Tuesday, March 22, 2016

March Madness

Spring is here!  Well, almost here...for most of the country.  Here in Wyoming that means we have at least 2 more snow storms to survive by the time summer rolls around...in July.  But the other thing Spring brings for the sports lover is a little bit of everything.  A little baseball, a little playoff push in hockey and NBA basket ball, a little NFL free agency, mix in some NCAA spring practices, then add in a lot of NCAA basketball.  Take your pick, it is the buffet of sports.  Something for everyone.  A plate of your favorite dish followed by a small dish of your favorite dessert.  It's like walking in to Golden Corral where you can get the hot buffet or the salad buffet.  No matter the decision you have to get the dessert buffet to accompany anything you get.  Pot Roast, beef brisket, potato soup, some green beans and the always healthy garden salad fill you up quickly.  But that can always be topped with a bowl of ice cream with hot fudge, nuts,sprinkles and a cherry on top of a chocolate chip cookie.  That is what a sports fan faces the entire month of March.

Spring Training may have started in February, but the games started this month.  Any pure baseball lover will try to convince you that watching these games are just as good as anything, especially when they haven't watched any baseball since October.  Yeah, these people are kinda nuts, maybe a little strange, but it is their sport and for them, something is better than nothing.

For the NFL fan, they have the combine - an annual collection of draft hopefuls attempting to show off their skills to scouts to improve their chance of getting drafted.  Then they have free agency, a hope that their team improves its chances of winning the Super Bowl, or a hope to not have to endure more players leaving their team and increasing the likelihood of another year of sucking.  March also provides a month or so of preparing for their draft parties.  Fans can only dream of their team picking that one guy who will put the franchise on their shoulders and lead the team to the promise of winning the Lombardi Trophy.  Yes, these types of fans redefine the word fanatic.

Next you have the NBA and NHL seasons in full swing. Their All-Star games long past, trade deadlines with all the trades made are over, and now fans and teams look towards the playoffs.  With teams firmly locked into the playoffs, a lot of the focus goes to those teams fighting to get into the post season fun. Teams residing at the bottom of each league can only hope of a better year next year. But, until the playoffs start, most casual fans wait until April to pay attention to much of what's going on. Yes, there are exceptions, but reality for me says nothing is important until the playoffs.
But, March brings out a certain Madness in nearly every fan. Even the most casual fan takes an interest in college basketball. From friendly wagers to office pools with large sums of money up for grabs, nearly everyone is focused on College Basketball.  So much attention is paid to this time of year, even urologists have noticed an increase in vasectomy procedures done the Monday - Wednesday of the first weekend of the tournament (guys, you get it, gals, just use your imagination).  I even know moms that tell their kids to leave them alone until April.  This is indeed the apex of College Basketball.

The highs, the lows and all the in between of watching March Madness.  Fans and casual observers pick 63 games before the first teams hit the hardwood.  There is hope in selecting the winners of these games and being perfect in those selections.  Then, once the first game starts, and that first upset happens, everyone (or nearly everyone) sees the error of their ways in selecting "that team they didn't trust to begin with."  It was these emotions that not only did I experience this year (and every year) that it hit me.  

How can I expect...or even hope to pick 63 games perfectly?!?!?  C'mon man!  Think about it!  What are the odds that someone picks every game correctly.  In all my years, I've only known of 1 person being perfect in their picks.  Aside from that one example, when has anyone ever been perfect in anything?  Again, I've only known one person that can claim perfection.  His name is Christ.  And until I can claim being Christ, I will never pick a perfect bracket for the Big Dance.  Will someone else pick the bracket perfectly during my lifetime?  Maybe, but I don't expect so.  Another reality with the imperfection of picking the perfect bracket - I'll never win an office pool, an ESPN or Yahoo challenge nor the million dollars that come along with any of these wins.

I'm okay with not winning, I'm okay with not being perfect, and I'm thankful I don't have to live up to the expectations of that perfection.  I'm thankful I know the only one person who has been perfect.  

Oh, and yes, my bracket this year was toast after the first round of play in the tournament.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

One Team, One Body and a Strange Competition

The spirit of victory and the agony of defeat is felt daily in sports.  The catch phrase was used for many years by ABC during the opening of its "Wide World of Sports" broadcast.  In their opening, they used images of the agony and joy from both team and individual sport.  They made certain those watching could rest assured that no matter what occurred on the broadcast, you would feel emotion along with the athlete(s).  To this day, I still see a tumbling ski jumper every time I think of the agony of defeat.

Sadly, this is what the church today is beginning to look like.  Well, maybe look like just a little.  Seriously, I'm not joking.  The church is following in the footsteps of society in more ways than one, and somehow we have to fix this.  More than divorce, greed, gossip, pornography, apathy, self gratification and hypocrisy, I'm talking about competitiveness.  No, being competitive is not wrong (just sit at the table when my family is playing cards and you'll see how competitive one can get).  Being competitive can produce good results when applied at the right times.  It can make people stronger mentally and physically.  It will make a team work that much better together.  It can be the iron that sharpens iron.  But, competitiveness can also tear down a team when egos start getting in the way.  Competitive coaches on the same sideline might accidentally step on each other in hopes of making their players better, all the while destroying comradery.

How is this relevant to the church?  Bear with me for a second.  Before I explain, take a second and think about your church, your youth group, your favorite artist, your local concert promoter or anyone else in your circle that influences your community.  What are they doing to influence the community.  How well are they playing with others?  Is it just them in their sand box?  Or, are they working with others to build the sand castle in the sand box?  Not sure?  I'll give it to you that you may not know.  You may be in a spot where you don't see or hear about those influencing your church community.  Or, maybe you are that person and have never thought about how you are playing in the sand box.  For me, I have thought about it a lot recently, based on what it is I do for a living away from my job that keeps a roof over my head.

Let me start the explanation by confirming my imperfection.  This is something I need to work at a lot, and hopefully my thoughts will encourage others to think about their place in building the church as a whole, and not just their ministry.  This reflecting came via a source I wouldn't have ever imagined.  Thank you Natalie Grant.

A while back, Natalie posted about the competition aspect regarding some of the things that were said to her by leaders in the Christian community.  When I read this, I was naturally floored.  But, upon second look, I began to realize this is something that happens every day in Cheyenne and across the country.  I can see it and hear it in the words and actions of those I listen to.  There are youth pastors here in Cheyenne I see this in them.  Senior pastors aren't exempt.  Nope, they have to have their youth, their congregants, their events, etc. and make sure that they do it better than everyone else in town.  They "have" to give their lessons/sermons just to prove they can preach/teach better than the pastor down the street.  Their outreach events are great, but the Baptist church has to be bigger and better than the Nazarene church that is bigger than the Methodist church.  And so the cycle goes no matter the church, band, promoter, guest speaker or youth conference.  Everybody has to "win."

I implore you though to think about why The Church would be in competition with each other.  Last I checked, we are a body.  One body, Christ's body.  If we are one body, then indeed we should be working for the common good.  So what if each part of the body operates semi independently, it is still God in control.  Take for instance your local high school basketball team.  They practice tirelessly before the season starts, and then every day there is no game.  Before the season, they run 5 on 5 drills to get into the game mode.  Then, once the season starts, even though not as much, they still have intrasquad games.  Additionally, they have a scout team that runs their opponents offense and defense to simulate a game.  Not once do these kids have a win at all cost mentality when going against their team mates.  Sure, before the season these games may have an incentive if they win, but the coaches make sure that tempers are maintained and there are no fouls that are harmful.  If sports teams can do this (with a few instances as an exception), then why can't The Church act more like sports teams?

One body, one team, that is what the church is to be.  So, instead of competing, shouldn't we be cheering each other on?  When we go to a concert that we love, shouldn't we be prepared to go to a concert where we may not like the music, but we go just because it is the right thing to do, and the ministry is just as good as the band we do like?  If the Nazarene church has a Thanksgiving outreach, shouldn't we support that through sharing despite the fact we go to the Assembly of God church on the other side of town?  If the Berean church had a weekend youth event that saw 20 youth have their lives radically changes, shouldn't we celebrate that even though we attend the Missionary Alliance Church?  If we listened to Paul and his writing in Phillipians 1:15-21, we would realize that petty competition isn't what we should be concerned about.  Our concern should be like that of the shepherd, find the one even if it means leaving ninety-nine.

