When Necessary, Use Money
The typical church atmosphere today is such that attendees are conditioned to put money into an offering plate and consider this to be a pretty decent way to spread the Gospel. hether intended or not, this method of helping, if it is the primary focus, keeps the average church-attender from actually meeting and connecting to needy people and it tells him that money is his best gift or good deed.
De-Powering the Name of Jesus
In the old days, Superman could move planets. As if that weren't enough, he could move multiple planets at once. Heck, he could even do this as a teenager! Somewhere along the line, the writers decided that this just wasn't believable enough, I guess, so they brought his powers down to a more realistic ensemble. You know, flying, heat vision, super-cold breath... the more normal things.
The Noise and Impact of Worship
How many fellowships are apathetic and complacent, perched in the middle of hurting communities and not lifting a finger to help, but instead singing songs one day a week about how good it is not to be a part of the riff-raff on the outside? Isn't it time we redeemed ourselves by our actions?
Good Deeds and Contradictions
When we're challenged or confronted with an argument about contradiction in Scripture, sometimes we can be taken completely off-guard. One of the worst responses in this kind of situation is simply to say, "I just take the Bible on faith," and dismiss the challenge as being made by an ignorant Christian-hater. The fact is, most of the time it's not the Bible we're taking on faith. Often it's the teaching of someone who pieced together some verses to bolster a themed speech.
04 September 2015
20 August 2015
A scant few synonyms of the word "furious" might be "passionate," "unrestrained," or "fierce." The ones I typically think of, though, are more like "angry" or "enraged." (And I'm sure many of you think about cars and stunts.) I have to say that I haven't often thought of our Father's love for us as "furious."
Interestingly, though, that's one of the very reasons I so easily embraced our first song for this coming Sunday. It made me consider in a new way how how deeply God loves us. He is a love so passionate that He cannot be resisted. God's love for us will relentlessly persist in spite of our worst failures (and sometimes, it seems, in spite of our most proficient efforts).
And that's just the FIRST song.
The second song, "Look What God Has Done," has become a new favorite. I'll paste some lyrics below our song list for this coming Sunday...
- Furious (Bethel Church with Jeremy Riddle)
- Look What God Has Done (Ghost Ship)
- Come to Me (Village Church with Lauren Chandler)
- Like Incense / Sometimes By Step (Hillsong Worship)
- All My Fountains (Chris Tomlin)
Here are some lyrics from "Look What God Has Done":
Look what God has done: He redeemed us with His blood.
We were lost and dead in sin. He came for us.
Look what God has done: He adopted us in Love;
We were orphans without hope, now His children.
Who are we that He would save us?
Who are we that He would send us?
To God be glory, through Christ our Savior's Church
Through all generations.
To God be glory, through Christ our Savior's work
Forever and ever.
Look at Jesus Christ: He redeems His precious bride.
By His costly sacrifice, we're invited.
See the wisdom of His ways in the mystery of grace;
Every age and every race, we're united.
Do you see where this song directs our focus? What if we spent every day remembering that focus and actively modeling it? When I consider how I tend to inadvertently (and, to be real, sometimes intentionally) look down on other people, and then remember that Jesus never had the same disdain for me, I'm utterly shocked at my own arrogance.
Who am I that He would save me? Who am I that He would send me?
Look what God has done!
08 August 2014
We didn't get a sound check, and I remember being particularly nervous about a couple of the songs that hadn't gone too well when we practiced. Strangely, though, at that moment I couldn't remember which songs those were. Stage fright, most likely.
When it was time to start playing I stepped up to the mic and said, "Hello. My name is Dean Lusk," and immediately noticed that the crowd seemed disinterested; still mingling without so much as a glance at the stage. I reacted by throwing out a fairly dumb one-liner. Mercifully, it received some chuckles. Continuing the schtick, I put on my best Liverpool accent (or whatever dialect it is when you really don't know which dialect it is) and proclaimed, "I'm actually British," and started to wade through another stupid anecdote.
