Sunday, September 20, 2009

Oasis in the Desert

My wife means the world to me. The world she came from and helped to shape who she is has become a second home to me. I love her parents and everyone there. It epitomizes everything that is 'good' to me: hard work, faith-even in the face of adversity, honesty and charity. I count the days until my 'second family' will come to visit us. I took an online test some time ago-"Which book of the bible are you ?" The answer was Ecclesiastes. The reasons were surprisingly accurate --You are disappointed with a hypocritical world that says one thing and does another. However, always remember to look for the good among the bad, for it is there.--

I went to a different church this morning. It was HUGE. I mean, it was the size of a college campus and it had everything but a grocery store. It was a city unto itself. I must admit, when I first walked in, I thought I was in a rock concert. They had a full band-and I mean band--guitars, bass guitars, drums, flashing lights-it WAS a concert. "I don't think this is what I came for" I remember thinking. But this is where I was led, so I decided to wait it out and not be judgmental...I could always leave and not come back. As I was listening and watching on the mega-tv screens the action, I remember thinking "where is God in all of this ?".

Once the music was over, they then showed a couple of 1st-rate, professional videos on their mega-screens. One, called "e-desperate.com" was a humorous look at the secular dating-game. I chuckled as it was funny, but thought, "dating ? Wow, the message definitely won't apply to me". But again, I waited for the message. What I found was enlightening in more ways than one.

The pastor's lesson was from the Song of Solomon, which I admit, I never really understood why it was in the Bible. "It's a love story", remarked the pastor and he then relayed how King Solomon and his bride loved each other so much, and took the time to compliment each other, to spend quality time together. The pastor skillfully explained intricacies of how to connect with one another both before and after you marry someone, all in the context of the Bible. "Maybe there is a message for me after all", I thought. I admit, I prayed this week on how to be a better husband. Not that I think I'm a bad one, mind you, but because my wife really does mean the world to me and I want her to be happy.

Some other things started to resonate with me during this service, as well.

Far too often, by no fault of their own, some people feel excluded from church, thinking that they don't dress the 'right way', or listen to the 'right' music, or watch the 'right ' movies. So they don't go, and as such, miss the Word of God. Churches are communities: Although everyone is an individual, how you dress in the heart of Texas may seem out of place or make people uncomfortable if you move to say, Ohio, where cowboy hats and spurs would seem out of place. I actually experienced that in high school, when I moved from a community where cowboy hats (no spurs) were 'cool', to another school where it was looked at as 'weird'. Now that was high school where the dynamics of belonging is fueled by teenage angst and hormones. I realized that this church, with everything that was so different from what I expected from 'church' was reaching out to people who otherwise wouldn't attend. And the focus was still God. God is in the heart, not in the pews. I enjoy a guitar with an edge to it, yet I have faith. Here was a church that utilized what is current to reach out and touch people with the word of God. When I first had walked in to the service, I had thought, "this doesn't belong in a church"...but it would be something I'd go to at a secular event. That got me thinking-people are told to 'live during the week' like they do on Sunday in church. Too often I see people go to church on Sunday and then return to their 'real lives' until the next week. How awesome would it be if someone who has a particular taste in music, for example, thought of GOD when they heard that music ? It has been said in the Bible to give glory to God in all things.

I learned a few things today: I always need to guard against judging. God judges, not I. It's not the clothes, type of music or anything else that dictates God's message. God will get His message to us if we are actively listening for it instead of deciding what God's music or taste in clothing is. We can decide for ourselves what our 'tastes' are and choose to congregate in a church with people who like the same things we do. I love the church and hymns we sing in Neodesha. I'm funny like that; I'm conservative, but also love to play hard-edged guitar.

There was a message for Josh, who, just turning 18, definitely isn't going to be listening to hymns on the radio and is looking at dating for the first time. Kids don't like to be 'lectured', but like to be engaged. Here was a message, delivered in a great way, that spoke to kids in a language they could understand, about a topic important to them. More importantly, it was delivered not in a paternalistic, authoritative way, which so many kids 'tune out', but in a way that would get through.

God is everywhere. I went to church today looking for answers on how to be a better husband and came away not only with those answers and a lesson for Josh, but a whole community of people who share an unabiding faith in God, honesty, integrity, and hard work. There is good everywhere, if you look for it.

And the kicker ? The Song of Solomon follows right after Ecclesiastes.

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