I'm guilty.  I have failed many times over in being competitive.  As a promoter, a music fan, a youth director, I have failed.  I say I want others to succeed, but not always have I actually put my words into practice and supported.  I try, just as much as others try.  Trying though isn't always good enough, especially when there is no action.  I commit to fix this personally.  I challenge you to fix this as well.  Let's be intentional to support each other.  Let's cheer on our brothers and sisters in Christ.  Go to the concerts that you may not like the music, simply so you can support the ministry of the promoter and the band.  Go to an Easter production at a church you don't attend so you can show their pastor there is not competition between you and them.  If you attend a church that isn't down the street, cool, but when your neighborhood church has an outreach, stop by and introduce yourself. Surprise that church by your presence.

Remember, you don't have to like or agree with how people have that radical encounter with God, you just have to like the fact that heaven gains another citizen.  Each church, pastor, band, promoter, evangelist, etc. has their own methods.  They do the best they can.  Let them do their best, and lets promise to do our best to support their best.  Remember, they may be the hands while you and I are the toe nails of this awesome body of Christ.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Pedestal of Failure

Who’s your favorite band?  Yes, broad question and probably a hard one to answer.  So let’s narrow the scope of the question down.  Who’s your favorite Christian band or artist?  Maybe you even have a favorite speaker, minister, author or just someone you look up to.  All of us do.  Sure, some of who we look up to are family, but may still have that celebrity type person that we hold in high regard.  As I’ve gotten older, the selection of whom I look up to has been narrowed.  Maybe that is age, or maybe that is being more cautious in my influences.  Despite that, there are still those “celebrity” that I admire based on their ministry, their music, their whatever, I admire it.  I’m pretty sure, you do as well.

Of all those we admire, there tends to be a “shock” or “disappointment” when we find out one of these people falls from the pedestal we place them on.  Sadly, we are even more shocked when it’s a Christian that we find out about.  For those old enough, think back to when you found out Michael English had an affair while touring with another Christian band.  What about when you found out Jim Baker was lying to you about how he needed your money to continue preaching on TV. More recently, we had Newsboys co-founder, George Perdikis, and As I Lay Dying founder, Tim Lambesis, both profess atheism.  What are your thoughts?  Shocked?  Surprised?  Maybe even a little hurt?  Well, get used to it, especially after the letter put out by JustinCordle of We As Human.

One of my favorite songs is, “I Will Fail You,” by Demon Hunter.  Despite the song lacking the typical growling and yelling Demon Hunter is known for, it still has the lyrical strength and Ryan Clark’s haunting vocals.  The song is a in which the lyrics are a reminder that no matter the grace given, how many sins forgiven, that “I” will fail.  The “You” in this song could be taken to mean a couple different people.  1) Could be God, or 2) could be the person who is putting the singer up on a pedestal.  Either way, this song assures the listener that failure will occur, despite the grace, mercy and forgiveness given.

Another song that comes to mind is a song from The Swirling Eddies.  “Hide the Beer thePastor’s Here,” is a song that pokes fun of christians that feel they have to hide certain things from their pastor.  Beer is the main focus of the song, but the Eddies find a way to slide hate, christian college hypocrisy and lust into the mix of what get hid from our pastors.  Sadly, this song is perfect for many christian bands touring today.  Seriously, there are too many bands out there traveling to not have problems with lust, alcoholism, drugs, sex and most any pitfall available to professional athletes and celebrities.  Yes, our bands “perfect image” is most certainly anything but.

I can hear it now!  You’re mad at me for accusing your favorite band/artist of imperfection.  Well, they are human aren’t they?  But more than that, they have struggles just as you and I do.  Our churches have imperfect people in it.  It makes perfect sense that our favorites in the music industry reflect the church as an image of imperfection.  Sadly however, many of these individuals work hard at not showing those imperfections.  As a matter of fact, their management, record labels and those closest to them work hard at hiding those imperfections.  They don’t want to disappoint their fans.  They know they are under a microscope and any vulnerability they seem to believe will show them as a failure.  For many, failure isn’t an option.  There is too much to risk if there is failure.  Sadly, we as consumers have only fueled this belief that our favorite musicians need to be perfect.

