How the Net Reawakened Worship

I was reading an article in Wired magazine last night about how the internet has changed things over the past 10 years. I love the fact that just 10 years ago smart people were calling the internet a fad or something that would never go mainstream. It was hard to see how much the easy collection of information would change our lives. (does anyone remember life before www.imdb.com back then if I couldn’t figure out what movie someone else had been in I was forced to suffer until my friend Kenny called me back)

One of the things in the article that really jumped out at me was that one of the reasons people thought the internet would fail was because of the money it would cost to fill it with content. Most people still had an idea of entertainment broadcasters producing entertainment for the masses. No one imagined that the assumed great lazy consumers would actually put the effort into creating their own entertainment. But that is exactly what has happened. Suddenly there is a huge culture of people not simply receiving, but in the process of creating, and not only is it fun, but it is also speaking to a need deep inside of their hearts. Why else would people spend hours on blogs or web pages or creating music with garage band for only a handful of people to ever hear? We all have the desire to be engaged in what we are doing. We have this desire to create.

For a while after the industrial revolution and the invention of the television people forgot what makes them feel most alive. They turned to non-interactive entertainment and stopped producing anything on the local level all together. As people moved that way for entertainment their worship turned that way too.

As churches we began feeding the consumer ethos and presenting church services that were all about feeding the congregation. Now I have seen an awakening among students and adults to a new desire to be involved in worship, not simply through singing, but through hands on involvement. And more than that worshipers want to be a part of the creative process because they have inside of them the image of the creator.

In many ways this internet that people feared would dehumanize us all has reminded us what it means to really be human. It has reawakened us to the spark of God that is inside of all of us.

Time Management

I was reading an article on time management today. (I know your greatest desire it to know what I am reading every day) Anyway, I wanted to give my own time management tips. It seems like most time manager people are very organized and very anal and the stuff that they tell you to do just isn’t possible. So for all of you youth pastors out there here is my time management tip for scatter brained, short attention span, lazy people like me.

If you are like me it is hard to differentiate between when you are working and when you aren’t. I end up working at all times during the day, sometimes in my office and sometimes at home. Because of this I used to feel guilty all of the time when I wasn’t working because there were always things that needed to get done. I envied my wife who at 5 o’clock got to come home and forget about work until the next morning. So I came up with a system. And here it is: my one time management tip that has freed up my nights and really helped me to get more accomplished with less stress.

Shane’s Time Management Tip:

MAKE DAILY TO DO LISTS!

Alright I know that sounds simple, but let me explain. I used to make a “to do” list of all of the things that needed to get done in a week. The list would contain all of the things that needed to be done for a whole variety of things. So each day I would work on a few of the things, but I couldn’t really stop working because there were still things on my list.

Now I take that week long list a step further and break down what needs to get finished each day of the week for me to have everything done on time. I know that have some attention issues so I normally don’t work on just one thing until it is finished. Instead I break down each project into pieces that I know I can complete in a day. I have learned that I don’t like to do the same thing for 4 hours even if it means it will be done. I would much rather do a little of each thing every day. So that is why the daily list helps me so much.

The amazing thing is that since I have been doing this I am getting more done and I have far less stress because I can complete my list and the put work aside until the next day. It really is nice.

The only problem with this is when something comes up and I can’t get to my daily list. If I have to run to Dothan to see someone in the hospital or I end up working on other people’s projects it can throw my whole week off.

I know this idea is simple, but it took me 30 years to figure it out. I hope it can help some of you figure it out a little faster than me.

The Man Who Didn’t Care (A Fairy Tale)

I have been struggling with this idea that we get our identity from other and if we could just forget about the opinions of others and live in God’s opinion of us we could do all sorts of cool stuff with God. But most of us are so concerned with what others think we are paralyzed.

I was thinking about a sermon on this idea all day so tonight I am playing guitar in the Sanctuary of my church and this idea comes to me "The Man Who Didn’t Care: A Fairy Tale" and it just felt right. I don’t know if this is good. (I haven’t read it yet, only just typed what was in my head) but it feels right somehow. I do know that if someone really only cared about what God thought of him he would stand out enough that others would notice.

I plan to read this story as a sort of "Story Time" type of sermon on Sunday night. If you are planning on being at Calvary Baptist Chruch on Sunday please don’t read the story; it will spoil the magic. The story is a little long so I put it in the post continuation. Click the link below to see the story.

