"Do Take Thee For My Awfully Wedded Wife"

Today, I'll have the honor of doing the ceremony for my niece, Mollie and my nephew-in-law, Kevin.  I certainly hope that I get all of their names right... I've been known to make a mistake here or there.

Hopefully I'm more adept at this than Mr. Bean.

Do You Speak The Lingo?

Watching this commercial a couple of times tonight made me laugh and it made me think. Obviously Fedex is trying to capitalize on the the youth market-while making fun of those who try to bridge the divide between the generations.

It made me think, do I do this in order to communicate with my teens and those teens I'm around. Oh, I joke from time to time with "slang" they use, but never meaning for them to think that this is really me. (I'm known to give a "Wassup, Wassup" every once in a while to teen) and certainly my own teens find it a little awkward for Dad to talk like that.

What I've found in working with teens is that they really want to communicate with you in very simple ways. You don't have to speak the lingo to get into their world.

Here's what I've found:

1.) They want to know that someone cares---they simply want to know that other adults are acknowledging their "morphing" into adulthood and we can do that in ways that affirm who God is creating them to be. Just by knowing their name (or their nickname) may be enough for them.

2.) They want you to know what they like and they don't like. Facebook has been once of the best ways to keep up with kids and their activities--and to also know who they're with and who they shouldn't be with. If I had only had Facebook when I was doing youth ministry--no tellling the connections that could have been made.

3.) They want to know that you will be there for them. In little ways I try to let them know that I'm here and I'm around and ready to listen to them. And believe me, there have been those who have sought me out because of the simple invitation to just listen. Never underestimate the importance of letting them know that you are around and available.

4.) They want to know that you want the best for them. They really want approval and acceptance for what's going on in their lives. And I suspec that they even want your opinion (even when it's negative and they complain) because this helps them clarify their judgement and their values.

So,laugh at this video and think with me "Do You Speak The Lingo?" I don't think you have to in order to get through to the next generation. Make yourself available and watch them come to you.

Twenty Three Down--Twenty Three To Go

Twenty three years ago today, I made a decision that forever changed the course of my life.  Actually the decision had already been made on a Labor Day Single's retreat near Kerrville, Texas.   I had attended with the idea that somehow out of that weekend I would get an answer from God what I should do about the rest of my life.

Friday wasn't much to write about nor Saturday but I distinctly remember Sunday morning.  I got up earlier than anyone else in my room.   I scurried down to the overlook above the river and took my bible with me. I began to read and study and ask of the Lord what I should do about some big decisions that had to be made.  ( Let me add a side note here that I had just started a career with a Department store chain and was in their training program, but I knew that this probably wasn't the long term answer for me)

You know the funny thing is as I look back on that morning, the Lord didn't speak in a loud crashing wave.  He spoke in the still small voice.   What did he say you ask?   I all I remember hearing him say is "I'll provide".  That's it!  Nothing more than that to base the rest of my life on.  And for me that was enough.  I surrendered my life to full-time ministry that weekend.

On September 20, 1987 I made that decision public at Trinity Baptist Church in San Antonio. The funny thing about that day is that when I told my Pastor, Buckner Fanning, that I was surrendering to ministry he asked where I worked.  I told him and he said while introducing me " This is Jim Drake and he has surrendered to ministry and he will be quitting his job at...."  Well, you can imagine my terror because I hadn't told anyone at work.  God hid me until August of 1988 so that I could have a job and influence among the people I work with.  When it was time, it was revealed that I was going into ministry and my bosses were the best about it.  They were believers too and wanted to do anything to help me.

I guess I remind myself of this story because there have been many times in 23 years that I wondered if I made the right choice, the right decision.  I tell Diane she could have married someone with more money, more things and certainly taller.  Why in the world did she say yes to me?

All I know is that I continue to go back to that answer that He gave me on Labor Day 1987.  "I'll provide" and for 23 years that has been sufficient.   Believe me, there are days when I wish that I worked at a secular job and there are times I wonder how much longer I can do this.  But my answer always comes back to this day and this moment in my life when I heard Him say that He is sufficient for every need in my life.  That will never change.   My vocation may at some point, but this I know about His character never ever will.  This is enough for me.

So, 23 years down and another 23 to go?   I'll let you know about that tomorrow as I start another chapter in my life.

Worship Confessional- September 19, 2010

This post is part of Sunday Set List over on The Worship Community Blog.  It's where worship leaders from all over the world add their set lists from their worship experiences and we all learn from each other.

Today we started a short two-week series called "THE WISHES OF AGUR" which is taken from a couple of verses in Proverbs.  Read it.

Set List.

