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Here's part two of the conversation between Waco promoter The Cachinnator (Scott Baker) of the Hippodrome and me. Read part one here. I'll be in Waco at the Hippodrome theatre downtown on April 24th at 7PM. Tickets are $10. Call 254.752.7745 for more info. I'll also be in Baylor University's chapel service at 10AM that same day and I might be in a religion or music class that day as well. Spread the word.

shlogdotcom [9:35:45 AM]: Good morning. I'm early this time. Just dropped my kids off at their preschool classes here at church, wandered down to my "office" (a table in the lobby) and hopped on the free wireless. - Hey, btw, I have a thing at 10:30 I need to be at. So ask simple questions that don't set me up to rant or ramble. Small sentences. Small sentences. I can do this.

thecachinnator [9:37:37 AM]: Got it. We'll keep the level 6th grade in TX. Hang on a sec...

shlogdotcom [9:39:01 AM]: Are you copying and pasting questions or making this up as you go along...copying and pasting aren't you? You're one of those bizarro creative types who's also organized aren't you? You people frighten me.

thecachinnator [9:39:45 AM]: Sorry about that. One puppy got out. Didn't go anywhere, just got out. They have the aggregate IQ of a house plant.

thecachinnator [9:39:59 AM]: And I don't know what you're talking about...

thecachinnator [9:42:41 AM]: Okay, so, we left off with you nice and ticked. Yet you hinted at a realization that these feelings were misplaced, and God obviously did something to work a change. Since we're all pretty in tune with the anger side, why not just say what was it that was finally able to reach you? What changed to bring you around from anger and dissappointment?

shlogdotcom [9:46:01 AM]: I'm not sure I'm completely "around" yet. Honestly, I go through phases where the imperfection of other Christians/churches upsets me to an unhealthy degree. But what began to turn me around back in college and what turns me around today is the same thing: a mirror. I'm not trying to be cute here. The only way I can describe it is that something always happens to wake me up to my own shortcomings and to how I can be part of the solution. Then I inevitably spend less time and brain space being part of the critical choir and more time being constructive...

thecachinnator [9:47:13 AM]: Did you notice a Pied Piper effect? When you got your eyes on what you were supposed to be doing, did others come along?

thecachinnator [9:47:27 AM]: Does that matter?

shlogdotcom [9:48:53 AM]: We found other people to involve in our work at the MCH. We hooked up with non-college students in the community who helped out tremendouosly. I started giving more of my time, off the clock, to fill in some holes as well. And suddenly I was too busy to be angry and I guess that satisfaction level showed somehow so when I left for Nashville almost two years later there were interested friends who took over my work there. Who knows? Maybe there are still Baylor students working there who were friends of those friends' friends...

shlogdotcom [9:49:13 AM]: Does it matter?

thecachinnator [9:50:08 AM]: I mean, does it matter if anyone follows or joins in? Or is doing what you are called to sufficient?

shlogdotcom [9:51:50 AM]: It matters to me that I don't turn people away from service or from anything else noble with my bad attitude. That matters. I'm not sure a good attitude on my part can really ATTRACT busy college students to a childrens' home. All I can do to attract folks to service is remind them that they were made for it. I think something inside many of us then wonders if that's true, and some of us check it out and discover it us. We are made to know God and then make God known - partly by loving people in tangible ways. Does that answer the question?

thecachinnator [9:55:39 AM]: Absolutely. Now this moves towards a question I've wanted to ask. I think we both agree that God clearly wants us to minister to and serve others. This is not a 'works vs. grace' discussion, (though I'd love to have it some time), it is simply to say that when we are called by God to identify with him, we can't be content to let suffering, injustice, oppression, and the like go on around us without taking part to change it. What do you think?

shlogdotcom [10:00:13 AM]: Let me zoom in on one word you just used: content. I've been teaching on and singing about the beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) for the last...geez, almost two years I guess. I don't know. I have no concept of time. But a long time. And I've done that because learning about these eight blessings turned my own lightbulb on - I realized that the Christianity I grew up on only took me to blessing number three: surrender (meekness). I realized I was a sinner (poor in spirit) and I didn't gloss over that or medicate it away. I realized it was a grievous thing to be busted inside (those who mourn). And so I walked down an aisle, filled out a 3X5 card and "surrendered" my life to Jesus right? (Meekness)...

thecachinnator [10:01:09 AM]: Trucks and hell. Got it.

shlogdotcom [10:04:39 AM]: But if the beatitudes are a broad stroke picture of the Christian life, the essentials, and I think they are, there are FIVE MORE to ponder and somehow apply. After surrender (meekness) we "hunger and thirst for righteousness."(beatitude 4) Ezekiel said God gives us a new heart that is actually moved towards obedience: right living and right thinking. And so the kicker is that a Christian now has a craving that only right living and thinking can satisfy. If she goes back to a consumption driven lifestyle, a romance driven lifestyle or an anything else driven lifestyle she'll be discontent. She'll feel like something's missing even though she knows she's "surrendered" her life to Jesus. Faith without works is dead - and it feels that way too. I've never been more miserable than I was between high school and the Childrens' Home - I had no idea what I was missing. I had no idea how to take away the dry mouth in my soul. Man, that sounds cheesy.

