Thankful #23: My Church Small Group

Today I am thankful for my church small group.

Our small group meets every other Friday night and is led by Gary and Phyllis, two wonderful people who attend our church. Their house is just past the church when coming from our house.

Lately, there’s been a “Road Closed” sign just beyond the church entrance. Jonathan saw it the other night and started to panic. “How will we get to church?” he shouted.

“It’s okay,” I said. “The road is closed past the church.”

He was silent for a moment. “BUT WHAT ABOUT FRIDAY NIGHT?” he yelled, assuming that it would be impossible to get to Gary’s house.

“There’s another way to get to Gary’s,” I told him. “It’ll be okay.”

That says a lot about Gary and Phyllis, I think. So many kids would be bored and put off by a church small group. After all, while we do have some time to hang out and goof off, we also spend a lot of time praying and doing Bible study. But that doesn’t bother Jonathan, because he adores Gary and Phyllis.

In fact, a few months ago, when Jen and Grace were at the state Technology Students’ Association conference, and Jonathan and I were alone for a few days, Gary came over and picked up Jonathan to take him out for some gluten free pizza, followed by a viewing of Star Wars at Gary’s house. Which gave me a free evening in my own home, something that doesn’t happen very much at all.

But that’s the kind of guy Gary is. And that’s just one reason I enjoy my church small group so much: because it’s full of people who love each other and help other and go the extra mile for each other.

I thankful for my church small group.

Reflections on 2010

I already wrote about what I plan to achieve in 2011, but how about a look back at 2010? I figure the best way to compare where I was a year ago with where I am now.

A year ago, I weighed 220 pounds. Today, I weigh 158.

A year ago, I could barely walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded. Today, I can run a half marathon.

A year ago, my size 36 pants were getting a bit tight, and I really should have been wearing 38s. Today, my 32s are getting kinda big around the waist.

A year ago, I had been working at Manheim Township School District for a few months, and I was still feeling my way around in many ways. Today, I have over a full year under my belt, and I’ve relaunched our website.

A year ago, Superficial Charm was just Jen and me since we had lost our drummer, Jeremy. Today, Superficial Charm is a three piece consisting of Jen, Jerry, and me, and we’re having a blast.

A year ago, I was leading worship for our Sunday service at Crossings Community Church, as well as Revolution, our Saturday night ministry. Today, it’s just the Sunday service. This still makes me somewhat sad, but I think things worked out the way they had to be.

Resolved, 2011

Every year I seem to have the same New Year’s Resolutions: lose weight, sleep more, and read the Bible.

And every year, I fail at all three.

But not this year.

This year, I did lose weight. Sixty pounds to be exact. And while I didn’t spend as much time in scripture as I wanted to, I did get more sleep. But beyond that, I made some major changes in my life that were, frankly, long overdue.

In April, I started running. I started with the Couch to 5k program and then progressed to a half marathon in September. If you know me, you know just insane that is.

I started tracking what I eat, counting every calorie obsessively. While my wife has grown tired of my obsession, especially now that I’m down sixty pounds, it’s nice to have somewhere to focus my OCD. Besides which, this is the third time in my life that I’ve lost a significant amount of weight, and this was the hardest time. I don’t want to do it a fourth time. I don’t have it in me. So that means I’ll keep tracking my calories, because if I can control those numbers, I can control my weight. And I am terrified of gaining any back.

So what are my resolutions for 2011?

First, keep running. I’d like to do another half marathon in the late spring or early summer, and I’m considering a full marathon after that. Plus the Red Rose Run and maybe a couple 5k runs along the way.

Second, keep the weight off. I weighed in this morning at 159. I want to close out 2011 at 159 or less. The running and the calorie counting will help, as will the Soloflex I recently acquired.

Third, my old standby: read the entire Bible. My plan is to use YouVersion on my iPad to follow their Bible-in-a-year reading plan. I use my iPad every day anyway, so why not use it to help me achieve another goal, right?

I think the lack of a plan has been part of the problem in the past, anyway.

Oh yeah, and I want to build my own custom WordPress theme for this site. 🙂

By Any Other Name

Jars of Clay is one my favorite bands of all time. Lately I’ve enjoyed following them on Twitter, both the band and the individual members. The other day, the lead singer, Dan Haseltine, who tweets under the name scribblepotemus, posted a great series of status updates about “Christian” music and the labels we use.

  • Can we STOP applying the “secular” or “Christian” comparison to music? It is silly and should not exist.
  • There is NO mainstream and there is NO Christian in the motivation of artists simply telling the truth.
  • I don’t think most people who draw the secular/Christian line actually know what it is they are drawing. Or why…
  • Is all truth God’s truth or isn’t it? Is truth exclusive to Christian music?
  • The distinction “Christian” in music represents the audience?,the origin of the maker?, the lyric?, the moral position of the artist? …?
  • …the intent of the artist?, the use of biblical metaphor?, the utility of the listener?, the sound? Where it’s sold? Who commissioned it?
  • Or…what distinguishes truthful music outside the church as NOT Christian? The moral behavior of artist?, the lyric? The intent of artist?
  • ..who plays it?, where it is sold? Can it be glorifying without the artists knowledge or intent?
  • Have we ever been lied to by “Christian” labeled music? Is it still Christian?
  • Maybe what I am getting at is…is there ever a moment when it is okay to let labels trump the act of thoughtful engagement?
  • If the label, “Xian” is placed on an artist, Is a bias either to embrace or dismiss the artist more tangible? What if the artist disagrees?

In The Papers

Today my band, Superficial Charm played at a benefit concert for Bethany Christian Services, a great organization that helps a lot of kids find homes. As I’ve mentioned, my son Jonathan is adopted, so when they asked us to play, we jumped at the chance.

One of the reasons we were invited was a song I wrote, which Bethany’s local director, Mark Unger, heard when we played a gig with his band. I wrote the song “Find Me” for Jonathan, in an attempt to explore what his life must have been like before us.

Mark liked the song so much that he had Bethany’s PR guy contact us, and we ended doing an interview for the local paper to help plug today’s concert. They got a few details wrong (for example, my band is a three piece, not a duo) but we were happy to be able to share a bit.

I may write more on this later, but right now I’m typing on my iPhone and it’s getting kind if tiresome. 😉

The article is here: