In the fifth grade I started playing the trumpet in the school band. Well, that’s not entirely true. In the fifth grade I started making awful, brassy noises that could only loosely be called “playing.” But, I learned about musical notation, which fingers to push down, tuning, breathing, and all the fundamentals needed to actually play a trumpet. It was often boring and time-consuming–and sometimes painful (you don’t know what buzzing your lips together in a small brass bowl can do to you until you have tried to do it for an hour straight). Continue reading
I still don’t know for sure if my eighth grade science teacher was joking or serious, but he would periodically spend small portions of our class time presenting evidence for the flatness of the earth. Looking back, it may have been his tongue-in-cheek way of teaching us that evidence can be manipulated, and “scientific” conclusions can be misleading. But, the thought I had then still remains with me: how could anyone not believe the world is round? (We’ll see how many angry responses I get from Flat Earth Society members)
There are many more who deny the moon landing, the Holocaust, the death of Elvis, and the authenticity of fossils. And then there are our own denials that are more often displayed rather than spoken, like racism and pride, denials of the worth of others and our own humiliating flaws, denials that are the result of not being able to see beyond ourselves. Continue reading
I loved going to youth rallies when I was a teen. I loved seeing kids my age gathered together for a purpose. I loved the uplifting speakers. I loved the wonderful singing and powerful worship. I loved the mountain-top experiences.
And I still do.
But, I have to be careful not to measure the success in my spiritual life by these experiences, by how encouraged I feel, or how “spiritually energized” I am. Not every spiritually successful experience is a mountain-top experience. In fact, the prophets show us otherwise. Continue reading
We Americans are confused about spirituality, especially those of us who are Christians.
Church life today is so focused on Sunday morning that I regularly fall into the trap of thinking that what happens then is the definition of spirituality. I think of powerful worship and heart-felt prayers. And that translates into my personal life. I feel less spiritual when my prayer life or personal Bible study wanes. I define spirituality by a limited set of activities. Maybe you do the same thing. Continue reading
I am not sure how many tornadoes I have seen, but I know it has been a lot, and I know all but one of them were in Colorado.
I grew up just south of Denver. Our town was positioned on a high enough hill along the front range that we could see for miles. We got excited every time storms began to develop because we knew it would be a good show.
We would go out on our back deck and just watch the storm clouds roll in. Our eyes were fixed on the sky and the horizon, looking for lightning strikes, wall clouds, and funnel clouds. And, if we were lucky we might even see a tornado.
One storm was especially spectacular, and we sat there counting funnel clouds. Continue reading
I grew up going to church. That’s just what we always did. Every Sunday and Wednesday. And maybe this happened to you if you grew up going to church, but there was a point in my life where I began wanting to go to church.
Before that point in my life (roughly junior high age I think), I was fairly indifferent. It’s not that I didn’t want to go, it’s just that I didn’t have a great desire to go. There were times I really wanted to be at church to hang out with friends, and there were times I just did not feel like going. I had (have) good parents, so I always went anyway.
But, there was a turning point in my life when I began wanting to go to church. Continue reading
We moved around some when I was growing up. We lived in Colorado, New Jersey, and Arkansas, and I went to four different school districts in my kindergarten through high school years.
Each move was quite a change, although each in different ways. But, each time we moved, though I didn’t always like it I always looked forward to one aspect of it: the chance for a new start. I looked forward to the possibilities of making new impressions, of building a new reputation, of living among people who didn’t know my mistakes and my failures. I always felt like I had an opportunity to fix myself.
The problem was that I made more mistakes. In the end, despite my best intentions, I didn’t really fix myself. I didn’t really change. It was only my environment that was different.
I imagine many people have the same expectations and the same let-downs in new jobs, new houses, new churches, new communities. Continue reading