Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Skating Backwards

It had to have been over twenty years since I last put on a pair of roller skates but there I was Sunday after church, lacing them up for a few trips around the local skating rink. Of course, I wasn't on my own, we had a good size group from our church there as well, including the hundreds of others that were there for the open skate. Needless to say, this made for a large crowd in rather small place.

For me anyway, skating is like riding a bike. While I won't name any names, I can't say the same about most people in our church. It's a small miracle that we didn't have to call an ambulance after seeing some of the falls that I saw! This, of course, even included my very own kids. My oldest son Mitchell is a pretty good skater but my other four (I won't count Seth here since he's a little small to be skating) aren't quite so hot. As I was teaching my son Zachary by practically holding him up as he labored around the rink trying to make sense of shoes that have wheels on them (not very safe some might say), Zach and I were run over. What I mean is that Zach went flying and I nearly lost my balance and went down. And I saw it happening out of the corner of my eye, the guy was skating backwards of all things when he ran right smack into us. While he was very apologetic and concerned for Zachary (who was fine and managed to get right back up), I honestly wanted to let the guy have it. There I was trying to teach my six-year old how to skate and this guy thinks he can skate backwards - when he really can't - and runs right into us!

While my anger eventually faded, this guy skating backwards didn't. Throughout the entire three hours we were there, this guy skated backwards. The last time I saw him skating backwards, he ran right into another of our church members and actually went flying. At that moment, I have to admit that I was smiling (after checking to make sure he was alright of course).

I share all of this because I think a lot of us "skate backwards" in life. What I mean is that we take our eyes of God - who should be our focus - and we look in all the wrong places and skate in all the wrong directions for our fulfillment. The result is quite often a crash of some sorts. You've been there, I've been there so none of us are exempt from this. Nevertheless, there's one way to fix this. Quit skating backwards and turn around. God is there and he's waiting for us to focus on Him and Him alone.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Music and Faith

Over the last few weeks, I've been writing about Bob Dylan and the role that faith has played in his music - a most interesting one to say the least. But his life and music is only one of thousands that mixes their faith and beliefs together. Really, if you listen to any "popular" music you can find songs that seem to be searching for answers to life's most perplexing problems. Here's the latest set of lyrics to The Fray's new album and single "You Found Me."

I found God on the corner of 1st and Amistad
Where the West was all but won
All alone, smoking his last cigarette
I said, "Where've you been?" He said, "Ask anything."

Where were you, when everything was falling apart.
All my days were spent by the telephone that never rang
And all I needed was a call that never came
To the corner of 1st and Amistad

Lost and insecure, you found me, you found me
Lying on the floor, surrounded, surrounded
Why'd you have to wait? Where were you? Where were you?
Just a little late, you found me, you found me.

But in the end everyone ends up alone
Losing her, the only one who's ever known
Who I am, who I'm not and who I wanna to be
No way to know how long she will be next to me

Lost and insecure, you found me, you found me

Lying on the floor, surrounded, surrounded
Why'd you have to wait? Where were you? Where were you?
Just a little late, you found me, you found me.

The early morning, the city breaks
And I've been calling for years and years and years
And you never left me no messages
You never sent me no letters
You got some kind of nerve taking all I want

Lost and insecure, you found me, you found me
Lying on the floor, Where were you? Where were you?

Lost and insecure, you found me, you found me
Lying on the floor, surrounded, surrounded
Why'd you have to wait? Where were you? Where were you?
Just a little late, you found me, you found me.

Why'd you have to wait, to find me, to find me?

It's interesting to note that The Fray is being marketed both in the secular market as well as in the Christian market. While the band mates have each expressed their Christian faith, they have chosen to make music that isn't your typical CCM fare.

In this song, you can sense some of the angst and anger with a God who seems to come after the fact. A God who comes after things have fallen apart. For me, the book of Job comes to mind. But just like the book of Job, God does answer.

As a Christian, I think we could argue that God is always there. After all, he is omnipresent.