Suddenly, while I was still talking and before I even realized it was happening, Q gave a four-count with his drumsticks and he and Chris began to play the first song, "Dock of the Bay." I fell in easily enough, though I felt incredibly awkward. I guess I had been talking too much.
The first few words I sang were fine. And then it struck me like lightning that this was one of the songs I'd been anxious about. The hard part came quickly: the last half of the first line of the chorus... "watching the tiiiiiide roll in." It was slightly too high for my vocal range, and my voice almost cracked so I took a step back from the mic even before I'd finished singing the phrase. And I noticed something that was surprising and embarrassing.
This wasn't even my song. It was Q's song, and he was singing. It had been his microphone I had heard when I began to sing. I was mortified and wondered what Chris and Q thought of me (which bothered me far more than what the crowd thought); I'd essentially tried to hijack the performance with my awful comedy routine at the beginning and then by trying to sing over the top of someone else's vocal.
I put my guitar down and walked away in embarrassment and shame. The song was still going. Q sounded great. Matter of fact, even though the music was now just drums, bass, and a vocal, it sounded surprisingly good. I don't even remember if anyone in the crowd gave me weird looks as I walked through the middle of them, over to another little white house near the back of the audience, where I woke up.
I was more than relieved to realize it had been a dream, but it did reveal to me a darker side of my personality. Jesus talked about it.
“When you are invited to a wedding feast, don’t sit in the seat of honor. What if someone who is more distinguished than you has also been invited? The host will come and say, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then you will be embarrassed, and you will have to take whatever seat is left at the foot of the table!
“Instead, take the lowest place at the foot of the table. Then when your host sees you, he will come and say, ‘Friend, we have a better place for you!’ Then you will be honored in front of all the other guests. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
(Luke 14:8-11, NLT, emphases mine)
While I wouldn't dare execute this dream in real life, it illustrated the extent to which I sometimes live as though the world revolves around me. I've come to learn over the past few years that self-centeredness comes in many forms, all of which are corrupting and damaging to nearly every relationship, beginning with our relationship to God and extending to our families and friends.
For that reason, I hope this dream sticks in my memory for a long time to come.
08 May 2014
This is yet another fun account of me doing something dumb. After considering several spiritual parallels (and even consulting my friend Lee the Enabler, who helped me edit the post) I decided to leave it as just a story. I'd be happy if you'd like to comment on what you see as allegorical in it, though.
My wife and daughter had almost finished setting up my daughter's new bed by the time I got home from work. All I had to do was obtain a couple of oddball bolts from my tub of oddball bolts (to replace the obligatory forgotten ones missing from the parts packages) and attach the headboard.
Well, that's almost all I had to do. Callie helped me dismantle the old frame before heading out to a very important ladies' shindig, about which I remember nothing because I'm a typical male, sadly. My daughter went with her and my son was at work, so the task of putting the old mattress and frame into the attic was, both figuratively and literally, on my shoulders.
As I folded the three-segment attic ladder down and listened to its squeaky voice punctuated by the the occasional "Toinnngg!!" interjection of the springs on the sides, I thought, "This attic ladder contraption is actually a remarkable achievement. I'll bet the inventor made lots of money." After I pondered it for a few seconds I mused that anyone with a rudimentary understanding of geometry could probably have figured it out eventually, so I forged ahead with my task: transporting awkwardly large objects up rickety steps through a rectangular hole in the ceiling.
It went well until I was down to only a few pieces of wooden frame leaning against the wall, sitting on a smooth laminate floor. Darn you, physics.
I had folded up the ladder to give myself some headroom as I pushed the remaining pieces a few feet down the hall. That may have been my first real mistake. Maybe I didn't wait to see if they were stable as they leaned against the wall.
Before I continue, I'd like to note that the upcoming wound healed rather nicely. No scar, even.
I reached up, grabbed the bottom rung of the ladder, and pulled it toward me, letting it swing up and over so I could catch it on the way down.
Just as the unfolding ladder was reaching the upper part of its arc before descending (seeming to hang in midair for just a moment), I heard the headboard start to slide away from the wall behind me. I instinctively lurched my head and body to the right to save the day (still holding my left hand up to catch the falling ladder), grabbed the headboard before it fell, and thought, "Oh, yeah, I rock!" and then turned back to permit the ladder to gracefully fall into my outstretched hand.
