Archive for December, 2006

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10 Greatest Fun Songs

December 29, 2006

Tomorrow and Sunday I will have more serious topics. But today, let’s have some fun. I guarantee you, more than anything, this topic will have disagreements. We are talking about music and nothing involves personal taste and personality than the discussion of musical preferences.

I was sitting in Mel’s Diner with my bride over lunch and a song came on the loudspeaker. It made two of the waitresses start dancing along. It is one of those songs that you cannot help but smile when you hear it. I will mention which one it is as we go through my list. On my mp3 player, I have a playlist called “Fun songs”. I am not talking stupidly fun songs like “Grandma got run over by a reindeer” or The “Channukah Song” either. These are legitimate songs that people have produced over the years that catch the imagination of people and just sort of inspire them to want to move and shake and smile at another person.

My list is obviously antiquated and represents someone who doesn’t know all that many fun songs produced in the 80s. During that time, I lived in a tiny little town in the mountains of British Columbia and we had only one radio station – it only played jazz and conversational human interest stories. We also had no music store. So, I admit I have a huge gap in my knowledge of music.

So here are my Top Ten Fun Songs…in no particular order:

1. Stacy’s Mom – Fountains of Wayne. Can there be anything more fun than a 15-year old telling his old girlfriend that he thinks her mom is cute and could really go for a guy like him. The naivete aside, it is how 15 year olds think. I don’t feel embarrassed for the boy; I like his style.

2. Tubthumping – Chumbawumba. Yes, I know…it’s a drinking song and is perhaps suitable only for the pub crowd. But I love it and can’t stop dancing around to it. And the primary message, even if it applies to someone who keeps getting so drunk that he can’t stand up again, is a good one: “I get knocked down, but I get up again”.

3. Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd. It’s amazing how this incredible song can get so political about a war that ended 150 years ago. And, that the main beef that the songwriter has is with a 60s anti-war singer from Canada no less. Yet, even with those overtones, it’s a fun song to sing along with. In light of that, my next favorite fun song is…

4. China Grove – the Doobie Brothers. This song and the next song are the type of songs that everyone knows the chorus and no one knows the lyrics. But who cares. They are not only fun, but well made.

5. Louie, LouieThe Kingsmen. Actually it doesn’t really matter who sings this song (ie. the Pharoahs, the Wailers, the Beach Boys…they all did it), it will be one of those that evokes such expressions of joy and pure musical excitement. It also doesn’t matter that no one can quite agree on what the words to the song are. We all know the chorus…well, at least two words of it.

6. I Get Around – The Beach Boys. This could be any Beach Boys song, for that matter, since they all have the same harmonies and basic chords. This one seems to be the quintessential one however and represents Little Deuce Coupe, California Girls and Be True to Your School as well.

7. Your Mama Don’t Dance – Loggins and Messina. I can’t really think of a song that makes me want to shake my ever slackening rear more than this. It is such a fun song that none of us even pay attention to the obvious moral decay going on in the back seat. Yea for the policeman with his flashlight.

8. All Star – Smash Mouth. Not too much needs to be said about this one. I just like the way they put it all together, especially the line “and the shape on a L on her forehead”.

9. Wipeout – The Surfaris. This song has to be fun…it starts out with a guy laughing, a drummer high on life with his baseball bat sized drumsticks and lyrics nobody could forget.

10. Man, I Feel Like a Woman – Shania Twain. The only reason some of you are cringing at this is because it got played so much for so many years that you swore you would drive a nail into your hand if you heard it again. But listen again and see how much fun it is. It is the female version of Sweet Home Alabama, which makes every guy within a hundred yards start playing air guitar.

The song I heard in Mel’s btw…was Wipeout!

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Christmas for Introverts and Extraverts

December 22, 2006

You might be wondering why I have persisted in commenting on extraverts and introverts during this Christmas season. I was anticipating a rush of people who, in their marriages and other relationships, get very frustrated at this time of year with one another. Twice this week, I had an almost identical conversation with an introvert about what they regret during this season.

To paraphrase, their comments sound like this: “I don’t look forward to all the parties, visits, time spent with co-workers, relatives and friends, where all of them expect me to be excited about all the interaction.” For an introvert, the ideal Christmas would involve spending a limited amount of time with a few people of their own choosing and then spending the rest of the time recouping their emotional energy by listening to music, sleeping, reading or snowmobiling – in fact, anything that doesn’t involve one more social situation involving more than just a couple of people.

