A few weeks ago, Ben, my young padawan from a time long ago, left a comment in which he pointed out this video. For those too lazy to click the link, it is a worship leader who has taken the 80's hit You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) by Dead Or Alive and changed it into a worship song. I do not even know where to start with this. Did nobody in his band pull him aside and ask about the logic behind this? "Uh Rick, are you aware that this originally was a huge hit in the 80's, including a big hit in the clubs frequented by people our church despises? In fact, the lead singer probably wrote this about a relationship with another man. And if that is not bad enough, Eiffel 65 and Jessica Simpson have covered this song too." "Yeah, but by switching 'baby' to 'Jesus,' it will change everything. Plus we will have everyone take off their feet because it is 'holy gournd.' And for extra kicks and giggles we will have them wave their 'socks around in the air, like they just don't care,' cause that is the way we roll."
I could write so much about this, but this guy's video does a good job summing it up. Instead, I figured I would take some time to rewrite a few classic songs for other people who are more about the show than the heart of the message.
I must confess that my loneliness is killin' me Now don't you know I still believe That you will be here to give me a sign Love me Jesus one more time. (Britney Spears)
Come on Jesus, light my fire. Come on Jesus, light my fire, You can set my heart on fire. (The Doors)
I'm in love with you God 'cause you're on my mind, You're the one I think about most every time. And when you make me smile in everything you do, I know you understand, God, this love is true. (Milli Vanilli)
Your love is the best medicine Your medicine is what I need Shake it up, just like God's medicine You're the Great Doctor that can Cure my disease. (Bon Jovi)
Ooo, Jesus, I love your way, everyday Wanna tell you I love your way, everyday Wanna be with you night and day. (Peter Frampton)
Doing it all for my Saviour Because He's as fine as He can be Doing it all for my Saviour For everything He did for me. (Huey Lewis & The News)
Say we can sing, we can pray Everything's in His control We can sing, we can pray They're doing it from pole to pole We can sing, we can pray Everybody fold up your hands We can sing, we can pray Everybody sayin' the prayer The sinner's pray'r The sinner's pray'r The sinner's pray'r (Men Without Hats)
Please say a prayer for me now, pray it till the morning after Please say a prayer for me now, pray it till the morning after. (Duran Duran)
His mind was on faith and love and healing some. Because he loved us so much he had to die young. But He made His mark in history. Still ev'rybody says: Rock me Hallelujah Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah,Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Oh oh oh Hallelujah. (Falco)
Go, evangelize and listen, God sent you out on his Great Commission... (Vanilla Ice)
Wow, that was pretty easy, and I am especially proud of that last one. I think I might have to go into the '80s worship revival business. I just need to get me a backup band. Sadly, I think I probably could get a couple gigs with these tunes. But in the end, it would all be in vain. True worship is not about the crowds, it is not about the flashy music, it is not even about the cool worship leader in the front. Worship is really about the heart of those involved. Again, there is someone else who can say it better. In this case it is Jon Foreman in his song, Instead Of A Show.
It is probably no big surprise that when I open a newspaper, I usually go straight to the comic section. Growing up, I leaned toward the ones that not only made me laugh, but also had a little bit of truth to them. Calvin and Hobbes was clearly my favorite, but there are a few others who I still continued to read from time to time. Thus I was saddened to hear of Johnny Hart's passing today. He was the man behind the B.C., a cartoon about prehistoric cavemen. Interestingly enough, while the title assumes it is set "Before Christ," Hart's faith was very evident in his comic strip.
This was the cartoon published the day after he died. Now if it were up to me, I would hope that that would be the last of the B.C. It ends with a very clear message of what Hart believed. What a way to end a career.
We can only hope that when our time to go arrives we are doing something of value, both for this time and for eternity.
I usually have some time to kill in the office during the weekends. Often I find myself surfing around the web to find interesting and strange stories to share with others. This weekend, in my clicking I found something I could not help but question. I guess Benny Hinn is in desperate need of a private jet to help him spread the gospel. In fact he is in such a need, they have already taken possession of the plane. Unfortunately, they didn't have the money to purchase it yet. So he just needs 6000 people to donate $1000 to help with the DOWN PAYMENT.
Now don't get me wrong, I have nothing against the spreading of the true Gospel. (Although there is some question in terms of Mr. Hinn's version) In fact, I have been involved in that line of work for years, AND I FLY COACH! Sure, my work has basically been in one location, with only the need to fly about once a year for work projects. But again, I fly coach. During the years when I had to travel across America speaking at churches, I drove from place to place. There was no multi-million dollar plane to whisk me to the next church.
