Bob Schneider is a great musician. He is a songwriter of catastrophic talent and his lyrics are beautiful and challenging. He once wrote a song about God. It explored some really interesting concepts about who God is in some ways that could easily be taken as offensive. So, Bob was forced to change the lyrics and in a brilliant stroke of sarcasm explained the whole situation this way:
"We had to change one word in the song. Basically because I was just afraid we were going to offend a lot of people. Basically I'm all about the money when it comes to making records. It's cash first. It's give me the money and you know ^&*# art, as it were, %8#@ the original artistic integrity of the song. Just make sure that I can appeal to as many people as humanly possible so that I can make the most amount of money so that I can have the biggest, fanciest steaks and most comfortable socks to wear on my feet. So, anyways, we changed one of the words."
I think one of the reasons Bob had pushback was that some people understandably felt the song made light of the Lord. It did not respect the seriousness of God. And I was reminded of the Bob/God incident recently by a comment someone left on a blog I frequent that stuck out to me:
"Children's programs that substitute for regular services do your kids the disservice of not inculcating the seriousness of God."
I confess, I had to look up "inculcating" because I'm not so smart and it means "to teach." That sentence is only one line of a much longer comment and the next line starts out with "God is joyful," so it's not that the author sees God as a monster of seriousness. But I was paused on this line because it forced me to wrestle with a question:
"Do people have a harder time seeing God as a serious entity or seeing God as a joyful, loving entity?"
I know the answer in my own life. I have never, ever struggled to see God as a serious individual. I have never doubted that when you enter His court, there are serious issues on the table and serious discussions and serious missions. I would say that for more than 28 years on this planet, I have been awash in the seriousness of God.
But love has been so much harder. Seeing God as someone that laughs with me and kids with me and rolls down hills of grass with me on lazy Tuesdays in June has been such a bigger challenge. Seeing Him as someone that cares about the little things that no one else notices or as someone that collects my tears in a jar as Psalms says has been difficult. Believing that it gives Him joy to see me teaching preteens or playing Basketball or a million other things has been hard.
Things are changing though. In the last few years, He has been showing me that He is more flowers than thistles more laughter than wrath, more open hand than closed fist. Is He serious? Without a doubt. Do I still feel like it's a big deal to come into His court? Certainly, only now I think it's OK to arrive there by water slide.
Bob Schneider closes his song about God, which I am not saying you should go listen to, by writing something I think is true of my own life.
and I can believe
what can't be known for sure
the things that might be, the things that never were
and still not know a thing in the end
and still believe that God is my friend
I thought it might be cool to share something today. I'd love to just open up the idea of expressing who God is. To confess or laugh or shout or share or whatever you feel like doing on a Friday.
I'll go first with three of my own "God is" statements:
1.) God is serious, serious about loving me in any way possible.
2.) God is ridiculous to me.
3.) God is big enough for my anger, small enough for my whispers and strong enough for my worries.
So what do you think?
Finish this statement as many times as you want:
God is ________
Wanna know what drives me crazy sometimes....simply the addition of the word "and" to songs we sing at church, something reminded me about that recently.
Changing up the lyrics is nothing new. Lots of folks do that, either by mistake or design, when they perform a song. It drives the sound guy/gal crazy, baffles the audience and in general creates mass confusion. But for my money, when a worship leader adds the word "and" to a song, it only creates mass awesomeness.
What usually happens is that a worship leader wants to smooth over what he/she thinks is an awkward transition between verse and chorus. So they reach into their bag of tricks, which is where they keep their hair product by the way, and pull out the word "and."
Then, in the middle of "God of Wonders, instead of singing, "Early in the morning, I will celebrate the light," they sing "And early in the morning, I will celebrate the light." Instead of singing, "Every blessing you pour out, " you sing, "And every blessing you pour out." Before you know it, the word "and" is running wild in the sanctuary like a family of rabbits.
