Thursday, October 29, 2009

I was thinking about music today. When I was young, music was everything. Each of my friends--every one--had his or her own musical configuration. We identified ourselves by such a configuration. We shared some favorite groups, but then diverged from each other on others. My friend Jeff and I both loved Beatles, but he had no use for my Moody Blues and I had no use for his Grateful Dead. We knew all the vagueries and subtleties of any group or singer. We spent $200 on a turntable cartidge and cited all the specs for it, against those of our friend's unit. For those of us who played guitar or drums (are there other instruments?) we enjoyed rough imitations of the great ones' tunes. Music was a passion. It was the fuel for our generation. I would go to concert after concert like religious pilgrimages.

Now, I listen still to music often, but have grown much more focused. I mostly listen to 60s musicians still. Christian music holds an attraction, but there I have become very picky. I do not know the Christian "hit parade" singers any more, since 1995 or so. I find much popular Christian music over-produced and commercialistic. We used to have the phrase "sold out." That would apply now, I think. Becoming a star seems to be the aspiration of many song-writers. Gone are the days of Sparrow Records and Keith Green.

I wonder how music will be in 50 years? What little of today's sounds I hear are more often annoying than pleasant. Surely they are not inspirational. I embarrassed myself last week by accidentally discovering a song recorded by a re-united Byrds in 1990, and liked it a lot, only to find out it has been recorded by numerous "pop" artists and is considered trite, even to the point of making the Top Worst 50 Songs of all time. Sheesh. And I just heard it for the first time.

In heaven I fantasize music to be always fresh, always innovative, never boring and never shallow. The right balance of beauty and movement. Until I get there... back to the Airplane.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The work of shepherding souls, is not unlike shepherding sheep. First, the shepherd does not necessarily own the sheep. Second, the sheep can become food for wolves if the shepherd becomes distracted. Third, sheep get sick easily and die. The shepherd grieves a loss from illness. Fourth, sheep know the shepherd's voice and trust it. Fifth, the sheep need green pastures in which to feed. Sixth, all the sheep are not identical; some have unique features. Seventh, sheep may bite on each other sometimes. Its to be expected.

Today, I shepherded lots of different kinds of sheep--college kids, twentysomethings, an older lady, a bunch of breakfast guys, talking about Glocks and Rugers, a worker-sheep who gives her every ounce of energy, a middle-age fellow seeking to know if he can rebuild a spiritual walk with the Lord after a quarter century of drifting. I am weary with the care of the sheep. But I am so expendable. Another shepherd could be easily found, so I do not overestimate my own importance. The bottom-line is, I love shepherding. I hope the Lord Jesus allows me to do this until the last week or so of my life.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Faith is trusting God, even though we can't see Him. And even if we could--the Israelites could see His workings with great drama and yet they still needed faith. I need it every day, even though I have the Bible and am surrounded by many believers, all of whom also have faith.

What am I trusting God for today? There are the resident, baseline things like a) if I die tonight I have faith He will take me to heaven b) the Gospel is applicable for all people, all of the time. c) His providence and care are there for me--He will never break a promise to me. But what active issues and challenges am I consciously trusting God about? Of this I should take regular inventory. There should be a number of things that are engaging my day-to-day trust in Him, and which I am frequently asking Him about. Daily faith is more than passive. It is active. It is a turning-over-to-Him intentionally, of things I would rather try to handle (or worry about) myself. A person of great faith, I think, is a person who is actively, deliberately taking God at His word. "Ok God, you have said it, now do it." This of course, assumes I am accurately interpreting His promises, and not stealing promises made to Israel or the early church and appropriating them to myself just because I like reading them. But there are a great many promises in the New Testament which ARE intended for all believers. These are precious, and the things that energize my faith. What of THOSE am I actively trusting Him for?

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Quiet. My Dad used to sit out on the patio at night in the summer. He just sat, and smoked. I would know he was there in the dark by the ember of his cigarette. He would just sit, and think. He liked the quiet of the a summer night. Occasionally, he would sit out there all night. This is strange, because when he was raging he was very much heard all over our part of the neighborhood. When enraged, he was a terror. But when quiet, he really liked the quiet. I don't get much quiet these days. I am too busy. And there isn't anywhere I go where it is quiet. I detest being alone, too, which precludes much quiet. But I see its value. Daughter Susanna says she likes the concept at least, of the Quaker quiet time. They sit in quiet until someone stands up and starts ranting about something political. But if no one is ranting, it is quiet and she likes that. When I get quiet, there is a ringing in my ears. And a ringing in my spirit--I think that is why I have always liked C.S. Lewis' Woods Between the Worlds in the Chronicles of Narnia. I think it was exceedingly still there. Some quiet in my spirit, and stillness, would be nice...