shlogdotcom [10:04:46 AM]: Do you get what I'm saying though?

shlogdotcom [10:06:04 AM]: I think mercy showing (beatitude 5), meeting the needs of people, is an essential part of what right living looks like - righteousness.

thecachinnator [10:08:15 AM]: Believe me, I absolutely follow you. I was just having a conversation with a friend last night in which we were discussing how God takes you just as you are, but thank God (uhhh...literally), he doesn't leave you that way. But this change process requires us to be introspective and look in our own mirrors. This is a surprisingly difficult task for a generation raised with Oprah and TLC supposedly helping us examine our lives to be better people.

thecachinnator [10:08:41 AM]: We have a few ‘interesting’ things here in Waco that take up an inordinate amount of our time. (I’m not equating any of these things, just saying they all may take up more time than they should.) Things such as Sing, Cotton Palace Pageant, Baylor football (kidding), Greek life, etc. How do we enact the kind of introspection needed to shift our focus more outward?

shlogdotcom [10:13:29 AM]: Becoming attached to, serving in and being served by, learning from and teaching into that community called Church. That's part of it I think. Then there's the mirror, not of my own intellect but of God's: scripture. James, isn't it James?, wrote that if we're wise we'll look into the mirror and then not forget what we saw there but instead go off and do something about it. We become active responsive learners. That's another part of it. These aren't new fancy four step plans. I'm no genius with a new way to mobilize millions, including myself, to live like we believe this Jesus guy was really who He said He was. The answers I have aren't sexy. They are ancient and simple yet difficult to apply, costly to apply, and unsettlingly mysterious. I'm not sure I can pop the hood on Church or scripture and show you exactly how they work. I can guess. But really all I know is they work for me, in me.

thecachinnator [10:15:39 AM]: Ah, but don't the four-step logical answers always feel the driest and least effective?

shlogdotcom [10:20:19 AM]: Not always. For years they felt comforting. And, honestly, they contain truth often times. The error, I think, isn't in the formation of steps and plans but limiting the possibilities and power of our middle eastern God to the container of our Western made consructs. I can use the steps and plans to great effectiveness but God may choose to renovate and affect me in broader mysterious never imagined unexplainable ways too. The way to a good marriage, for example, probably isn't completely contained in four steps beginning with "P" but those four steps may be PART of the more ambiguous and harder to define "way".

shlogdotcom [10:21:50 AM]: In that sense those steps are part of the over all "effectiveness" of God.

thecachinnator [10:21:20 AM]: Great stuff. You're coming back to Waco next week. What do you want to tell Baylor?

shlogdotcom [10:24:30 AM]: I'm coming. That's really all at this point. I'm coming to make music for you and hang with you afterwards. I'm coming to listen if you need me to and talk if you want me to. I'm coming to be with you for a few hours and hopefully we'll both walk away from my visit somehow different. I've been where you are to some degree so I'm looking forward to going back there and being able to speak and sing for people I already feel like I understand somewhat. There's no new culture to learn. I'm coming home.

thecachinnator [10:25:56 AM]: Awesome. Let's wrap here for now. When we come back to this conversation later in the week, let's talk about some of the specific organizations and people who have made a difference to you. Things like the MCH, Compassion, ONE, etc. Sound good?

shlogdotcom [10:26:36 AM]: Alrighty then. Sounds good.


Blogger GrovesFan said...

Great conversation guys. Not only right on, but very applicable to my own life lately.

I was having a coversation with a friend recently and we were discussing a recent conference we'd both attended (Worldview Weekend w/Ray Comfort, Kirk Cameron and others). One of the main points Kirk was making was that we should carefully examine our own lives and our salvation before we try to witness to others. "Soundly Saved" he calls it. He and Ray both talked a great deal about looking in the mirror of introspection and doing some very close examination.

Being the good listener that I am (ha, ha), I did that and was immediately concerned at the lack of genuine love I feel for others in this world. For the lost, the hurting, the oppressed, etc. I told my friend that this bothered me very much that I felt this way and that my prayer was that God would change my heart, change me, and give me a desire for the least of these. She looked me square in the face and said "that's a very selfish prayer! Why are you asking God to give you things, or do things for you? I was shocked to say the least. I asked her why she felt I was being selfish in my requests of God. She told me that while there's nothing wrong about asking God for things; He tells us to do just that many times in scripture. My problem was, I wasn't seeking God FIRST for WHO HE IS, but for WHAT HE COULD DO FOR ME. Wrong attitude. I have recently changed my approach to prayer somewhat and am now just praying to seek God. To be with Him, just because He's God and He's the only one truly worthy. Amazingly (OK so I'm a slow learner), as I desired to just be with God more deeply, the other things fell into place. I've always been a pretty willing servant, but now it's for the right reasons and it sure makes it not only easier, but there's more joy and contentment that goes with it.

