Posted tagged ‘synchronized’

Running Ahead of Grace

February 8, 2020

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                        February 8, 2020

                                    

At our small town Baptist church we have a machine that plays the organ music for the hymns that we sing. Our youth do another song during the worship service where they play a praise song on their Bluetooth speaker and the congregation sings along with them. For hymns, however, we sing with the machine.

Here’s the thing! Sometimes the volume of the music machine is not loud enough for us to hear if we are on the right note, word, or line. Sometimes it runs ahead of us, like an unleashed dog with a wide open field in front of him. Sometimes the machine lags behind, like a shy kindergartener being pulled into his first day of school.

Last Sunday we sang that great hymn, “Amazing Grace”. The music lagged behind and the singers scampered ahead, leaving grace in the dust. It wasn’t loud enough or dominant enough for it to be pursued. Instead, as we finished the first verse, it had become the pursuer.

By the final stanza we had slowed down our hurried vocal pace and seemed to be more in step with what it was that we were singing about. If “Amazing Grace” had three more verses we would have felt synchronized with the emphasis.

It seems that’s how it is with grace. We run ahead of it, run away from it, and run despite it. Our actions sometimes suggest it, but our thoughts betray our lips. The volume of its potential gets turned down and fades into the background of our beliefs.

Finding the rhythm of grace in our lives is challenging. When the crowd sings too quick, staying in step with grace requires resolve and conviction. When some of the group decide it’s not worth singing about at all, grace-filled people decide to stay the course, sing the next words that others find antiquated. 

“…I once was lost, but now am found; was blind, but now I see!”

I have found in my years as a Christ-follower that the most amazing moments in a journey with other believers happen when a church finds it’s grace harmony. Repentance and forgiveness seem to join hands and the transformative power of the grace of God seems to make singing the hymn freeing.

It’s like last Sunday! After we finished the last verse that John Newton wrote, and finally got in step with the music, we added an additional verse of our own. We sang two words over and over again to the same “Amazing Grace” tune. Two words again and again.

“Praise God, praise God! Praise God, praise God!”

Playing Through The Wrong Keys To Find A Note Of Harmony

December 18, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                 December 18, 2017

                  

Yesterday I drove out to the hamlet of Simla, Colorado for the children’s Christmas program at the Methodist Church, followed by speaking at First Baptist of Simla. I had been invited to attend the children’s program and told the invitee that I would try to make it. It was delightful as only a small town small church can be.

For the offertory two young girls, both around ten years of age, played a piano duet. Both were dressed in beautiful shiny attire, beaming with excitement and a bit of nervousness. They positioned the sheet music in front of them and then carefully took their seats on the bench. They each took a calming breath, placed their fingers on the keys, and one of the girls whispered “One, two, three, play.”

The first notes were uncertain and wavering. Five notes in to the song they glanced quickly at one another, offering mutual encouragement for the adventure.

And then there were the uneven notes, one earlier and one later in its sound…another wrong note beginning to be played but as quickly as it started the playing finger slipping to the right note next to it. The small congregation of twenty of so “hoped” them on, longing for the next played sounds to be the right notes.  It was two girls risking failure but hoping for discovery.

And then in the midst of the effort and searches suddenly a few notes of perfect harmony sounded! One of the girls looked at the other with an expression of surprised delight, as if she was saying “Did we just do that?”

A few moments later they synchronized the playing of their last keys and breathed a sigh of relief. The gathered faithful clapped in appreciation of the experience. Even though their offering of talents was a bit short of perfect it was sweet music to the souls of the saints. The young ladies looked out at the church and displayed smiles of satisfaction and finished business.

It reminded me of the church, sometimes struggling to find the harmony as the struggles of ministry surface. Wrong decisions made with the right intentions, right choices made with the wrong intentions…like two young girls seeking to work together to play beautiful music and often missing the notes.

And then, all of a sudden, moments of harmony surface in a ministry that is mostly uncoordinated. The moments bring smiles to the faces of the weary, peace to the spirit of the Body. Just when it seemed that a bond with Christ would never be discovered again it suddenly appeared.

Ministry is more often like a pair of ten year olds playing a piano duet than the rhythm  of a symphony. If it was always such sweet music it may not be appreciated nearly as much. Paul made note of it when he wrote in Romans 12 these words: “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those to mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with those of low position. Do not be conceited.” (Romans 12:15-16)

There was no conceit sitting on the piano bench yesterday, just two young girls freed by the church to risk imperfect talents in the ministering to the saints. It was my closest connection with the Holy the whole day!

What Sports Would Jesus Have Had Kids Play?

September 28, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                  September 28, 2015

                              

     Yesterday I officiated some 6th Grade Boy’s Basketball games. I don’t referee many youth games that are outside my church gym. I save myself for the high school and junior college seasons.

But our assignor needed help…and I was looking to shake some of the rust off so I put the whistle around my neck, donned “the stripes”, and laced up my shiny black officiating shoes.

It’s amazing how many parents get “demon-possessed” as they watch their sons play hoop. Accountant-types get crazy hair…psychiatrists display mental illnesses…pacifists reconsider their commitment to peace.

It made me consider what Jesus would have done? Better yet, what sports would Jesus have played? Even better, since Jesus is concerned about all children, what sports would he point the little ones towards…and which ones would he guard them against?

I’m tempted to answer that with two lists…the yes list and the no list…but I’m fight the temptation.

First of all, I think Jesus would have promoted team sports since the gospel is relational and his emphasis was on relationships. He emphasized to his disciples that they were to be on the same page…with him and with one another.

I think Jesus would have pointed people to the rowing team…synchronized, demanding, depending on one another. Jesus would have cheered the rowers.

Many sporting events in Jesus’ time were brutal…kind of like present-day ultimate fighting. The present-day of seeing someone get beat to a pulp is just gladiator flighting done in an arena with beer sales and public restrooms.

I would say that curling would be a point that Jesus would point kids to, but in the gospels there is that time he said, “…let him who is without sin throw the first stone.”

Instead I think “disc golf”, otherwise known as “frisbee golf” would be a favorite for him. The emphasis on staying on the narrow path would be emphasized.

Just as Jesus cleared the temple area of merchants and money-changers I think he would clear gyms of parents trying to relive their childhoods through their children who just want to have fun. Perhaps most sporting activities would be outdoors in the sunshine and fresh air instead of fortress gyms where people have to pay for the privilege of watching.

Don’t get me wrong! I think sports has great benefits and great teaching applications for life. That’s why I coach basketball! Kids can learn how to work together, how to play together, what is important and what is not nearly as important as some people say it is.

I think Jesus would encourage sports participation, but not selling out a child’s youth years to it.