Imagine my surprise when, rather than feeling the ladder fall gently into my palm, I was greeted with a sudden splash of white light, a loud (yet strangely not loud), wood-against-bone noise, and the sudden realization that I was stumbling backward down the hall.
<i>Falling... ladder... Hit... in... head... Blood... Home... alone... Must... get... help...</i>
It turns out it wasn't quite as bad as all that, but I realized I'd been smashed just above the eye by a rogue attic ladder.
Similar to Gloria Gaynor, though, I survived. (As I did in my last post.)
I was admittedly disappointed that I only had a small gash right next to my left eye but no cool shiner because I still think on sixth grade levels in some areas. Remember -- I'm a typical male. Regardless of the lack of a really good contusion, I received mostly acceptable levels of pity from my family when they got home in spite of my stupidity.
It was a neat experience, all told, but I doubt I'll do it again.
06 May 2014
09 January 2014
- "If you do not associate with sinners, you will prove to the world that you are my disciples."
- "If you do not use foul speech, this will prove to the world that you are my disciples."
- "Your abstinence from alcohol will prove to the world that you are my disciples."
- "If you do not support businesses that act in a way that is contrary to Scriptural principles, the world will know that you are my disciples."
- "If you do not gossip, it will be obvious to the world that you are my disciples."
23 January 2013
There was nothing at all unusual about people meeting in the community center, but when word got out that the crowd was made up of parolees, convicted felons, and people who'd been accused of any number of crimes from petty theft to rape and arson, the community was none too happy, for obvious reasons.
Fairly soon it was discovered that the meetings were essentially seminars where attendees were given what amounted to step-by-step tutorials on topics like disarming alarm systems, offensive combat techniques, and weapons training. As this leaked out, the well-to-do neighborhoods nearby became paralyzed with fear. Sales of high-end security systems, video monitoring systems, and home window security bars nearly tripled in the first two months of the group's meetings.
Over time, however, the community residents were surprised that although there was an occasional burglary in the neighborhood or a petty theft at a nearby convenience store, the crime rate didn't actually rise. On top of that, the extra income generated by the facility rental allowed the community center to make improvements on its property, initially adding a baseball diamond and after a few years, a swimming pool. The leader of the group continued to make occasional appearances on local-access TV channels and in spite of being outspoken and having rather alarming commentary on some issues, his ideas never gained traction outside the group.
It wasn't very long before the group of people meeting in the community center came to be classified as "mostly harmless."
The above is a work of fiction; a parable submitted for your consideration. Has the Church become all bark and no bite? Are our meetings just informational seminars that rarely result in action or implementation? Do we expect to get by on our reputation or things we've done in the past? Are we really "mostly harmless"?
If we lived and practiced what Jesus taught and what we teach in our meetings, wouldn't we expect to see some crazy changes in our communities?
22 December 2012
I feel unChristmas-like when I say that it was not only boring, but for some reason I had a hard time believing that Harry Bailey was graduating high school at what appeared to be something like 36 years old, and that George Bailey was only slightly older than your typical college-aged guy when he looked 52. Kinda like Napoleon's classmate and antagonist Don in Napoleon Dynamite.
In other news, we're about to go get the ingredients for Christmas Eve fondue! I'd like to point you to BestFondue.com, where last year I discovered an incredible beef fondue recipe. I made the mushroom dipping sauce, too. Not only did the family not hate it, they (and I) actually loved it. I think it kept our Christmas Eve fondue tradition from dying. Had it been bad we might not have planned to do it again this year.
Finally, stop by Amazon.com and download the absolutely free Green Hill Christmas Music Sampler! It's a straight-ahead, mostly traditional (and on occasion easy-listening) Christmas album.
Merry early Christmas!