Tonight I want to tell you a story, well, it’s a fairy tale really called “The man who didn’t care.” It begins as all good stories do with once upon a time…

Once upon a time in a land full of dragons and knights and castles and forests and ogres and king there lived a man who didn’t care. It isn’t that he didn’t care about his family in fact he loved them very much. It wasn’t that he didn’t care about other people he had many close friends and was always trying to help people he didn’t even know. It wasn’t even that he didn’t care about the state of the world because he was actively involved in trying to make the world in which he lived a better place. This man who didn’t care was different from everyone else in one special way and that difference caused everyone to look on him with a mixture of confusion and wonder. You see what was so different about this man was that he didn’t care what other people thought of him.

I guess to say that he didn’t care what people thought of him isn’t one hundred percent accurate. He cared a great deal what one person though of him and that person was his King. In all of the world the only opinion that mattered to this man who didn’t care was that of his King and his King was pleased with him.

Each morning the man who didn’t care would enter into the throne room of the King and humbly bow before him. Each morning the King would say, “Walter,” for that was the name of the man who didn’t care, “Walter, I like you, in fact, more than that I call you my friend. Whatever happens today, whatever anyone does to you, and whatever you do don’t forget that you are a friend of the King.”

With that blessing Walter would go out and face his day. Everyday was different for Walter because as a man who doesn’t care he was in great demand. People would come to him with their problems and ask him to settle their disputes. As a man who didn’t care Walter wasn’t swayed by the parties on either side. He didn’t feel like he need to make one side or the other like him and he didn’t feel the need to get one someone’s good side. He simply looked at the facts and made a decision.

People who had been mistreated would also come to Walter. As we went with them to right some injustice or another the people would always say something like, “the man who wronged me is very powerful and popular. I haven’t been able to find anyone willing to help me because they are all afraid of being on his bad side. Why aren’t you afraid.”

And Walter would always answer, “I am a friend of the King. Why does it matter to me that this person or that person is upset with me. I do what is right and I will let other people’s opinions of me work themselves out.”

Well as you can imagine people were in awe of Walter’s oddity. People would come from miles around to see if the stories were really true. They would ask the local townspeople questions about him.

Is there really a man who doesn’t care what anyone, save the king, thinks about him?

Yes, we can hardly believe it either, but it is true

Such a man must be arrogant and very prideful

No, he has no need for arrogance for arrogance is thinking you are better than others. He doesn’t rank himself

Then he must be weak and scared groveling at the feet of everyone

Oh no, in fact he is one of the bravest men in our city. He doesn’t have to fear anyone because he says, “he is a friend of the King.”

So he Lords his friendship with the King over everyone using that to get special favors and demanding to be treated better?

Not at all, he actually invites everyone he meets to come and meet the King. According to Walter the King wants to be friends with all of us.

The king wants to be friends with all of us? What kind of a fool are you?

I didn’t say that I believed it. I only said that is what Walter tells everyone.

This same conversation or one very similar to it would play out in various places around the city and as the story grew and more people came to see “The man who doesn’t care” the townsfolk could answer most tourists questions before they even asked.

One day a baron from a distant land came to see Walter’s King.

“Your highness,” the Baron said, “I have heard about this strange man that you have in your service, this man who doesn’t care what other people thinks about him.”

“He knows what I think about him, and that is enough,” the King replied.

“Yes, I have heard wonderful things about him, but I don’t think a man could really be this good. I would like to test him and see if this is all just an act.”

“Test all you want,” the king said, “but Walter knows that I care about him, and for him that is enough.”

“sure it is,” the Baron said his voice dripping with sarcasm

“What is this test that you propose,” the King asked, “for I know the truth of Walter’s heart, but perhaps teaching that truth to you would help you to see the world through new eyes.”

“Living here it is easy for Walter to live this way. He has friends and he has you close. I ask that you send him to live with me and my men for the summer. We will be hunting in the north and will be traveling around camping and following the game. Let him come and live with us and grow accustom to us. Let him make friends among my men and let him grow close to me. In two months you are to send him a messenger who will tell him to pick up a present from one of the outer Dukes and bring it back here to you. I will go with him on that quest and I will test to see if he truly is a man who doesn’t care.”

“You have thought about this for a long time, I see.” Said the king, “instead of testing Walter would you not rather examine why his lack of caring causes you so much pain.”

“Are you now trying to back out of our deal, O great King?”

“No, I am only trying to help you. I will call for Walter immediately.”

So the King called for Walter and as he waited for Walter to come he wrote this letter:

I am sending you with this man because I believe that he can learn a great deal for you. You will not see me for a while, but don’t ever forget that my feelings for you will never change. I like you, Walter; in fact, more than that, I call you my friend. Whatever happens today, whatever anyone does to you, and whatever you do don’t forget that you are a friend of the King. Read this letter each and every day and know that the truth of these wor
ds will never fade.