There are no statistics of course, but many counselors who have written on the subject say that most extraverts are married to introverts. The extravert loves the continual round of office parties, dances, get-togethers, church events and family Christmas gatherings. They revel in most interactions, garnering energy from interaction with those around them. Of course, even the most dyed-in-the-wool extravert can get “peopled out”, but it takes much longer than for an introvert. In fact, the second the introvert sees his first party invitation in November, he is beginning to sweat.

How can introverts and extraverts help each other at this time of year. Introverts need to see the great desire to connect that extraverts look forward to, and encourage them in this. Don’t make them feel guilty or bail out on them continually. But extraverts, please…don’t expect your introvert partner to jump for joy. If they valiantly attend the office party with you, give them space to recuperate and certainly plan in some alone time for the two of you (or maybe just for them). Keep the kids away from them for awhile. Extraverts, allow them to skip a few of the events at their discretion, and just center on the few you absolutely want an escort for.

In this way, we can be loving and understanding to those who are truly different than we are.

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Reading from our Christmas Service

December 22, 2006

Shelley Wells is a long-term member of Gateway Fellowship (not an easy feat considering we haven’t been around as a faith community for that long) and is currently a student at one of the local colleges. During our Christmas service last Sunday, she read a piece she had recently written and it affected many people. I am reprinting it here with her permission as she read it.

Every year, the messages of Christmas commercialism become increasingly prominent. Maybe you’ve been trying not to notice. Maybe you’ve been avoiding the signs. Maybe it only recently became overwhelmingly relevant when you realized that the Sponge Bob Monopoly set your kids want for Christmas is going to cost almost four times as much as regular Monopoly. Supposedly, the holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year, but with a decrease in daylight, and an increase in responsibilities—bills to pay, family get-togethers to plan—all the while trying to find the right gift for the right person during holiday rush when the mall is a madhouse, the kids all want to see Santa, and everyone is in a bad mood because it took an hour-and-a-half to find parking, it really seems more like the most exhausting time of the year.

Christmas is the time for the giving and receiving of gifts. And, sure, gifts are great, but I often wonder if they cause us to lose sight of the true meaning of Christmas. Remember, the first Christmas gift was a baby:

· Because it says in the Bible that God loved us so much that He sent His own son down to be sin for us, to take our place on the cross so that we could have life;

· Because Sponge Bob Monopoly only lasts as long as the pieces are intact and the cards aren’t missing;

· But the gift of eternal life is just that: eternal.

The day Jesus was born, God gave a gift to each one of us: an expression of limitless and unconditional love. That day, God gave us a promise of the forgiveness of a debt He knew we could never repay on our own. Christmas is the celebration of life; not just of Jesus’ life, but our own life, and of God’s love for us. So give your gifts, but more importantly, most importantly, this Christmas, give the gift of love. That’s the only gift that truly keeps on giving.

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Trait Misconception

December 14, 2006

When I am teaching on Introversion/Extraversion, I always clarify one major misconception. Most people think that Introverts are quiet and Extraverts are outgoing. There are good reasons for this wrong view however. Most extraverts are much more talkative and energetic while around other people. That is simply because they are energized being in the presence of a group of people. An introvert is usually quieter in a group because it is easier that way to maintain emotional equilibrium and therefore they won’t feel wasted when they are around people too much.

But here is where the uniqueness of individuals comes into play. You can have a quiet extravert. This person is one who values the comfort and rejuvenation they get from being around others who are interacting, both behaviorally and vocally. They feel no need (for various reasons) to interject their own comments: They feel secure enough to allow others to do the talking and the action. But they love being in a group and they get both security and emotional energy from being in that group.

There are also outgoing introverts. They actually become this way as a type of defense mechanism. By externalizing their thought and reasoning patterns in front of others (i.e. By dominating every conversation) they prevent others from having the emotional center place, and therefore they believe they can hold onto their own energy. In essence, the outgoing extravert behaves as if others are not really there. An outgoing extravert is often known by this characteristic: They don’t tend to listen to interactive comment very well. Whereas, they may be superb at listening skills when going one-on-one with others, when in a group, they prefer to give monologues instead of wasting their time in dialogue.