You can't stop this phenomenon, you can only contain it. But, even that can be fun. Here are three things to do with all those extra "ands."
1. Play a drinking game.
With coffee or mountain dew you heathen, what were you thinking? Every time your worship leader uses an extra "and," take a sip of coffee. Take two bonus sips if they talk sing or ask you to clap along.
2. Use them in regular conversation.
Just start dropping an abundance of "ands" in all your conversations. When your wife asks if you like the new Coldplay album, respond, "And I really enjoy it." When your boss tells you to do something say, "And the reports will be on your desk in the morning." Add the word "and" all day long.
3. Switch words.
In your head, imagine a different word other than "and" every time you hear it during a song. Pretend that instead of "and" the worship leader is saying "platypus." I promise, you haven't really worshipped until you've experienced the song "Platypus, I can only imagine." It sounds like you're singing a love song to the platypus, which is one crazy monotreme of an animal. Whoa, did I just drop "monotreme" as if I regularly use that word in my every day vocabulary?
It seems every day that I go back and forth with wanting to get a tattoo, and just can't seem to make up my mind so I thought it might be good to talk about this one.
Here is the verse that people use when it comes to being against tattoos, Leviticus 19:28: "Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD."
That's an interesting statement but I think it might be good to see what else chapter 19 of Leviticus says:
32 'Rise in the presence of the aged,
19 'Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material.
27 'Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard.
So if we are to take the tattoo rule seriously, and we do not feel we are equipped to pick and choose which laws we will or will not follow like items from a menu o' God, it is safe to assume that we will all have really long side hair, huge beards, constantly get up and down when we see old folks at McDonald's and be super sweaty from wearing clothing woven of solid wool.
That's an absurd take and to tell you the truth, despite my personal opinion that tattoos are fine, I don't have the answer. But all of this does beg the larger question - which rules do we follow? When Christ came and overcame the old law, what did that mean? And perhaps most importantly, do my pants really need to be 100% wool?
p.s. some people also note that Revelation 19:16 describes Jesus as having a tattoo "On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS."
Then again, what are my motives for wanting to get a tattoo? Is it to glorify God....or myself?
I thought I was going to be able to go to Middle School Camp, but now, something has come up and I won't be able to. I was looking forward to the time away, time with my kids, and just getting alone with Jesus, but alas, it isn't happening this summer. Another reason I was looking forward to going is that their going to have a Lake Blob......ohhhh......how that excites me. I get gitty just thinking about it. This is my love letter to the blob, oh, how I will miss you.
I love you. I thought about trying to ease my way into this letter. Trying to play it cool and slowly unravel my emotions but I can't do that when it comes to you, can I?
What is it about your big, rainbow colored rubber bladder that makes you so perfect? Is it the stripes that are strewn festively across your air-filled belly? Is it that you sit patiently waiting for me in the middle of a lake? Is it that you live for my enjoyment and my enjoyment alone?
It's difficult to say, but I wanted you to know something, you are the original moon bounce. I know that right now you're going through some tough times. Churches and camps have taken your technology on dry land. We're cheating on you, bouncing on castles and slides and other blow up toys that we can rent from some bouncesheba down the street. Years ago, if someone wanted to jump out of control and land awkwardly on their back or collide heads with someone else and make that coconut "thunk," there was only one option, you. But now, we've cheapened your boisterous bounciness with knock offs.
Can you forgive me blob? I've changed. Oh, how I've changed. I never go on those moon walk bounce things anymore. All I want is to be back with you. All I want is for someone heavier, this may be hard, to jump off something high and send me cascading through the air like a dove of mercy into a lake. Is that so much to ask? Can we not rebuild what we once had?
Like the band "Our Lady Peace" once sang, "I know you're out there, somewhere out there." Please forgive me. Float back into my life. I promise that when I open my camp, "iCampJesusxTremeadventuramatacular" you will be the star attraction. I'll cut down my ropes course for you. I'll punch the archery range in the face. Just come home.
I see your true colors,