Thursday, December 30, 2010
Because if money exchanged hands--by definition, it would not be a gift.
Oh. So why do people say, "Free gift?"
Probably because they heard it on TV commercials written by monkeys.
I'm picking up on some sarcasm. Why don't we just stop using that phrase?
That's a great idea. I'll blog about it. I'm sure that will solve everything.
I can't wait for the ripple affect this will have on our culture!
Oh, what about "punitive punishments?"
I was being...never mind.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Please hear no self-promotion in this whatsoever. My hat is off to the staff of the KRM and the TONS of volunteers that it takes to make this happen.
It's so simple: drive your car to get some directions, then take some boxes to people in need. It is so much more profound than that simplicity implies.
There must have been 300-400 people in a building donated by General Motors. I loved it--300-400 people got out of bed at 6am, went out in the freezing cold to do this. (I'm sure some volunteers were going much earlier!)
A few simple directions were given from a few rungs up on ladder in the middle of the industrial gray room. Then we all sang one simple chorus each of Come All Ye Faithful and Joy to the World.
I have to confess I was fighting back the emotion as these 300+ Carhardt-wearing people loudly sang in this echoing block building. They were the "faithful" who had come. They were about to load "Joy" into pickup trucks and minivans. Yes, I cried a little. If only I were man enough to cry as much as my soul wanted to.
Our four stops on Kokomo's north end weren't warm exchanges where recipients cried and asked us to pray for them. They were a little awkward. We awakened a few--literally wiping cobwebs from their eyes as they opened the door.
They appreciated our visit but didn't really want to have a chat with people they'd never met; people who only knew of them, that they were in need. I would probably feel the same way. And their reaction is not what this is about anyway.
I was thankful to have had the means to fix the transmission in our minivan so we could haul four boxes. I was thankful that Sandra had challenged us to do this as a family. I was thankful that Meghan and Slater willingly came with us. I was thankful to sing of faith and joy with people I didn't know (and some I did). I was thankful that a Child in a food trough still spurs people to make a difference in the lives of people they do not know.
Merry Christmas, friends...and those whom I don't yet know.
Monday, December 13, 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010
Perhaps an appropriate recap of Part 1 would be: “Church changes and that means sometimes roles do as well.”
I’m writing this series to help artists navigate this change and to give people the freedom to discuss this in the clarity of conversation, rather than within the often murky confines of the artistic mind. (Or maybe only my mind is murky ;-)
I’m not trying to change the new paradigm, but rather, helping artists transition well into the next chapter.
Why talk about this? Change the play on an accountant and that’s cake. Change the play or paradigm on an artist and let’s just say it’s somehow less clearly-cut than opening a new spreadsheet ;-)
So what now?
Re-surrender. When church changes artists must re-surrender their talents. When there’s a great fit between your gifts and what the church needs, honestly there’s not a lot of surrender going on; you’re feeling like you’re doing the most natural thing possible. But when the church changes and your gifts are’t the match they were, it stops feeling natural. One now needs to re-surrender.
This is what re-surrender looks like in a prayerful dialogue:
“Lord, thank you for how You have gifted me. My abilities comes from You. How do You want me to use these gifts today? As the expression of Your church changes, how and where would You like to use me in Your church? Lord, help me not be self-centered in my giftedness and serving. Lord, if there is self-serving junk driving me, shine Your light on it and root it out. Help me be fully surrendered to You and Your church. Lead me, Lord, and I will follow.”
Pray along these lines and initiate healthy conversations with healthy Christ followers. Do NOT have “shadow” conversations or “discussions in the bushes” about how unhappy or disgruntled you are.
I’ve thought about the person who has phenomenal tile or building skills. For the run of constructing our current facility their gifts were a perfect match; but then the building was completed and so was that specific kind of serving opportunity for them. Their serving had to look different going forward, or until that skill/gift is needed again. Church changes and we have to along with it.
Maybe God wants to use your artistic gift in a different area of the church or in a different manner. Maybe it’s ministering to a different audience within the church. Maybe it’s helping younger artists develop and mature musically and spiritually.
Maybe God wants your artistic gift to become more missional; using it outside the walls of the church, influencing the culture and cultivating relationships with those whom you’d never meet inside the church. Maybe God wants…?
Re-surrender and begin to ask Him how He wants to use your gift; where, when, how and for whom? Maybe God will start something that’s now only possible because you have more time to use your gift in this new way.
Words for churches and their arts leaders
One of the most profound things I learned at the AND Conference was that leadership has to start the dialogue about change as soon as they sense change is afoot.
This is messy because on the front end of change, leaders do not have it figured out. We leaders usually don’t like talking to teams when we don’t have answers. But when changes happens without a dialogue that’s instigated by leaders, the followers often feel lost or left out.
(I am in no way “sticking it” to Oakbrook or any church’s leadership here--we have GREAT arts leadership. I am in leadership at Oakbrook—this is simply the clarity that I have in hindsight.)
This is what transitional leadership looks like:
“We don’t have all the answers…where don’t exactly know where this is going…we do know we are transitioning into a more worshipful (or fill in the blank) paradigm…we are leaving a more performance-oriented paradigm…we don’t know how this will affect personnel but it probably will…we want to keep an open dialogue…”
Further along in the process as more clarity naturally happens, it will be apparent that some people will be used more and other less. That’s the time to initiate one-on-one conversations. Help guide those being used less to navigate the change. Tell the truth in love. God moves, God changes things and leaders are His mouthpiece.
