Sunday, June 28, 2009

In Our Own Image

In a Bible study tonight, my mind and heart were slammed into reality as we considered the historical Jesus. We spoke about His genealogy, his lineage, and his backstory. And we were challenged with this thought....

Based on historical research and study, Jesus was probably short in height, with thick, dark hair and a ruddy middle-eastern complexion.

For generations, we (in the West) have imagined Jesus as a tall Caucasian, with a strong Roman nose, high forehead, and flowing auburn locks.

Based on our lack of understanding of Jewish culture and history, it almost seems we have, in actuality, created a god in our own image.....

Just a thought...

Friday, June 26, 2009

It's Not Who You Know....

As a 45-year-old white male, yesterday was just a tough day for the part of me that still relishes my '70's childhood.  For me, growing up in the '70's was not like That '70's Show, all trash and no substance, but safe, wholesome accountability and responsibility.  Even as a child.  

I knew Michael Jackson was older than me by a few years.  Growing up, I watched him sing with his brothers on variety shows.  I sang along with the small 45 rpm records (you remember those... don't you?).  I just knew the Jackson 5 would rule the music world together.

While listening to the Jackson 5 on my turntable, I could gaze longingly at the poster tacked to the back of the door in my room.  Farrah was there when I went to sleep, and when I awoke each day.  Charlie's Angels was a weekly staple at our house that we would not miss.  The engaging smile, the hair... 

ahem, back on topic...

I was really sad when Farrah left the show after only 1 year.  I was really sad when the Jackson 5 turned into the Jacksons; then Michael started on his own.  I will never forget Michael Jackson's appearance on the skyrocketing Oprah show, where she showed clip after clip after weeping clip of adoring fans crying just to see the King of Pop on stage.  I will never forget how my spirit nudged my heart to reveal that that behavior is a lot like worship.  

Over time the two careers took similar paths to wackiness.  Nonetheless, over the last several years, Farrah worked really hard to evolve into the life of a passionate, fiercely loyal and hard-working survivor of a devastating form of cancer.  Farrah documented her life in recent years, revealing to the world the stress of her struggle.  

Michael could not stop himself from falling headlong into the weirdest forms of controversy; the dangling baby, the child abuse cases, his Neverland bankruptcy.  He was just weird.  

Deep in tax and financial trouble, Michael mounted a feeble effort at a comeback career; most would give him a pass on sub-par material just to see him work again.  But he'll never have that opportunity.

Yesterday, both Farrah and Michael died.  Their brains, hearts, all internal and external organs ceased to function.  They are no longer a reality of this life.  Their reality is now with the Creator, the Eternal Heavenly Father.  

As a 45-year-old white male, I am forced to re-examine my faith, its foundations, and its future. Someday, it will be my turn to have a write-up in the newspaper about my death.  My eternal destination is set because of Who I know.  

Now that I think about it, that is not quite right;  my eternal destination is set because of Who knows me.

I am working on the headlines right now, every day, as I live a life worthy of my calling in Christ Jesus..

Life is Good!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

What a Great Day!

I am so blessed!

I have written about my family in previous posts, and many of you must be weary of the bragging contained in those posts. This is another one.

This morning I awoke and headed off to church before the family was awake. Early church does have its drawbacks....

Following two fantastic services, I received a phone call from my beautiful wife. I missed the call, but returned it on the drive home. My 18-year-old son answered in the voice of a waiter at a Mexican restaurant.... but that's another story....

I arrived at the Barron family compound to find a hot meal almost ready to eat, complete with our celebratory plate, from which the honoree is required to eat. Burgers, Nathan's franks, corn on the cob, baked beans, home-made sweet potato fries- all hot and almost ready to eat.

In our family, we open cards just before the meal. And in our family, cards are both art and science, researched, studied, and prayed over. Time is spent to find the perfect cards, and this holiday was no different. I just wish I could share them with you- but you wouldn't understand the humor of my family. After a the cards and a few minutes of final preparation, the meal was served- and it was fantastic!

I helped clear the table, which is a no-no on Father's Day, but I wanted to help. Then we napped- almost all afternoon!

Wonderful leftovers served as our supper, then- off to the lake for some late-evening fishing. Today was a little better than yesterday- we landed four nice bass, while enjoying our family outing together.

