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Welcome to the New

Ladies, gentleman, I have finally found a permanent home. One that fits. One that doesn’t sound like a soap opera. One that will allow me to be nerdy, artistic, idiotic, and everything in between. Update your blogrolls, and enjoy. It’s been a fun ride.

SEANBRAGEDOTCOM

Let’s be honest. Most of us love our churches. If you don’t love the church you’re at, let’s talk about it. But for many of us, the thing that we love most about our church, the place we worship, isn’t the music. Or the people. Or the bad coffee or the good coffee.

It’s the secret bathroom.

The private getaway that took you weeks to find. Out of dozens of restrooms in your building, or in the rec center or school your church meets in, you’ve taken the time to figure out which maintains the proper temperature, smell, lighting, and toilet paper supply. You’re probably thinking about it right now.

I know where mine is. Of course, I can’t tell you where it is. But I can tell you a little about it.

My secret bathroom is far, far away from the main thoroughfares of my church. If you think that it is even within 100 feet of the main stalls off the foyer, you are dead wrong friends.

My secret bathroom feels more like my own private Batcave; whenever I arrive, it feels like no one knows about this place but me. I enter, and the lights are off (always a good sign in searching for the perfect bathroom.) There’s never trash on the floor, and it never smells of anything but hand soap. It’s delightful.

My secret bathroom, much like the room of requirement at Hogwart’s, seems to know my every need before I get there. Today I was a little chilly, and the heater was running. I got to take care of business under a wonderful warm vent. You could nap in there! And when I’m sweaty after a rowdy time drumming or playing guitar, my secret bathroom has had the AC running in anticipation of my visit. It’s like my secret bathroom knows me. The only thing that could make my secret bathroom better would be those automatic lights that click on when you enter. But maybe next Christmas my secret bathroom will surprise me…

So what’s your secret bathroom like?

I Miss Mama T!!!

Last night I came home and found Taleleh hiding in my kitchen!!! Best night ever? Possibly.

Read her blog. Partake in the cutest kid ever. Love Mama T.

I love blogging. Don’t let my post-lack fool you. We’re undergoing some restructuring here at TWIBAB. But I love blogging.

I also love twitter. If you’re not on it, I’m sending Hoshi to come berate you until you are. It’s important.

I love reading “the big blogs” out there, blogs from pastors and church leaders and writers and visionaries and planetshakers out in other parts of the country and world. I like following them, seeing what God is doing in their church and hearts, experiencing “something else.”

There’s my problem. 

You see, I’ve begun to take a spectatorial approach to Kingdom living. And I don’t know if I’m the only one.

I think that, for everything good that the advancement of technology and our Web 2.0 society has brought us, I think we are in a dangerous time. I think we live in a day and age in which we can feel 100% satisfied doing nothing but read about other people doing things.

And the answer to the question is, “No, I’m not okay with that.”

What I’m trying to get at is this: Where I am, right now, God is doing something. He’s moving. And He’s called me to be a part of it. 

And the answer to the question is, “No, spending your days observing and avoiding the move of God is not healthy.”

Sometimes I feel like I’m living in a strange story, on bleachers rooting for the “Superstars” of the blogosphere, while my own blog/church/friends feel the sting of abandonment and neglect. I’ve been extremely wrapped up in what God’s doing everywhere else, and I’ve let my enjoyment of keeping up with the world instill envy, flakiness, and discontent.

In other words, we’re about to tear the roof off of this mother in 2009, and the sideline is no longer an acceptable place of habitation.

Leading Out

Ragamuffin Soul had an interesting post, asking the question, “should your worship leaders GO to your church?”

I don’t know all situations, but worship leading is something that I play pretty close to the chest, so I couldn’t stop from responding to this one. I have to say that I absolutely believe that worship leaders NEED to be a part of the church they serve. I believe this having been a worship leader who showed up, played, and left every sunday morning for a year. It sucked. Even I would’ve fired me. Thankfully, I worked for more gracious men than I. There are so many reasons why I believe it is so vital to a church’s success to have worship leaders from “the ranks,” but I’ll try to only touch on the ones beating the wall of my heart down.

  •  Leading worship goes deeper and further than Sunday mornings. When worship leaders consistently come and go, so do “worship experiences.” Inconsistency breeds inconsistency. An ever-changing “front line” means that people will “check in” when the guy (or gal) leading “has it,” and they will check right back out when they don’t. Inconsistent leadership makes worship more about the personality on stage than about the Holy, Transformational presence of God.
     
  •  Church is family. Church is family. Church is family. And family is not and cannot be looked upon as disposable. Family matters. The whole idea of a worship team and a worship leader is that the family on stage and the family off stage are all coming together with one heart and one mouth to declare the praises of Jesus Christ, the crux of history. The last thing the church needs is an atmosphere of expendability. 
     