When it comes to church leadership, much is talked about and written about when it comes to team building. But when it comes to team restructuring or team retooling, I’ve heard or read very little about this topic.
But for churches who are standing the test of time, leading transitions is par for the course and crucial. Because we don’t want to turn away blue chip volunteers that we’re using less—we want to help them transition too!
When a team transitions, people must transition. And the people need led in the process, much like they were led onto the team on the front end. If a football team chose to change their makeup to a more run oriented scheme, the coach would talk about how this new change is going to affect the current roster.
Fortunately for the church, we don't have to cut players, but rather help them transition within the team of the church as a whole.
I think this is the end of this series…I think…maybe...depends on the feedback ;-)
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Welcome to day 1 of Cook McDoogal's on the square in downtown Kokomo. The service was excellent (ask for Sara). And the decor was everything you could want in an Irish pub.
We only had an appetizer (corned beef & cabbage rolls) but it was great. Someone had thought about it & used good ingredients. (That would be Blake.)
Hoegaarden Belgian White (since 1445), Bass, Strongbow Cider, Blue Moon, Fat Tire, George Killians, Harp, Smithwicks (pronounced "Smiddicks"), Kilkenny, Murphy's, Guinness
We got to meet Jake & Blake. Jake Young is the front of the house mgr and has a very easy personality.
I asked him if he had Young's Double Chocolate Stout. He didn't, but was intrigued and wrote a note about it. He and Blake take their beers very seriously.
Blake, the culinary mojo, was unassuming and got here through culinary studies in the states and travels in Europe.
Sandra and I had a great time and are looking forward to many more trips. If this is your cup of..."tea"...I highly recommend you try it soon!
Mon-Thurs 11:00 - 11:00
Fri -Sat 11:00 - 1:00 (closed Sun)
no smoking ;-)
Below is a lovely Black Velvet (1/2 Guinness & 1/2 Strongbow)
Friday, November 19, 2010
"Scott Pitcher told me (and he did) I could stop in and check it out," got me a preview of Kokomo's only Irish Pub today.
All I can say is WOW! Pitcher's handiwork in restaurants has never been anything to sneeze at (where did we get that expression?) but he outdid himself on this one.
The bones of this old building didn't hurt either, nor the charming downtown corner location. When they opened up the dropped ceiling it revealed the original late 1800's tin. I can't imagine how much money it would have taken to add the vibe that this gem does, and it had been there tho whole time-- these hundred years. Wow.
The pub is laid out in snugs (seating areas). Each snug is designed to give you a different experience since each snug is unique. I can easily imaging people saying, "Oh, next time let's try to sit over there!"
I couldn't believe how much was done with recycled material; ancient wood beans to vintage elegant light fixtures. The amount of native storied wood in this space is unbelievable. And to top it off, there are various pieces of locally-crafted opalescent glass that fits into this ancient wood like it's always been there.
The "Pub" part of this equation is for real. twelve import beers are on tap! Guinness, Harp, Strongbow and Murphy's to name just four! See related blog post.
It's refreshing in this challenging economy to see the downtown with its recent face lift and now a very cool "Broad Ripple-like" experience like this making a run. Way to go Kokomo & McDoogal's!
They plan to open this Tuesday. It's non-smoking and you must be 21 to enter.
Related CNN article
Church music now is worship music. In the majority of my experience at Oakbrook it wasn’t. The music was diverse, and in essence needed studio musicians. That was a perfect musical fit for me; blue grass, movie soundtrack, pop, jazz, country, blues, rock—you name it.
It didn’t matter how hard the piece was, I could handle it. I’ve played drums since I was 4, took lessons at age 8 and I would humbly say that even at a young age, my musical ability was a gift from God. To this day, I need to practice little to none to pull off a tune. The big band Christmas services a couple years ago was maybe the only time I practiced on the kit before a band rehearsal. That’s not really the musical norm.
(Please understand, I’m not trying to be full of myself here, just trying to paint a picture—and that ability is not of ME—it’s a gift bestowed to me from God, of which I’m grateful.)
Over the last couple years our church music has slowly flowed into predominantly worship music. For a drummer it’s not complicated; very simple in fact (at least for me). And after playing lots of different styles for decades, the current trend is not very diverse to me. This isn’t criticism, it’s just what it is, to me musically.
I enjoy worship music. (And yes, I understand that worship isn’t about the music.) But I can more easily find God in a quiet room, reading, praying, writing, studying, or in a compelling instrumental tune or non-worship secular song for that matter. There are different worship pathways, and musical worship in the congregational sense is not my primary one. Maybe it's my non-churched upbringing, but I can find God in the arts seemingly more easily than worship music.
The recent church music trend is also going away from a pool of musicians toward a worship band model whereupon a worship leader will have the same drummer, bassist, guitarist, playing together all the time.
So in the near future, the odds of me being chosen when there are younger drummers with more affinity with a worship leader? Slim. And if I were a 20-30-something worship leader, not sure I'd choose the 46 year old drummer.
And let me be honest: not really sure I have the passion to do it in this current worship music paradigm. And without a doubt-- it would absolutely be best to have drummers playing these worship tunes that really love this current worship style.
And what a great opportunity for these young talented drummers---to enfold them into kingdom impact and allow them to use their abilities for God’s glory! That’s a great thing, friends.
