Childhood Dreams, Part Two

When I was in eight grade, I developed a great desire to become a rock star. I didn’t want to be the front man or lead guitarist. I wanted to be the kick-ass (that is the appropriate rock n’ roll terminology) drummer of one of the worlds greatest bands.

In the eighth grade, my dreams included playing drums for one of the following bands (the idea being that I would replace the existing drummer)…in order of preference. Granted, some of these bands were defunct at the time. 1. Rush 2. Guns n’ Roses 3. Metallica 4. The Dead Milkmen 5. Black Flag 6. Minor Threat.

As I progressed through high school, the dream remained but the bands changed. The above mentioned bands all fell out of with list and were replaced by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Janes Addiction, The Beastie Boys, Rage Against the Machine, The Cocktails, The Flaming Lips, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Nirvana, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and many others.

During college, I studied percussion as a music education major at Ball State. I continued to want to be a rock star. At that time, I wanted to play with Carlos Santana, Poncho Sanchez, and countless jazz and Latin jazz artists.

Throughout middle school, high school, and college, I spent countless hours practicing, reading, studying, and listening to tons of music in order to be prepared for my career as a rock star. Some of my back problems may be directly related to my poor posture on the drum stool. This was the dream I pursued more than any other. While in high school, I didn’t really spend any time studying any thing outside of the musical world. I didn’t have time for algebra, social studies, literature, science, and the like. It was all about music.

I never became a large scale rock star. I had a few glimpses into what the life of a rock star looked like while in high school and college, playing with local rock bands like Clifton Wells, Avalava, Jessco, Cocaine Wolf and the Pedatones, Los Sangres, and countless others. I was fortunate enough to “sit in” with some fairly decent bands and musicians while in college. I’ve spent time in recording studios on various projects. But, needless to say, I have yet to appear on the cover of Spin or Rolling Stone (notice I said ‘I have yet to appear”).

As graduation approached (from college), I had two plans. One was to move to Nashville to start working in the music industry. That plan could have led to rock stardom. The second plan was to explore full-time ministry. That plan would not lead to rock stardom. It did lead to hanging out with some “Christian” rock stars (like Switchfoot, the Supertones, and many others). But, let’s be honest…there’s not a whole lot of “rock star” antics in the  Christian music scenes.

I cannot say that I have not had opportunties to pursue this dream. There have been moments when I’ve been presented with situations that could have helped lead me to rock star status. But prayerful decision making has led me to other avenues and occupations. And, I would say that the decisions have been the right decisions each time.

With this childhood dream, I still say, “Maybe some day.”

New Creation

I often find myself wanting to simply pause to catch my breath at the beginning of the New Year. For so many of us, the Advent and Christmas season can become so busy and congested that we simply want to slow down and take a break.


As one year ends and a new one begins, I like to take time to look back over the previous year. I recall the highs and the lows. I celebrate victories. I mourn over struggles and losses. I identify the places where I have seen God doing great things. I look at the things I’ve accomplished, the lessons I’ve learned. And, I remember the failures and the lessons that come along with those. I read all the lists of the Top 10 movies, music albums and singles, memorable moments, etc. that are found in all the magazines. I even come up with my own Top 10 lists.


Why do I spend time looking back? Generally, it’s to remember the great things (both good and bad) that have taken place over the year, that have shaped me, molded me, and made me into the person I am today.


When I look at the things I determine to be good and successful, I try to identify ways that I can incorporate more of these things into my life.


When I look at the things I determine to be not-so-good and failures, I try to identify ways that I can avoid repeating these mistakes.


While it is good to remember, it’s not good to get stuck in the past. We have to remember that there is a New Year that lies ahead of us. There are new goals, new opportunities, new challenges, and new joys that await us. But, we just might miss these things if we’re stuck dwelling on the past. It’s good to remember…but it’s important that we stay focused on the road that lies before us.


2 Corinthians 5:17 has always been one of my favorite verses. It says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.” Isn’t that verse incredible? Doesn’t it fill you with a great sense of awe?


When we have faith in Christ, when we admit our dependence on Him, when we call on Him and acknowledge Him as our Lord and Savior, He takes us as we are…no matter what our past looks like (good, bad, ugly)…and makes us into new creations. He does not define us by our past. He defines us by who we are in this moment and by who He knows we can be.


