Monday, August 24, 2009

Your Traditions Out the Window. For FREE!

Just a few thoughts this morning.
What if worship meant not singing? I know that sometimes it does, but I mean, not ever? What would that be like?

What if we didn't have mouths? or vocal chords? Would we still have wars of musical styles? What would a choir look like?

What if the musical portion of the worship service could only be done with a few pebbles in a sheepskin bag? How far would the worship have come from the time of David?

What if eating a full meal was part of a traditional worship service?

What if we started to refer to every worship song, no matter what age or style, as "hymns"?
What if we started announcing our praise time as our "Hymn Singing Time", no matter what the connotation?
What if the word "Connotation" was erased from our vocabulary and replaced with the phrase "biblical foundation".

What if David hates the fact that his is the only book of Psalms in the Bible?

What if we did away with the Christian worship songs on the radio and everyone wrote their own songs of worship?

What if worship was free?

from everything?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I'll have the sauerkraut soup and a Jester roll, Kaiser!

Historians believe that jesters entertained prehistoric tribal society with their Wise Fool antics. What is certain though is that court jesters grew and flourished in the Middle Ages as well-paid attendants of Europe’s Royal Courts. Power was highly consolidated in medieval times and social mobility was difficult. A child of peasants was likely to become a peasant, and stone masons gave the world more masons, just as royalty bred royalty. In contrast, jesters could move up the social ladder. They came from a wide range of backgrounds — from peasant farms and monasteries to universities. Quite a few had physical deformities and learned to wring laughs from what otherwise could’ve been an unfortunate situation. Usually, they climbed up the social ladder and were prized for their outsider’s humorous take on life.

Not all jesters were so lucky to do lunch with the royals. Most subsisted by performing in the marketplace or town square, showcasing their art on a simple stage they “built,” such as a decorative carpet thrown on the ground, or a circle drawn with a stick in a village square. These resourceful jesters would gather an audience with clever attention-grabbing techniques (“Come see me leap from the bell tower…while sipping an ale!”) and after enough curious bystanders gathered, they’d begin their show, which steadily climbed to a climax, at which point they would solicit donations from the crowd. If an especially amusing jester was lucky enough to be seen by a royal court representative, he could get an invitation to audition as a court jester. Definitely a gig not to turn down!

Most European royal courts hired jesters to perform at palace parties and celebrations. The were paid well and often wore elegant costumes inspired by the patchwork of their poorer brethren. Added to their wit, most had developed several additional performance skills — they played lutes and flutes, danced, juggled, told jokes, did acrobatics and pantomime, rope walked, performed tongue twisters, yodeled , sang and did vocal tricks.

As kings and queens’ confidants, jesters often developed deep friendships with them. The royals often became tired of the false compliments and praise from their many lackeys and valued a connection with these offbeat performers, who, between witty wisecracks, would share very valuable insights. After all, many truths have been spoken in jest, and many lies have been spoken in earnest.

Some Royal Courts even consulted Jesters before going to battle. For example, in 1386, the Duke of Austria, Lepold the Pious, asked his jester for his opinion on his plans to attack the Swiss. His jester, Jenny von Stockach reportedly bluntly said, “You fools, you’re all debating how to get into the country, but none of you have thought how you’re going to get out again.” As the story goes, the king failed to listen, and the army suffered badly, with a brigade of knights in heavy armor passing out from heat and thirst before they had even entered battle! At least 2,000 were killed when the knights rolled rocks down the mountain.

While many royals valued their jesters as confidants and trusted friends, this role was reserved for elite jesters. Perhaps more common was the jester’s role as healer. Medieval doctors believed that human health was controlled by four forces, called ‘humours’: Sanguine, Melancholia, Choleric and Phlegmatic! Today, these humours are considered emotional states. The balance or imbalance of the humours was believed to produce four distinct emotional states, which could be rebalanced either by the doctor's craft or by , drumroll please… court jesters!

