Unravelling the Mystery of Billy Ocean and McDonalds

August 30, 2011 by cloften  
Filed under General Insanity, Silliness and Rants

Sitting here with a little “live” blogging from McDonalds, which is funny because I have a meeting at Chick-Fil-A in an hour.  I hope I have enough time.  “Why? Why are you doing this?”  It is time to report on the great mystery that is Loverboy by Billy Ocean and the music list at the McDonalds on College in Fayetteville.  Not tomorrow, not next week, now is the time.

As I sat down, “He’s Everything You Want” by Vertical Horizon was playing.  That’s perfect, because that is Number 1 on the playlist.  Yes, I have the whole playlist, and whether it makes me late to my meeting or not, I/we will sit here and make it through the whole list once.  It’s not that long, I probably won’t be late.  It’s just Miller and Gonzo anyway (staff guys).

YES! Number 2 is the song that started it all–“Loverboy” by Billy Ocean.  That “yes” was feigned surprise.  I knew it was next.  It’s next on the spreadsheet.  There is no randomness to this list.  It is the same every time.  I mean every time.  Does anyone else here even know? Does anyone else even care?

Number 3–“Falling in Love Again” by Eagle Eye Cherry.  I wonder how long it would have taken me to put this all together without being able to Google lyrics and the always handy Shazam app?  It took me a couple of visits and a handful rotations anyway, because of the number 8 mash-up, which I will explain in just a few minutes.  Without them I would have definitely needed my brother as I tried to write down as many of the lyrics as possible and tried to remember the tune.  Perhaps, I would have brought in a tape player (Boom! Dated reference!) and recorded it and played it for as many people as I could.  That’s old school cool, baby.

Number 4“I Knew I Loved You” by Savage Garden. We are almost halfway there, and I feel compelled to explain what’s going on here for those that don’t track with my FB/Twitter posts on Sunday morning.

Every Sunday morning before church, I come to McDonalds on College, have a little breakfast and go over my sermon one more time.  The first week (after it reopened, I was going to the one on Joyce before that) I heard Loverboy by Billy Ocean.  I posted about it, because it seemed funny to me.  The next week I hear it again.  “What a coincidence!”  I posted about that as well.  Week number 3 and I hear it again, and I begin to understand that there is something foul at work here, not mere coincidence.  Wait…hold on…

Number 5Don’t Hold Me Down by Colbie Callet (I like her.)

Anywho, I begin to realize that there are some other, less memorable songs that I seem to hear every week as well.  So I make a decision, as only someone infected with just a little OCD would, to come here one morning during the week when doing some computer work/study to sit in the corner and carefully listen to a couple of rotations.  What a day that was.  I wonder how many people noticed the idiot in the corner, who occasionally would stand up and try to stand right under a speaker, looking like a goob.  You see, their fancy drink maker that crushes the ice is very loud.  Also, people in the restaurant, not realizing that Science was happening would be talking.  Wait, here we go…

Number 6 “I Want to Get Lost in Your Rock n Roll” by Bob Seger.  (*Added later.  Apparently, this is wrong.  Sometimes you can’t trust Google.  The song is “Drift Away” by Dobie Gray.  My bad.  Thanks guys for sharing some of your OCD with me.) Some of you are very disappointed in me right now.  You think if any song should have stuck in my head it should have been this one.  Sorry, but Billy Ocean stands out much more.  Don’t judge me.

Ok, so people are talking, ice is crushing and I’m wandering around like a goob, trying to hear, hoping that Shazam can hear, which often it can’t, and I start compiling the list.  Number 8 continues to allude me.  I will have to come back another more quiet time.  This wouldn’t be a problem, because, you know, I’m here every Sunday.  I will win.

Number 7“It’s Only Love” by Bryan Adams

Sidenote: Does any else even notice this?  Are the employees here slowly going insane?  They seem perfectly normal and nice.  I keep an eye on them and they seem fine. No noticeable changes week to week.  Maybe they can’t hear it.  One of the guys who cleans the dining room is over the top friendly.  I like him.  Maybe he’s hearing it?  Who knows?

What about the other customers?  Is anyone here long enough to notice it? Are people here with enough frequency?  Of course, it’s McDonalds.  The same people drink coffee here every day I’m sure.  That’s why McDonalds exists–Senior Coffee, well and addictive fries and Disney prizes in kid’s meals.

The infamous Number 8 mash-up--“A Moment Changes Everything” by David Gray.  Why mash-up?  Well, because you only here the first half of this song before it cuts off.

Sidenote: It’s disorienting to watch CNN with no sound and closed-captioning.  The pictures don’t match the words.

Then when it cuts off, the second half of Number 8 mash-up“Already Home” by Marc Cohn plays.  You hear the first half of Gray and the second half of Cohn.

My theory is this, wherever this recording of songs originates, there is a scratch, glitch, something in the recording.  There are in fact supposed to be a large number of songs, but it skips from the middle of song 8 to, say the middle of song 35 or something like that.

And we are back to Number 1“He’s Everything You Want” by Vertical Horizon.  Less than 30 minutes and we’ve heard them all.

