people he leads in worship each week can see through a person immediately. They want real. My friend tells me that he and his team always want to be careful not to "chase cool". In other words, it's really not about being cool - it's about being honest, getting to the heart of the matter. The answers we need don't come from being cool - they come from being broken.

My week would have been complete just to have my regular lunch with my 20-something friend, but I got a bonus this week. I got to also have lunch with a good friend who is older than I am - someone who invests in my life as a person who has walked before me.

He is smart, funny, articulate, and passionate for God's church to make a difference in the Kingdom. He is always such an encouragement to me. He loves to tell me stories of the past, but is just as excited about today and the future. After our lunch, he was headed to a local hospital where he volunteers on a weekly basis to simply sit in the waiting room and minister to families who don't have anyone there to sit with them, talk with them, pray with them. One can only imagine the stories he has to tell from those experiences.

I look back on my two lunches this week with these two men - the huge age/generation gap between them - and I ponder the difference they make in my life.

I thank God for relationships that enrich, that challenge, that encourage, that bring fulfillment to our stress-filled lives.

I pray, too that I would always resist the urge to "chase cool"....

Friday, November 14, 2008

24 Days

I will always remember Father's Day of this year for two reasons:

1. It was my son's first Father's Day
2. I had the privilege of hearing one of my favorite preacher's final sermons

On June 15 of this year, while on my sabbatical, I attended Brentwood United Methodist Church (a few blocks away from my church) to hear Dr. Howard Olds preach. Dr. Olds had cancer, and he would be retiring two weeks later - knowing his death was eminent. Even on that Sunday, you could tell there was a stronger sense of urgency in his failing voice and energy level.

He preached his final sermon entitled, "Don't Stop" on June 29.

He died 24 days later.

This past week, I was finally able to obtain a copy of that sermon, and I listened to it.

Go HERE and do the same.

In October 2006, I blogged about what I was reading at that time - Gordon MacDonald's book - A Resilient Life. Since writing that book, he has been asked to speak at various gatherings of (of all things) worship leaders and pastors.

He challenges those who listen to him to plan and lead as if it were the last time you will plan and lead. I can't help but think about Dr. Olds.

He knew, and he did......

Monday, November 03, 2008

Painting With A Friend

Part of my weekly "ritual" of things to do during the high school football season for the past few years has been to help a friend paint this Power F on the football field of Franklin High School for their home games.

My friend got the job because of his creativity, and he does the painting of the school's "logo" for several high school football fields in the area.

Since my middle son played on the football team the past two years and my youngest son now marches in the band at Franklin, I wanted to keep doing it if I could.

This season, my friend has been through some pretty rough physical stuff with stomach cancer, chemo and other treatments......even to the point of him physically not being able to do the first Power F of this season because he was so sick. (we did the best we could without his direction and inspiration!)

Getting to help my friend paint the Power F this season has been rewarding in a different way. He seems to value that time more than in the past. I sense that in the conversations we have had. Even in the seemingly meaningless duty of painting a high school football field, I get to know and appreciate my friend in a deeper way.

Maybe this week, we should all take a few minutes to value the conversations that come our way.

For me, I am glad that Franklin has at least one more home game this Friday so I get to paint (and talk) with my friend!