Although these theories of human mind-body-spirit relationship fell into disrepute after the Renaissance, many have been reexamined in recent times by psychologist Carl Jung and his followers. The idea that laughter aids recovery, long considered evident in Eastern philosophies, is steadily gaining traction in Western medicine so much so that it’s now considered mainstream. Few people would argue that a comedian can also help a group bond by sharing in deep laughter.

Michael Christianson, a founding member of New York’s Big Apple Circus, became so interested in the healing qualities of physical comedy that he quit his job in the limelight of what could be considered America’s most artistic circus to teach jesters , clowns and comedians how to connect with hospital patients through his Clown Care Unit. His program has expanded to many cities worldwide.

Another famous humor healer is Patch Adams, M.D., who was popularized on silver screen with the 1998 Hollywood film, Patch Adams, starring Robin Williams. The real-life Patch Adams, M.D., from West Virginia, was trained as doctor and established a hospital whose very name, The Gesundheit! Institute, is steeped in humor. Dr. Adams’ organization leads a merry band of mirth makers on trips around the world to locations of crisis or suffering in order to serve up some levity and healing.

Today, a growing number of organizations are harnessing the healing power of the Merry Jester including The Mobile Mini Circus for Children, Clowns without Borders, and Bond St. Theater. No matter what tongue is spoken in a global hotspot, the light-hearted antics, inspired tricks and musical levity of the Wise Fool transcends the language. One of the hallmarks of jesters is that they are greeted with smiles in all four corners of the globe.

Since the Middle Ages, jesters have engaged royal courts and the general masses, young and old. Their humanity has crossed all political and cultural terrains.

Is it the way they poke fun at the high and mighty or make heroes out of everyday people? Is it the lightness on their curly-toed boots or their amused take on society? As long as there have been social conventions, jesters have been there to tweak them.

And who has more license than a grown person wearing a hat with bells and mismatched curly boots?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Quite a few years ago, I was told by a very well known, well respected person that in my ministry and in my purpose, I would never be a Moses or a Joshua but that I would always be an Aaron or a Caleb.
What do you think my response was?
What would your response have been?
It would be great if you would stop for a sec and think how you would respond to that. Go ahead.

A few years ago, John Stanko in a purpose conference re-told the old parable of the Dubner Maggid (18th century). I want to share it with you:

A man was traveling through the forest. Suddenly, in a clearing he saw a large wall with several dozen arrows stuck in it -- and each arrow was smack-dab in the middle of the bull's-eye. Then he saw the archer in the distance preparing to shoot another arrow. He excitedly ran over him and said, "Sir, I have never seen such amazing accuracy and skill. You have hit the bull's-eye every time! Please tell me your secret. How did you become such a perfect shot?"

"It's quite simple," the archer replied. "First, I shoot the arrow and then I draw a bull's-eye around it."

Nothing kills a church, business, ministry faster than the wrong person in the right job except the right person in the wrong job. Do you know your purpose? Not the "Well, I just want to love God and be kind to animals." kind of purpose, but the kind of purpose that when you're doing it, it pumps you, not exhausts you. It fulfills you, while it expends you. It is, as Mr. Stanko puts it, "the thing you have the strength to do when you are at the very lowest point in your life."
That's your purpose.

If you are "living" in your purpose, but you haven't defined what exactly that is, well, that's like shooting an arrow anywhere and, after hits, drawing a bulls-eye around it.

I love being a Caleb. or an Aaron, for that matter. I would never be able to fully function in my purpose if I were the "Head Honcho". I would be the wrong person in the right job and the right person in the wrong job. And, inevitably, the project would fail AND I would castigate myself unmercifully for letting the Lord down for trying to do something I wasn't created to do.

Isn't that foolish?!?

Why would you do that?!?!

I'll tell you why.

Because someone thought you'd be good to do a certain good thing for a certainly good cause and good luck trying to turn down a good friend with good intentions who has no good idea what your purpose is!

Don't get me wrong; sometimes its a match. You hear about them all the time! A person gets approached by a clergyman to help out with the nursery and in three weeks has 125 volunteers, a fund-raising income of $478,021.00 and has made the cover of Christianity Today.