I've got to remember to keep that mirror out front at all times. It's a huge help!


Blogger Kat said...

Great comment Beth!

Blogger Kat said...

I've recently realized that when I learn something new, there are two ways I can exhibit my knowledge:

Criticize or Act

I own a web design firm. When I first learned about the web and designing for the web, I was profoundly critical of all the web sites I came across. I even went so far as to contact owners of ugly sites and tell them why their site was so bad and how I could save them from themselves (and Frontpage).

Not a recommended business practice.

Isn't that what we so often do as Christians, though? I know it is for me. As soon as God teaches me something the first thing I want to do is to try to tell others how they should be doing things. When I *should* just act on what God's asked me to do and go where He leads me. Ater all, other people are more likely to follow someone who is going somewhere than someone who is standing behind them throwing stones.

I think it boils down to what Beth said about just seeking the face of God and all the other things will fall into place.

Perhaps I'll most impact and change the world when I'm entirely unconcerned with impacting and changing the world; when my only concern is loving and following Jesus with all my heart, soul and mind.

Blogger Shaun Groves said...

I'd argue that "changing the world" IS an act of loving and following Jesus. Or I WILL argue that here soon.

But I know what you meant, Kat. It's that blasted perspective thing again isn't it?

Blogger The Cachinnator said...

Some of the best ways to follow Christ may seem so unspiritual at first blush. I'll repeat something I said over on Kat's blog. Something as simple and 'unspiritual' as how we do or don't spend our money may have the greatest impact for Christ. Some friends of mine recently got back from missions in India. They said a lot of stuff that was great, but one thing stuck with me. They said that one lesson they learned was about living with those people in a way that truly didn't stick out. They realized they weren't special. They didn't need everything they brought. They didn't need half of what they thought they did. They didn't need to go to the cafe for a drink just because they could afford to. Ouch. I'll never forget that last sentence. Often, our hands are probably a better way to witness than our mouths.

Blogger Kat said...

Pespective is such a funny thing. One small difference can divide churches and denominations. Everyone means well (usually) but we all just come from such different places.

So here's my perspective, I think that believers too often want to be doers. We want to have plans and to do lists and at the end of the day be able to say, "I love Jesus. See what I did for Him today?"

God created us for a primary purpose - to worship Him. I'm beginning to think that if we focus all of our energy and passion on that one purpose, then He'll take care of the rest. His love for the needy is greater than ours will ever be, so I can't help but think that the more we know Him, the more He'll lead us to the places where we are needed the most. He, however, is of primary importance.

I think it's impossible to be truly passionate about Jesus and regularly sitting at His feet and not affect the world around us in deep ways. HOWEVER, I think it's entirely possible to be a mover and shaker in the world - feeding the hungry, taking care of the widows, clothing the orphans - and leave Jesus out of it.

There is such a fine line between doing things "for" Jesus (out of our own wisdom and strength) and doing things "with" Him (relying on His wisdom and strength).

I'm thinking out loud here...Does that make any sense at all?

Blogger The Cachinnator said...

I get where you're coming from Kat, but, (and this may be another perspective thing), I don't think worship is sitting around singing or even praying. I think worship is and can be service and action. I think feeding the hungry is worship. I think serving the needy is worship. I think our worship box is too small.

Again, I'm not directing these comments to Kat or Shaun specifically. I think this fits into the broader discussion we are having. I think the modern Evangelical concept of worship leads to a very self-focused experience. Worship as song and prayer can become an emotionally and psychologically addictive experience. We will end up focusing on self far too much when we keep going back to 'feel' the same way.

I think the ideas that we either 'go into the presence of God' or 'invite God into our presence,' as it is often phrased today in worship, are dangerous. We don't leave His presence, and He doesn't need our invitation. This is why I seek a bigger idea of worship and a bigger idea of prayer. It can and must be focused away from ourselves.

Blogger Kat said...

I entirely agree with you cach (can I call you cach?) Here's a quote I love:

"Mission is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn't. Worship is the ultimate, not missions, because God is the ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever. Worship, therefore, is the fuel and goal in missions. It's the goal of missions because in missions we simply aim to bring the nations into the white-hot enjoyment of God's glory. The goal of missions is the gladness of the peoples in the greatness of God. 'The Lord reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad' (Psalm 97:1). 'Let the peoples praise thee, O God; let all the peoples praise thee! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy!' (Psalm 67:3,4).

(John Piper, The Supremacy of God in Missions, Baker Books, 1993)

Blogger Kat said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Blogger Kat said...

One more thought/clarification:

Technically, I don't think that feeding the hungry or helping the poor is worship. I also don't think that singing songs or having a "quiet time" is worship.

Those are acts of worship, but not worship itself.

I think worship cannot be defined by any particular act.

Kind of like love.

My husband can do lots of things that look like love and are often acts of love, but unless he really loves me and they are result of or expressions of his love, they don't mean much.

I suppose we're all really just talking semantics, though.


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