I’m not saying every band/artist is crooked, drunk, or other.  There are great artists out there that are upright in everything they do, despite their humanity and the failures a sinful nature brings.  They are honest about their failures, their struggles and their temptations when on the road.  But, they also share freely about God’s grace through everything.  

Is there a fix for this problem?  No, not unless you fix our humanity and our nature to sin.  But, I do believe that there is a way to reduce the failures that are becoming so prominent.  We do have a way to keep adultery, drug use, disbelief to a minimum, even when we aren’t on the road with the band/artist.  We can, and must pray for the musician.  We need to pray for their marriages.  We need to pray for their health.  Driving is a dangerous proposition, and something that we can pray for.  We can find a way to drop them a line via Social Media, email or sometimes even text (for those that have good relationships with bands) to let them know we are thinking of them and praying for them.  Provide them with love through gift cards, baked goods and more when you go to their concerts.  These little acts of selfless God given love won’t fix everything, but it will encourage the artist.  If they know people are genuine in their care for them, and not placing them on that proverbial pedestal, the rate at which we see catastrophic failure will reduce.  And if it is just one that changes because of our love, then we as fans have done our job.

So, as fans, let us live the great commission to love our neighbor as ourselves, including those neighbors who just happen to be in our favorite band.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Wind, blowing snow and a flood

I'm currently driving to drop off a car to my brother in Coeur d'Alene, ID.  This isn't a trip that was on my schedule.  But, with the immediate need for a set of wheels, my mom and I are making the trip, thanks to several people that have helped purchase the car.  So, with the new set of wheels and the weekend off, I currently find myself in a hotel in Billings, MT.

Cheyenne to Billings isn't really that long of a drive.  Typically, the drive should only take 6ish hours.  However, February in Wyoming presents uncertainty with weather.  Earlier this week, Winter Storm Kayla moved through dumping a foot of snow on Cheyenne.  The effects of that snow storm were still being felt today through most of the eastern part of the state.  When I say felt, I have to clarify just a bit before I continue with the story.

Many people associate Chicago as being the Windy City.  Ask anyone in Cheyenne and most of them will scoff at that notion, and then correct you by informing you that Cheyenne is windier than Chicago.  Not just words, fact.  Cheyenne average wind speed - 12.4mph and Chicago is 10.3mph.  This sets the stage for the rest of the story.

My mom and I finally tore out of Cheyenne about 9:45.  Just minutes before we left, the State DOT opened up I-25 (only north/south interstate in Wyoming).  Despite it being opened, there was a high wind warning along with warnings for patchy ice from Cheyenne to Buffalo.  I knew we were in for a long trip.  I wasn't expecting such a long trip.  A long, slow, windy, icy and flat out horrible drive of a trip.

Despite the awful driving conditions to just south of Buffalo, and the slow speeds, it provided me with some great windshield time.  God took the crap of the day and turned it to gold.  He blew my mind.  He showed me his beauty, his provisions and his designs.

If you are one for road trips, I highly suggest taking a ho hum drive up I-25, then on west I-90 into Billings (the rest of Montana and Northern Idaho will be observed tomorrow).  No, the scenery won't change much, but you will get to see the mountains to the west while going through Wyoming.  Once you hit Montana, you'll get the same thing, but add in a few rivers.  Then, the farther west you get you'll be shown a river most of the way across Montana, a few mountain passes to traverse and some of the most beautiful scenery in the US.  But, I digress.

Anyway, my trip today I got to see all the above mentioned of Wyoming.  But, while I was taking it all in, I began thinking of the flood.  You know, that flood that covered the whole world.  The flood that Noah and his family took a whole bunch of pets on a boat to save themselves and the animals from drowning.  Yeah, that flood.  I began to see the very spot I was driving as being covered by water.  Then, that water receding, forming the very mountains I was looking at.  I began to imagine the water flowing along the valleys I had driven through.  Next, I wondered what Noah and family were thinking as the water was receding.  My mind was absolutely blown.

What does all that have to do with me driving what is possibly the longest trip from Cheyenne to Billings?  Nothing.  Nothing at all.  But, it was God distracting me with some pretty cool scenery and a completely different perspective of the flood.

Tomorrow, more driving, more scenery and eventually getting to hang with my brother, niece and nephews.  Night all.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Year Is...

