Sometimes a Question isn't about the Answer

"When is it going to rain here again?" my 7 year old asked. At the official start of summer, the truth is that we might not see rain until November.

I followed my curiousity and asked him, "Do you want it to rain again or not?"

"I do," he replied.

"Why do you want it to rain?"

"I like the sound the cars make when they drive through the deep puddles."

I never would have guessed that would be the reason behind the question. It led to a nice discussion about missing the northwest.

It was a good reminder that it's important not to get so caught up in answering the question that I miss the real concern behind it.


Redefining "Worship"

Can you 'worship' without music?

I don't mean when you're at the ocean appreciating God's majesty in His creation. Or having an intense quiet time where God speaks so clearly through His word.

Can you sit in church and "worship" if there's no music?

No organ prelude. No hymns. No choruses. No special offeratory.

I know some people who can't. People who wish the sermon was a 15 minute devotion so we could all get back to singing. Well, if we were honest, they'd really rather have no speaking aside from the narrative between songs.

Recently, our church took a music 'fast.' I have a lot of respect for leaders who are willing to take something as entrenched and 'important' as music and take it completely out of the service in recognition that its importance and place has gotten out of whack.

Pastor gave the congregation homework of coming to the service on Sunday with something to share. If you're part of a standard, conservative-type church, there isn't much opportunity to stand from your seat and speak to the entire fellowship. Yet that's what was going on in the earliest churches.

So where we'd normally have been "led" (or entertained) in song, people throughout the church rose to share a word that was meaningful to them this week by means of encouraging the body through their "Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs." It was different, but it was a huge blessing.

I'm not one to pitch the baby out with the bathwater, so I don't think we need to leave the piano vacant and the mic's turned off for good. But it was refreshing to be reminded that we are all to minister to one another, not just show up to watch the "professionals" do it.

What would you think if you showed up to church on a Sunday morning and there was no music? If the pastor asked you to minister to your fellow church-members by sharing something meaningful God showed you this week, would you have anything to say? What one aspect of church would you be unwilling to give up?


I don't want to be powerful


It was the only word the professor next to me wrote after I gave my first answer in the panel interview for admission to the graduate counseling program.

It shouldn't have surprised me (although it did, as it was far from how I saw myself).

I come from a long line of powerful women. From my 6-foot tall carpet-layer grandmother to my also-tall, rescue-ministering mom, there's not a shrinking violet in the bunch.

But all of our good traits can have an unattractive--even harmful--flip side.

In our case, the 'power' is often expressed verbally. Strong words, strong delivery. I come from a family of yell-ers.

I never start out yelling. I always ask/instruct 'normally' two or three times. But my boys' "mom-deafness" too often prompts me to raise my voice to a level where there's no denying I was heard.

I vowed I wouldn't be that way when I grew up. But family patterns are hard to break and often repeat themselves despite our best efforts to overcome them.

As my Bible study ended last month, someone asked what we plan to study while the group takes the summer off.

I didn't say so at the time, but I'm planning to study what it means to have a 'gentle spirit.'

On a visit to my favorite used bookstore a couple weeks ago, I purchased a chain-reference Bible. I'm looking forward to starting with the verses I know about having a quiet or gentle spirit and following the thread to see what else God has to say on the topic.

"Powerful" has its place, I suppose. But in my day-to-day life, that's now how I want to live. And even elsewhere, it's not really the first impression I want to make.

Thirty years from now when someone asks my boys what I was like, I don't want them to say "powerful." I want them to say that I loved them and loved God. And I know that is much better demonstrated by being kind and gentle than being 'powerful.'

"What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a whip, or in love and with a gentle spirit?"
1 Corinthians 4:21

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