Gotta go but it's interesting to me all the songs that actually deal with faith type issues.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Dylan Get's Saved (Part 3)

It's interesting that much is made about the faith of Bob Dylan and that many questions whether his turn towards the Christian faith (from his Jewish upbringing) was simply a farce. Still, one could argue that Dylan had been wrestling with Christianity quite some time before his more explicit Christian recordings. For instance, on the song "Long Ago, Far Away," Dylan opens and closes with the death of Jesus. Listen (okay maybe you can't listen but imagine that you're listening) to these words:

To preach of peace and brotherhood
Oh, what might be the cost!
A man he did it long ago
And they hung him on a cross
Long ago, far away
These things don't happen
No more, nowadays

When Dylan wrote this song in 1962, well before his conversion, he wasn't a Christian but I think we see hints of what's to come.

Then, on a later recording, 1997's Tell Tale Signs, Dylan writes the following on his song Trying to Get to Heaven."

Gonna sleep down in the parlor
And relive my dreams
I'll close my eyes and I wonder
If everything is as hollow as it seems
Some trains don't pull no gamblers
No midnight ramblers, like they did before
I been to Sugar Town, I shook the sugar down
Now I'm trying to get to heaven before they close the door

Here, Dylan seems to be wrestling with a life spent in the wrong places and wonders whether or not there's enough time to make things right in order to get into heaven.

So, well before and well after, Dylan has and seemingly continues to wrestle with the Christian Faith or at least faith in general. While he may not say a whole lot (Dylan doesn't do a lot of talking these days) he does let his music do the talking and his music seems to indicate his Christian faith is still intact. No, he's not a model of the Christian faith (who is?) but he seems to be on a journey which he hopes will one day end in the realms of heaven.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Tower Coffee Open!

It's official. Tower Coffee is now open for business! We are open from 7 AM until NOON so be sure to stop on in and get some freshly brewed coffee or an assortment of other espresso drinks. Don't be shy! We'd love to see you. We'll have a Grand Opening in a few weeks.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Dylan Get's Saved (Part 2)

Much could be said about the overall library of Bob Dylan's music. While I'm somewhat a fan of Dylan, I'm by no means the Dylan expert. I leave that label for the real experts, such as those who've actually listened to his corpus of music in it's entirety. Stephen Webb, in his book that I've been reading titled "Dylan Redeemed," suggests that when one looks at the whole of Dylan's recordings, one finds the origins of what would later become Dylan's three Christian recordings. In other words, Webb is saying that while his earlier music may not have been labeled "Christian," there is no small amount of theology therein. While Dylan didn't have his born again experience until the late seventies, the foundation for his soon to be Christian faith can be found in many of his earlier songs. So, even though many Dylan fans might be less than excited by such a claim, it's pretty hard to ignore when one truly gives some of his earlier records a spin. I'll touch on some of those in the days ahead...

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Dylan Gets Saved

One of my goals for this year was to read more and to do so from a variety of different genres (both fiction and non-fiction). As a result, I've been blogging less even though one of my other goals is to write more. Balance has always been tough for me. Anyway, one of those books I'm currently reading is a book about Bob Dylan called "Dylan Redeemed." Here, the author chronicles Dylan's three so-called "Christian" albums from the late seventies and into the early eighties. His first, 1979’s “Slow Train Coming,” is more Christian than much of what passes as Christian music today. Ironically, however, Bob Dylan’s three albums have never been embraced by the Christian community as such. Even more interesting is that for many of the Dylan devoted followers, they too failed to embrace these three albums. In fact, it brought no small amount of disdain and disgust as many of these Dylan devotees saw their once iconic and liberal minded musical companion turn into a hell-bent conservative virtually overnight. What’s a fan to do?

Dylan has always lived with a veil of secrecy surrounding his life but during this period, there is no doubt that Christianity for him was real, and became something he expressed through his music.

I’ll say more about this period in Dylan’s life in the days ahead.

Stay tuned.