Thursday, May 26, 2005

[what i worship]

I give lip service to this whole 'God thing'
Coming in here and praying and praising
Lifting up holy hands, bending holy knees,
while looking at my holy watch
But this isn't what I really worship
If you want to see my worship
Don't stand next to me here in this place
Don't look at my words and my prayers
And all of my learned motions that come
Not from my heart, but from what I have seen others do
Don't look at the way I speak, parrot-like, the words I hear others say
If you want to know what I really worship
Walk with me
Follow me
Live with me
Crawl into my head and see where my thoughts go
Go through the days and weeks of my life with me
And see what I worship not by what I say
But by how I live.

You wanna know what I worship?
I worship food
In ways that are far from natural
I think about it most of the day
Chicken, pizza, cheeseburgers, steak and cheese sandwiches,
Hot wings, lasagna, shrimp tacos from Chuy's, mustard on everything, fast food, good food, greasy spoon food, barbeque Dungeoness crab from Joe's Crab Shack, Chic-fil-a waffle fries, Venti No-whip mocha from Starbucks
O great god of coffee, I bow to your caffeinated greatness

You wanna know what I worship?
I worship gadgets
If it blinks and has a power cord I will sing its praise
I will bring it offerings of money and time
O Lord Laptop, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all your 15 inch display
Your wireless net, your cd-rom for burning
I love your power for all the games I play
Then sings my soul, my laptop, god to thee
How Great thou art, How great thou art

You wanna know what I worship?
I worship other people
I may not walk up to you and bow to you
I don't sacrifice live chickens at your feet
But I do worship you
Putting my feelings of self-worth,
of security,
of am I good enough,
of am I smart enough, cute enough, cool enough
In your hands
Spending most of my time trying to find new ways for you to like me
New ways to make sure that you don't leave me
Run from me
Find someone cooler
New ways to make sure you don't
Find someone more fun

You wanna know what I worship?
When you push past everything else
When you stop believing the lies
that even I believe
When you tear off the curtain and show the wizard
For who he really is
When you add up all of the
Time spent
And thoughts spent
And emotions spent
And energy spent
And talents spent
You find the throne of my worship
And on the throne
Sits me
You wanna know what I worship?
I worship me
and I don't want to do it anymore.

[my own little cyber-corner]

Welcome to tomcottar's blog, watch out for up-to-date rants, reviews, and other random observings!

Community On The Fly?

How would you define 'community'? It's almost a ruined word, I know. In fact, a friend sent me an email this week telling me so [and he's a pretty bright guy]. But what does it mean really? Is it 'fellowship'? Eating together? Sharing life's burdens?

The following are some random thoughts from that email:

Community means availability. It means time spent together. Real time.
Time for conversation, interaction, and a deepening of communion, of
intimacy between 2 or more people. Community is never general or generic.
It is always specific and definable by people spending time together.
Now, time spent together does not guarentee community. There has to be a
certain quality to the time spent together. Time doesn't guarentee it but
it is a pre-requisite.

Community means vulnerability. If we aren't willing to open up our lives
to others we will never experience true community. This is why mutual
confession builds community. We come to the table with our strengths and
our weakenesses and we lay ourselves bare, exposed to the scrutiny and
more importantly the love, acceptance and forgiveness of others.

Community means stability. If we want to experience community, we need to be
rooted somewhere among some people. If we constantly move on in search of
greener pastures we will not be around long enough to grow the roots
necessary for community. Community can not happen on the fly.

What do you think? How would you define biblical community? What is it that makes a youth group, or a church, or a neighborhood so bound together that they weather any storm that comes? In fact, in community, they not only survive, but flourish....what makes that possible?

If the above comments are the theory of building community, where are the nuts-and-bolts? How do you convince people to spend large amounts of time together? How do you convince them that the fruit is worth the time-investment? How do you reach the point of mutual confession and vulnerability?

Our student ministry has endured the 40 Days routine, survived small groups, and has built a nice little club that doesn't readily accept strangers. It does 'fellowship' well, but 'community'? Not so much...

While we are turned inward, all the world sees is a bunch of rears...

Monday, May 23, 2005

Tr33top was here [for about a day]

So, a few nights ago, [Wednesday, May 18, to be exact] I got my house tagged by some low-rent, gangbanger wannabe. "Tr33top. CK-65" Whatever that means. I came home from my evening jog [I'm up to 6 miles now] and there was our local Travis County five-0 in my driveway, protecting and serving my newly violated fence. It seems that three young men, a couple cans of spray paint, and a few spare moments of free time converged on my privacy fence while I was out trying to raise my pulse. I guess I could have stayed home and done that.

I live in a decent neighborhood in north Austin [TX]. A place where families walk the neighborhoods in the evenings, kids ride bikes, people jog, etc. It's also a multi-ethnic and multi-economic clump of families. A pretty good cross section of our demographic. I had taken off on a jog in order to think and pray specifically about ways our ministry can be intentionally more missional.

I'm glad we got tagged. One of my neighbors (total stranger at the time) came by after he got off work the next night [at 9pm].

"I've got a power washer at my house. If you don't mind, I'll run home and get it and I'll wash this stuff off for you."


I was pretty dumbfounded. "Uh. Um. Well,....okay."

Austin. 9pm. A total stranger asks if he can do me a favor.

I'm feeling guilty at his offer of kindness (in Big Church we call that 'grace'), so I go out to help him. Actually, I just stand there and make with the chatter.

It turns out that he and his wife live a few doors down. They're newly married. No kids. He works at Dell and loves to fish. In my mind, I'm wondering why this guy is so nice. He's talking about work and how he sits behind a desk and how he doesn't mind getting soaked doing this because he needs the exercise.

As he works, I notice that the pressure washer is taking off the spray paint...along with the 'color' of the fence, which he explains is just mildew and my fence will look like new when he's done.

[He's right. Just like when Christ entered my life, He took away the stuff I was aware of, but He also took away the things I had grown accustomed to. All new...]

We set up a weekend to get together and cookout with the families. We talked about fishing together after he gets done with a big work project. We laughed. Told jokes. Talked about work, marriage, and adulthood. Then he asked the big question: "What do you do?"
Here it comes, I thought. Maybe this guy is a believer.

"I'm a minister."

"Oh. Cool."

"Yeah, Sunday is my only day to sleep in. And fish. Maybe you and I can go fishing after church one weekend."

And the conversation moved on.
In a sense, he really ministered to me. I was worried about how our ministry can be more missionally minded, and my seemingly lost neighbor showed me what I needed to be doing.

The Bottom Line:
What if we, The Body, intentionally spent more time and energy meeting the needs of our literal and physical neighbors vs. the etheral ones across the planet? I know I people in Sudan need Jesus, but so do the punks that tagged my fence. Have we neglected 'Jerusalem' for the sake of Samaria? And, is it possible for the unbeliever to minister to the believer? Does God use 'worldly' kindness to express grace to The Body?