But that's the problem; they are the only ones we hear about!

We don't hear about the ones that just joined the church and got volunteered into the greeters ministry and have been working the doors at every service, including the 6 weekly youth convention pre-convention and rally conventions held at the church this week and now have carpal tunnel syndrome from shaking more hands than a losing incumbent. They're probably not coming back.

Oh, well. They probably didn't totally give their hearts to the Lord... because if they did, well, you know.

But look all around you and you will realize as I do that we can't afford to lose any more people. So what do we do?

I suggest: the drastic.

Stop the programs, the missions, the outreach and focus on purpose from the bottom up. It'll only be for a season, but you will start with a new chapter, all on the same page. All the determined strokes will make letters, all the letters in their proper place will make words, all the words in their proper order will make ideas, and all ideas, shot like an arrow from the foundational power of each definitive purpose will reveal God's pleasure.

So I looked at her and said, "Well, no wonder I've failed in everything I've been put in charge of!" And I had!

But during that time I found that I wished and longed for someone to be an unyielding, unwavering, support of me. I know, that sounds SO conceited, but in all honesty, I knew that in order for me to succeed, in order for me to be able to carry out my role in that ministry, I so needed that. Someone who was not afraid to be honest, someone who trusted me implicitly, and someone who I knew always wanted and believed the very best before an inkling of the worse. And I feel the VERY SAME TOWARD THEM.

I studied and learned how it affected me when I didn't and did have that reinforcement and knew that if I were able to provide those qualities to someone in my then position, I would be so fulfilled, though it would be hard work. I also learned it would play into another role that I found made me fulfill the purpose definition in my life: the role of Jester.

When I learned how important the roll a jester was in medieval courts compared the role Caleb had in the Joshua's life, I knew I was in the wrong job.

That realization changed everything.


And continues to do so.

And I've never been happier. I'm just waiting for their trust to build.


Thursday, August 13, 2009


I am always surprised when someone says something that I have been saying for a while, (which feels like forever) and everyone around me goes, "Hey! Now there's something new!" Now, believe me when I say I don't want to be THAT guy. You know, the guy about which every says thinks he knows everything and thinks he is the originator of every good idea. THAT guy.
But I gotta tell you; I believe the Lord uses certain people to communicate to other people, through impressions, feelings, or what you will, and I know that because I have been a recipient of such communications. Well, a recipient and a deliverer. Receiving is easier then delivering, in this case; you just have to swallow your pride. With the other, you have to pray that the receiver has swallowed theirs.
Anyway, last week I was at a Leadership Summit (totally made-up title) by a huge church by the name of, well, lets say, uh, Willow Creek. I won't say the real name just in case there's a copyright thing. Anyway, this pastor, let's call him Bill, says of one of the few best things you could do to let God move in your life, is to just say "Yes" to everything and anything God asks of you.
I've been saying that for years! But when Hybels says it, it's somehow gospel!

Seriously; I am so glad he said it.
You see, because of who he is, it was received differently then if it was delivered by a round, brown, old man (me). And really, that's all that matters, right? that the word was preached?


But that wasn't the only confirmation I received that I shouldn't keep my mouth shut. No, I received a few more.
You see, over a year ago, someone I respected said to me, "You come across as knowing something no one else knows. You say things like you are the only one who's ever thought about it."
I have tried so hard to be cognizant of when I "fill the screen" with myself; I so hate doing that. I do know how to do that, but there is no room for that in the life of an effective worship leader. So when they said that to me, I immediately stopped everything and shut down operations.
From that time forward, anytime I felt impressed to share something beneficial for the edification of the body, I prayed with all my heart that God would pass it to someone else.
Which He did. Graciously.
But during the leadership conference, I heard the Lord say, "OK; time to speak again."
And I have. and will.
Right here on this blog, and in person.
The few times this week I have been impressed to share, I have felt God's pleasure and not my own.
That's where I want to be.