Thursday, October 25, 2007

great song with challenging lyrics

I Repent
by Derek Webb, on the album "I See Things Upside Down"

I repent, I repent of my pursuit of America’s dream
I repent, I repent of living like I deserve anything
Of my house, my fence, my kids, my wife
In our suburb where we’re safe and white
I am wrong and of these things I repent

I repent, I repent of parading my liberty
I repent, I repent of paying for what I get for free
And for the way I believe that I am living right
By trading sins for others that are easier to hide
I am wrong and of these things I repent

[Bridge]I repent of judging by a law that even I can’t keep
Of wearing righteousness like a disguise
To see through the planks of my own eyes

I repent, I repent of trading truth for false unity
I repent, I repent of confusing peace and idolatry
By caring more of what they think than what I know of what we need
By domesticating you until you look just like me
I am wrong and of these thingsI am wrong and of these things
Oh I am wrong and of these things I repent

Words and Music: Derek Webb©2004 Derek Webb Music (admin by Music Services) / ASCAP

Just some good stuff to ponder there...I certainly know I need to repent of many attitudes mentioned...

And I'm sure that even at first glance, some of the things Derek says he repents from would make some blood boil...but I think that's the point. We do live like we are entitled, like we deserve all we have, etc. We should instead be grateful for what we have, be willing to share it...and be content in the Lord alone should it all be taken away...and that is difficult for most Western Christians to grasp (including me more than I like to admit).

Friday, October 19, 2007

A good, and challenging, take on the lack of male spiritual leadership these days

I'm about to post a blog entry link from a good friend of mine, David Westerfield. I hate to say it, but I agree with what he is saying. In fact, I have had a few discussions lately on this very subject. I'll share a few thoughts, but I'll let Dave do most of the "talking" here as it is a thorough, heart-felt post. I will also admit two things right from the start that Dave also shares as a preface: a) I also struggle mightily with being "too passive", not proactive enough in spiritual leadership. Sure, I'm "paid to do it" with teens (and with varying levels of success), but it is harder with folks not in my ministry realm, especially when they are several years older than me, or have stronger, more Type-A personalities, etc. But God is working on me, and I am much more confident now at 33 than even a couple years back... b) Please don't read Dave's (or my) posts as, "Ben and Dave don't like women in ministry". Quite the contrary. But, as you'll discover, it just seems the guys are increasingly dropping the ball...

Here is the link. Feel free to read it first, then my additions below:

As someone working in the church as my proffession, I see this ALL THE TIME. Sure, there are the occasional men and male teens who are truly seeking to be godly leaders, but they are increasingly fewer and farther between. For example, when looking for volunteer leaders for the youth ministry, who signs up almost three times as much? Ladies. And getting men to volunteer is like pulling teeth. Like Dave wrote, you almost have to give a sales presentation to "hook" them, and often when they sign up, they still seem so nervous, reserved, almost "afraid" to open up, etc. I know some is simply how men and women are wired differently, but come on, this is getting absurd. Just look at who is sitting in church. You will see plenty of moms with all their kids, and less often, dad is with them (and usually looking quite disinterested). Is this the example we want to set for the future???? That dads just don't really care? That they'll nurture their souls (and only passively) as long as it doesn't conflict with the opening of deer season? Or dove season? Or (insert animal that can be legally killed here) season? (maybe that's just the Weatherford crew...lots of hunters here...not against hunting, but dang it seems to rule some guys' world...) I think the problem here is that we got lazy in the past generation, and while in the past male leaders were more plentiful, they just assumed it would carry on by osmosis and little training was needed. Bad decision. As a result, we have passive dads and male adults, and thus, passive teen guys. I mean, I've had a few with signs of promise (and with guidance, some have really stepped it up), but it is still a struggle. They have been modeled to just, "Believe in God, 'respect' Jesus, try to generally be nice (unless someone crosses you), work hard to be 'comfortable', and if something more enjoyable presents itself, then certainly give all your attention to that!" Forget seeking opportunities to mentor your kids in God's ways, or others around you... Even many of the males I know in leadership positions within a church (on committees, boards, etc.) are quite passive. I'm not talking about needing more "heavy-handed" tyrants either, but well-balanced men of faith who are actively seeking to follow Jesus as priority one, and thus spreading their wisdom to those around them...

Sorry if this seems like a rant, and there certainly are some great examples of godly men still out there. I've just seen too much passivity among my gender and have talked with too many frustrated moms about how they wish their husbands gave a rip about being the spiritual leader in their families, church, LIFE.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Pigs are Surely Orbiting My House...

So my wife's favorite food in the world is sushi.