So what are some potential action steps?  I could mention it to a manager.  But why would I do that?  They might would fix it and then where would I be?  I’m convinced that I can’t preach if I don’t here Billy Ocean.

I could when I order say, “If I can predict the next song, will you give me my order for free?”  I’ll keep you posted.

Worship–What It Is(n’t)

August 29, 2011 by cloften  
Filed under Bible, Church and Leadership, Teaching

We started our (most likely to be) annual series on the vision and mission of the Grove.  (Ok, we need to decide this.  Is it the Grove? The Grove? the Grove Church? The Grove Church?  Does it matter?)

We want our church to be centered around four words:

Worship, Reach, Grow and Send

We worship God with our lives.  We reach people who are lost.  We grow deep in our relationship with God. We send people into the community and world with the love of God.

The foundation of those four words/ideas is the first one–worship.  Religious activity and doing the right thing can be empty gestures.  We want to make sure that the foundation of all that we do is our love and devotion to God.  That’s what worship is, the expression of our love and devotion to that one person or thing that we value above all else.

The question that we need to ask ourselves is what do we worship?  No, no, no.  I’m not asking what you’re supposed to say.  What do you really worship?  “But I sing to God every week at church.”

Worship isn’t singing.  Worship can involve singing if our hearts and minds are engaged with what we are singing.  My guess is that a lot of us sing along with songs in the car, but we don’t mean what we say (Think singing along to 80’s songs.  “Can’t stand the thought of you with somebody else, gotta have your tenderness, all to myself.”).

Worship on Sunday happens when we believe and feel what we are declaring to God with our songs.

Worship the rest of the week happens when we demonstrate with our lives that God is first.  How do we spend our time? What consumes our mind? Where and how do we spend our money?  Who or what is most important?

We can all agree, I’m supposing since you clicked the link to come here, that the answer should be God.  We need to take the necessary steps to make what we think should be true, actually be true.  How do I need to differently prioritize my time?  Do I need to be surrendering my finances to God?  Do I need to change what I think about during the day?

God is calling us to be used in the lives of people, but first and foremost we need to be fully devoted worshippers of God.  This is who God is calling tHe GrOvE ChurCh to be.

Dream Team, 3 Services, Parking and Where Did All Those People Come From?

August 22, 2011 by cloften  
Filed under Bible, Church and Leadership

Heidi, my wife or Hloften, and I were reminiscing last night.  We actually did a lot of reminiscing about the past and dreaming about the future, because Sunday was a bit overwhelming.  It was overwhelming in a good way, but overwhelming nonetheless.  In case you don’t know, there were 245 people in the second service.  Also in case you  don’t know, we can fit about 200 chairs where we worship.

Anywho, we were reminiscing about the same Sunday last year.  During the same Sunday last year, we went to two services, and for the first time ever The Grove did Greenhouse (Children’s ministry) during both services.  (For some nostalgia, read this similar post from last year.)  What a year it has been.  That seems like a long time ago.  So much has happened and there has been so much change.  Now we are less than a week away from 3 services, and I’ll confess a combination of being nervous and excited.

This post is primarily about logistics, but before we get into that, please pray.  Pray that God will continue to draw people to the Grove.  Pray that people who are lost will come and find Jesus there.  Pray that people will draw close to God.  Finally, pray that the numerous logistical difficulties will go smoothly.

The three service times are 8:30, 10:00 and 11:30 and it starts this Sunday.  For your consideration:

1.  Consider making the 8:30 service your primary service. Most likely this will be the last of the services to “fill up” this fall, especially in a college student heavy church.  It works great for early risers and people with little ones still taking morning naps.

2.  There is only Greenhouse during the 8:30 and 10:00 service. Limited childcare is available at 11:30 for families serving one service and worshipping one during the 10 and 11:30 service.  Remember this for you and for any families that you invite.

3. Park far away. We will have a parking lot team to help you.  But just to let you know in advance, there is a parking lot behind the Grove, where there is a huge strip mall with a hair salon.  It sounds and looks further away than what it is.  Brahms also allows us to park in their lot in the spaces on our side of the median in their lot.  The cool guys with vest and walkie talkies will be able to help you.  There is also a way to drop off your family and then park (Side entrance)

4.  Serve one, worship one. If you are serving in the Greenhouse, please, please, please come to worship the service before or after.  We want to worship with you and it is good for you to connect with God as well.  3 hours is not long to be at church.  Your kids will be fine and you will be glad that you did.

5.  That reminds me.  Are you on the Dream Team yet? Where are you serving?  We are missing out on you and your gifts if not. Email me today, if you are not and we will find a spot for you.

6.  Be flexible. There is some question in my mind which service, 10 or 11:30 will be more crowded.  Be open to shifting services if it will open spots for new people.  The same goes for parking spaces, picking up your kids, etc.  This is new to all of us.  A church our size with that size building and parking lot is trying something very ambitious by having 3 services.  But if you were there on Sunday, there can be no doubt as to why we are doing it.

7.  Along the same lines, be patient. None of us are experts.  The logistical difficulty that you may have one Sunday, we didn’t want it to happen either.  Let us know how we can do better.  Even better, help us.  If you see a problem, help us fix it, by fixing it.

