Staying Focused


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A View From The Inside


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Snow Fool

Snow in Texas is extremely rare. I can count on two hands the number of days in which I’ve been snowed upon. So, when it snowed this weekend in the Metroplex, needless to say, I acted like a fool. And, to make matters more interesting, not only did it snow, but it was as close to a blizzard as you can get in Texas. It was like Arlington, TX and Buffalo, NY secretly traded places for a weekend and didn’t tell anybody. So, in light of all this snow, I checked a few “firsts” off my life list. Shovel snow, check. Make a decent snowman, check. Try to snowboard down the driveway, check (key word there is ‘try’). Everywhere I drove I marveled out loud, saying “look, that’s covered with snow, too!” It would have been annoying, but most people were riding the same winter high that I was, so it wasn’t bothersome. But, I am fortunate to have the friendship of people who have moved here from the north. They were less than impressed by our snow-topia and were nonplussed by the constant bewilderment. In their defense, that’s certainly understandable. In the summer in Texas, I would be annoyed by someone from somewhere cold amazed and excited about the 95 degree heat. To them, the snow wasn’t new, and it just wasn’t exciting, and they had done all the things that made up my sad snow activity checklist. But regardless, I had a good time. And I think my excitement was warranted. This sounds really funny and weird, but I think it’s fair to say that a believer’s approach to worship should be like a Texan in a snow storm. We should be in constant amazement of the grace of God. We should be in constant awe of the joy of experiencing forgiveness. We should have our eyes open to new opportunities. You’re not in a good place when it goes stale. God is alive, so our worship should be alive, and there should be a sense of newness. It might even be okay to be a little foolish in our joy before God. As David said in 2 Samuel as he danced around before the Lord, “I’ll become even more undignified that this.”

Coffee Shop

At the end of my college tenure at Baylor (when I actually started taking studying seriously) and in seminary as a grad student at Baylor, I logged many study hours at a coffee shop called Common Grounds. While I have no animosity towards Starbucks, and have been a victim of $3.00 cups of coffee many times, I loved how unique and individual this little local coffee shop was. When I first started going there, it had an almost dingy feel to it. It was a coffee shop from an old one story house, and the shop would ache and moan and even get the slightest bit dank, just like an old house would. They played great music, too. They played the kind of music that was even just a bit beyond indie music. It was the kind of music that would keep some people out, not because of vulgarity but because of niche uniqueness. If you cannot understand what I’m getting at, download a Tom Waits song.

Over the years, the coffee shop changed a bit. It was remodeled and made a little easier on the eyes. A wall was cleared out, new furniture was added, and the back area was cleaned up a bunch. I continued to go though, and I still enjoyed the atmosphere just as much as I had before, even though there were little things that I missed. I left Waco almost two years ago for Arlington, Texas. Many people have made the similar pilgrimage from Waco up 35N to the Metroplex. I returned to Waco today for a Pastor’s Conference at Truett Seminary. I arrived hours early so I could stop by Common Grounds. I parked in the lot in the back and walked up toward the back door. A parrot, sitting on a little perch outside his cage cawed at me. Random. I walked in and I did not recognize a face in the shop. The music was totally different, probably some band that was now too cool for me to know about. Some of the decorations had changed as well. I walked toward the counter to order my coffee, and the Barista behind the counter recognized my face as I recognized hers. We greeted each other, and she mentioned how it had been a long time since I had been in. I chuckled and agreed. She went back to work, and I went to grab a seat and enjoy my coffee. I sat down and appreciated what had changed and what had stayed the same. I was older, things were different, but the atmosphere of the shop was surprisingly similar. People still moved slow and planted themselves in front of laptops for hours. The music was different but still intriguing. The people still carried on with college-aged philosophical and young adult angst filled conversations.

I felt glad and comforted to be there. I wanted to stay there for hours. The church will always slowly swing with change like a pendulum. The point is that the pendulum of change remains rooted in the same atmosphere of Christ’s love. The overwhelming atmosphere should always be comforting and unique, as the Holy Spirit moves in worship and fellowship. There should always be something strangely constant. Christ’s love should be the marker that says things change yet stay the same.

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