Sometimes You Just Gotta Sing Bass

Choir-sheet-music

So an interesting thing happened to me on Wednesday night.

I sang in choir at church for the first time in my life. Don’t get me wrong, I love music. It is a big part of our house and I love the sound of harmonies and melodies seamlessly coming together to make beautiful music. But I’m most comfortable being the guy singing from my pew, not in the choir loft.

My church has an amazing choir and an orchestra; they lift up the name of Jesus each Sunday morning and bring the corporate worship experience to life.

Although I enjoy singing and can carry a tune, I probably won’t be doing any solo work in the near future.  In my mind I’m not as good as Frank Sinatra, but better than Axl Rose.

But I was asked by a couple of the music staff through texts and letters if my wife and I would come sing just until the Easter musical.

So with more than a little trepidation, I walked into the choir room for the first time in my life.

What happened next was comical.

What Do Punxsutawney Phil and Chirping Birds Tell Us About The Mercies of God?

Happy Groundhog Day!

Today is February 2nd and that means that we will learn our fate for the next six weeks. Either Punxsutawney Phil will see his shadow, dart back in his hole, and doom us to more winter or he will come out and play and usher in a nice early spring.

Regardless of what happens with Phil, it is cold today where I am.

Winter is like that.

The leaves are off the trees.  It stays dark later in the morning.  It gets dark earlier in the evening.  The sun may still shine each day, but it doesn’t chase away the cold.

I’m not sure what Punxsutawney Phil has in store for us today, but I know what God has planned.

When I got up this morning I heard an amazing sound.

Isn’t It About Time You Grow Up and Trust God?

This past summer we spent a lot of time swimming at my uncle’s pool.  He just built a new house and he added a beautiful in-ground pool.  It is about 3 feet deep in the shallow end and eight feet deep in the deep end.

My son, who is 8 years old, asked me to stand about halfway between the deep and shallow ends and catch him as he ran and jumped into the pool.   So time and again I would lift him up out of the water and place him on the edge of the pool.  He would back up five or six steps.  I would back up five or six steps in the water.

He would get a running start and jump towards me with a splash.

My job was simple:  catch him as he leapt towards me and keep him from completely submerging in the water.

It was going fine until someone called my name and I turned my head to respond.

MLK and the Quest for Equality

Today is the day we celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Perhaps no other voice is more closely associated with the American civil rights movement than his.  His voice still resonates through his words long after his life was cut short.  Although he was far from perfect, his legacy and his voice still lives on.

Equality?

How equal are we really?

I have the privilege of teaching low-income, at-risk youth who are pursuing their GED.  For a variety of reasons they were unable to finish high school and this basic education credential is vital.

My classroom is very diverse.  Over the last three years I have had single moms of every race, Hispanic ex-gang members, students for whom English is a second language, African-American young men and women, a refugee from Burma, kids in and out of trouble with the law, and students that make you wonder why they dropped out of high school.

We don’t shy away from the difficult topics that these kids will face in life.  We talk about racial injustice and equality, Ferguson, Trayvon Martin, human trafficking, Boko Haram, Islamic extremists, minimum wage, and anything else you could imagine.

One of my favorite memories was with a young black man who was 17 years old.  We were joking in class one day and speaking about race.  This young man said:

Man, Mr. Barnett, I think you are black on the inside!

Even now, you may be uncomfortable reading this.   But to me, it reminded me that I was doing whatever it took to reach these kids.

This job is my mission field right now.

I am a white male in his mid-thirties who is a bold follower of Jesus Christ.  Yet I am somehow able to identify and be identifiable with all manner of a diverse younger generation.

Unfortunately this isn’t the norm

I look around, especially in the United States, and I don’t see this as the norm.  It seems like things are just as bad as they have always been.  The more we strive for equality the more elusive it seems.  I’m sure Martin Luther King would be disappointed in where we are and recognize that we have so much further to go.

We are all sinners in need of a Savior

When I think about our differences as people, I am reminded of our similarities.

On the inside we are not black or white, Hispanic or Asian, from the eastern hemisphere or the western hemisphere.

We are simply sinners in need of a Savior.  Although God created us to be a beautiful tapestry of skin colors, he sees us primarily in need of his grace and mercy.  He sees beyond our skin color to our soul’s condition.

We are new creations in Christ

When you come to the saving knowledge of Jesus, you become a new creation in Christ.

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person.

The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

2 Corinthians 5:17

Once we get to the point where we realize that we are new creations in Christ, then we can begin to really celebrate our differences by celebrating our similarities.  We can begin to see the beauty that God has created in this world by making us each unique and rejoicing that where it counts we are the same.

That is our relationship with Christ.

If you have never heard Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, you can listen to it here.

Although, it was birthed out of the civil rights movement and the injustices that people of color faced, at its core was the message of Christianity: that all men and women will only really be truly equal when they recognize what God has done for them and accept the free gift of eternal life by believing in his son, Jesus Christ.

Social justice and equality can never truly be achieved until Christians rise up and live as one body more interested in their similarities than their differences.

 

Do Authentic Christians Actually Exist?

“You’re a phony!  I hate phonies.”   Despicable Me 2

Your a phony!

If you haven’t seen it, Despicable Me 2 is worth watching.  The quote comes from the scene above.

Gru, the main character, is bald.  He is on a blind date with Shannon and he is wearing a bad toupee.  In his nervousness, he brushes his forehead which shifts his hair to the side.  Shannon reacts with the statement above and then threatens to rip off the wig and expose Gru for the phony she thinks he is.

I’ve never worn a wig,

but I’m sure I have been less than authentic at times in my life.

Phony is the opposite of authentic.  Phony means false, fake, not real.  Authentic means real and true.  Authenticity produces evidence.  Authentic Christianity produces fruit.