When you look back over the past year, there may be things you wish to celebrate and things you wish to forget. But, no matter what our pasts may say about us, when we are “in Christ” we are new creations! “The old has gone, the new has come!”


Throughout this New Year, remember, you are a new creation!

Childhood Dreams, Part One

I’m currently reading (very quickly, I might add) Randy Pausch’s book The Last Lecture. The book follows his journey to prepare and deliver his last lecture at Carnegie Mellon University. Pausch had pancreatic cancer. Knowing he would eventually pass away, he wanted to leave something behind for his loved ones (especially his young children) to remember him by. It’s a short read, but very powerful. Hilarious at points and deeply moving at others.

He designed his lecture around the idea of achieving ones childhood dreams. As I’ve been reading this book, I’ve been doing some thinking about my own childhood dreams.

I can always recall wanting to be a medical doctor. In fact, I wanted to be a surgeon…something like one of those emergency room surgeons on ER. Those of you who know me well know that the idea of becoming amy kind of doctor was a long-shot. But, even going into my freshman year of high school (when one begins to be able to take an honest look at his goals in the realm of reality), I desired to become a medical doctor. Some of it had to do with the image and status that comes along with being a doctor. However, a large part of wanting to become a doctor lied in the idea of being able to help people.

One thing you should know is that I absolutely can’t stand hospitals. I don’t enjoy setting foot in these large facilities. The smell…the people…the fluorescent lights…it’s just not for me. That all may have something to do with one of my first experiences in a hospital. One the day that my mother took me to visit my ailing grandmother in the hospital (I was too young to be a visitor), she passed away. Before we could step into the room, she had died. My mom went into check on her and discovered that she was already gone. So, she wisely had my father escort my sister and I downstairs. I didn’t fully understand what was going on, but I knew it wasn’t good. Not being able to see my grandmother, but knowing she was in the hospital, gave me a skewed view of hospitals.

But, maybe that experience played a factor in my desire to become a medical doctor. Maybe I wanted to be able to do something so other grandchildren would be able to visit their grandparents before they pass away? I’m not sure what the major motivational factors were, I just know that I had the desire to be a doctor.

Back to my freshman year in high school. “Why”, you may ask. Well, this is pretty much where my dream died. I had always enjoyed my general science classes throughout grade school. Doing experiments, collecting insects, dissecting things…it was pretty cools stuff. Then came Biology 1.

In all honesty, I was extremely excited about this class. I was totally stoked to dive into some frogs, to debate evolution, and to learn. But, it was obvious within the first week of school that the teacher for this particular course and I would not get along. She had it out for me, for some reason. Granted, I was a bit of a smartass in high school (some of you are saying “was?”). I was known to view school as more of a social activity than a learning environment. But, this lady, in all seriousness, was always trying to find something to blame on me.

She wrote me up several times. She had some sort of bizarre system that you could get written up six times before receiving a detention. I was the kind of student who knew his boundaries. So, once I had that fifth write up, I began to do every thing I could to behave during class. One day, I sat down at my desk, got out my work, and waited for class to begin. I realized my pencil needed sharpening. So, I got up to sharpen my pencil. As I was returning to my seat, the bell rang. As the bell rang, the teacher, in a celebrative tone shouted, “Morris, that’s it. You’re getting a detention for tardiness.” I asked, “How can I be tardy if I’ve been sitting down at my desk for the last four minutes with my work out and my book turned to the page you have written on the chalkboard?” This kind of logical question was not something an irrational scientist would deem acceptable. She had a huge smile on her face as she wrote out the detention slip.

This lead to me doubting my desire to be a medical doctor. If I desired to become an MD, I would have to take more science classes. If this was the kind of evil person that taught science, I really didn’t want any thing to do with it. One teacher ruined my dreams. It’s not that I struggled through the class. I think my grades were okay. It’s just that the person I encountered in the classroom really destroyed my eagerness and excitement about the subject matter.

All of this (the doubt of whether I should become and MD) would be confirmed during the first grading period of Chemistry 1. I had a bit of a problem with chemistry. I think it was mainly an attention problem (pretty much a lack of me paying any kind of attention). My grades pretty much sucked in Chemistry 1 and 2 (yes, while I struggled through Chem 1, I went on to the next level…mainly because I truly enjoyed the teacher…we had a good relationship…I didn’t interefere with her teaching, she didn’t interefere with my socializing). I’m glad that I’m not a doctor…and you should be too. I have some problems with retaining information that is actually valuable. I can tell you who played drums on a ridiculous number of records. But, I couldn’t even begin to explain any thing involving any kind of biology or chemistry. And, I also struggle with numbers…which could really cause some medication mix-ups. I think it all worked out the way it was supposed to be.