06 December 2012
1. Mannheim Steamroller or Trans-Siberian Orchestra?
2. Johnny Mathis or Nat King Cole?
3. Andy Williams or Frank Sinatra?
4. Dean Martin or Bing Crosby?
5. Jimmy Durante or Burl Ives?
Your responses and vicious arguments are solicited. Leave your comments below.
05 December 2012
As fate would have it, those two songs are on my "Ten Least-Loved Christmas Songs of 2012" list. It's not enjoyable to wake up to an alarm blaring either of those, so I've decided to start using the buzzer on the alarm instead. It's more inspiring.
Because I enjoy not enjoying certain Christmas songs, I'd like to present the complete list for you. It varies a bit from last year's list in that it's a little longer. Please reciprocate by listing your bottom 10 (or however many you'd like to include) Christmas songs.
Dean's Ten Least-Loved Christmas Songs of 2012:
- Last Christmas (Wham!, Taylor Swift, the Glee Cast)
- Step Into Christmas (Elton John)
- All I Want for Christmas Is You (Mariah Carey)
- Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree (Brenda Lee, etc., etc., etc.)
- Happy Christmas (War Is Over) (John Lennon, etc.)
- Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town (Jackson 5, Bruce Springsteen, Mariah Carey, etc.)
- The Christmas Shoes (NewSong -- it's a huge victory that I've only heard this song once so far all season!)
- Do They Know It's Christmas (Feed the World) (Band Aid)
- Little Saint Nick (Beach Boys)
- Run Rudolph Run (Chuck Berry)
01 December 2012
During my hunt for instrumental (and tasteful) Christmas music last year I uncovered FeelsLikeChristmas.com. Some of the songs will make you feel like Christmas in a way that makes you all warm and fuzzy and makes you pine for olden days -- happy golden days -- of yore. Some may make you recoil in disgust like that one time you heard your Aunt Erma singing Christmas karaoke. It's okay if none of you has an Aunt Erma or has ever heard a family member doing Christmas karaoke. You'll still recoil in disgust at some of these recordings. However, some are excellent!
But they are all free.
First I recommend visiting the Traditional Instrumental Christmas music page. You can preview a song by clicking on its title. Then you'll be taken to a page where you can click the play button and preview it. Like it? Then just right-click on the title of the song and "Save as" to your "My Music" folder (assuming you're using a PC).
If you mouse over the "FREE CHRISTMAS MUSIC DOWNLOADS" menu item you'll see a pop-down of a few other categories to explore.
Your mileage may vary, but hopefully you'll find some great new renditions of old favorites.
30 November 2012
"I've got a fevah (fever)... and the only prescription is more sleigh bell!" Although I'm not sure Arthur Fiedler put it that way, this is what comes across in the Boston Pops recording (link goes to Amazon.com's MP3 store), and although one rarely hears a percussion instrument droning in an orchestral song from start to finish, I'd have a hard time imagining "Sleigh Ride" without it.
|The 1867 lithograph "A Brush for the Lead" by Currier and Ives|
Fiedler has enjoyed fame as a conductor, the Boston Pops Orchestra has been in the limelight (if you consider orchestras as being in the limelight), and according to a reference at Wikipedia, "'Sleigh Ride' ... has been performed and recorded by a wider array of musical artists than any other piece in the history of Western music."
But for all that, the sleigh bell player remains an unknown. He did his job, did it quite well, and his effort has assumed its place in history. If he could have foreseen the popularity of the song (written in 1948, lyrics added in 1950), do you think he would have said to himself, "I can't see the benefit for myself in this. It will just promote the conductor, the orchestra, and the record company will make loads while I'll remain a nobody," and as a result decided to let someone else play on the record? I rather doubt it.
Raise your hand if you can tell that I'm about to draw a really obvious parallel here.
As we put our gifts to use as one of many parts of the body of Christ, we are called to play our part and do so to the best of our ability. We are not given direction or license to envy someone who has a seemingly more important role or to have resentment if someone else gets credit for what we think was our work or our accomplishment. That's not easy.
"Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ." - Colossians 3:23-24 (NLT)
"In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary." - 1 Corinthians 12:22 (NLT)
I've got a fevah... and the only prescription is more sleigh bell!