Now it is late, and everyone is in bed. I just had to share my thankfulness for my family. So many are not blessed in the ways my family is blessed- others have money, possessions, power and status; I have my wife and kids. And I wouldn't trade for anything.

I am so blessed!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Father's Day

Father's Day is this weekend.

This is my second Father's Day without my own father.  Dad died from complications from brain cancer last year.  The heavy pain from our loss lingers; the sting now is not so deep.

With a year to think about fathers, children, life, and legacy, all I can come up with is this... that our role as parents is really to model to our children, how to live.  Yes, we work, we provide, we navigate... but we should do it all for the benefit of our children.  

Those of us who are followers of Christ will tend to submerge our children in the culture of the Church.  But there is more to it than just that.  There is that part of scripture that teaches us to take our love for Christ and spread it around outside the four walls of the church, into our communities, our workplaces, our ball fields, everywhere.  To submerge our kids in the culture of Christ- and Dad was good at that.  Loving, serving, working; in plain view of and for the benefit of the Kingdom, and for his children.

Thanks, Dad, for the example.  

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Shrinking the City?

The idea of shrinkage is a popular one in my house.  Shrinking our expenses, shrinking my waistline, shrinking the size of the yard we have to maintain.  However, this idea of shrinking major metropolitan cities is interesting and concerning....

I need to learn more about this- but what do you say?  Click the link below or copy the link into your web browser and review an interesting Cal Thomas article found in World Magazine Online and respond with your thoughts!

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Technology can be a good thing, when it serves our needs.  Technology often decides to serve its own, and then frustrate the heck out of its human masters.

This morning, technology worked well as we spoke- live, via internet- with some friends working in Southeast Asia.  They have a travel agency there, and are recruiting Americans to go to his country for a visit.  They have been somewhat successful, in that his location is beautiful, the people friendly.  Another family from Tulsa has moved there to work for him in his business.  It is a beautiful place!

They are fun people, beautiful inside and out.  They love the native people of the island on which they live, and have been immersing themselves in the local culture.  The food, the dialects of the language, the social life- all strange to westerners, but our friends have sacrificed lives of ease and luxury here in order to work there.  And to bring a little Love to the people of the islands. 

What have I sacrificed today?

Friday, June 12, 2009


I recently participated in a concert tour of the middle east.  In a major newspaper in the capital city of Yerevan, Armenia, our group was called, "dangerous".  

At the time, we had a good laugh about that.  We knew that a group of country boys from Oklahoma held no threat of danger at all to the Armenian people.  We were simply singing songs, enjoying the atmosphere, and enjoying the people.  We had great fun!  And the food- oh, my.... being dangerous to the people of Armenia was never a thought in our minds.

After having some time to reflect on that trip, I no longer think that being called dangerous is humorous.  Actually, I am a little embarrassed now.  Think about it-  in that remote country, western culture is still strong, along with a prevailing European influence.  There, I am dangerous- dangerous as in representing a spiritual authority that challenges the local high priests and religious traditions.  Here, I am successful.  I am comfortable.  I am one of the priests and part of the religious tradition.  But I am not dangerous.

What's wrong with this picture?  Yes, our religious liberties are much more open and free in our American culture than Armenia.  Our traditions of religious freedom and the core beliefs of those freedoms go back to the founding of this nation.  It is easy to serve a church in our culture.  I get all that.  But I am no longer comfortable with the idea that our American culture has all the practical and spiritual answers for existing in and influencing a spiritual culture.  In fact, we are becoming more like Eastern European cultures that give influence to the "c"hurch, without giving enough concern to the "C"hurch.

My concern is this- what am I doing to make me spiritually dangerous in this religious culture?I don't think anyone would consider me to have any impact at all on the spiritual culture in America, Oklahoma, Tulsa, or even this church.  The bother of that leads me to some questions:

1) Should the religious culture be challenged to the point that I become known as dangerous?
2) To whom should I be a danger?
3) To whom should I not be a danger?
4) What amount of risk am I willing to take in becoming dangerous?
5) What are the consequences of becoming spiritually dangerous?
6) What are the benefits of becoming spiritually dangerous?
7) What does a spiritually dangerous person look like?

All questions to ponder and pray over while seeking guidance from the scriptures.  I don't want to be an "also-ran" Christian.... I want to be dangerous!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Question for Today...

