Not Good Enough?

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Our home away from home for one week in January ’17.

I’m continuing a series of blogs on things I saw and learned during our vacation in January on a cruise ship.

One of the things we hope to enjoy when we go cruising is the on-board entertainment. The entertainment on the ship was very good, notably the dynamic and extremely talented young people who put on the Vegas style shows. But one thing stood out. The floor was packed but the balconies were vacant.

I was shocked.

One of the shows featured some magic tricks, very good ones in fact. In the midst of their fast-paced music and exquisite choreography, they did these slight-of-hand tricks there were quite impressive.

No one applauded.

They were the kind that you’ve seen on television several times. Apparently it was a “been there, done that” crowd. What a shame. They did it so well.

I hate to even think this way, but how could someone think they were not good enough?

This kinda makes me think about current trends in church. Church for baby boomers has been all about excellence and new stuff. Of course this leads to problems when everyone has seen it all before.

It is interesting the things we go through to present a 2,000 year old message. Perhaps this present generation of millennials, who no doubt have a liking for doing things well, but will reject all of it if it is not genuine.

Hummmmm.

Pastors across this country are struggling with getting younger people into the church without alienating the older folks. One of the things I did to move the churches I served forward was to introduce a band that played more progressive music. I used to say to those who didn’t like the new music, “Twenty years from now I’m going to hate the music but love what it does for our grandchildren.”

I think I’m getting closer to that twenty year mark…and that pains me. Am I not good enough?

My current job has forced me to take a “one beggar to another” approach in sharing the 2,000 year old message of the gospel of Jesus. I have no fog machines or special lighting, no band or coffee bar with a hipster pulling shots. It’s just me, the other person and the Holy Spirit.

The funny thing is, slowly but surely it’s working.

Pastor, be creative! YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH! Do whatever it takes to reach people in your community. Church attender; help your pastor try new “stuff,” even if it makes you feel uncomfortable. But may all of us remember that eternity is written on our hearts and those who would listen, and that’s more than good enough.

What kind of church would you attend? One that focuses on music, the hipster, the special lighting or story-telling preaching style? Is it one where there is excellence or authenticity? What about one where the focus is old school with a choir and all of the “normal” programs and style of a traditional church? Remember that being “traditional” has more to do with being within our culture and not one seen in the Bible. What attracts you? Friends? Life stories? Mission? Why?

Ecclesiastes 3:11

 

Divorce

Okay, I couldn’t help myself – I began a Sunday morning’s message at my last church with this story:

A man in Phoenix calls his son in New York a couple of days before Thanksgiving and says, “I hate to ruin your day, but I have to tell you that your mother and I are divorcing; forty five years of misery is enough.

‘Pop, what are you talking about?’ the son screams.

We can’t stand the sight of each other any longer,’ the father says. ‘We’re sick of each other, and I’m sick of talking about this, so you call your sister in Chicago and tell her.

‘Frantic, the son calls his sister, who explodes on the phone. ‘No way that’s going to happen on our watch!’ she shouts, ‘I’ll take care of this.’

She calls Phoenix immediately, and screams at her father, ‘You are NOT getting divorced. Don’t do a single thing until I get there. I’m calling my brother back, and we’ll both be there tomorrow. Until then, don’t do a thing, DO YOU HEAR ME?’ and hangs up.

The old man hangs up his phone and turns to his wife. ‘Okay honey,’ he says, ‘they’re coming for Thanksgiving and paying their own way!’

As you can imagine, everyone laughed…and all the seniors looked at each other and nodded knowingly. Wonder how many out-of-town kids are going to get “divorce manipulation notices?”

Have a great Thanksgiving week!

 

Oops!

I’m still working out some kinks on my new-to-me blogging platform.

I’m writing ahead as I am only able to keep up this way. In doing so, I need to schedule most of these posts into the future.

If you’ve signed up to receive my posts by subscription, I’ve probably made you laugh a few times as you’ve received a “Wednesday’s Wisdom” or two on a Thursday…or a Saturday or Sunday night.

Okay. I’m working at doing this correctly. Please accept my apology, due to my technological ignorance.

Thank you.