So it’s weird to be here. I have a passion for drums and for music. I have a unique gift to play. Musically, I may be in the best days of a musician’s life: lots of experience, decades of developed technique, musical discernment that only comes with age, knowing how to setup players in a band and help them sound their best. This is the age when most musicians are at their best.
So it’s weird. On the church music scene I’m on the “outs” and don’t necessarily want to be back “in.” But what about the gift? “To whom much is given, much is required,” Sandra said the other day as I was torturing her with this discussion. Dang her! ;-)
And to be crystal clear, church changes. It must. When a church stops changing it starts dying. The current worship-centric church trend seems to be how God is moving now. So perhaps this is all as simple as I was blessed with the run I had; but these times, they are a changin’.
In a cerebral sense, I get it. But perhaps emotionally and even spiritually, it’s a tad sad to see the door closing on 19 years of church drumming knowing a unique gift is still in me.
As I’m writing this I’m remembering the words that a sage in my life uttered just yesterday. “Pastors never retire. They just retool.” Perhaps the same is true for church drummers.
So musically…what now, God? Anybody need a slightly used perfectly aged drummer? ;-)
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
I recently spoke with an educator who teaches graphic arts. This person happened to mention that the high schools and Ivy Tech use PCs with their graphics classes. I asked about college programs; did they prefer Mac? (I assumed they did since they have historically been the graphics machine of choice.)
The teacher checked with a former student now at IU studying graphic arts. The findings: "Either (mac or pc) is fine."
This is far from a conclusive study, but I did expect to hear, "Mac for design." Interesting...
Monday, November 15, 2010
Friday night and Saturday morning, 900 students, 300 parents and 100 volunteers shared in a world-class offering centered around helping students appropriately navigate sexual situations and cyber pitfalls of our day (that we don't even know exist).
Guest speaker, Katie Koestner, shared one of the most powerful stories and teaching that I've ever heard. She was on the cover of Time Magazine as her date rape store brought national attention. She's a subject of an HBO movie and has appeared on Oprah, MTV, Larry King Live, CNN, NBC News, Good Morning America et. al.
As she shared her personal story (with just the high school students) you could have heard a pin drop in the 1,000+ seat auditorium at First Church of the Nazarene on LaFountaine St.
At the end of the night a worship band comprised of vocalists & musicians from different churches led a powerful worship set. The energy and intensity reminded me of being at BigStuf in Panama City FL. At the end of the night, there was a non-manipulative offer for kids to come down who might need prayer, guidance, whatever. Many kids did. It was powerful...
Saturday morning Koestner led an eye-opening talk on how parents can lead in this digital age that many parents do not understand. I consider myself computer savvy and literate--and I was amazed what I learned about the permanency of everything we text or share on a cell phone or post on the internet. I had no idea...and you probably don't either.
Last week I spent 2 days at the AND Conference that was all about missional movements. This week I was part of one. What's a missional movement? Read on:
1,300 people came together for something powerful and life changing; yet it had no paid leadership. It was 100% volunteer. The information would have made a profound deposit whether one was a Christ follower or not. Two volunteers raised $18,000 to make this happen.
I was impressed. I was thankful and honored that Stacey Tice asked Sandra & I to be on the spiritual team. I was moved by the huge amount of volunteerism that it took to pull it off. That meant a lot of people were doing a lot of recruiting and a lot of people were saying yes. That's powerful. That's missional.
Tip o'the hat to the blush Board of Directors: Janay Martin, Teresa Devaul, Deb Austin, Kara Gingerish, Susan Heaslip, Jennifer Habig, Deoanna Holland, Amy Pate, Evelyn Sherwood, Erin Shultz, and Stacey Tice.
My advice? The next time you see something happening in our community sponsored by blush, highly consider going, inviting others, and getting your kids there. I strongly sense God in this missional movement.
Campus Outreach Services, Katie Koestner exec dir
click here to get updates on blush events
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien, Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon
Talk show mainstays from 1954 to 2010: The suit, the monologue, the sidekick, the desk, the mug, the couch, the band, and the schticky host comedy bits.
I've tuned in to see Conan's return and have been flipping around other channels to see what I've been missing and my take is, not much. I'm shocked that in half a century, the only change in late night is in essence, more edgy or sophomoric content. It's a 56 year old predictable template:
- Cue theme song with sidekick voice over.
- Host comes center stage to CRAZY studio audience applause.
- Host does "humorous" monologue on current events.
- Meet my band leader while I sit behind a large desk w/a large mic on it.
- Comedy shenanigans at desk with/without sidekick.
- Cut to commercial
- Bring out first guest.
- Yet another comedy bit.
- Bring out second guest.
- Don't miss tomorrow when we'll do the same thing with different guests!
On the other hand, there are definitely some creative network shows out there that are offering fresh takes on television programming; they just aren't on late night.
It seemed pretty lame the way Coco was treated by NBC/Leno. And it's nice that he got a new show on TBS. Nothing against Conan--I like him, just would have been nicer had he returned with something truly new.
Alyssa Porter and Elijah Pickett are our two Proteges. You can check out her blog here and his here. Oakbrook staffer Niko Gruber is also sharing in Protege as a mentoring experience and will do some co-leading.
I invite you to follow along, share it with others and maybe even consider being in the Protege Program at some point.
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Here's the essence of the tension: Many churches are based on an attractional model. You do amazing things that attract people to your church. Current research says that of the 100% people who could come to your church, only 40% would ever consider coming (and that number is shrinking).
