Because I Said So

April 19, 2010 by cloften  
Filed under Family and Parenting

Those are haunting words that make kids fume with anger and can give those of us who are no longer kids horrifying flashbacks of the times we have heard that phrase.  You ask, “why?” and Mom or Dad say, “because I said so.” 

When you heard this growing up, you swore on anything you could think of that you would never, ever say that to your kids.  You would give them reasoned, thoughtful answers to every question that they ever ask.  Ask why once, I will give you an answer.  Twice, thrice, quadrice (?), no problem.  They can keep asking why and you will hang in there with them and keep giving them good answers to the why question.

Then it happens, they push you too hard, too far or at the wrong time and you say it, “Because I said so!”  Maybe you have chosen to mask the phrase with it’s nearly identical twin, “Because I’m your dad/mom,” but nonetheless you said it.  They overreact and then you slink back into your bedroom, close the door and weep, despondent about the loss of the idealism of your perfect always patient, gracious and thoughtful parenting style.  You have in fact, become just like your mom/dad.

I have released this.  I have become my dad.  I parent very much like he did.  The most recent example occurred at the soccer field this weekend.  My daughter in an attempt to stop the other player from attacking the goal charged the player, missed the ball, but, in fact, did not miss the player.  Had someone from Cabot High School’s football program been there, he would have wanted to talk to me and get some info on this 3rd grade prospect.  The other girl goes down hard, and rightfully, starts to cry and is carried off.

Later on at home, my mom (my folks were at the game) ask me about the incident and would it have been OK for one of my girls to cry on the field.  (Half ?) Joking, I say, “you know how I was raised, what do you think?”  “Well, you do have girls, you know.”  “Yeah, but their playing sports.  Getting hurt is part of it.  Shake it off and keep playing.  If you don’t want to get hurt, let’s take a knitting class.”  (I’m not sure if that last line is sexist, insulting to people who knit or just funny.  You be the judge.)

We all to one degree or another parent as we were parented.  You know that’s not all bad.  You turned out OK, didn’t you?  At least in some ways.  The real question is do we parent like we were parented on purpose or accidentally?  Do we not parent like we were parented for good reason or just as a continuation of teenage rebellion?  Take the good from how you were parented and gladly reproduce it.  Analyze the weaknesses and make changes when you need to.  Talk to your spouse, friends, other family and invite them to help you evaluate how you are doing.  Pray, read Proverbs.  Parent on purpose with a strategy and with consistency. 

You know, every now and then a kid needs a good, “because I said so” because your authority should be enough and they need to know it (just don’t don’t tell your parents).

p.s.  I do let my kids cry when they are legitimately hurt.  You and I may just have different definition of “legitimately.”

Diversity, Choirs, Guitars and Excellence

You may be surprised to hear that I wasn’t necessarily intending on opening multiple cans of worms in posting about worship.  I didn’t necessarily feel that what I said was controversial, but I certainly do not mind it.  Discussion is healthy.  Disagreement is healthy.  The pursuit of God often is found in such ways.  To catch up, read the original post here

We are going to do something a little different.  Rather than respond to my thoughts, I want to hear you respond to something someone else said.  In one of the comments, a friend of mine from St. Louis brings up one of the trends in worship music:

The musical shift in the last 10 years has been frightening to watch. Churches now focus on having the cool, young, hip guitar player as the “music minister”, and if you play any instrument that would fall outside of a standard rock band, you are no longer welcome. Only the beautiful people need apply now – young, physically attractive, professional-level talent is all that is desired. The average person no longer has a place other than in the crowd. Most choirs are gone, and your average singers can’t pass audition in most churches. Read the music forums sometime for full-time worship leaders and see the types of things they discuss – it will give you chills. A lot of it is focused on how to keep everyone but hand-selected professionals off the stage, and how to keep the few people they do allow on the stage under absolute control. There is a reason why they want it that way……music in most churches has become all about performance.

What do you think?  Does a church have an obligation to use anyone who wants to be used in the music ministry?  Should a church provide a diverse range of styles so that a classical singer can be used as well as electric guitar player?  Has the striving for excellence in the worship music made the music more about performance than worship?  What do you think?

I Hate the Worship at That Church

What an incredible thing to say, but I’m sure that many of you have heard someone say it or something like it.  Maybe they don’t say hate, maybe they just say “didn’t like.”  Regardless, it is still a strange thing to say.  Several things strike me about such a statement. 

First, how did music style preference become such a huge controversy in church?  Sure there are some styles of worship music in churches that I might find cheesy or old fashioned.  But for everyone of me that thinks that there are dozens who are connecting their hearts with God and worshipping him.  Some may find the worship at our church a little, shall we say loud? Someone once described it as “loud and sounds like a rock concert.”  It took me just a second to realize that this person was not giving us a compliment.  I understand musical preference, but what I do not understand and cannot tolerate is castigating other styles of worship as “bad.”