While I may not have become a medical doctor, I believe the ministry field is one in which I am involved in helping people. There is a lot of spiritual, emotional, and physical healing that takes place within the ministry.

And, while that one teacher did help ruin my desire to become a medical doctor, I did learn a valuable lesson from her. When I look back on that Biology 1 class, I am reminded that I have an awesome responsibility before me. I can either turn people on to Jesus or totally turn them off from Him. The way I interact with people within the church and community will play a major part on whether or not they want to have any thing to do with the message I’m bringing. One of my biggest fears is to one day run across a blog where someone is writing about how this idiot pastor ruined their hopes and dreams of becoming a pastor and then realize they are writing about me. So, while that teacher crushed one dream, she has helped motivate me to do my best to avoid crushing others dreams…and that’s an important lesson to learn.

Ages of Yearning

Advent and Christmas are more than preparing for the birth of the King of Kings. This season of preparation and celebrating the coming of Jesus, God-in-the-flesh is the Hope God’s people had been waiting for all their lives. The prophets spoke of One who was to come…and here He is. During Advent and Christmas, we are reminded that the One who came will come again. Are we ready to receive the King we have been waiting for, hoping for all of our lives?

For years and years, God’s people eagerly awaited and anticipated the coming of the Messiah. He came and dwelt among them. Many missed Him because He didn’t come the way they expected him to. This rings true today…many of us miss Christ because we aren’t open to the various forms in which He shows up on the scene.

This Christmas, are you prepared to receive a King born in the most humble of circumstances? Are you preparing yourself for His return?

While at Yorktown UMC, I was blessed to work with Reverend Dr. Donald Charles Lacy. He has written many books. Recently, he sent me a collection of his sermons from the B cycle of the lectionary, focusing on the Pauline passages. This evening, I came across a passage that got me thinking about whether or not we are truly yearning for the return of the King. Dr. Lacy writes,

The culmination of ages of yearning is now at hand. The great and often unfathomable streams of human experience and God’s omnipotence seem to come to a unique intersection in time and space. The forces and energies of all that “was, is, and shall be” have brought to humankind the gift above all gifts. The Word came and dwelt among us. Considering the day and time, eyewitnesses were many. Let there be no doubt the Savior is on the scene. He comes in flesh and blood. Institutions of that day and time would not be able to defeat him. His body, the church, in its broadest and most diverse forms would continue, victorious even against the gates of hell.

Kneeling in Muncie

A number of years ago, while working as a youth pastor at Yorktown United Methodist Church, Rev. Marilyn Gebert gave me a book called “Kneeling in Bethlehem”by Ann Weems. It’s a book of poetry centered around the Advent and Christmas seasons. It has some beautiful word pictures of this journey.

This mornig, I thought about the title, Kneeling in Bethlehem…As I meditated on that title, I realized that we can join in this act of kneeling in Bethlehem. We can kneel in Muncie, in Indianapolis, in Santa Cruz, in New York, in Dublin, in Toronto, wherever we find ourselves we can kneel in humble adoration of this amazing event. When we fully grasp (though I think it may be impossible) the magnificence of this moment…the coming of a King…I believe the only proper response is to kneel in worship. Our time of “kneeling in Bethlehem” (or Muncie), should then motivate us to live a lifestyle of worship…sharing this “good news” which is “for all people” with every single person we come in contact with. It should motivate us to be generous with our time, talents, and resources. It should inspire us to help meet the needs of those around us. It should challenge us to become faithfully obedient.

This Advent season…This Christmas, will you take time to kneel in Bethlehem…to mediate on the beauty of this moment?

The whole world waits in December darkness

for a glimpse of the Light of God.

Even those who snarl “Humbug!”

and chase away the carolers

have been seen looking toward the skies.

The one who declared he never would forgive

has forgiven,

and those who left home

have returned,

and even wars are halted,

if briefly,

as the whole world looks starward.

In the December darkness

we peer from our windows

watching for an angel with rainbow wings

to announce the Hope of the World.

~In December Darkness from Kneeling in Bethlehem by Ann Weems