That above statement usually gets polarizing statements, from either, "Sushi is AWESOME!", to, "Raw fish (among other random sea monsters)? ARE YOU KIDDING???"

To this point, all I've ever been able to stomach (and it was only one bite, and it was "cooked" sushi) was some sort of eel sushi. Not any more...

Saturday was our 6th wedding anniversary, so like any good husband, I let the wifey pick our destination (ha). She chose Mikado in downtown Ft. Worth. I do like a good teriyaki beef or chicken with rice and miso soup, so I was game. As we were both digging in...I agreed to try some sort-of spicy tuna roll. Raw, ground tuna wrapped in seaweed, surrounded by rice, "garnished" by little orange fish eggs...

So here is my thought: It qualified as "interesting". You know, not the worst thing on earth, CERTAINLY an acquired taste, but I'm probably not going to beat down the door of our local sushi bar any time soon. Somewhat spicy (which helped), but cold and fishy... Yet, I ended up eating 3 of them, mostly because Missy ordered too much and kept saying, "Eat some, please. It's too expensive to leave." So I had two more... It wasn't awful, but let's just say I wish I had left at least one bite of my beef for the very end because I proceeded to burp "raw tuna" ALL NIGHT LONG haha!

But, somewhere pigs are taking flight, and I'm actually kind of impressed that I tried sushi...

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Things I've Learned from My ipod This Past Year, Part 2

I recently realized another lesson since I got my ipod a year ago. As before, I need to explain some events leading to the realization...

If you know little about ipods, you first have to install a program on your computer called "itunes" to essentially manage the songs, playlists, etc., for your ipod (you generally don't use your actual ipod for those tasks), as well as buy songs, convert songs from CD to mp3, etc. Also, your ipod (which has an "indentity"; mine is named "The Angus", surprise surprise...) can only be recognized on a specific edition of itunes. Mine has always been synched to my work laptop.

Well, two Thursdays ago, my itunes stopped "recognizing" my personal ipod. Now, that doesn't mean songs on my ipod were gone, or I couldn't recharge the battery (by plugging it into my computer), but instead I could not add songs, make playlists, or do any other ipod management. Apparently (after I had researched some "help message boards"), I can save my preferences, etc., in other locales, but you have to be proactive, which in this case, I was not.

So I had two choices: either decide to keep my ipod "as is", with 7000+ songs, 20ish playlists, etc., or click "synch The Angus" to the empty version of itunes now on my computer. The kicker with choice two is that it completely erases your ipod of songs, playlists, etc., since the itunes on my computer was now a blank version.

I also realized there were two "attitude" choices I needed to make. Either be bitter, possesive of "my ipod" (like what I experienced in Part 1 of this series), or try to find the lessons and opportunities present.

I chose option B. I started realizing that of the 7000+ songs I had, easily 1/3 had never once been played in the past year. Over 2000 songs essentially "taking up wasted space"! I had tons of songs put on there "just in case", when in reality, they were never touched. Also, of my over 20 playlists, only 7 or so were ever listened to... Add to those facts the increasing anxiety over my ipod "only" having around 2 GB left (out of an original 30 GB), wondering when I would run out of room and have to start purging certain files.

So, with excitement (believe it or not), I decided to have a "do-over" with my ipod. I clicked "synch The Angus with this version of itunes"...and erased my ipod. Now thankfully I had every song on file in a folder in an external hard drive, so no song was truly gone; just gone from my ipod. Yet, I knew I had alot of work to do to "re-do" my ipod...

But it was exciting! I went back over a two-week period and made only the 7-or-so playlists I really listened too. As a result, I now have "only" around 4000 songs, but over 11 GB of free space. I basically got rid of 9 GB of "wasted space" and have lots of room.

How does this compare with our lives? As followers of Jesus, we get "do-overs" as well: forgiveness and repentance. When Jesus died and resurrected, he atoned for all our sin once-and-for all, and we who trust in that have forgiveness. Our lives are viewed as clean and worthy before God. Yet we still struggle with "stuff" that holds us back, much like wasted songs on an ipod quickly filling up room. At some point, my ipod would be full and I'd have a painful taks of picking and choosing what to "cut". We are the same way. We have "stuff" (like struggles that we choose to cultivate, forgiveness we need to accept, forgiveness we need to give, attitudes that kill our souls, etc.) that continue to fill us up, and it hinders us from being the people God intends for us to be. Where I parked in this realization was the realm of forgiveness. First, we need to realize as believers we are already forgiven. Too often we act like we have to "get forgiveness" over and over again, almost like we lose forgiveness. I don't buy that, or see it in scripture (see John 10:28-29, where it looks like those who God has brought to himself can't be taken away, and that inclues his forgiveness: Instead, we need to remember we are already forgiven and rely on God to help us truly repent (or, "turn the other direction") from our sinful behavior and attitudes. But forgiveness has a facet we too often gloss over: we may be forgiven by God, but our hearts toward others hold us back:

14For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. *** Matthew 6:14-15, NIV.