Turn Indicator, an Arm out the Window, or just an Outright SWERVE?

img_0364The name of this blog is, “Life in the Fast a Lane.” It started out as a joke between my wife and I, due to my advanced age (so she says) and my propensity to not need to drive like Mario Andretti anymore (you know, fast).

On the other hand, whatever car he is driving these days would look great in my driveway…

Life in a lane refers to the place we are in a culture, a job, a season of life, a (fill in the blank). The dilemma arises when we are either not in the “lane” we want to be in, or have experienced a traumatic life change that puts us outside of where we thought we would be.

For example, I was a vocational pastor for 35 years. I loved being a pastor. Due to a strong sense that the church we were leading needed change, I went from preaching messages every week to doing sales in the Bakken Oilfield.

Talk about changing lanes…a classic swerve if there ever was one.

Making changes at the church I was leading would have been like sticking an arm out of the window. It’s nothing fancy or necessarily formal, it’s just time for a change and we’re making it. Everyone in the organization, in this case a church, can even identify whose arm is sticking out of the window, leading change.

Think now about the use of a turn indicator. Now that one is a little different. The use of a turn indicator is more universal than just sticking an arm out. People in front or behind you are not wondering if you have a light out, or just like feeling a breeze reaching up into your armpit. They recognize your formal indication that you are making a lane change. In the church setting it means I’ve just moved to another congregation.

I have a friend who made a great deal of money in the oilfield. During the recent downturn he was laid off, like so many thousands of others. He has gone into interviews in different fields of work (that’s right, a swerve), only to be asked, “How much did you make in your previous job?” When he tells them the princely sum, he is immediately rejected by Human Resources as it is presumed there is no way he could ever be happy with the comparably pittance of pay he would receive in his new position. My friend knows he won’t make the same money he did before. He equates it to winning the workforce lottery, working a job that only lasted a season before a reality he understood would bring him back down to earth. Time for a swerve. Time to find a different form of happiness and joy.

When changing lanes, whether it be with a turn indicator, arm out the window or a swerve, decide whether it is money or happiness that you need in your life. Sometimes it’s both.

But don’t confuse the two…

Do you need to change lanes? What kind of lane change do you need to make? What would make you happier in the lane you are in right now? Can you stay in the lane you are in a be fulfilled? What are you willing to do to pursue your dreams, or are you living your dream right now?

 

Changing Your Lane

As we travel through “life in our lane” we are reminded that our age and experiences may dictate that the scenery is different than where we were before.

Before we turn 16 and get our driver’s license, we long for days of freedom. And then we get behind the wheel for the first time alone, with no one to tell us what to do. That lane is not only full of new responsibility, but freedom.

I put 1500 miles on my car that first month of driving…LOVED that lane.

Maybe some of us have arrived at the place where getting there is just part of the journey, and how quickly we do it is not. That’s another lane altogether…

Kinda know that lane these days, and it’s okay.

Now, here’s where things get dicey…

Are you in the “lane of life” you want to be? If not, what are you willing to do to change lanes?

  • Change careers?
  • Change of scenery?
  • Get training?
  • Change companies?
  • Change influencers?
  • Change, change, CHANGE!

It’s not easy changing lanes. It’s hard work, courageous even. But one thing is for sure, that NOT changing lanes when you need to leads directly to commonly repeated cultural truths. Try these out and see how they fit:

“If you keep doing what you’ve always done you’ll get the same results you’ve always gotten.” (paraphrase of Henry Ford)

“A rut is a grave with both ends kicked out.” (Vance Havner)

“If the horse is dead…DISMOUNT.” (Dakota Indian saying)

Pick one, pick them all, write your own. They all fit. In fact, this blog and my new website were my response to my own need to change lanes…

Here’s the moral we need to grab hold of. There are many lanes we can travel in. Pick one that is not only good for you, but good for others (remember that there are lanes of life that rob others of life – avoid these highways like the plague). Pick the lane where you want to belong and function accordingly – to the rules and standards of that lane/form of life travel. More on this later.

Do the things NOW that get you into that new lane. There, you have permission. Go for it!

What lane do you want to do life in? Do you have the will and courage to make a change? Do you have people in your life who will encourage your new direction, or do you need to find a new set of people?

Proverbs 29:18