I wonder if Benny knows how many economy tickets he could buy with that $6,000,000 down payment? My rough guess says around 5500 to 6000 international tickets. If these are the last days as he claims, I don't see him needing that many, even if he takes some friends along.
Ten years ago, I was sitting in Dublin, Ireland with the challenge of finding something in 2 Timothy 4 to share to the four of us who had assembled there for the summer to serve as missionary interns. Verse twelve jumped out at me for some reason. It might have been the simplicity of the verse, it might have been the unique name, either way, I started looking to see who this Tychicus guy was. The few verses that mention this guy talk about how he is a "dear brother and a faithful servant" and one who was sent to "encourage your hearts." As I read these few verses, I was challenged to live a life that those words could apply to me someday.
Well, years have gone by, and at times I still think about good old Tychicus. Now I sit on the edge of a trip similiar to his. I am heading to Ephasus. Sure I'm not taking the same route he did, but I'll walk the same streets he once walked. I'm excited about this.
In the same way, I'm excited to see what God has ahead of me on this trip. For the couple weeks, I'll be spending it traveling by train from Beijing to Moscow with two amazing guys. Iron sharpens iron is the phrase I am expecting of our time together. But in Moscow we go our seperate ways. From there I'll spend time in Germany, France and Switzerland with some friends and former students. Then it is off to Turkey. I still don't have many things planned about this trip, partially out of creating a sense of adventure, part out of leaving it open to what God has in store. (So if you are along the way, drop me an email, and if I check it, we can hook up.)
But in the end, I hope that those I come into contact on this trip would see me as a faithful minister, a dear brother, and one that has encouraged their heart...
So Friday night rolled around, and I kicked it off by cleaning my apartment. Gave the place a thorough scrub down, to the point that the phrase, "I could eat off that," passed through my head.
Luckily for me, I was going out with a couple friends for a late dinner. We had decided to check out a place rumored to have decent hamburgers. During our time out we encountered a fellow foreigner who was curious why three guys were not drinking alcohol on a Friday night. We explained a little about where we worked, and that we all made agreements when we were hired that we would not consume alcohol. As he walked away he exclaimed, "Jesus, who is your recruiter?" I quickly said to my friends, "I guess in some ways, Jesus was my recruiter."
Thanks folks, I'll be here all week. Try the chicken.
Sometimes in this life we need more Godly persistence As it will help make this more than a vain subsistence And give purpose to this ever challenging existence. Remember that when in this life you face resistance Or feel ever beaten down by the world's insistence, That is not a sign of weakness to ask for assistance To help you carry on this path and go the distance.
This was such a good poem, I didn't want to break any consistence But I got traditions to keep, so is this Rockwell's piece de resistance?
Even though I have been going to church for a long time now, I can remember very few sermons that I have heard. But one that I did hear was on lying. The pastor made a comment that he felt it was the first sin humans participate in. He pointed towards the baby that even before they utter words, will cry just to get attention.
Tonight I gave a devotion on lying and the trouble it can get one in. I read from Acts 5, where a couple paid the highest price for lying. What amazes me sometimes is the lengths people can go to convince themselves they are telling the truth. Even when the evidence is right in front of their eyes, they still believe what they have created in their head as the actual events.
One of the phrases (or variations of) I have had to use over the last eight years of working with kids the most is: "I don't care what you do, but lying to me is the worst of all offenses." I then go to tell them how it takes a while to build trust and respect, but can be destroyed with just one lie.
Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value a man who speaks the truth. Proverbs 16:13
That is just what is on my mind tonight... take it for what it is worth.
I've got two hours before we meet and I would be content spending it here with my trusty cup of chai. Sure it would be nice if someone would join me and chai, but for now I enjoy the solitude. Cup number two arrives. The services is great, the music pleasing, and for the moment I'm the only foreign looking person in the joint.
There is something I really enjoy about being a foreigner. Even more so when it is starkly noticeable. Sure it was nice to blend into the crowd in Europe, only to be outed by my accent. But here and in Korea, I don't have to do anything to tip people off. My large build and whiteness broadcast it. I still enjoy it though when Korean children walk up behind me to compare how tall they are to me, or when they get that shocked look on their face when they first see me. I love that kids in India and Philippines have called me "Big Show."