So Walter took the Kings letter and went to live with the Baron and his men. The Barons men didn’t always understand Walter. He seemed to look at the world differently than most people, and there were times when his wouldn’t budge from what he believed to be right no matter how the others goaded him was annoying, but for the most part the men liked him. The Baron too found it hard not to like Walter. He wasn’t servile and cringing like most of the rest of his men. And Walter was always honest with what he felt and what he believed. When the 2 months were finished and the King’s messenger came the Baron still hadn’t seen one thing to convince him that Walter wasn’t exactly who he said he was.

For Walter’s part he spent his 2 months among the Barons men enjoying himself. Each morning he would read the King’s letter and then go out and hunt with the men. It was a great time for him and he was glad to call the Baron and his men friends. When he received the message from the King he was sad to leave and told the others so.

The Baron said, “no need to be upset just yet for I will be going with you to the Duke’s and will accompany you all the way back to your home. A few of the men will go along as well for I will need company on the road back.”

So Walter was happy and they all set out for the Duke’s home the next morning. Once they arrived the Baron had arranged to have a chest of gold waiting for them. It was this chest that Walter was to present to the King. The party stayed with the Duke for a night and then headed off to see the King.

As they journeyed the Baron began his test. The first thing he did was look for something that Walter was doing wrong. After a few hours of searching he noticed that Walter was holding the reins to his horse in a way that was sufficient, but not the best. Pointing this out to some of his men he began to laugh. “Look at the way you are holding your reigns. You look like such a plowboy. And here we though that we were turning you into a real warrior in your time with us.” The rest of the men joined in on the joke and began to laugh as well.

The Baron expected Walter to get embarrassed or angry. He knew that if someone had made a similar statement to himself or any of the other men they would have quickly found a way to try and justify their way of holding the reigns.

But Walter looked neither angry or embarrassed and his voice was light and conversational when he said, “Now that you mention it I believe that your way is better. Thank you for pointing it out to

me.

” With that he changed his grip on the reigns to match that of the Baron’s. “yes, that is better, thanks.” Walter said and continued riding.

 

The Baron was surprised at this, but he still had other tests, he winked at one of his men who took his signal and rode up beside of Walter. The man opened the chest of gold coins that Walter had tied to the side of his saddle and pulled out a handful of coins. “I don’t reckon the King will miss a few of these,” he said, “let’s take some, you know, for our trouble,” The other men in the group held their hands out and he threw them some coins. Even the Baron took his share of the small pieces of gold.

But Walter stopped his horse and said evenly, “You will have to put those back.”

“Who says,”

“I say,” said Walter, “Now put them back,”

“come on Walter, it is only a few coins. You know how much me and the boys need a little extra cash. I thought you were our friend. And it’s not like you aren’t going to get a piece too. Just keep your mouth shut and all of us will come out of this trip a little richer.”

“Put the coins back,” Walter said looking each of them in turn, “this is your last warning,”

“Our last warning,” the man shot back, “what are you going to do fight all of us. I really thought that you were part of us, but it looks like you really are just a dumb lacky of a dumber King after all.”

With that Walter pulled his sword from its sheath and readied it for a charge. The man who had started this whole thing looked at the Baron who shrugged and nodded his head. The men all grudgingly returned their coins to the chest. The first man to take the coins was the last to replace his and he spent an extra moment fiddling with the chest before he drew his own horse away. Walter made him open his hands and roll up his sleeves before being satisfied that the man hadn’t taken any coins.

Again the Baron was impressed at the strength of Walter’s opinion of himself. Even when the men stopped talking to him and gave him dirty looks and muttered at him under his breath he never once wavered in his belief in what was right. Walter even tried to engage the other men attempting to rebuild some of the broken friendships, but when his attempts fell on deaf ears he looked sad, but not unsure of himself.

The Baron was impressed, but he wasn’t finished. He was sure that his final test would show Walter’s true colors. You see when the last man had placed his coins into the chest on Walter’s saddle he small section from the bottom of the chest. As Walter rode and the chest bounced on the saddle a few coins would drop out every few minutes. The coins fell out very slowly and Walter never noticed them falling softly to the dirt path among the sound of the men and horses.

When they were just outside of the King’s city the Baron called them to a halt and said, “Walter since you so diligently fought to preserve this treasure it is only fitting that you enter into the King’s presence carrying it.” With that the Baron reach out to Walter’s saddle and acted like he was lifting the bag. When he lifted the chest he cried out in alarm, “The gold is all gone.” He said trying his best to act surprised.

Walter jumped from his horse and inspected the chest. He found the hole in the bottom and figured out where the coins had gone. He asked if anyone had see the falling coins, but the Baron took over the conversation.

