Good, Good Walls and Doors

We just moved into a new house. It’s new. It even smells new. New house smell. It’s a thing. Out back of our house is a small grassy-ish yard. Thin wispy grass. Brown privacy fence that is beaten up by the hot Texas sun. Behind our fence is woods. Tall trees and the evening song of crickets, locusts, birds, and the creeping things of the dark dirt. Off center, to the left on our fence is a gate. It is currently bolted shut to keep out any uninvited guests from letting themselves in. It also keeps my imagination from flooding with what happens when our children decide to go exploring. Snakes, scorpions, and ticks; oh my. In fact, as I sat writing this, Peter came running in to ask me what was making all of that noise. I walked outside and listened to the familiar yipping and howling.


Yesterday, the kids got a FaceTime call from their friends. Peter, Johanna, and Leo ran the phone all around the house to show them their new home, their rooms, the back yard. They even ran to show them the gate. It was awesome. After the phone call, I decided to open the gate to show them what was on the other side. As I pushed the black metal latch up on the gate and let it creak slowly in toward us, the kids looked at the vision of the wild on the other side that greeted them with breathless wonder. If a large lion came walking up to them, inviting them to sit on the thrones at Cair Paravel, they would not have blinked.

Across the globe, in contemporary Christian worship services spanning time zones, languages, countries, cultures, instrument types, and combinations, there comes a crisis this week. It has been raging all week. It began as an annoying little smolder a month ago. It hit as a panic on Monday.

Now it’s just funny.

To sing, or not to sing, “Good, Good Father” this Sunday on Father’s Day…

The struggle is real.

It speaks to a much larger struggle within worship programming in the Church in 2018. Ever since the contemporary movement began and contemporary music formed a larger footprint into evangelical Protestant worship, a break occurred. Traditional choir directors had a decent rhythm with their preaching pastors concerning what is coming and what should be done about it. The preaching pastor would give the scriptural basis of their teaching to the choir director. The choir director would select hymns that were tangential to those scriptures. They would scour their special music selections for themes close to the preaching themes. It was an agreement between music and preaching much more subtly expressed.

But with the advent of the worship leader: the man stereotyped by skinny jeans, non-corrective eye glasses, forearm tattoos, and hair that might have been washed this morning, and the woman stereotyped by all of those things except the hair, which is on point, with those people comes a deficit in excellence in connectivity between music and message. There was, and still is in some places, a disconnect between the message and the music. We chose music because of our personal connection to it. We chose music because of a theme we were trying to create. We chose music because the musicians who were available for this coming Sunday are really good at song set A, but not as great at song set B, and if we tax vocalist number 1 too much this week, we might not be able to get as much out of her next week.

In short, the ship of musical worship in the early 21st century was a leaky boat which we were constantly using humans as resources to plug.

So this coming Sunday, your pastor might preach about fathers on Fathers’ Day. If he does, I sure hope he lifts up fatherhood as a great and sacred duty. I hope that he doesn’t use Fathers’ Day as an occasion to bash men, and shame fathers. If your pastor gets up for Fathers’ Day and tells all of the men that it’s unfortunate that masculinity exists, but at least we have mothers to keep us from being stupid mcstupid faces, you should help your pastor remember that men reflect a certain aspect of God and that when we speak ill of men, we speak ill of that aspect of our Creator.

So knock it off.

Last night, as we prayed before bed, Johanna was put in charge of talking to God on behalf of the family. Her prayers are beautiful. She does a great job of knowing what it is we are grateful for as a family, and what we truly need. She thanked God for a safe house, and that Nana and Papa have a safe house. Then she said this,

And God thank You that You will open the gate for us some day. And thank You for what You will show us on the other side.

I have struggled a little in the past week and a half with my purpose. What am I in this place for? God said “go” and I obeyed. It’s hot. And new. And lonely. We have a new people to join. We don’t even know if the place where we’ve landed is the church we should choose. I’m here with a ton of ministry experience. It is hard to get people to communicate with you when you apply for their positions.

Desiree and I have compared it several times to the need to knock down the door instead of politely waiting for it to open. In his book Chasing Daylight Erwin McMannus describes the polite door philosophy of Christians and how it needs to be revamped.

It’s pretty easy to see the doors of opportunity, and it’s always exhilarating when windows of opportunity open before us. What can be missed are the endless divine opportunities hidden behind the walls that can only be discovered if we go through the walls. [1]

But try as we might, that gate remains shut to us.

And the real work of faith is upon us. We work to find the place. We work to serve. We work to find our place and get knocked down time and again. The door is shut. And maybe we aren’t ready to see what is on the other side. Maybe the Father is keeping us safe from the coyotes on the other side. Maybe we need to live in the house for a minute before venturing into the woods. I don’t know.

Maybe there needs to be a new door and we need to not stop.

But the words of my daughter, speaking so purely to the heart of the Good, Good Father ring true and steady in my ears. He will open that door for us when He is ready and we are ready with Him. He will show us wonder on the other side. It won’t be safe, but it will be safe to see with Him by our side. If it is our place to build a new door, then we build a door for more people to use. That’s something we’ve done before too.

I’ve seen many searching for answers far and wide; but I know we’re all searching for answers, only You provide. Cause You know just what we need before we say a word. [2]

1. Erwin Raphael McManus, Chasing Daylight, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc., 2002) 183.

2. Anthony Brown and Pat Barrett, “Good, Good Father,” (Pat Barrett Music, 2014) CCLI# 7036612.

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