You.  One word.  Today I'm.....

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Kyle Busch is a Jerk

OK.  This is not the most Christ-like attitude, considering Jesus loves Kyle and died to cover his sin penalty.  As a person of faith, I must try to see Kyle the way Jesus sees Kyle.

So, let's say, Kyle acted like a jerk when he smashed a priceless, hand-crafted one-of-a-kind Gibson Les Paul guitar he received as a trophy for winning last weekend's Nationwide race in the great city of Nashville.  Yup, smashed it into, well, a few large pieces.  Mahogany doesn't smash like, say, fir or ash or maple.  Kyle grabbed the priceless trophy by the neck and slammed it down on the concrete at Victory Lane 3 or 4 times, right in front of car and race sponsors- the folks who paid for the guitar.  They turned and left in disgust.  I would have, too.

That behavior makes me want to, to... 

I don't want to say.  Jesus said to love all people.  

But they ought to ban his sorry tail from racing in Nashville in any vehicle- NASCAR, Nationwide, Craftsman,  ARCO, even souped-up lawnmowers.  The insult and immaturity and disrespect he demonstrated is unforgivable.  I had to tell my children that his behavior was unnecessary and unacceptable.  That sorry dog.

When Jeremy Mayfield was suspended indefinitely for testing positive for methamphetamine, he shamed and disrespected himself.  That is his to bear.  But Kyle Busch disrespected all the craftsmen who designed the treasured guitar, as well as disrespecting the city of Nashville, all of the race sponsors, all of NASCAR Nation and the best of its time-honored traditions.  

The next race Kyle should run should be the Gerber's 100, with the trophy of a big fat passifier for Busch and his crew.

Busch explained his tirade as an attempt to break the trophy into small pieces to share with his crew.  Phhhtt.  Have you ever seen an Oscar winner smash his award on the red carpet?  Have you ever seen an Emmy or a Tony award in pieces, shared across the mantles of a dozen fireplaces of staff members who helped a young starlet to fame?  Absurd.  More so the behavior of Kyle Busch.

Grow up, Kyle.  Grow up or get out.  You represent the worst in this or any sport.

All that said, Jesus still loves us despite our behavior.  Smashing guitars and all.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Children's Day Camp

I volunteered to work with children.

Without tainting my reputation as anti-children,  you need to know that I don't work with them very long.  About thirty minutes once a week.  I volunteered to lead our Day Camp Chapel services on Wednesdays.

Yup.  9:05ish to 9:35ish.  Sometimes longer, sometimes shorter.  It depends on how the kids behave, on how prepared I am, and how long-winded I get.

Kindergartners through sixth-graders are in Chapel, and keeping everyone engaged is quite difficult.  But I am organized, prepared, and ready to go.

Why, you ask, would I volunteer for this ministry?

I volunteered because I knew there was a need for good worship and devotion time with these children.  A big percentage of these children do not attend church at all, anywhere.  This is a fantastic opportunity for someone to love on them and care for them, not to try to persuade them to believe what I believe, or to attend this church, or not even to get them to decide to believe in and follow Jesus.

This is an opportunity for me to love on some kids.  To give them a taste of what fun church can be. To practice letting God stretch me an areas where I need stretching.

Yes, I do hope they will come to our church.  I do pray that they will understand the love God has for all of us and give their little hearts to Jesus.  But I also hope they will know they are loved.

Let's face it-  I love Jesus.  I love kids.  I love to sing and talk about Jesus.

Day Camp- bring it on!

Monday, June 8, 2009

You Never Know

This morning I had the privilege of visiting some members of our church community who are in some of Tulsa's hospitals.  Our church is large (for a boy who grew up in the cotton fields an river bottoms of West Tennessee), and my ministry is rather specialized (media and music), so if you don't serve with me, I probably haven't met you yet.  Kinda sad....

Any way...

While walking through the maze of elevators and hallways that is St. Francis Hospital, I spotted one of our deacons, wearing shorts and a bermuda shirt, on his way to visit a friend and a co-worker.  We'll call him Jethro (not his real name).  Jethro, who I barely know, stopped me in the hallway to compliment my music leadership yesterday.  I used what grace I was taught in accepting compliments, and was very happy that the music meant something special to him.  