“Listen, boy, this doesn’t have to be as bad as it seems. You have messed up and messed up big, but the King doesn’t ever need to no about it. He will be furious with you when he finds out that you have lost all of his gold and that special ‘friendship’ that the two of you have will be broken. But it doesn’t have to be that way. I am willing to say that we were robbed, and I know I can get my guys to say the same thing.”

“I won’t lie” Walter said.

“But if you don’t you are going to lose the one thing you value most, your King.”

“If you believe that then you don’t understand at all,” Walter said softly.

“Come and face it,” the Baron said, “You messed up, you lost the Kings gold and now you are going to get in trouble if you don’t come up with some sort of an excuse.”

Walter just looked at the Baron and shook his head, “That’s where you are wrong,” he said, “I messed up. I lost the gold, but I know that the way the King feels about me will not change. You see the way that he feels about me isn’t based on what I do. It is based on his choosing to care about me.”

With that Walter climbed back on his horse and began to ride into the city. “Now I am going to ride and see my King and let him know how I have messed up. I am not happy to have failed him, I want to always do my best for him, but I am not afraid. I am a friend of the King. And if you would come and ask Him I am sure he wants to be your friend too.”

The Baron and his men didn’t know what to do they simply
stood there with their mouths open staring at the strangest man they had ever seen. As they turned their horses to leave they each tried to make fun of Walter, “Who would want to be that good all the time,” they said, and “He’s just fooling himself if he thinks that the King will still like him after he lost all that gold.” They said these things and others as they tried to convince themselves that their way was the right way. But although they would never say it each of them left that day wanting two things. More than anything they wanted to be a friend of the King and like Walter they each wanted to be a man who didn’t care.

The Perfect Cast

Alright so I am sitting out at the park and there is a little girl here with a fishing pole. It is obviously a little kids pole, but it is still longer than this littler 3 year old is tall. It has a reel on it, the kind that you have to push the button to let the string out and her father has been sitting some ways from the water casting it in. Now it is her turn so she walks over towards the waters edge and begins to try casting her “bait” into the water. At the end of the string there is a large yellow lure looking thing that obviously doesn’t have a hook because if it did she would be screaming with a hook stuck in her back or her arm or her hand or one of the other 20 or so places that she smacks with her lure. Instead of crying she is happily trying to get the lure to go into the water. She repeatedly takes the rod and reel back over her head and repeatedly flings it forward with all of her might. But every time she takes her finger off the button too quickly and the lure lands behind her on the ground, or bounces off her back or legs or head.

Now the lure is stuck on the end and won’t come out at all. (I don’t think she has pushed the button) She is shaking the lure up and down with all her might. The rod is bending and flexing and the little yellow lure is bouncing up and down, but it won’t come off the end. She drops the reel on the ground and takes the end of the rod and tries to pull the lure free, but it won’t come. Now she is back to shaking the rod putting her whole body into the effort. Finally, quite accidentally, her body has hit the button and the lure has hit the ground. She immediately drops the rod and reel and walks over to the lure picks it up and throws it with all of her 3 year old might into the water. Now she is sitting with the reel in her hand waiting for her fish.

I know the lure doesn’t have any hooks, but I would pay money to see her catch a fish.

Flat

Today was one of those “real” rainy days that happen so rarely in the deep summer here in the deep south. I say it is a real rainy day because we have a myriad of days of rain, but most times the rain is late afternoon rain. Most times it is the rain that comes when the air gets so think with water that it just can’t hold it anymore and for a moment it pours down in sheets and then just as quickly the rain is gone and the steam backing up off of the concrete makes everything smell clean, but feel just awful, and the sweat just stands on your body because the air is already too saturated to take anymore liquid and you just stand there in the steam feeling muggy and hot. That is most days, but today, today was a real rainy day. It was a day when the clouds stayed around like old friends at a reunion and the rain came not in sheets, but in small stops and starts and the air wasn’t cool because it is never cool in June in lower Alabama, but it wasn’t oppressively hot and if you could find a place to sit outside out of the rain it was actually pleasant. That was today and I drank deeply of it.

In case you can’t tell I am currently involved in 3 different fiction books so my thoughts are full of description and metaphor. I just walked in from setting up chairs at the church and I didn’t think I was going to be able to get the computer up and running fast enough to get that thought out. Even as it is I didn’t get it the way it was when I first had the thought. My editor brain messed with it too much in the 3 minutes it took for windows to remember how to work again and it became forced and somewhat flat.

The more times I am chastised for messing up, or criticized for following a different road the more I think my editor mind comes in and takes control. I find myself editing myself in my daily life. In my church life I am afraid of the criticisms of others and I have stopped taking as many risks. And that is making my life feel very flat.