Recently the basketball player Ron Artest was interviewed and told the reporter that he really doesn’t like to be in large groups of people. But when he is forced to be (as any professional athlete of his caliber must be), he prefers to say and do things that dominate the conversation. Often, he allows every idea in his head leak out without much internal editing. Normally, psychologists would label him an Extravert…but by his own admission, he does not seek out or prefer the crowd.

The true measure of an extravert is whether they feel energized inside by being around and interacting with other people. The measure of an introvert is whether they feel energized by delving inside themselves and finding their true emotional center somewhere within.

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Appreciating Extraverts and Introverts

December 7, 2006

In the years I have spent studying personality traits and how they fit into human interaction, I am most fascinated by Introversion and Extraversion. I believe that a proper understanding of these traits are essential to appreciating those who live with us and around us…and perhaps gaining a foothold on who we ourselves are in terms of other people.

The two terms were coined by the Psychoanalyst Carl Jung. The words mean “to seek or search within” and “to seek and search outside”. There are people who are given to searching and seeking for ‘something’ within themselves and others who seek for ‘something’ outside of themselves. I say ‘something’ because it is never clear what we are searching or seeking. In fact, what we are searching or seeking for may be different for each person. It may be satisfaction, joy, excitement, answers, questions, or energy.

There is an interesting story in the Bible which I have pondered for a long time. A woman who had been bleeding for twelve years came to a public meeting where Jesus was healing people. In Jewish law, a woman was not allowed to touch someone when she was bleeding (menstruating or otherwise). We can only assume this woman had gynocological problems that would not stop. Therefore, she could not touch or be touched by anyone during those twelve years. That is an eternity to be cut off from others, especially if you have any extraversion in you. So she comes up behind Jesus and touches the corner of his clothing. Power goes out of him and heals her. He senses that power is leaving his being and asks who touched him. She cringes at that question and tries to hide. Finally she admits it was her and he declares her healed and clean, thus paving the way for her to enter regular societal interactions again.

Her act of touching him secretly is not uncommon for introverts. They desire to attain their needs without touching other people too deeply. Touching other people requires an introvert to exert a lot of energy. We are told in the same story that Jesus knew that power had gone out of him. It is possible for people to draw things from us, especially if they are introverts. In real life, introverts are always watching out for those who would try to do this to them, and they are sometimes guilty of taking energy from others.

What is also interesting is that she immediately feared that she was in trouble when Jesus asked who had touched him. This had much to do with her years of being an outcast, but it also shows us something about introverts and their motivation levels. Hans Eysenck, one of the world’s most famous experts on Personality proposed that Introverts are more motivated by the possibility of punishment and extraverts by the possibility of rewards. The woman who touched his garment came forward because she was convinced that to do otherwise would bring a punishment.

I was speaking with a friend the other day who asked me if there is any such thing as an absolute Introvert or Extravert. That would be impossible to answer of course, because when you think you have identified the absolute standard for either, someone will always come along who is even more extreme. All of us are somewhere between the two extremes. Even though extraverts commonly recharge their emotional energy by being around people, most extraverts will also come to a point where they are “peopled” out. The emotional crash for an overstimulated Extravert can be dramatic. In the same way, introverts can come to a season in life where they are understimulated by being too isolated. They often will develop deep sense of boredom and restlessness and this can lead them into expecting too much of the few people they have allowed into their lives.

Intriguingly, of all the characteristics of personality, this dualism of extravert/introvert tends to change the most as we get older. Younger introverts will often develop a need for people as they get older. In the same way, extraverts will often find themselves developing habits of retreating from the world occasionally as their age increases. If you visit a nursing home, you will find it very difficult to identify some of the introverts and extraverts. I believe that many people over sixty are “X-types” when it comes to this measurement of personality. (Note: An “x” type is defined by Myers-Briggs proponents as a person whose personality is more toward the middle on a personality trait dualism such as Introvert/Extravert).

I remember visiting an elderly client one time who shared a room with an older gentleman. He told me his roommate conplained constantly about how much he missed his family. But once they would come for a one-hour visit, he would immediately nap afterwards and tell his roommate how tired he was. The extravert part of him wanted their company, and the introverted expression of himself was wiped out by the reality of their presence.

Aren’t people funny?