No, I did not forget the rest of the title to this blog.  I'm leaving that up to you.  You finish the title as you see fit.  I really don't want to finish the title.  No reason other than I just don't want to.  Honestly, I just don't have the energy to define the year.  Oh, and there is a trick to finishing the title.  Well, maybe not a trick, but there are certain dynamics that come to play based on how you finish the title.

Are you an optimist?  If so, you're probably thinking "Finally Here!"  You're expecting great things in 2016.  You're New Year's Eve party is all planned out, guests invited and the stroke of midnight can't get here soon enough.  Even if you aren't planning a party and are just attending one, you still eagerly await the turn of the calendar.

Maybe you have had a rough year.  You've experienced divorce, death, job loss, or something that has shook your foundation.  I envision you saying, "finally over."  I don't blame you.  You're hoping there is no repeat of these events.  As much as you want to hang on to what was, you are desperately trying to begin a new hoping that 2016 brings a renewing that allows you to hang on to the good of 2015 and restore your faith in life/humanity/God.

Of course, there are those of you who hate change.  It doesn't matter what it is that changes, you hate it.  The turn of the calendar causes panic.  You are the ones who finish the title by adding, "sadly over."  It's not that you are sad about anything, you were just comfortable with everything in your life, and 2016 is...well...change.  Something new is coming and you just don't like it, even if something better awaiting you.

Lastly, there's those of you like me.  You're life moves at breakneck speed with days passing by like Jeff Gordon passing you on the track.  The end of the title reads, "Already Gone?"  You're not hating anything, not missing anything and might actually be looking forward to the change.  Like myself, you feel as if you only took one blink this year and all that happened is already in the books.  The memories are blessings, There might be some moments of 2015 you want to relive, but you know that 2016 could certainly replay some of those moments with slight variances.

So, how are you going to finish the title?  I finished my title in the above paragraph.  I look forward to 2016 and the adventure life will bring.  I can't wait to see what God provides in life.  My kids growing still feels like it has just begun, but there is different growth now.  Growth of the adults they are becoming.  I look forward to the fun the spring and summer bring. I know there's events that will happen, and I know there will be things unplanned that will be just as fun.  Reality also holds uncertainty and obstacles that will have to be overcome.  Odd as it may sound, I look forward to those as well.

I pray that 2016 provides you with joy, excitement, growth and opportunity.  Enjoy the new year.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Christian Music and Pop Culture

Over the course of my writing I have shared my love of music.  Visit my personal and business Facebook pages and you'll see how I consider my music.  Speaking of my business, it is in the music industry.  One could say, I'm an addict.  You would be correct in that assessment.  Dive deep enough in this blog and you might see some posts about pop culture or current events.  I'm not a lover of pop culture, but I'd like to think I know just enough to be slightly dangerous.  I can recognize references most of the time, and might even give you a witty reference too.  But, please don't ask me to know about every pop culture reference you give me.  If you expect that, sooner or later you will get a deer caught in the headlights look.  If you want someone who is a pop culture junkie, hop over to my brothers blog, you'll be much more satisfied.

Today, I'm gonna combine my observations of pop culture, and associate the topic with a song.  Not just any song, but a Christian music genre themed song.  Think it can't be done?  Well, I'm out to prove you wrong.  More than just prove you wrong, I also hope to stir some thinking in your perspectives of faith and pop culture and how these two are more connected than you think.  There is no topic off limits, but for the sake of a shorter blog, I'm limiting what I put here...for now.

Topic one, the big one that currently has caused christians to prove how ignorant they are.  The red Starbucks cup.  Initially, not knowing the "controversy," I immediately started singing the hit Toby Keith song.  Then I learned what the commotion was about.  I shook my head.  Disbelief at how absurd this "Pastor" was in his outrage over a cup.  A CUP!!!  I've read many a blog, many posts and even participated in discussions about this stupid cup.  Then it hit me.  The color red.  It's associated with Taylor Swift album and song names, gangs and blood.  BLOOD!  YES!!!  Blood runs red.  It flows out of our bodies when cut.  More importantly, Petra gave us a song in 1981 that shared what the color red symbolizes.  Yes, The Coloring Song is really what red should be about, instead of a stupid cup from an establishment selling over priced and over acidic coffee.

