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06 April 2009

Ancient Chinese Song: "Tu Ning"

When I was a punk teenager, It dawned on me that I had a fantastic opportunity because my dad had an old acoustic guitar in the closet. I played piano, but discovered that chicks thought guitar players were cooler than piano players, so I decided to teach myself how to play. (The photo at the right is about as close as I could find to the one my dad owned. It was a Harmony guitar from some time in the early 60's. The photo comes from the Harmony Guitars Database.)

As I tuned my guitar this morning, I flashed back to my teen years and remembered a wise saying that my dad often uttered: "All you ever seem to do is walk around tuning that thing."

Though I never agreed (naturally I had to defend myself against my tyrant dad), he was right. Apparently it got old. I believe that I tuned instead of practiced. I recall launching into the argument that the tuners were cheap and wouldn't stay in tune -- it was the guitar's fault, not mine! Underlying that truth, though, was the real reason I tuned so often: I wasn't very good at actually playing it so I had to do something that would allow me to walk around with a guitar.

My thought processes seem to be like a unibrow these days (one long chain of the same thing), because this morning I thought, "Hey, the church is like that."

We're constantly tuning and trying to get things a certain way; solid doctrine, comfortable church -- just the way we like it, but we can't seem to break out into metaphorical song. It could be because we have tuners that are in a state of disrepair (or even cheap tuners, like cheap Christianity -- the kind we try to manufacture that doesn't require anything of us). It could be that we're scared to do something with it. Or it could be because we know what the Instruction Book says but we never practice it.

  • "My, that's a fine-sounding guitar!"
  • "Fantastic sermon this morning, Pastor!"
  • "That is a beautiful guitar!"
  • "Isn't the new coffee house beautiful?!"
  • "Check out these Spurzel locking tuners!"
  • "Check out my MacArthur Study Bible!"
Let me head you off at the pass: I am not suggesting that we abandon the study of Scripture and doctrine. That is essential -- I'll be annoyed if anyone tries to read that into this post, because unless this is the first time you've read anything I've posted, you ought to know better. I'm also not saying that it's a bad thing to have a Godly pastor, a coffee house, or a study Bible.

What I am saying is that I'll bet that some of us have been tuning our guitars via Sunday School, sermons, programs, etc., for 5, 10, 20 years, or even more, but we rarely, if ever, play a song.

When are you going to use that thing?


steff said...

I had to laugh at uni-brow thought processes never heard that expression before :) Good post! When is the body of Christ going to stop tuning the thing and just play the song.

Jan said...

love the post Dean. It's sort of like waiting to get married til you have enough money and are wise enough. Uh, it's probably not going to happen!!!! Now, is it wise to learn all we can? yes! But to use learning as an "Avoidance technique" from actually diving in, getting our hands dirty and DOING something - that's sad. But we are all guilty!

Worship Dude said...

Awesome post, dude! Let's focus on "doing something" instead of just talking about "doing something". The church needs to walk the walk not just talk the talk!

Preston N said...

Well - let me throw a little cold blanket on here. I actually see the reverse of this occurring in the church these days. Let me explain.

As was the case with Stephen - here was a man that the apostles considered worthy of only being a busboy for God, yet many of us would be hardly ready to fill his shoes these days. What I observe in most churches these days is as soon as someone joins a church what do we do with them? Sit down and invest many hours to teach them and get them to a level of maturity to where they are prepared to work in God's Kingdom? Or do we tend to immediately say "Hey do we have a job for you"! and throw them into working in the nursery, or with the youth or on some other project in the church? Clearly as in the case of Stephen the apostles identified a level of maturity was necessary before someone was allowed to serve in the church. What I see is a lack of is solid theological instruction for newcomers and thus we have many who are too ill equipped to do ministry or they're pressured to "jump into the deep end of the pool and ask to swim". Maybe this is why many are reluctant to serve because they're not sure what to do. Let us not forget that it is a serious matter to tinker with men's souls and if we have not been properly trained, we may do more harm than good.

Dean - a side note. I agree that many mature Christians will often use this excuse as you have stated here - but my point is maybe the church needs to balanced on providing more training and teaching.

Dean Lusk said...

Steff, Jan, Worship Dude, thanks for the kudos. I really don't think there will be a whole lot more of them. Or maybe I'm wrong.

Preston, you throwing a cold wet blanket on one of my posts?! It's so unlike you to call 'em like you see 'em!

:-) You'd better believe I'm kidding, and as your "wet blankets" often go, this one is right on the money.

"What I see is a lack of is solid theological instruction for newcomers and thus we have many who are too ill equipped to do ministry or they're pressured to 'jump into the deep end of the pool and ask to swim'."

The point I made in my post in no way makes this statement of yours less valid, or vice versa. I'm afraid both are accurate. Further, Biblical instruction can often be so surface-oriented that it never addresses fault lines that run across generations: the first thing that comes to mind is parents who are not equipped or instructed to disciple their own families.

And that brings up the fact that many people expect "church" to be the place they get spoon-fed!

My soap boxes are numerous today. I need to go clean house -- it's my off-day and I can't get away from this computer.

I appreciate the comments greatly, everyone!

Lamarr said...

I really don't understand what you're talking about - I'm too busy doing Bible Studies during the week to try to get out and serve!!!

j/k - I think it's like the analogy of the committee - teaching folks to fish, but no one actually ever goes fishing anymore!

but I totally get Preston's comment, because I know that some of the folks I've 'gone fishing' with don't seem to have any ideas what lures are or how to cast, etc.

Unfortunately I think our biggest problem is that we still look (and want to look) too much like the world - busy in sports and other activities that we don't prioritize appropriately to truly be able to learn enough and still have time to serve as God would have us.

Lamarr said...

Now I'll really give you details you don't want... :) Just as an example for me - I went to the Awakening on Friday night - great - then we went to a swim meet in Scottsboro Saturday - ok, then we skipped Awakening on Saturday to go to the End of Season Swim Banquet - boo! Problem was, JoAnne received kudos and awards at the banquet, so I did feel obligated to go; plus, I know I would have enjoyed Awakening Saturday night, but the kids probably would have gotten antsy, and it's hard to teach them to discern what is best - especially when I'm not there myself. But if our loves truly grows more and more in depth of love and insight, then we will be able to discern what is best - which ties into what Ed said Sunday, essentially that religion doesn't mean service for the sake of acceptance, but that acceptance (and love) of Jesus leads us to the desire to serve. That love (that first love) is just not present in most of our lives.

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