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Response to the Walmartization of the Church

December 2, 2006

3. There isn’t anything we can do to change this: I admit, this will come down hard on most of us who are upset about the emergence of the Megachurch as the primary mover and shaker of the Church in North America. But once again, Walmart is our standard here. If you are a believer in Freemarket Economics, is Walmart doing anything wrong? Well, there are those of us who believe that they hold to unfair business practices, but they are not really doing anything more different than retail stores have tried to do for decades. The difference is that they are doing it better than anyone has ever done it before. And no one can stop Walmart as long as they give us what we want.

What would have to change is that consumers would have to want more than just lower prices. And that is probably not going to happen any time soon. Economics has proven to be the most powerful force from a human point of view. It is the ignorance of how economics works that brought down Communism and Fabian Socialism. It is the ignorance of economic principles that paved the way for Adolph Hitler (take out those twentieth century history textbooks and hone up on the Weimar Republic).

This is my observation of the Megachurch phenomenon. The Megachurch has emerged, not so much by the design of God (unless you are a complete believer that God’s sovereignty means that man can never do anything apart from God’s will), but because it was the logical result of many different converging patterns. Among those, I see:

1. Generations coming up that love to do things in large groups and appreciate the community that comes when they feel lost in the group.
2. Modernistic churches that became too busy and too structured to allow people to do something besides attend almost meaningless church, committee and membership meetings.
3. An increasingly time-filled world where none of us (outside of some cabin in Wyoming) have any time to ourselves.
4. A church-growth movement that finally shucked off the false idea that good christianity meant bad use of technology and marketing. That lead to the Megachurch making use of excellent means to get their message out.
5. A large group of people who grew up in Evangelical churches that have come to hate the politics of church and just want to be part of something bigger than themselves once a week.
6. As exemplified by one of the anonymous posters this week, a rising cynicism about the value of community, meaning those times we spend in small groups.
7. I want my MTV…and I want my worship to sound that way too. And it better be good. And there are only so many good musicians around and they tend to congregate around each other…in Megachurches!
8. People are tired of being hurt in church, and the Megachurch allows them to go to church while they are healing up. After awhile, the idea occurs to them, “why don’t I just stay here?”

There are many other factors of course. My heart tells me that most Megachurch pastors really want to glorify Jesus, really have a call of God on their hearts and have really made some impact on their communities. I also make distinction between three types of Megachurches: 1) The Developing World Megachurch which is built on small groups. These nations do devote more time to these groups, something most North Americans could never do at their present frantic rate of over-commitment. 2) The slowly built Megachurch in America. These became that way because over the years and years they exemplified superior Bible teaching and excellent principles of commitment to their community of believers and the community they found themselves in. 3) The Megachurch that formed very quickly, more as a symptom of the above factors than because they have a superior message.

The Megachurches are here to stay! That means, as I said in the two earlier postings that the smaller churches in medium to large population centers will cease to exist. I have no doubt this is true. As a result, people will come to expect less from church and may have to reach out to God on their own. Unfortunately, throughtout history, humans have been shown to be very faulty when it comes to leading themselves into truth. This is best shown in the book of Judges, where it describes what it was like having no prophets in the land: “Every man did that which was right in his own eyes”.

George Barna wrote in his book “Revolutions” that he believes Christians are already rebelling against the Megachurch by having informal meetings in pubs, dorm rooms and informal societies. While I don’t disagree that is happening, it will never reach the mainstream. These are the people who used to do the same thing, but did it in the Church. The vast majority of Christians in the days to come will simply look for the only thing they have left to them: The Megachurch. Unless something dramatic happens to change the trend that is coming, there are few other options.

What will be the secondary results? The knowledge of the Bible will steadily decrease. The idea of worship will be reduced to singing Christian Pop songs that will increasingly sound the same. The idea of intercessory prayer will once again be relegated to the “crazy ladies” that we used to relegate it to in the days after World War 2. Marriages will begin to fall apart at a rate never seen in American history.

But that is when leaders among God’s people (Prophets, Pastors and Teachers) will begin to turn to God for a better way and will listen to Him for what changes should be made. I see no other way for this to happen. There cannot be another way. Check your heart and see if the Lord is not showing you the same thing. This is when the True Emerging Church will begin to come to the forefront. I have no idea at this point what it will look like. I feel like taking these posts and putting them in a time capsule to open up in twenty years as these things are happening.

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