Oh sure it would be nice to fit in, to speak the language, to buy the clothes off the rack, to fit into the shoes, but that just won't happen soon.
Perhaps I love this feeling because it reminds me that this place is not my home. The countries I'm in are not home, and never will be. And it is a good reminder that until I end up on heaven's shores, I'll never be home. I'm just an alien and stranger in this land. My nomadic life, my vagabond attitude puts me in good company of Biblical characters who also longed for a home. I just wish I longed even more for that heavenly home...
So what is next? What happens when we leave here. In a few short hours this place will become just a memory. It will live on only in photographs and stories. But it can be so much more. Perhaps this week God has taught you something about yourself. Maybe you learned more about service, love, patience or sacrifice. Perhaps you learned more about others and how to relate to them. Maybe even God has spoken to you for the first time that you actually took the time to listen. If any of these are true, great. Write it down, tell a friend or family member, impress it on your heart and brain to keep it with you.
Sure it was easy to love those kids, but what about others in your dorm, your roommate, your classmates, your family, or teachers? Will you spend the time and energy on those people like you spent on kids who you still can't fully pronounce their names?
And as you return, and as this time becomes a memory, I challenge you to pray for those kids. When you look at the photos, when you tell the stories, when you think about this time - pray for these kids. Pray that God would continue to use this place and the staff here for his glory in the kids lives.
As I read Psalm 86:1-3 today, I can't help but think about these kids. Sure part of it is because they are all doing their chores right now, but I read about being "poor and needy" yet "call to you all day long." Those kids live that out. As I was pushing two boys on the swings, they were both yelling out "Jesus" as they hit the highest point of their swing. And I don't think it was because I was pushing that hard...
At the same time I wonder really how "poor and needy" I am. Sure I am wealthy compared to most of the world, but wealth only goes so far. There are areas in my life where I am poor, where I am lacking...
Again, I come to this rooftop to look at the scriptures, pray, write, and prepare for the day. I look over the kids who cheerfully are going about their chores. They wear the same clothes they've worn for days, but they also wear the same smiles they've worn for days...
The water tank is full, but for some reason the water is not flowing down. Thus, I start another day without a shower. How can I complain in light of all I've seen these last five days? I know I've said and thought it before, but how can I honestly continue to live the life I've lived after an experience like this? Entertainment appears vain, the things I talk about trivial, the fine meals I consume are wasteful. I pray that I would become more focused on the eternal and less on the flesh. 1 John 2:16-17 reminds me that:
"For everything in the world - the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does - comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever."
I pray I would be that man that lives forever. I don't want to desire what the world holds dear. I think I've passed on fame and fortune, but there are still some aspects of me that need to be put to death.
Yesterday, we arrived at the orphanage to the cheering of about one hundred and forty kids. These kids appear to be some of the happiest kids I've seen, which is saying a lot for their circumstances. Last night Mike and I joined in the pre-dinner singing time. We listened as they sang song after song of praise from memory. Then they quoted Pslam 110 from memory. Then more singing... These kids really appear to love Jesus. Even wile swinging today, two of the kids were singing various songs of worship. So this is what the faith of a little child looks like...
So yesterday, I was swinging on the swing when this cute little girl wanted to sit on my lap and swing with me. I picked her up, and begun to swing for a little bit. Slowly, I began to notice that my leg was feeling damp. Not knowing what to do, I kept swinging. Figured it was too late already. Then one of the local missionaries stopped to take a photo, so I had to continue to smile and pretend all was well. Needless to say, I soon changed my shirt (as it was also soiled), yet left the jeans on the rest of the day.
A letter is in the mail to many of those who have supported me over the years. Part of it reads,
"During my high school years, I attended a very mission oriented church. Looking back on that experience, I am not surprised to see that I now am serving God overseas. What I am continually amazed at is that when I accepted God's call to "go and make disciples of all nations," in Matthew 28, that I would be going to as many nations as I have. I took a few step of faith to leave home, and that step has led me to places I never thought I see."
I am overwhelmed, honored, humbled, and amazed that in a few hours I have the privilege to join a four good friends in leading fourteen students to India. There we will be working at an orphanage for a week. As I shared with a friend the other night, I never dreamed I would see the places I've seen. God continues to amaze me in so many ways, and I look forward what he has in store on this trip. I've got a feeling my mind and heart will not be the same. In fact, my stuff is packed in a bag I got on a trip to the Czech Republic years ago that says, "Never Be The Same Again." It was the theme of that trip, and that bag has gone on every trip I've been on since. I take it as it is a great container for my stuff, but it is also a reminder that after each of these trips, and each experience with God, I'm never the same.