Current event number two takes me to a very sore subject for many.  Race aside, everybody has an opinion, a story or even an example.  Me, sure I have an opinion, but the significance of the opinion is limited due to my life experiences.  But, I do know that at some point in time the race relations in this country have to improve and hopefully will improve.  I'm not the only one that has this hope and belief.  KB shares this hope in his song I Believe.  A great song, great message and one that gives me hope.

October 21st, 2015 has come and gone.  All the fun associated with this date brought back many memories, skits on late night TV and a city hoping that fiction became reality as it watched its lovable Cubs take one the Mets of New York for the right to play in the World Series.  The Cubs failed.  But, those cool shoes are in the prototype stage at Nike headquarters.  Hover boards do exist, but not perfected.  Flying cars are close, but Volkswagen still has a long way to go.  But, as I watch the video for American Noise from Skillet, I can't help but see a lot of the 80's in the video.  I also can't help but think that maybe, just maybe Marty McFly had to interpret all the noise he was seeing in 2015. 

Somehow, Bon Jovi has lasted the test of time in the music industry.  Just today I see a Facebook post from August about him severing his relationship with his record label.  No, that isn't relevant, but just the name Bon Jovi is.  Ask my teenagers and they know Livin' On A Prayer.  Go to any wedding and you are certain to hear this song.  Yes, even the Christian band Spoken and now their lead singer Matt covers the song.  I'll give you that the song talks of love and a relationship, but I believe we should always live in prayer, not just on prayer.  Manafest talks about this belief in one of his newer songs, aptly named Pray.

There you have it.  Four current events/pop culture references that I can associate with Christian music.  I did have to stretch a little with one, but the significance is not lost.  Yes, some of this is to simply poke fun, but even in poking fun, there is an underlying seriousness to our society.  Where are we placing significance in relationships, entertainment and dreams of the future?  What are we doing to heal differences?  What is causing our umbrage with everything?  

Want more fun?  Give me another current event or pop culture reference and I'll do my best to connect it to Christian music.  Yes, it can and will be done.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Get Dressed! Or Go Back To Work At The Gentleman's Club

Friday night and your favorite band is in town.  SWEET!!!  Get out of school or out of work and hurry to the show.  Sounds fun and something you might not put much thought into other than who's driving and where you're stopping at for dinner.  If you really had to think about the evening, you might have even planned on being the first few in the door to make sure you could get as close to the stage as possible making sure the sweat of the lead guitarist fell on you while he head bangs.  At the end of the night, your plans were a success!  Not only did you get to enjoy every bit of sweat dripping on you, but you got to take your first stage dive.  I'm pretty certain you were glad you chose to wear shorts to the show too, that way you stayed somewhat cool in the hot and sweaty packed like sardine venue.  Overall, best concert you have ever attended.

Now, for those of you reading this knowing that a hardcore show is not for you, I'll give you something up your alley.  But, you actually have to choose what event it is you attend.  Not being mean, but there are too many things I could place you at, places I might not be able to provide the best visual for you.  Sorry.  Go ahead, visualize that Friday night that is now the best Friday night you've had in a long time, if not ever had.  How much thought did you put into going?  Did you plan on stopping at 'Doba on the way?  Was that stop at Dairy Queen on the way home your idea or a mutual decision between you and your spouse?  Would you tell your friends to catch the next performance by the local symphony?  Did you feel under dressed when you set foot at the Civic Center production of Cats?  I told you, too many scenarios available in describing your Friday Night event.  Hopefully, your visualized your fantastic night out on the town.

No matter what your perfect night on the town looked like, how did you dress?  Did you just throw something on?  Did you have to get all dressed up in your semi formal best?  Were your dancing shoes a part of your attire?  Or, did you let your wild fan self out, rip off your shirt and paint yourself in your favorite college team colors for their basketball game?  I'm pretty certain you dressed according to situation, event, venue requirements and possibly an expectation based on visiting Broadway or The Apollo.