It does appear we can "lose forgiveness" (or at least not recieve it) there, but I think it more accurately means that when we don't truly forgive others, we aren't able to truly "grasp", accept, and "live in realization of" the fullness of God forgiving us. Essentially, we allow all the wasted songs/stuff/people we need to forgive to take up space in our lives, and we have less room to live as redeemed people. One of my faborite quotes is from G.K. Chesterton: “And the more I considered Christianity, the more I found that while it had established a rule and order, the chief aim of that order was to give room for good things to run wild.” *** from "Orthodoxy"

When we forgive others, and truly live like people who grasp the fact that we have been forgiven, it allows us to free up "dead space" in our hearts...and let the, "good things run wild". Too often we look at God's plans for us, his guidelines for behavior and attitude (including forgiving others...even when we don't think they deserve it), and feel like it holds us back. Not true! Instead, it frees up dead, wasted space...and allows for good things to run wild and amok in our lives. THAT is what I want! Just like my new-and-improved, freed up, more efficient ipod...

Friday, October 5, 2007


I recently realized that, according to tradition, I am now the age Jesus was when he was crucified, etc.


Amazing to think that the son of God accomplished everything by this age.

I feel like I am just "puttering along" so much of the time! When we think of leaders demanding allegiance, we usually think of folks with gray hair, maybe a beard, etc. But a 33 year old? Wow. The King of Kings was my age...surreal...

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Things I've Learned from My ipod This Past Year, Part 1

About a year ago for my 32nd birthday, I received a gift from my parents: an ipod. A couple of things you need to know about the significance here: First, I LOVE music. If I had to choose between blindness or deafness, I'd probably choose blindness. I certainly appreciate the gift that is seeing beautiful things, but my "image memory" seems to be clearer than my "hearing memory", so it's likely that the images would remain clearer to me than sounds should it ever happen. I'd miss "seeing" my lovely wife and child, watching sports, seeing mountains and sunsets...but would probably miss the joy that music gives more (at least I could still imagine what was being described to me, converse with others freely, etc.). Second, is that an ipod was the first gift in many years that I actually requested for a birthday or Christmas. As I've gotten older, I just don't seem to truly desire so many specific things like I did as a child. A great example of this was two years ago when I didn't have any personal gift requests, so I decided to ask for a "family gift": a fence for our back yard (you know you are old when you start asking for fences, haha!).

Well last year, when the "what do you want for your birthday"-requests started going out, my wife figured I was still in "I don't really care"-mode and suggested we go for another family gift like flooring the attic. Well, I said, "you know, I actually want an ipod". So I got one...

You need to know now that I almost pride myself in being laid-back as far as "love for material possesions" go, with the key dangerous word there being pride... You see, here is where one great personal lesson from my ownership of an ipod comes in...

A few months ago, I "lost" my ipod. Actually, I think Jackson got a hold of it and at some point it was lost under a couch or cabinet or something (doesn't matter). At first, I was just sort of amused, but as the day went on (and it was lost for three days), I got increasingly worried. I was never mad at my son, you must know, but some strange emotions started coming about. Frantic-ness. Worry. "Missing" my ipod (almost like you'd miss a person...yeah, sad...). Even wondering what my folks (givers of the gift) would say knowing I even allowed a 2-y/o to have access to such an expensive and small item. Finally, the most interesting thought I had were along the lines of, "Ben, this is YOU! You don't get this way! You aren't controlled by material things!" But, you see, I was exposed. And humbled. I was (am) just as guilty as anyone else.

1"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
3"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.
6"Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces. **
Matthew 7:1-6, NIV;&version=31; (and a good commentary of verse 6 can be found here if you are bored:

Thus, I learned an important lesson: Yes, I do tend to not struggle with loving material things, but I am just as guilty as anyone. I have at times even judged others that seem to struggle so mightily with being ruled by possesions, or feel "entitled" to only the best things in life, etc., but I am not so different. I often look at what friends of mine can "do" and get jealous, for example. That is not fruitful. I need to always seek to be grateful for all the Lord has blessed me with...even if it seems meager at times when I allow myself to compare with others, etc. I also need to acknowledge that things I "love", like my ipod, are destined for places where "moth and dust destroy" and should be considered a true gift of God while I have been entrusted with them.

10I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. ** Philippians 4: 10-12 (NIV)