60% will not be attracted no matter what we do. So it will take a missional model (going OUT to serve the people) to reach the 60%. This conference is about the truth that the church need sto be attraction AND missional going forward.
I thought Alan Hirsh was one of the premiere speakers. Here are some quotes from him:
"The problems of the current church cannot be resolved by the same lines of thinking that created it...digging a deeper hole is not the same as digging a new hole."
"Most churches are fishing in red oceans not blue oceans."
(Market terms: red ocean is a market that already exists and different entities are vying for the same catch - "blood in the water." Blue ocean is a new territory, new paradigm "unfished.")
"'If you can't imagine it, you can't do it.' -Einstein So we first have to make space in our minds to think movement rather than thinking programs." (First step in missional is in the mind--learning to envision a new paradigm.)
"AA is a great movement yet it has no headquarters...exponential movement is always the result of people, not an organizations."
He now prefers the word EXTRACTIONAL over attractional. In the current church model, we attract & convert people, they become involved in the life of the church and eventually live a life extracted from their prior culture of their unchurched world--(and we later wonder why they're not inviting people)."
"I'm hopeful...95% of Americans believe in God...to be an American is to be Christian...atheism is a sliver of the population that has never grown...American is the last stand for Christ and His church...the game is over in Europe unless a miracle occurs...I am called to America..." (He's an Aussie Jew)
"We have to re-Jesus people. He is Savior to Americans but not Lord...this is at the heart of renewal..."
>>>"We're perfectly designed to achieve what we're achieving." <<< "Our ability to birth a movement is directly proportional to our ability to make disciples."
Rob Wegner (GCC teaching pastor)
"We feel like our whole church is starting all over again."
"Deconstructing our people's thoughts about church is going to be a big deal..."
Hugh Halter (Nat'l dir for Missio)
"It's all about disciple making. Disciples by definition will be on mission...for us we use the term apprentice for disciple."
"Biblically the spirit & the flesh are opposed to each other--we don't naturally want to be missional people."
Barriers to disciple making: individualism, materialism (buying things), consumerism (God's here for me).
Jesus' apprenticing included: tension--He put them in tension-filled situations, modeling, action & reflection.
Get 16% of your people to become real disciples and you will create a tipping point. He uses this 8 wk group primer to disciple people.
Dave Ferguson (Community Christian Church)
Only 18-20% of Americans are in church on Sundays.
No spiritual affiliation has doubled in the last 10 years.
Missional people + multiplying churches = missional movement
3 things their church does:
1) Ordain EVERY Christ follower (priesthood of all believers)(anoint w/oil)
2) Lead with a YES (If someone wants to do something that lines up w/your mission and they have resources & vision, say yes.
3) Make heroes of everyday people (tell the missional stories in your church)
Matt Carter (Austin Stone Comm Church)
Last 10 years we've created 1,000 mega churches but per capita, church attendance is down.
"If my churches grows another 3,000 people but nothing changes in my community, that's a big problem...but what if we released 3,000 people on the city of Austin?"
"Jesus didn't model a church growth strategy. He discipled 12 men, gave them His Spirit and turned them loose."
They've based their groups around mission. Found that if groups aim for community they might get it. If they aim for mission they get both community and missional impact!
"Trained our leaders to be self-feeders not consumers...raised the bar in their minds & hearts of what God can do through them."
Tim Stevens (exec pastor Granger Comm Church)
Missional-schmissional: "I've never met an attractional pastor that didn't care for and love the people in his community and was trying to help/impact them."
Attractional -schmactional: "I admit I get tired that this series has to be better than the last and that we're as good as our last ministry offering."
"Four years ago we stopped growing for the first time in our history."
This we know:
1) We must begin to reach the 60%
2) We must reach more of the 40%
3) We must help the 40% reach their 60%
Get people connected in church. Get the church into the community
Defined by weekend service. Defined by where you are.
Central top-down structure. Decentralized organic quick growth model.
Stats: attendance & giving. Community impact.
No designated giving. Lots of ways to give to your passion.
Ministry is at the bldg. Minister where you are.
Bldg serves the church. Bldg serves the community.
Community invited to join. Church also meets here.
attender: "I like the attractional church--it worked for me & my family in every way!...but I have a friend who I cannot get to come to it..."
Jason Miller (arts & teaching GCC)
"If our people can't see this new paradigm, they can't join it. So we have to make the missional church manifest."
"Imagination is the tool to envisioning what can be real and transforming our current realities."
"The church is God's imagination for the world."
"Beauty matters...it transforms our heart...create something beautiful that resonates with the heart of God."
"Style doesn't change anything. It's just a wrapping."
Eric Bramlett (comic genius)
He did the Q&A Corner w/speakers after their talks. His deadpan humor 100% rocked and added immensely to the conference. A+!
Sunday, October 24, 2010
And here are some of the people I follow on Twitter for online Soul Food:
RevRunWisdom (Rev Run formerly Run DMC)
JohncMaxwell (Dr. John C. Maxwell)
DonMillerIs (Donald Miller)
LenSweet (Leonard Sweet)
MarkBatterson (of "Chase the Lion" fame)
TonyMorganLive (pastor Tony Morgan)
Here's the Blog about Halloween by Tony Morgan
Monday, October 18, 2010
San Diego Chargers are off to a 2-4 start with losses to three less-than-stellar teams: Seahawks, Raiders & Rams. This from a team that head coach Norv Turner inherited with a 14-2 record and was one win away from the Super Bowl.