  •  You know great leaders by the great leaders they leave. Leading worship is ultimately an act of discipleship. Discipleship takes time. Visit NewLife Church on any given Sunday and, whether or not the band “nails it,” whether or not the lights light or the fog fogs, you will find a family that loves to abandon all and worship their guts out. Ross Parsley has been used by God in an amazing way to raise up a family that worships together through hell and high water, and he’s done it by being faithful to that church for more than 15 years. 
     
  • Having disposable worship leaders can spoil your church and can make worship about the wrong things. I understand that many churches, especially in their younger days or in a time of transition will rotate through lots of outside people to provide “worship experiences” for their congregation. But let me ask you this:*Would you rather be able to consistently provide impeccable sound, stellar technical worship elements, and talented, charismatic personalities each week; OR

    *Would you rather develop a culture of people who will worship their faces off even if the “team” consists of a one-legged man with a Wal-Mart keyboard?

Now I’m not saying that the two are mutually exclusive, in fact if you know me at all you’ll understand my passion for using technology and talent to facilitate transformational worship experiences.

But either we lead out a lifestyle of on-your-face, unashamed, uninhibited, unrestricted worship, or we teach people that “worship” means a killer band and lasers. It is a thin line, and we have to check our hearts and turn our eyes before we get up on stage ourselves or ask someone else too.

Losing Touch

It’s funny how often we forget our allow ourselves to be hornswaggled regarding the unending love of God. We push, we fall, we make human mistakes and get caught up, as anyone would, in this mess of life and think that God must have rejected us sometime during the night. Amidst the chaos and din, He must have gotten tired and left.

But never, ever, in the history of the world and even before it, has God ever up and left. He has never once decided He’s had enough. In fact, just the opposite is true.

God is insanely, madly in love with us. Sometimes I think we forget this. I think we get afraid that if we focus too much on God’s love, we’ll miss something or do something wrong or get stuck in shallow spirituality. And perhaps it’s possible to do so.

But we have to remind ourselves and remind the enemy (yes, I mean the devil. yes, the devil is real,) that God delights Himself in resuscitating, rescuing, and restoring His people. He may not coddle us or pander to us, but He is always faithful and kind and compassionate.

Don’t believe me? Try this on for size:

3 The LORD appeared to us in the past, [a] saying:
“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with loving-kindness.

4 I will build you up again
and you will be rebuilt, O Virgin Israel.
Again you will take up your tambourines
and go out to dance with the joyful.

That’s Jeremiah 31:3 – 4. I could talk for hours just about that passage, but let’s keep this sophisticated here.

Loved with an everlasting love; drawn with loving-kindness. Rebuilt, O Virgin Israel.

I love this verse because it’s God telling us with such fatherly care that everything really is going to be okay. Sure, it’s hard. Times are tough. Life kicks you around. But He’s the God of dancing-again. And I love the fact that God chooses to refer to His people as “O Virgin Israel.”

We know that throughout history, the people of God had certain habits that were lest than faithful.

Folks was skanky. In a spiritual sense. Israel was sleeping around with whatever false god shook its little booty at the time, getting into all sorts of trouble and really falling off of all kinds of wagons.

But here, the God of the universe refers to His people as, “O Virgin Israel.”

As in, O pure, unspoiled, sanctified, precious, clean, beautiful and sacred treasure Israel.

Meaning that in our absolute dirtiest, nastiest, fallenest, fail-iest, most skanky, most distant-from-God-liest, God still looks on us as His pure, special, sanctified, set apart, holy people.

Life’s really not fair, and I mean that in the best way possible.

I think there is a trend in the local church today. I see it in books and I hear it in conversations.

People are burned out. People are fed up. People are angry and upset. People feel let down by the church, and they’re leaving it to start new, better, hipper churches. And they’re telling us it is all our fault. Our fault for being too political. For having childrens plays they feel are just for the socialites. For having porn problems. For wanting more people to come to church. For having nice carpet or bigger buildings to house and serve more people.

We write books, we write blogs about how unaccepting and intolerant the church is. We piss and moan because the people in the church are ruining it.

We talk about or desire to reach the broken, sinful people outside of church. We talk about how much we love crackheads and prostitutes, but we write the meanest slander about the rich and the ministerily employed. We talk about loving people as they are, as Jesus did. But we refuse to love our churches and the humans inside them.

We love to criticize everybody for being too loud or too quiet, too “showy” and arrogant. We judge everyone in the church based on the actions we disagree with, but we still expect those same people to just see our “good intentions.” We mask our slander and our gossip and our cruelty under a “desire for change.” We disguise our prideful unwillingness to let the church help us in our struggles under a sea if blame and attacks on why it is all the chuches fault when we get hurt and refuse healing.

We love Joe because he’s a recovering addict. We hate Bob because he’s worked hard to give his family a nicer living condition. We think Don is cool because he writes books on why the church is a failure and the true Christians should abandon her. We hate Tim because he’s pastor of a large congregation and doing the best he can. We blame the church for being intolerant but we can’t tolerate the beautiful broken people who make the church what it is. We’ve decided we’re better off alone and the local church is damned.

Well, I’m tired of it.

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