Thursday, August 21, 2008

I Peeked at a Soap Opera

Have you ever been around a fanatic? Don't they just put a splinter in your mind about whatever they are fanatic about?
These guys are really over the top "Dawg Pound" Fanatics.
There are food fanatics and all they talk about is food and how to prepare a certain dish and how a certain spice is so fantastic and where the newest, latest and greatest restaurants are located and on and on and on. Or there is the novel reader (lover). When you are around these people you will certainly hear about the latest book they are reading or the author they are currently enjoying and why. I find that when I am around fanatics, I usually give them a bad time about their hobby or passion but I enjoy listening to their passion and watching the pleasure on their faces as they rant about their favorite whatever. I even find myself considering being interested in whatever they are fanatic about. For instance, my wife has been into this soap opera and I hear her talking about this one dude who wears an eye patch and all of the antics that he is involved in and guess what? I find myself peeking at the recorded shows to find out what this eye patch dude is all about. Fanatics can be contagious I tell you.
This is the one eye dude on the soap opera.
My friend Josh is a ravid Denver Bronco fan(atic). Now that football season is beginning Josh loves talking about Denver Bronco football (never mind that they will be horrible this year :-). Each year he and I join a fantasy football league and after talking with Josh about his favorite team, I find myself wanting to learn a little more about the Denver Broncos (do not tell Josh I said that). His passion is contagious. As I hang around with Josh during football season, the Bronco Bug kind of piques my interest (I'm still an Arizona Cardinal fan).
Ok, here is the Bronco logo (just for Josh) - Go Cardinals!
So I came across this verse in Matthew 13 this morning and it caused me to think about how fanatics can infect our thinking. Here is what the verse says: "The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened." Matthew 13:33 Leaven is like a fanatic that piques your interest. If you are around the fanatic long enough, you end up investigating what is so enthralling about cooking, a restaurant, a soap opera or even the Denver Broncos. The leaven of their passion kind of gets into you. The Kingdom of Heaven, Jesus says, is just like that. As we are passionate about Jesus' Kingdom and as we are involved in people's lives, this leaven of heaven (like the rhyme?) will pique their interest and the questions will begin to come.
This is a picture of leaven permeating the whole batch of dough - like we should be at work, home, gym etc.
Now Debbie doesn't know that I have 'peeked' at the eye patch dude on her soap opera (well I guess she will if she reads this) but I have. Her enjoyment of this soap caused me to investigate. Josh doesn't know that I have this secret things for learning more about the Broncos but I do (I'm giving away all of my secrets). His passion for the Broncos has stimulated me. And so it can be at your work or the gym or the with the parents in your child's school or wherever you go. When you are a fan(atic) of the Kingdom of Jesus, it will ooze out of your life and fill wherever you are with the scent of heaven. Your words and deeds will expose your passion and others will be affected by it - even if they don't tell you. Just being a fan(atic) of heaven and being involved in your work place has an eternally positive affect. So put some Kingdom of Jesus leaven into the lives of those you hang out with. It will permeate them and they too will become passionate about your King Jesus. May our friends be filled with the leaven of heaven. I hope this was of some help to you.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

The Conductor

I was driving form Savannah, Georgia to Tampa Bay Florida recently in a rented car. As I began down the highway with my wife, Debbie, I cranked up the radio. I pushed the first ‘pre-select’ button and expected to find whatever local station was assigned to it. To my surprise, the car I rented was equipped with XM Radio and suddenly a whole new world of options rushed through the radio screen. After searching many of the 300 or so stations, I settled on a classical station. The cooperation of so many instruments coming together to make amazing sounds was intoxicating. As I thought about the symphony I was hearing, I began to think about the central piece of the orchestra, the conductor. The conductor’s ability to know each instrument, what it is supposed to do and when it is supposed to do it is central for a unifying sound that can be so powerful and persuasive. As my mind drifted and danced with this wonderful music I kept thinking about the conductor, and a question kept rising in my mind. The question was simply, what is the center of the church to be? Who is the conductor of the local church? How would you answer those questions? In my experience, the center or conductor of the local church is often viewed as the Pastor. The Pastor is most often the one who hears from God, crafts the vision or mission of the local church and then calls the folks committed to that local body to work towards the goal of carrying out ‘our’ vision or mission of that church. This sounds right to us. It is all that most of us have ever experienced. But I am beginning to question if this is the way it should be. What if the spiritual directors (pastors, elders etc.) weren’t the conductor but the coaches? What if the pastors and elders were not to hear from God for the people and give them the vision to carry out but rather to help each person to discover God's vision for their own personal life and then live it out? What if the spiritual directors were viewed more as teachers of the instruments that people are gifted to play. What if the spiritual directors were to equip the musicians in their instrument and give them encouragement, permission, empowerment and ideas of how to more fully explore their instruments and all that they can do? What if the pastors and elders were to prepare and serve their friends to get ready to follow the lead of the conductor as a musical piece was learned and performed? I’ll bet the music would be beautiful. There really can only be one conductor in any orchestra and it simply cannot be the spiritual director(s) or leader(s). After all that job is suited for the only one who knows all of the instruments, musicians, music and full abilities of each one and how they fit into the music of the universe. Only Jesus can be the conductor (head) of the orchestra (church). The center of the church should be Jesus Christ, the conductor who puts all of the individual parts together to make beautiful music (just to make this blog cheesy ☺). With Jesus as the conductor and not a human being, unity will actually be realized and the tones and harmony that will be produced will be something we have yet to hear. Even though each person may have a different part or role to play with different sounds, the music will be wonderful. Some will be playing the harmony and others the melody; a masterpiece will be heard all over the world So, I am thanking God for rental cars and XM radio because that experience taught me who the conductor of the symphony of souls in the church is to be – Jesus. Do you have any thoughts about who the conductor of the local church ought to be? What did Jesus mean in Matthew 16:18 when He said, "I will build my church"? Next time I’ll (briefly) discuss the role of leaders in the church.