What's wrong with the Cowboys and Chargers? They're suffering from head coaches who came with high expectations but only mediocre resumes.
Prior to coming to San Diego, Norv had a winning percentage of .281 at Oakland, .454 in Washington and 1 year playing in the post season.
Perhaps his predecessor had worse stats? Nope. Clearly well above average:
Former Chargers head coach, Marty Schottenheimer, had a .614 winning percentage and 13 years (out of 21) playing into the post season. He built teams that consistently won and had opportunities to win the big one. But because he did not win the big game, they thought a head coach with a mediocre resume (Turner) could somehow get it done. How logical.
And what about Dallas, this team with so much talent? Perhaps they are now playing at the level of their coach. Prior to coming to Dallas, Phillips had a total of 3 years playing into the post season, only getting as far as wildcard losses.
In this multi-billion dollar NFL business I don't understand the illogical expectations of hiring mediocre coaches and expecting post season play. Or what's more dysfunctional, firing a guy for getting you into the post season (but not to the big game) and replacing him with less successful coach.
Maybe when I'm a billionaire it will all make more sense to me ;-)
What does make sense is the losing Washington Redskins hiring a coach with a winning resume and expecting better results. Wise choice hiring Mike Shanahan. Look out for the Skins!
Monday, October 11, 2010
Thursday, September 23, 2010
BUT---I have learned that the value of Twitter lies in whom one chooses to follow! (<< that was the big idea right there)
My original experience was following local people that I knew. And not trying to disparage the locals, but what kind of sandwich one was eating wasn't exactly news I could use.
But Twitter has changed since I started following people who daily have wisdom, insights or humor to share. Here are a few that have added value to me:
John C. Maxwell
Seth Mcfarlane (sorry, I need a laugh now & then)
So Twitter doesn't have to be noise--it has the potential of being a very focused source of info from people you relate with and appreciate.
Do you think Twitter is lame? Delete the people you follow who don't add value to your day and follow people who do.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
This is Oakbrook's 25th year of ministry. Mark & Ronda Malin lead a handful of people to launch its first service, September 8, 1985. Some of those people are still here.
The staff and some good friends chipped in and bought them--what else?--a FISH! ;-) Actually this is a one-of-kind-artisan-crafted fish; the likes that Mark has wanted for a while.
They read a letter from their staff and friends and will enjoy a "get-away-and-do-replenishing-things fund" throughout the year.
It was a tender time. You could tell they didn't expect it and were moved to tender emotions. During the prayer time that followed, lots of sniffles underscored thankful prayers of what God has done and what He is still doing. It was a welcomed stream of emotion and the palpable Spirit of God.
Can't imagine a better start to a day or a better place to be ;-)
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Friday, September 10, 2010
"Hmm. That looks like Mr. Baughman, my sophomore year driving instructor."
I order. I study him some more. It was the early '80s but, yes, pretty sure that's him.
"Here's your cone!"
"Excuse me, are you Mr. Baughman?"
Curious look, ""Why, yes I am..."
"I'm Morgan Young. You taught me how to drive. Thank you very much."
Huge smile now, "Well that must have been a few years ago!"
"Just a few ;-)"
Still with a huge smile that's nearly a laugh, "Thank you for saying something--thank you for remembering!"
"Thank you for teaching me, Mr. Baughman."
When I had walked in, he looked so old and serious. Intent. Unemotional. Alone.
When I walked out he had the look of an excited school boy on his face. Genuine joy. Happiness. He was known. Appreciated.
As I stood there eyeing the menu and Mr. Baumann, I kept wondering if I should say something or just let it go. As I drove away I was so glad I had uttered those few words and given that tiny bit of time to him.
How many more chances will I get to thank teachers who taught me in school? How many more times will men and women like Mr. Baughman get thanked for what they gave their lives to?
The power of the human touch is so powerful. I saw Mr. Baughman's face and emotions transformed...all because of a silly dipped cone. Life is in the details, friends.
Monday, August 30, 2010
This is a Marcus Miller version of the Edgar Winter band's 1973 tune, Frankenstein. We played this as the prelude at Oakbrook's Sunday morning church service 8.29.10
Nothing like playing with great musicians and great friends to the glory of an amazing God. You might ask, "What's so worshipful about this?"
We all realize that the gifts we have came from God. We do what we do only because of His gifts. We also believe that Christ followers should have fun. This is a picture of us having fun in Him, to His glory, not to ours.
Worship is so much more than singing songs ;-)
Monday, August 16, 2010
Take your own test. It's simple.
1. Go here and/or here take the tests and it will give you a 4-letter Meyers-Briggs result.
2. Then go here to read about who you are.
I am INTJ:
"Independent, original, analytical, and determined. Have an exceptional ability to turn theories into solid plans. Highly value knowledge, competence, and structure. Driven to derive meaning from their visions. Long-range thinkers. Have very high standards for their performance and the performance of others. Natural leaders, but will follow if they trust existing leaders."
If you know me, that's a pretty good summary! Here's the LONG version of it.
What are you? Is it accurate?
It's going on in nearly every neighborhood. This is something I can change. Something you can change. Right now there are two houses with two little yards that our family is mowing. One I can see and the other is a block away. Our daughter Meghan is taking care of one of them.