I went on my way, searching for obscure signs that lead visitors through the hallways, and ran into a couple from our church that I didn't know at all.  We'll call them Tony and Siva.  Tony and Siva were there to deliver flowers to church members, and to offer some fellowship and prayer for them.  They stopped me, even though they had never officially met me, to offer the same compliments as Jethro.  Again, I was as gracious as I could be in accepting their compliments.  

After thinking through those events, I have reached some conclusions that may help others in their own journeys....

1)  You never know how God can use a simple visit, gift, or prayer....

2)  You never know how your behavior and attitude can affect people in a positive way; it is not about me, anyway....

3)  You never know what impressions stay with people; never wear black socks with sandals, shorts, and a bermuda shirt.  It makes people wonder...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


From the time I was a young, optimistic teen, I have desperately tried to live my life so that as I faced the end of my earthly journey, I would have no regrets. Many times, that kind of determined, optimism is nearly impossible, resulting in just the opposite. Not accomplishing the goal of regretlessness may, indeed, lead to the biggest regrets of all.

Now that I am middle-aged, I have a much better perspective on my life, and I have more wisdom in planning and envisioning my life yet lived. And I begin to see regrets where I have never seen them before. I am experiencing that even today.

As a second-grade tow-head, I began to receive piano lessons. It was already obvious at that young age, that I would become neither scholar nor athlete. My determined mom wanted me to learn music. As a matter of fact, she was desperate for her children to learn to play piano.  No matter what happened in life, music could be a constant, permanent companion. That, and the fact that she never had piano lessons fueled her desire for her kids to learn to play. And so we did, even against our wishes. I spent many hours on the piano bench with my mom. Not with mom in the next room, nor even in the same room but another chair, but on the bench with me; a timer in one hand, a ruler in the other. The timer was so I would know when I had served my daily 30-minute sentence; you know what the ruler was for.  I often saw lessons as punishment;  in my mom's perspective, they were an investment.

Actually, I never really liked playing the piano. It was ok, but I could take it or leave it. Played some in high school in a rock band, but soon discovered there aren't many rock-and-roll pianists out there. I played some in college, even making piano performance my major for a semester. But I soon discovered how much easier it was to control one voice than eight fingers, two thumbs, two feet, and still turn the pages of my music. So I switched to vocal performance, and pretty much forgot about it.

About 6 or 7 years ago, it hit me.

I really fell in love with playing again. Serving as a Minister of Music in churches all my life, I have been around pianos, and worked with them every week. But again, my enthusiasm was underwhelming. And I can't really say what lit my fire for playing again; maybe I just woke up, or something inside my heart finally communicated with my head that playing was important to me. And I have enjoyed- no, been overjoyed- to have been able to play every week for the church I now serve. I love it!

I was fortunate here to meet and get to know a gentleman named Larry Dalton.  A concert pianist, a Steinway Artist, and a generally all-around, down-home good guy. Larry had a fantastic personality, and talent measuring off the charts.  A dedicated servant of Christ, Larry dedicated his life and his talents and skills to excellently performing his literature, all the while, recognizing the needs of those around him.  He toured more than 40 countries, and wrote and arranged for some of the biggest artists in music.  Yet he played our church a couple of times a year.  He travelled on mission trips, playing on everything from the greatest Steinway to junked-out pianos in storage basements. Larry was here just a few weekends ago, listening to our early band, and we had spoken about me taking lessons from him later in the summer.  He was scheduled to play here again in a few weeks for a fundraiser for a local women's shelter.

He was;  Larry died last weekend.

At a youthful 63, Larry's heart stopped beating while he was asleep.  As I write, I am editing video clips for use at his funeral and memorial services.  I see him from years ago, playing with the London Symphony.  In a church basement in Japan.  In our own worship center at a retirement celebration.  On television, offering worship music between interviews.  Larry developed his significant talent into skills beyond measure, and shared them with the world, while remembering the Savior whom he served.  

Um, yeah, back to the regrets.

Three regrets have been realized in the last few days:

  One, that as a college-aged adult, I did not take advantage of the gift my mom worked so hard to give me as a child.
  Two, that I did not know Larry Dalton better than I do.
  Three, that I do not have the resume of social and spiritual concern for the world as Larry did.

Each of those, I can change.  I am middle aged, and have learned to see a little better now.

Thank you, my friend.  For helping me avoid some regrets.