Which gets to the larger point, worship is not the same as music.  You can have worship without worship music and you can have worship music without worship.  Right now I sit in the lobby of FBCLR and worship music is playing, but I am not worshipping to that music, I am typing.  Worship is not simply singing.  It is your heart connecting with God’s heart.  It is you demonstrating with your words and with your life that you love God and are completely devoted to God.  Worship is an expression of your heart.  If I walk into the most traditional of worship services and hear a hymn, I should be able to worship.  If the words and music of that hymn do not captivate my heart, then I assure you problem is not with the minister of music or the organist, it is with me.

I should be able to worship God in any style of music.  More than that, I should be able to praise and worship God when I see Lauren (my 9 yr old daughter) winning her soccer tournament.  I praise God for the beautiful, sweet, strong young lady she is becoming.  I should praise God just by waking up to another day, a day that is a gift from God.

Worship is so much more than being in a worship service where music is played that you prefer.  Worship is you from your heart appreciating and praising God for the amazing God that he is.

Making it Easter All Year Round

I want to give a huge shout out to everyone that made the weekend of Easter services at Fellowship Cabot incredible.  Really I want to give a shout out to all of Fellowship and really everyone who did something a little extra over Easter weekend to create great worship experiences for people last weekend.  I have heard incredible stories from pastors and friends all over the nation.  Great job everyone.

Some people came to the Saturday night service and then served all 3 services on Sunday morning.  They were at church for an hour and a half on Saturday and then over four hours Sunday morning.  People parked far away from the front door even though they got there early (isn’t that the perk of getting there early, along with fresher coffee?).  People sat on the front row.  Who would ever do that?  A lot of people did a lot of small things.  When you put all of the small things together, you have something really big that helps make for an incredble worship experience for people of all ages.

Here is a question?  How do we keep that spirit going?  I know that not every week is as big or heavily attended as Easter.  Easter is the best opportunity that churches have to minister to a large group of people who normally are not in church.  If everyone did as much on Easter every week, we would have a lot of tired people.  But what part of that attitude that drives us to do the little things on Easter can we keep alive all year long?

1) Make the serve one service, worship one service routine, an every week commitment.  More community is built in your serving team than just about anywhere.  You will be used by God every week in the lives of people you serve.  You will be considered a hero by the leader of that team.  If you are working with kids, then you will build deep relationships with them and provide much needed stability.

2) Attend the least attended service.  Often the smaller services are just a few families away from having enough momentum to really taking off.  You could make the difference.  Some people, on Saturday night services for instance, can only attend these “off-peak” services.  You worshiping with them is partnering to help minister to them.  It also provides more space for the peak, highly attended service.  Even if you only can do it every now and then, like once a month, it can still make a huge difference.

3) Consider yourself a greeter every week, even if you are not on the greeting team.  Be a friendly face for new people.  Show them God’s love and that your church loves people.

Those things may seem small, but again, a lot of small become big quickly and make a huge difference in the lives of people.

Cardboard Testimonies from Easter Sunday

April 6, 2010 by cloften  
Filed under Bible, Church and Leadership

This was a part of our Easter service Sunday April 4, 2010.  It was an incredibly powerful moment.  Hope you enjoy it (or re-enjoy it)


Disney World, Fayetteville, What’s the Difference?

April 6, 2010 by cloften  
Filed under Family and Parenting

Sorry that I have been away and not blogging.  I know that matters to, well, no one.  We went on Spring Break for a week and I made a commitment to not get on the computer any.  I didn’t.  I did have my pocket computer with me, read iPhone.  Barely tweeted or FB, played some Words with Friends, but for the most part was computer-free and family focused.

We went to Fayetteville for a few days to see some friends and then we went to Branson to spend a couple of days with my folks and go to Silver Dollar City.  At one point, Heidi and I had talked about taking the kids back to Disney World.  We (me) love going there and the kids of course love it as well.  However, it didn’t really work out schedule-wise.  I had a wedding the last weekend of spring break and it would not have worked well.  So what do we do instead?  Go to Fayetteville. 

That’s the same, right?  If not the same, close, right?  Let me tell you, in the minds of my girls, it was.  We stayed at the Hog Cottage, which is owned and operated by our friends.  Check it out here.  It is right off the campus.  You can see the stadium from the front yard.  My girls loved it, and asked multiple times while we there and more since we got back about staying there again.  They thought it was great.  They had their own bedroom!  Woo-hoo!  (They have their own bedroom at home, fyi.)  There was a TV! (Have one of those)  There were snacks! (Got those at home too).  We played lazer tag, rode a mechanical bull, rode go-carts and went out to eat.  It snowed 14 inches while we there and we went sledding.  Not exactly Pirates of the Caribbean and Space Mountain, but close.

What did they love that trip so much?  We were togtether having fun.  We were doing something different and they had my undivided attention.  I have worked very hard in the past to plan expensive, fun trips.  The girls love them, but they love these just as much.  I want to create big, fun memories for them, stuff that they will remember forever.  They want me to stop at Sonic for happy hour and buy them a drink. 

What do they want?  They want me.  Sure, they might prefer me at Disney World than me at Fayetteville, but not by much.  We’ll go back to Disney some day, but I don’t feel any pressure, because what they really want is me. 

BTW, please don’t tell them you read this.  Otherwise, they will start intentionally not having fun on vacations so we will go back to Disney. ;-)