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Another One of Those Days

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Have you ever had one of those days? You know, thinking you should be something more than you are? Or at least more than how you see yourself? Recently, I texted my wife to see how she was doing and she was having ‘one of those days’. It boiled down to her feeling like she hadn’t gotten anything accomplished all day. Does that sound familiar?

If you feel that way too, let me remind you of a few things that are often overlooked: Every book you’ve read. Every Disney movie you’ve watched 100 times. Every smile you’ve shared. Every football you’ve thrown. Every meal you’ve prepared. Every bicycle you’ve pushed. Every lunch you’ve made. Every homework assignment that left you feeling like you were back in school. Every field trip. Every school play. Every trip to the bus. Are you with me? Not to mention every text or email you’ve sent to someone who needed it. Every idea you’ve ever written down. Every door you’ve opened. Every letter you’ve written. Every time you’ve listened to someone else in need. Even on the days when you feel less than your best, you’re more than you can imagine to someone you’ve touched along the way. And, by the way, that list above barely scratches the surface.

There’s someone on the end of every one of your smiles, hugs, handclaps, encouragement, tears, emails, meals, and conversations who needs what only you can give. Go with that and you’ll be everything you need to be to everyone who comes in contact with you.

Our Eye On Home

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by Kimberlee Stone

I was sitting on the front porch when Roxy and Sable started sniffin’ the air. Instantly the rain came at a downpour, even leaking through a few of the boards overhead. I scooped Roxy up and ran inside. Sable looked at me with weepy baby browns. “You’re not making me go home in this are you?” As I curled up in my favorite chair, both dogs ran circles of delight around each other that they’d found shelter from the storm. I propped the heavy front door open but kept the storm door closed so I could enjoy any outside light that snuck in.

Sable appeared right at my feet when I went to make a cup of coffee. I practically tripped over her more than once but was giddy with excitement at having a big dog in the house (note to self: begin big-puppy shopping soon). After I made my way back to my comfy spot, the dogs were ready for a nap. Roxy relaxed in her bed and Sable plopped down in front of the storm door. Thinking she wanted back out, I opened it all the way even as the rain pounded the ground. She didn’t budge. She was content as long as she could do one thing…

Keep an eye on her home.

The front of our cabin has a perfect view of the back of Sable’s house. On the typical day she saunters up a worn pathway to the front porch after her owner leaves. She spends warm afternoons lounging beside me or underneath the shade of the cedar tree. Oh, but let her hear the crunchy-crunch-crunch of her owner’s tires along the gravel and I’m all but a memory. I can’t blame her; her heart lies with her master. He provides food, a place to rest, and keeps the local coyotes from approaching. You can be sure I tempt her with treats throughout the day, but no milk bone has ever been enough to outrank the loyalty she has for her owner.

How about you? When was the last time you thought about Home? Not your pitiful earthly dwelling made from fancy stone and expensive brick; you know the Home I am speaking of. When was the last time you felt like Sable who eagerly waits and watches everyday for when her Master will return?

I’ll be honest and say that life gets in the way. Storms come over the mountain and my problem makes me take my eyes off Home. Or better yet, when circumstances begin going my way. Things I’ve prayed for appear on my doorstep. A dream comes true. I go a week without losing it in front of the kids. The bills are paid and there is money left over. The boss gives me the employee-of-the-month award and the best raise I’ve ever had—and a beautiful haze lures my eyes away from Home.

Yes, our present circumstances must be taken care of. We can’t sit on the front porch and gaze into the clouds all day. But can we afford to get so sidetracked with the hardships or beauty of life that we avert our eyes for even a second? I think not.

I urge you today to take heart—this world is not our Home. (That should be the best news you hear all day!) What about you? Are you expectantly waiting? Are you hopefully watching? Can you hear the pangs of this world that echo He could return for us any time?

You better believe that people are in the fight of their lives at this very second. I know some who are sitting in ICU right now believing for the healing of a child. I know a family warring against the terrible sickness of cancer taking their loved ones life. Someone is fighting for their marriage, someone is praying that grief doesn’t overtake them. And yet, someone has never been richer or more successful than they are today, and someone is fortunate enough to be living out their greatest dream. However, midst the trial, midst the full extent of the joy, I hope we all find the strength to be like Sable and…

Keep our eye on Home.

 

Division or Unity?

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9:00 Traditional Service: Choir. Robes. Orchestra. Hymns. Anthems. Pulpit.
11:00 Contemporary Service: More guitars. No Choir. Fog. Cool lighting. Younger people on stage. Jeans.

Years ago I visited a church where the pastor wore a robe in the first service, a suit in the second and a casual outfit in the third. The choir sang the early service, an ensemble in the next and the stage was cleared for a band in the last service. Whew! I left wondering if that really worked or why it was necessary. In another church I noticed the pastor wore a suit and tie in all 3 blended services and there were thousands of people in attendance. Is it the look or the message? In our attempt to become everything to everyone are our choices causing division or building unity? You may have heard something like this before; “You really should go to the 11 o’clock. The worship is way better.” Or “Mostly old people go to the early service and the choir sings.” How does this unify the church? But there are others who seem quite happy with the choices.

Hear me out. I’m just asking. Recently overheard on stage: OMG we couldn’t dare be on stage without a suit and tie. They would come unglued. Who is they? I’ve also heard a few say; we won’t have a choir because that is SO old and traditional. What? Who said? Someone at a conference with a cool pair of jeans? (I like cool jeans) :) Then there’s the opposite; “that” contemporary music isn’t worship. Maybe someone who refused to change anything? Come on! These ideas suggest that we have to dress a certain way or play a specific type of music to experience worship. I understand that you’re not typically going to find someone with all the Gaither homecoming video’s at a Gungor concert. But isn’t there a way to connect the two? Should we really have to split everyone up?

A few years ago a well known church tried to oust their new pastor because he decided to change the two morning services to blended rather than have a separate traditional and contemporary service. He felt by having both a traditional and contemporary service they were consciously splitting who they were with one service eventually seeming like the winner and the other the loser. Imagine an outreach to the community where music is involved. Which music team should be sent? Which pastor would you send? The one with the tie or without? By the way, you don’t suddenly become contemporary by removing your jacket and tie do you?

I recently asked this question on Facebook and Twitter. Do you think having both a traditional and contemporary service on Sunday morning builds unity or division in the church? Overall there were more than 130 responses. I was shocked by the feedback. Most people said they felt two different style services eventually causes division.

A number of people have asked where I stand on this matter. It’s tough because I’ve been to churches where this model seems to be working. Overall, I think there are creative ways to involve both traditional and contemporary styles in one service without alienating anyone. I believe that model offers opportunity to work together and also helps us become a stronger community. Anything less seems like we are more focused on ‘our feelings’ and not focused as much on being the body of Christ.

What do you think? If you’re more traditional would you be disappointed if your pastor wore a pair of jeans while he spoke? How about those of you in a contemporary service? What if this weekend during your contemporary, band driven service there was a choir? Would you be cool with that? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Does your church offer a traditional and contemporary service? Is it working well? Or, do you feel that multiple style services cause friction and/or disunity?