Fast forward to Sunday mornings.  You attend church on a regular basis.  Your Sunday best always find you in slacks, button down shirt and tie if you're a guy.  Ladies, you doll yourself up and put on the summer dress making sure to cover areas that might cause guys to look at you.  Your make up enhances the already beautiful face God gave you.  Jewelry accentuates your outfit, and the heels or flats simply matches your mood - prim and proper or semi relaxed.  How many of you have just seen yourself in front of the mirror in this attire?  I challenge you to think about this process.  Why are some of us still stuck on our appearance when we go to church?

Old theory here, some are stuck on appearance based on the belief that, "Give your best for God," means in everything, most importantly their attire on Sunday.  Okay, I agree with giving our best for God, or in all things do them as if doing it for the Lord.  I don't believe this applies to dress codes in church.  Think about it.  What is church?  Our feeble minds have made church - the building - more than what it is.  To me, it is a building.  A building people meet with mostly like minded people, worshiping, learning, teaching and enjoying fellowship.  And sadly, this is what we, simple minded people, have made church.  But what does the Bible say about church?  Better yet, what does God say about church?  Besides addressing churches in Revelation, and the examples given us by Paul in Acts, what is most important about church?  Matthew 18:20 states two or more.  To me, that means you can have church anywhere!  How cool is that?!?!?

Get past the coolness of having church anywhere (I know people that do, and I have done so myself) and humor yourself for a minute.  You are at your favorite neighborhood grocery store, grabbing a gallon of milk for your cereal.  Since you just rolled out of bed, you're still in your PJ's, breath stinks and hair slightly disheveled.  You really don't expect to see anyone at 730 in the morning, but you just happen to run into the youth leader of your church.  He/she looks fairly similar to you, and since you try to be nice to everyone you both strike up a conversation hoping the other can't smell your morning breath.  Suddenly, another person from church shows up, joins the conversation and by the time you realize y'all have been chatting for about 20 minutes, each of you have shared the joys and heartaches of the week.  Before parting, you quickly pray for each other, share side hugs and go about your day.  Now, how were you dressed?  You may not have been in a church, but you had a quick 20 service.  I'm willing to bet, you didn't rush home to change and clean up.  Just a thought.

Last example time.  All of us know someone who needs a little hope.  Sometimes, that hope is in the form of going to a place where they can be accepted for being them.  They just want to show up, see a smiling face or two and hear something that can give them a glimpse of hope and something better than what they currently know.  This place for them is the church just up the road from home - your church.  She walks in the front door in clothes that will make your mom blush.  Sure, you got all cleaned up and dressed in the Sunday best you've known and loved.  But her, if you didn't know any better you'd think she just walked in off the streets where the John's like to visit.  Again, since you try to be nice to everyone, you greet her.  That simple greeting, and your smile, comfort her just enough to return the greeting.  Something else happened in that brief exchange and suddenly you both are engaged in a full conversation.  This is where you find out that she needs hope, needs acceptance, needs love, and needs God.  Her visit today comes on the heels of a 36 hour weekend at work.  She's tired of what she dealt with, the constant heartbreak she feels in a job she feels trapped in.  Her boss wanted her to work longer that Sunday morning, but something told her to leave and visit your church.  You understand her feelings, up until the point she tells you her place of employment is the local Gentleman's Club.  This is where you are broken.  Broken for her, but more importantly broken by God.  He's brought this young lady into your church and your life to break how you feel about how others dress in church.  It's not uncommon for people to go straight to church from work and you've always had a problem with it because they weren't dressed as nicely as you.  Here, on this particular Sunday, God placed this young lady in your life, in minimal clothes, fresh out of hope with no one in her life loving her for her and not her body.  Both of you leave church that late morning changed.  She now has hope and you now have a fresh perspective on church attire as well as a new friend and sister in Christ.

Now, how do you feel about church attire?  Are you willing to put behind you the normal?  Are you willing to be uncomfortable?  Are you willing to take in the couple of teen boys in jeans and make them feel welcome?  Can you look past yourself for the better good of your church and be excited to see people in church?  People have left the church because they don't have your Sunday best.  They have their Sunday best, which could be the tattered pair of jeans, a pair of shorts, a greased up pair of Carhart's, or even a short skirt with low cut top and high heels.  It is their Sunday best, what they are comfortable in, and what they thing God will accept them in.  Instead of using our feeble mind, think like and act like God - accept them because God already has.  He has given them hope.  What will you give them?