Now here come the haiku:
Riding across town Looking for the subway shop No luck but good ride.
I should be asleep The bus leaves in two hours Why am I online?
I've picked my movies On the way there and return Man I am a nerd.
Photos and stories You know that's what I'll bring back And will share them here.
If you have read this Could you take a minute And pray for the trip?
In a few days, count them four I'll be on a plane to Singapore En route to an orphanage in Bangalore. Among theteamleaders there is good rapport And a great group of students whom we adore. One of the leaders and I went to a store Arts and craft supplies we were looking for. We bought a bunch, but still need some more. There will be singing, games, and fun galore As into the kids the love of Christ we will pour For that is the India trip's one central core. Your prayers for the whole time we do implore Like against stomach problems which we abhor.
A relationship in trouble, a friend's child dies, the health of stranger, a stubborn heart, a lonely man, a future unknown...
The beginning of a relationship, the new job obtained, the birth of a child, time with a good friend, good news from afar...
To be honest, I often feel confused about prayer. Sure I've seen my prayers answered from time to time. But I've also had prayers that appear to have gone unanswered. This week, I've felt overwhelmed by the concept of prayer. Some friends have presented me with some big things to pray about. An email in the middle of the night caused me to pray, but left me wanting to do more than pray. Perhaps living so far away from most of my family and friends is part of God's plan in teaching me about prayer. If it were up to me, I'd rush to their side. But an ocean forces me to the only thing I can do, pray. And pray I will. I just wish I were better at it. I continue to learn.
Fredrick Beuchner writes, "According to Jesus, by far the most important thing about prayer is to keep at it. The images he uses to explain this are all rather comic, as though he thought it was rather comic to have to explain it at all. He says God is like a friend you go to borrow bread at midnight. The friend tells you in effect to drop dead, but you go on knocking anyway until finally he gives you want you want so he can go back to bed again (Luke 11:5-8). Or God is like a crooked judge who refuses to hear the case of a certain poor widow, presumably because he knows there's nothing much in it for him. But she keeps on hounding him until finally he hears her case just to get her out of his hair (Luke 18:1-8). Even a stinker, Jesus says, won't give his own child a black eye when the child asks for peanut butter and jelly, so how all the more will God when his children...(Matthew 7:9-11)."
The fifth and final in the "Stuck in Seoul" Series I'm revamping a post I've had sitting in the draft file for a few days. I'm done at this PC Bong, but you can relive some of the fun by reading all five posts from this fun filled evening.
A friend of mine recently directed me to the text of Bono's remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C. a couple weeks ago. You have to respect a man who understands how fleeting fame is and uses it for a positve impact in this world. Here is a man who could be sitting on the Irish countryside watching the checks come in from his many albums, but no, he has chosen to speak out for Africa, AIDs relief, and poverty relief. Bono once called Johnny Cash "the most male voice in Christendom," and "every man knows he is a sissy compared to Johnny Cash." Well, I guess since Johnny's passing, Bono has decided to take over the role.
Speaking of U2, here is an interesting article on the church of U2 or at least one man's perspective on how a church could learn from four boys from Ireland. I think it is an interesting read. As one who has stood in the front row of a U2 concert, I can agree with some of the ideas presented.
And for more good reading on the band, as well as the message behind the music, I'd suggest you check out Rhythms of Redemption's Walk On section. It is run by an Irishman I've had the fortunate opportunity to hear and meet a couple times. He is an excellent writer who knows music as well as things of faith.
Well, tonight is the last chance to catch my breath before the school year starts in force, as tomorrow the students arrive back. Right now I feel like I'm on a rollercoaster. Sure I know the ride is a fun one, otherwise I would have not gotten in line again. But right now is that part where you are buckled in, and the cars are slowly going up, and up, with that click, click, click sound. There is a little tension in the air, and the fear of the unknown (even if you've ridden the ride before.) But deep down you know it is going to be a wild ride, so you put your hands up and enjoy the ride. So here goes....
Tonight I also give you two links. The first one is for you if you are looking for a challenging read regarding religion, war, and leadership. If that is your cup of tea then head over here. If you would rather just have some light and trivial information, then there is nothing better than learning how to put a diaper on a monkey Enjoy either way.
Currently listening to: Dime Store Prophets - Fantastic Distraction