I'm busy. You're busy. But I think we have 15-20 minutes to spare. So here's the challenge:
Mow a yard in your neighborhood that's out of control. Keep it mowed. Sure it's technically the bank's responsibility or the city will eventually cut it and bill someone that will never pay it. Or you and I could take care of our neighborhood. We can show our kids and neighbors that we care and that compassion is sometimes as simple as mowing a yard.
The next time you shake your head because a yard has gone to hell--maybe you could be the person to bring it back. That's the challenge.
Peace & grass clippings,
Monday, August 2, 2010
He likes the old Yankee Stadium and the new one. Not every 14 (almost 15) year old kid has a sense and appreciation of the past and the present; Slate does. Maybe it's because his namesake great-great uncles were broadcasters in the golden age of sports radio.
His name itself, "Slater," may be his link to the past. Here's a pic of Tom Slater with heavyweight boxing champ Jack Dempsey and Yankee great Babe Ruth. This hangs on Slate's bedroom door.
And here's a bit on Bill Slater. (Slater is my mother's maiden name and my middle name.)
Monday night we loaded up the car with baseball gear: a wooden bat, a new bat, bucket of balls, and gloves. And I noticed Slate grabbed my old first baseman's glove off the dusty shelf in the garage too; a '76 era Chris Chambliss autographed model that I bought for $20 when I was twelve. He decided to take some of the past with him.
We were up at 6 Tues. fueled with some of Sandra's blueberry pancakes and a cooler of home made, hand packed road food. No real woman would ever send her men out on the road without some love wrapped in Ziploc bags.
The GPS said we should stay on the mega-highways and head up to Chicago. That didn't feel right to me. We pulled out the big atlas and plotted a new course. To Lafayette, then to 65 N for a bit, then hit 24 west; a two lane highway that cut Illinois in two and ambles through little towns with 3 or 4 digit populations and grain elevators. It turns out our route had a whole lot more character and actually got us there sooner than the GPS.
Hours into the trip we were both pretty tired. The early start and the pancakes were kicking our butts. That's when we rolled past Paternoster Ford. Road fatigue has a way of turning men of any age into sophomoric idiots. Needless to say we somehow found something inappropriate in the word "Paternoster." We mocked it and laughed ourselves back into being wide awake.
The whole drive through IL on 24 was to drive in Indiana. If was exactly the same. Flat, corn, tractors, pickups, kind townspeople. But then there was...Iowa.
Shoeless Joe: "Is this heaven?"
Ray Kinsella: "No. It's Iowa."
That dialogue makes more sense now. Southeast Iowa is not Illinois or Indiana. It's slow rolling hills that you seem to see forever, all the way into the sunset. And on those undulating hills is more corn than you've ever seen before.
Here, a corn field is only the row by the road. In Iowa the corn rows run with the curves of the hills to the point you wonder if the farmer's tractor would fall over. Corn, this way and that, following the hills making symmetrical patterns like nothing in Indiana. Corn connected the roadside to the sunset. Corn was cool.
After 7 1/2 hours in the CRV our tired backsides closed in on The Field. As we snaked our way through the back roads within a mile of our destination we wondered, "How did anyone in Hollywood ever find this place?!"
As we drove down the long unassuming driveway it looked just like the movie. There is a modest gravel parking lot and in it a permanent souvenir stand. Besides that, everything was just as if Ray Liotta, Kevin Costner, and James Earl Jones walked off the shoot last week.
We slowly forced our car-seat-molded bodies out of the CRV. We stretched and looked, mentally checking off everything we expected to see. Field? Check. House? Check. Corn field? Check. And it was all as beautiful as you would expect.
This was a moment. Taking it in. "Wow, we're here. Wow--this looks just like the movie we watched last night. Wow. This is cool." (fist bump)
There weren't too many people on the field and the pitcher's mound and batter's box just opened up. We grabbed the bucket of balls, bats, gloves and headed toward the mound in hurried anticipation.
"Man they're serious," a man loudly whispered to his son as he looked at our bucket.
We threw for a few minutes so I could loosen up, readying to pitch to Slate. He then did some windmills with the bat in each hand. This is when the experience changed.
As soon as you start playing ball, your perspective changes from taking it all in, to focusing on a 5 1/2 oz little white ball. I was focusing on getting it over the plate. Slate was trying to get this huge 34" wooden bat around in time. We both realized the air conditioning was off and the sun was slamming.
Slate finally picked up his usual 32"-5 bat and drove a deep shot to left center 30 feet from the corn. This too solicited a positive comment from from one of the onlookers.
(By the way, the grass was perfect. Green, lush, flawlessly mowed and not one weed in sight.)
We didn't want to hog the plate (and we were pretty flippin hot!) so after one bucket we moved out of the way. We sat in the shade next to each other, talked and took it all in again. "Let's get a drink out of the cooler." "Great idea!"
We had a catch down the 3rd base line and later in the outfield. He caught some with his glove and some with my 34 year old glove. I hit him grounders and line drives at short. And I hit him pop flies to center. Somehow between playing ball and taking pictures we spent about three hours on the field. A couple times we were the only people on the field. Time flew.
All the gear we took went back into the car with some dirt from the sacred field of fathers and sons.
The cost to play on the field? Zero. Just sign the guest book and if you want, put some money in the unassuming donations slot.
Was there a moment? Did you feel something magical? Was it unbelievable? In the moment, probably not. Don't misunderstand; t was cool. We loved it. And even though Slate said (a-la Ray Kinsella), "Dad? Did you want to have a catch?" It wasn't emotional. But I could sense that the experience was packed with emotions.
