Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Present: Worship Lessons

It's so easy to plug along week after week in ministry and lose sight of why we do this in the first place. I have to continually remind myself (or be reminded by God) why I really do what I do.

I'm reading a book called "The Cross and Christian Ministry - Leadership Lessons from 1 Corinthians" by D. A. Carson. The premise of the book is whether or not the Cross is truly the center of your ministry. I'm only a 3rd of the way through the book and God has "reminded" me of areas of worship that can, little by little, head off course. Here's a few examples from the book (I'm paraphrasing)-

"We have become so performance oriented that it's hard to see how compromised we are. Here's an example: In many churches, prayers now function as the time to change the set in the sanctuary. The people bow their heads and when they look up a minute later, the singers are all in place or the drama group is ready to perform. It's all so smooth - it's also profane. We are in prayer addressing the King of heaven. In reality, some of us are doing that (addressing the King of heaven) while others are tip-toeing around the stage - still others are wondering what happy configuration will confront them when they open their eyes. Has the smoothness of the performance become more important to us than the fear of the Lord? Has polish displaced substance?"

OK, I'll be the first to admit it...I've used prayer as a transition.

A little further on he writes: "As long as people are impressed by your powerful personality and impressive gifts, there is very little room for you to impress them with a crucified Savior."

OK, I'll admit this too - I sometimes worry about how "well" I'm doing when I'm leading worship.

Wow. I need to be reminded of these things continually. I DO worry about smooth transitions in a worship service and sometimes forget the important things. I also have to continually be aware of my human need to "perform" and keep my purpose as a worship leader in check - an on-going battle with my human nature.

I love it when God reminds of things and keeps me in check - I need it and I'll be the first to admit that I've got a long way to go. How about you? I'd love to hear your thoughts...

Friday, September 11, 2009

Past and Present: Summer is Over

Summer was always such a great time of year for me as a kid. I absolutely loved playing outside and would go out from the time I got up until I had to go in when it got dark. Riding my bike was a favorite activity as well as playing cars in the Cramblett's sandbox, kickball in the field behind my house, "olden days" in Kent woods (at the end of my street) where we acted like we were settlers, and on and on. Most of the families on Thoreau Ave. in Akron had lived in their houses for years, so I grew up with mostly the same bunch of kids from the time I was a toddler until they either moved away or graduated from high school - I never moved. Today when I think of summer I often think of the kids on Thoreau.

There was Timmy Simmons, the red-haired kid who lived next door until he moved away in 5th grade. One time I pushed him off the front porch (see earlier post about the porch) into the bushes and he had to get stitches on his back. He was also friends with my future wife Donna when she was in junior high - strange. Curt Cramblett and his sister Colleen lived across the street until they moved away; Curt was younger than me and we didn't often get along too well. I accidentally (?) put my fist through their storm door window and almost had to get stitches myself. Next to the Cramblett's were the Vannatters; another anchor family that lived in their house for many years - we loved the Vannatters and all four of us Authenreith kids hung around with them at one time or another. Lori was a best friend from kindergarten until high school, and her brother Kelley was great friends with my sisters and even became close to my mom and dad later on. There were the Colliers who lived two doors up (lots of stories there) and Kim was a good friend up into high school.

There were other "anchor" families on Thoreau: The Mays, the Goodwills, the Hackets, the Saunders, the Falveys, the Glasses and many more that I can see in my mind - and see their house, but can't remember their names! Some of them may still live there today.

For my boys now, summer is a little different. We've had the curse or the blessing (depends on how you look at it) to have lived in 5 states in the past 12 years - all for my job/ministry locations. I hurt sometimes when I think that my boys never really got to experience very many "Thoreau" summers because they were always the kids that moved away. I look at my time on Thoreau as a pretty positive growing up experience and have often wished the same for Brandon and Marshal. Fortunately for Donna and I, they are very adaptable and have done well with the moves and school changes - praise the Lord for that.

So summer 2009 comes to a close. The boys are back in school and all the fall activities are starting up. I know we are only on this earth for a brief time compared to eternity, but why does it have to go by so fast?

How about some thoughts and comments?