This is going to be a great Sunday.  We are going to spend the next 4 weeks talking about who God has called us to be as a church.  We will look at the Great Commandments, the Great Commission and focus on 4 words–Worship, Reach, Grow and Send.  Looking forward to going on this journey with you.

Coming soon to a blog near you: Four Service Protocol.  (I think Miller just passed out)

We’re All in GT Now

August 16, 2011 by cloften  
Filed under Bible, Church and Leadership, Teaching

That title is enough to get some of you ready to fight. Many of you believe that we no longer encourage or celebrate excellence and are disgusted by it. You think that “Every kid is a winner” is insulting to winners and not everyone can be excellent, by definition of excellent. In the great words of Dash Paar (The Incredibles) when told by his mom that everyone is special, he responds by saying that’s “another way of saying no one is.”

Your political ranting aside, what if every one is special?  What if everyone is gifted and talented?  (Hurry up, Blog Boy.  We see where this is going.)  In I Corinthians 12, Paul talks about the Church and uses the analogy of a body, that we are all parts of a body and all placed there by the Holy Spirit.  We are each uniquely and specifically gifted by the Holy Spirit. We are who we are (gifting wise) by God’s design in our lives.  No one part of the body can say that it is better or worse than any other.  We are all gifted by God’s Spirit and talented by his design, no one of us better than the other.

Comparing one person to another doesn’t even make sense, as far as what the Bible says, because these were never meant to be gifts and talents used independently.  They were always meant to be used together.  This is why Paul uses the absurd analogy of an ear thinking he was worse than an eye because he’s “just an ear.”  No individual piece makes sense except in conjunction with all the others.

Anywho, do you believe that?  Do you believe that you are uniquely gifted and talented by God?  Do you believe that God wants to use your gifts and talents in the “body” to change the world?  Guess what? It doesn’t matter what you believe.  It’s true nonetheless.

The next obvious question is how to know what my gifts and talents are.  For all you Grovers out there, we will talk about that this Sunday and work through some exercises to help us discover.

Here are some starter questions (we will talk more about this on the ol’ blog as well):

Are you more of a “in front of people” person or “behind the scenes?”

If you see a need do you want to fix it, talk to the people involved, pray about it?  What is your first response?

What kind of people do you think about, care about most?  Kids, teenagers, the poor, homeless, lost people…

What natural talents or skills do you have that you have used for God before and loved it? What are some skills that you haven’t been able to use, but would be great if you could? (Computer hacking skills, nunchuck skills.  I’m pretty good with a bowstaff.)

That’s just a few questions to get the juices flowing.  Put the answers to those questions together and put together and dream job description and then find a place to do that.  The best way to find out the way that God has gifted you is to take advantage of opportunities to serve other people and see what works and what doesn’t, what you’re good at, what you love, etc.  Then continually look for better opportunities that seem like better fits.

Above all else, believe that God has gifted and wants to use you and you will see God move mightily in and through your life.

Next Step:  Bumper stickers–”I’m in God’s GT Class”

Waiting on the World to Change

I know that this is going to be sacrilegious for many of you, but I’m not a huge John Mayer fan. So much so, I had to check to see how his name was spelled. I’m not a hater. I would just say that I’m solidly in the neutral camp. If a song of his comes on, I’ll check other stations to see if there is a better song, but I don’t turn off the radio or switch to NPR or anything. Aren’t most John Mayer fans listening to NPR already? Is that an insult? I’m confusing myself.

There’s one John Mayer song in particular that I’m a little confused by–Waiting on the World to Change. Am I supposed to be inspired by that song? Is that a comforting song? A rallying cry? I don’t want to get labelled a hater for all you Mayer fans drinking lattes reading this. (is that an insult?) However, I find those lyrics uninspiring and a bit of a cop out.

I get the basic idea that “we” are not in charge of the government, so in some areas “we” are helpless. “We” can’t bring the soldiers back from war. Therefore, we wait. For what? Duh, the world to change. How does that happen? Waiting? I would like to suggest not.

I have a friend (really?) whom you should follow on the twitters. His name is Aaron Reddin. His twitter handle? Id? Username? is homelessheretic. Here is a guy when you get to know him thinks the world needs to change. He will tell you so in vivid language. He thinks the “fight ain’t fair.” He thinks the deck is stacked against the homeless and people should care more. He laments the government and the local church for not doing more.

He is not waiting on the world to change. He is changing the world, one person at a time. He is ministering to people, loving people and mobilizing more to help him. He is doing something and making a huge difference. He even has a van. You may be thinking, so what my grandpa has a van? Seriously, check him out. AaronReddin.com and find out about what he’s doing with that van to serve people.

We need so much more of that. I would rather have 100 people skeptical of the govt and organized church that are making a difference in the world, than 1000 nice people sitting in church waiting and wondering when the govt or the church (whoever that is) to do something about what they care about.

Questions: what are you passionate about? What people or need in the world has God put on your heart?
What are you doing about it? Are you waiting for the world to change? Or are you changing the world?

Coincidentally, we will be talking about this at church the next couple of weeks, but you don’t have to wait for that.