Perhaps as we played ball, took pictures and sweated like dogs we were collecting emotions that we will dole out in days to come. Emotions that Slate will dole out if he has a son someday. Stories he may tell as he holds up an ancient glove and retells the story and says, "This was my dad's--I used it in Iowa--it still probably has some of that dirt on it."
Emotions I will dole out as I recount this experience back to Slate hopefully decades into the future or to a grand child. Or as I tell Sandra about it yet again, remembering back to when our kids were still kids.
(Or heck--the emotions I'm doling out to myself right now as I try to write this...)
We will remember the Field and our time there. We will remember driving 15 hours just to horse around on a ball field in the middle of nowhere. We will remember that Shoeless Joe Jackson, Bill and Tom Slater were tied to baseball long before we existed.
We will remember all the ball games from T-ball, little league and Babe Ruth league. We will remember that somehow beyond our comprehension, there is an Amazing God--a Perfect Father who has tied all these things together and is the source of it all.
And I am thankful that going to Iowa with Slate wasn't one of those "someday" ideas that never happens. Perhaps my friend Mike has inspired me this past year, to not count on "someday" because we never know how many days we get.
Why not make something happen in the life of someone you love?
Thursday, July 29, 2010
"I just wanted to thank you for sharing your special ability to translate God's words into practical life lessons, which my wife and I have applied to our lives and in turn completely transformed our lives and especially our marriage."
"I remember that you once said you met your wife while working at Rax and I was shocked to learn that Rax still exists in Indiana, so I thought you might enjoy."
Enclosed were Rax gift certificates and the address of the Anderson Rax. So me and the missus will be road-tripping for a BBC soon ;-)
Thank you to Mr. & Mrs. Anonymous for a very unique and special blessing!
Monday, July 26, 2010
So I get a message over a month ago from a friend I hadn't seen since 1983:
"Hey Morgan, I love you photos I've seen on Facebook. Would you do our son's senior pictures?"
Tracey, Rick & I were in band @ Kokomo High School. We had probably marched, bused, and hung out for literally hundreds of hours. But like so many high school relationships, I don't think we'd seen each other since the night in May when I graduated.
Rick & Tracey started dating the summer before their junior year and never stopped. They married in college, found a job and life has taken them to Minnesota.
So here we were again. The three of us. Looking over at the marching field we'd lived on 27 years earlier. And there was their handsome son, Matt; the same age as we were when we'd last seen each other.
No other experience to date has given me the sensation of time travel as this. It was eerily and yet warmly profound.
Hair color and hair lines different. Everyone would now wrestle in a heavier weight class. But the eyes...they don't change. Remembrances make eyes dance in the same way they did 27 years ago. But still...our eyes revealed the wisdom and experiences of our mid-fortied lives.
During the shoot I couldn't shake the odd sensation of it all. As if I'd driven to meet them in a flux-capacitor-driven DeLorean. Physically it was different. Relationally it was the same. And I think we all felt the sense of how unique and fun the moment was.
A few days later we sat at Starbucks as I handed over the photo discs. We talked for two hours (to poor Matt's dismay). Words came easily and smiles followed. For people the same age with kids of like ages there seems no end to the commonality.
And I have to say that Rick and Tracey are good people. They always were. I can tell they still are and they've raised two more good people in Matt & Samantha. As I sat with them I was reminded of the gift that good people are.
I asked Tracey, "So what have you learned?"
She paused and said simply, "What haven't I learned?"
Rick turned the question back on me. I thought for a second and said, "That everything I thought was important when I was Matt's age isn't important...perhaps that nothing's more important than humility...and that it really is all about relationships..."
And as I said those words I knew this was one of those special moments that really was all about relationships. Special that even though we'd been separated by 27 years of life, we could pickup and not be in those awkward moments caught fishing for words.
Life is unpredictable; old friends, comforting. And God winds through it all.
Here's to time machine photo shoots. (drink)
Monday, July 19, 2010
Ben and Cara are just out of college. I met Ben when he was in 6th or 7th grade. They have a lovely spirit to them. They want to change the world and God has given them the intelligence and passion to do just that.
Ben has a boyish face. And a boyish toothy smile that hasn't changed much since he was in middle school. And he has a boyish peacefulness about him. Soft spoken with words of weight.
And here's this optimistic young man with a boyish face dancing with his beautiful bride, looking anything but girlish.
And as they danced to this song, he quietly sang this chorus to her with his boyish honesty in a way that held back nothing.
Give a listen, then come back. click here.
I listened to that as I drove into church yesterday and it melted me. It conveys all the sentiment I have for Sandra. All that I can never say or capture with words. And the chorus made me think of my relationship with Christ. All that I can never capture in all my prayed words.
A true sense of love recalibrates my heart and mind by reminding me how fortunate I am. Blessed to have the love of my life in Sandra and the love of a Father that fathers me perfectly.
I think I'll listen to that song again...and knock off some of the crust that the grit of this world can cake on. And maybe inside, I'll become more boyish...if only for the moment.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
"This is for you. Hang it up in your wood shop."
He who works with his hands and HEAD is a craftsman.
He who works with his hands, his head and his HEART is...
-St. Francis of Assisi
He also threw in that it was handmade by _______ (excuse me, his relative's name didn't stick).
What a great way to start the day. Someone took the time to do this by hand. Someone thought that this somehow reflected who I am. And someone thought enough to frame it and deliver it by hand.
