Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Dr. Bauder Does It Again!

Once again Dr. Bauder rings the bell! I love the way he is able to put his finger on the pulse of what is going on in our churches today. Agree or disagree, you must admit that he has a handle on issues that confront the church in general today!

As least that is the way I see it.....

I Remain,
Pastor Steve

Monday, December 19, 2005


By Dr. Kevin Bauder

Once I was following a semi down a very straight freeway. He was traveling near the speed limit and I was following at a safe distance, or so I thought. The problem is that he was opaque. I had no idea what was in front of him. Suddenly he lurched into the left lane, revealing a car that was all but stopped in the lane in front of me. No amount of braking would let me miss it. A quick glance in the mirror revealed a slim space between the rapidly decelerating truck and the car that was just behind me to my left. I was able to dodge left into that space, narrowly avoiding an all-but-certainly-fatal collision. Within seconds my heart was racing, my hands were shaking, and I had a funny taste in my mouth.

That was excitement.

After working as a manager for my high-school football team, I tried out for the team during my senior year. I was never a great player, partly because at 6’ 3” and 140 pounds, I got pushed all over the field. I finally gravitated to the position of defensive end (don’t ask my why). Near the end of the season, the starter was out on injuries and the backup d-end sprained an ankle early in the game. The coach pulled up a defensive halfback to cover the position, but the back didn’t know how to play it. He was getting run over, and his absence in the backfield left us susceptible to the long pass. Finally, I went to the coach and told him that I could play the position. He took a long look at me, and then put me in the game. It was great. The first play I took out a sweep. The second or third play I leaped to intercept a wobbly pass that was intended for a receiver in the flat (there were some advantages to being tall). It turned the game around. I was a hero!

That was excitement.

High in the Flat-Tops wilderness, I wounded a big buck on the far side of a canyon. To track him I had to scramble down through the canyon, cross the river, then climb up the other side. By rights it was a technical climb, nearly vertical both ways. But I wasn’t about to let the buck get away! About sixty feet up the far side, the shale gave way and I found myself tumbling feet-over-ears down the canyon wall. By rights I should have died. The next thing I knew, I was sitting upright in the ice-cold river at the bottom of the canyon. I have no idea how long I’d been there. My rifle was actually across my knees.

That was excitement.

Several times I’ve sat through professional sporting events. One that stands out in my memory was a football game during which the crowd was exceptionally obscene. I remember after one touchdown hearing a fan shout “That’ll show the blanking Packers that we blanking mean blanking business when we get to blanking Green Bay.” The crowd around him erupted in frenzied cheers (no doubt demonstrating how athletics had contributed to the development of their character).

That was excitement.

On December 20, 1975, I had a knot in the pit of my stomach. This was the day I had waited for. More than anything I’d ever wished for, I wanted to marry Debra Sue Wright. I remember hoping that the Rapture wouldn’t come until after were could be married. The anticipation was drawing to an apex. Finally the moment arrived, and I gazed upon her as she stepped down the aisle at her father’s arm. Looking into her eyes and speaking the vows was the most important earthly thing I’d ever done (or have done since).

That was excitement.

The word “excitement” covers a lot of territory. Holding your first child for the first time is exciting. Shooting your first deer is exciting. Standing on the edge of a precipice is exciting. Bungee jumping is exciting. All of these events are exciting, but they are not exciting in the same way and the excitement is not the same excitement. Would it have been appropriate to feel the narrowly-missed-collision excitement on my wedding day? Of course not.

Occasionally I hear things like this during worship services:

“We need more excitement in our church.”

“Put some excitement into your singing, now!”

“Are you excited to be here?”

My usual response is simply to be puzzled. I am puzzled because I do not know what these people mean. What do they want from me? Falling-down-the-mountain excitement? Football-hero excitement? Holding-the-first-baby excitement? I never know.

I never know because they never say. If they would tell me what they wanted, I might be able to comply. What sort of excitement do they consider appropriate to feel and to demonstrate when the church gathers in the presence of God? If they do not tell me, I will never know. And as long as they stop with the word “excitement,” they do not tell me.

Actually, I suspect they do not tell me because they do not know themselves. The nasty suspicion arises that they have never reflected upon their own inner states sufficiently to recognize that they actually experience different kinds of excitement. The nastier suspicion also arises that they have never reflected upon the character of God or the purpose of worship in order to ask themselves what excitements are ordinate. If some excitements are improper for a wedding, certainly some are improper for worship.

But the demand for excitement serves the purpose of a Rorschach ink-blot. You can put whatever you want into it. And people do. And our churches show it.

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