It sounds simple but the reality is that more often than not, what we're giving to friends, are the virtual "things" on Facebook. "Here's a cocktail for you." And friends pop over way to rarely. And too often gifts are not a reflection of the recipient, but rather reflect a social obligation.
Life is short. Friends who "get you" are invaluable. And nothing quite goes with French press coffee like a good friend on your porch with a thoughtful gift. Thanks Mike ;-)
Saturday, July 10, 2010
"This is a factory: Do NOT go outside the yellow lines. Do NOT take pictures. Do NOT touch anything."
Those were the kind yet firm words that started our tour of the Louisville Slugger Factory yesterday.
A few minutes into the tour, Slater and I found ourselves straggling at the end of our 20+ person group; Slate garbed in Yankees cap and Babe Ruth t-shirt.
As we looked closely at the station where finishing touches were put on bats, an employee looked at Slater and put his index finger into the air (the international sign for "wait a minute") and disappeared around the corner.
Slate and I just looked at each other as the space increased between us and our tour group. The "West Coast Choppers"-shirted man returned holding a bat.
"This is a rush order--Nick Swisher's bat for the All-Star game." He pushed it towards Slater; his eyes got big.
"Take it." Slate's smile eclipsed his face as he grabbed the bat.
"Take his picture," the employee said to me firmly.
"Here, get a shot of the order," he commanded.
We smiled like idiots and soaked it in.
As we caught up with the tour, stricken with serious cases of perma-grin, you would have thought Slate met Nick Swisher himself. You have to admit, getting your 14 year old hands on a bat before Nick Swisher does in the All-Star game is pretty darn cool.
Oh yeah, and Nick Swisher grew up in Parkersburg WV. The same city Slater's grandmother Sue lives in. The same city in which most of the Slater family was born. (Slater is my mother's maiden name.)
Later we thought of all the little things that contributed to that moment:
+ We got a later start to the trip than we planned.
+ In a split second we careened off the highway to check out the Adidas Outlet store.
+ Slater decided to wear his Yankees gear instead of a red non-Yankee ensemble.
You get the idea. A moment happened and we were fortunate enough to catch it--or more aptly--for it to catch us.
The Louisville Slugger Factory & Museum is a GREAT little trip for baseball fans. We learned a lot and kudos to the Louisville Slugger Co. for using one building for corporate offices, factory, and fan experiences --all set in an old building in a charming downtown.
Check out pictures on my Facebook page or here.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Confessions of a pastor time: I tend to like secular music more than Christian music.
That's probably because I grew up outside the church, and so music was the only language my soul understood through my formative years.
I have a special love for the singer/songwriter genre. This song, "Oh the Divorces" by Tracey Thorn is an example of why.
Tracey Thorn goes right at the reality that's touching all of us seemingly every week; divorce. I appreciate the honesty of her lyric and the way her music captures the frailty of our marriages.
And statistically I know that the truth she sings of is true whether a couple is Christian or not. So her secular song is sadly apropos for all of us, no matter what we say we believe.
I don't like wallowing in this type of song; but sometimes my soul and mind needs to be confronted with this kind of reality, in the way only a song can. I've recently read stats about divorce, but they didn't hit me deep inside the way this song did.
Peace--especially to those touched by and in the grip of divorce...
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Fact: Players, coaches, television viewers, broadcasters are distracted and annoyed by the sounds of the vuvuzela; these turbo-charged-steroid-enhanced bee hives from Hades.
Fact: FIFA's leadership chose to do nothing about the vuvuzela at matches.
This is a great example of why leadership exists; to step in and make prudent decisions that are in every one's best interest. When leadership shies away, everyone loses.
It's much like the parent who refuses to actively parent their children. Pretty soon the children are a mess, parents are frustrated and no one wants to go over to their house. (FIFA's leadership miss is doing nothing to attract new fans "over to their house.")
Leadership opportunities are all around us, and every time we refuse to engage, people get more used to not being guided--get used to doing whatever makes everyone happy--and that rarely nets positive results.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Here's the exchange with a changed name.
Can I bother you for some religious advice?
I went to Oakbrook 2 years ago for about 1 1/2 years...and stuff went bad in my life and I can't seem to not blame God for it! So I quit going.
Read the Bible much?
Not since I quit going--I didn't even believe til my buddy turned me on to Oakbrook--but the year and a half I went there, I did read it some, but not a lot.
When I read the Bible I see a lot of bad stuff happening. I also notice that it's man who causes the bad stuff and not God. I notice the same thing in our lifetime.
I am sure it is my fault just don't know how to reverse it so I blame God. Make sense?
Not really. That like, because stuff is going bad in my life, I'm going to blame the guy across the street.
Never looked at it that way--that makes sense to me.
God shines light on things--then they make sense. Satan like us to be confused and think illogical things like "it's God's fault."
Is there a book in the Bible to help me? I just feel lost.
Yes. Start with John. It's after Luke in the New Testament. I bet it will make sense. Then just keep reading from there. If something doesn't make sense, ask me--and I'll shine some light on it ;-)
No problem John--I'm glad you asked me this tonight. I'll pray for you after I sign off, if that's ok?
That's great I need all kinds of help lol.
I'll do it then bro. We can talk / IM later ;-)
ok, thank you Morgan
That was by far the most profound Facebook exchange I've ever had. I was glad he IM'd me. And I will be praying for him. And I will be wondering who else is watching...as I fart around on Facebook...