Awesome Is The Lord Most High (Tomlin) (Walk In Song)
  Mentioned how easy it is for us to raise our hands at a football game, with a gesture to support our teams, but how we find it hard to raise our hands for the Lord--ever think about that?  Ouch!
Sing To The King (Foote)
Immortal, Invisible (Story)
Everlasting God (Brown)
A Mighty Fortress (Nockles)
Morning Message--The Wishes of Agur (Prov. 30)
You Gave Your Life Away (Baloche)

Church Kills It's Youth Group---What Do You Think?

I realize by posting this I'm opening a can of worms, but hey that's what this blog is for.  I was alerted to this video by a fellow pastor and I think you must watch this whole video to understand the decision that they've made to do "YOUTH MINISTRY" in a whole different way.

I'm not sure that they've completely done away with YOUTH MINISTRY (they still do small groups separate from the whole church) but I think his point about raising up YOUTH apart from the integrated body of Christ has created a whole set of problems that we've never had before.

Could his point about "DAVID IN SAUL'S ARMOR" be one of the issues that the church as a whole is engaged in?  We think we must have "this" or "that" because it has always been, or it has been successful in "this city" or "that church"?  Are we encumbered with a structure and history that will not let us be "with the Lord of hosts as our guide" for the moment that we now find ourselves living in?

This is the struggle that I have right now.  So much that the church has done has been good and fruitful and successful, but we struggle to let go of those things to see what God has new and fresh for us to do today.  We get comfortable with "success" and never find ease with "risk" for the sake of the gospel.

Youth Ministry has changed so much from the time I started nearly 22 years ago and I can only imagine how it's going to change in the future.  Can we allow ourselves to think about change in a way that may be better for our students and for the body of Christ in the future?

I'm interested to hear your thoughts?  Is this weird or genius?

Are You A Pioneer?

Periodically throughout the year, I get to travel with our Senior Adults to day trips around our area.  Yesterday we ventured over to Abilene to see Frontier Texas (an interactive history exhibit about West Texas from 1780-1880)  It was most excellent.

The group had been almost 5 years ago when I came, but I didn't go with them then.

Going through the exhibit you really get a sense of what it was like to a pioneer out here on the West Texas plains-facing Comanche Indians, hungry animals, droughts and the incessant wind.  I thought to myself "it takes a special person to be a pioneer; to have the stamina to withstand the unknown for the sake of discovering it for the first time yourself.

It made me wonder how many pioneers do we have today in our faith culture?  Are we exploring new land, new experiences with people or are we comfortable to be settlers who enjoy the work and the safety that have come with the work of the pioneers.

One quote that I read from a pioneer woman struck me.  She said " we have nothing out here, nothing substantial to live on but we depend on one another--every neighbor is vital to us and every friend is our need".  It made me wonder if our own "independence" has kept us in the safety zone and made us more settlers than pioneers?  Have we killed our pioneer spirit/community because we are so self-sufficient that we don't really need to take risks?

So tell me, are you a pioneer?

You're The God of This City-Madrid

I ran a little further today than I had planned.  I had wanted to only run to the Gran Via and back (just short of Sol (the Center of Town) but something told me to go further.  I went to the middle of the city (SOL) and I felt like I needed to hear this song.  Wow--try that watching all of the nations (mostly Spain) pass in front of your eyes and you will feel the most insignificant in your life.  So much to do here in this city and in this country.

I prayed for those passing in front of me that they would encounter the God of this City-and that Jesus would  be real to them, not just a religion.  I ended the run (and subsequently got a little lost ) listening to Chris do "SING, SING, SING".  As I pass through one particularly rough part of town I sang out loud "Sing, Sing, Sing and make music to the heavens".  Also Christy Nockles "HOSANNA" (Break my heart for what breaks yours..  that'll do you in too)

I love running in these cities.  Just reaffirms my love for  the nations and a gratefulness that God isn't just God of America--he's King of the Nations!

Worship Confessional, September 12, 2010

Set List

Since Jesus Came Into My Heart
Hosanna (Baloche)
Announcements/ Mission Focus (Russia)
All Praise To God (Foote)
Salvation Belongs To Our God (Smith)
Be Thou My Vision (Hymn)
Morning Message--We Will Never Forget
Rescue (New Life)

My friend, Rich Smith, led for me today while I was away.  Rich is much loved here for his spirit of worship leadership.

This post is part of Sunday Set Lists over on The Worship Community Blog

There's A Flea Market In Madrid!

There's a flea market everywhere you go and today we attended the one in El Rastro (southern area of the city) and found it most enjoyable.

Aside by being touched by one grandpa and one grandma trying to look for  $$$ in my pocket (ah ha Granny and Grandpa, I fooled you.  It was elsewhere on my body), it was a most enjoyable fair of different goods and wares.  We really felt part of the city as we strolled the hilly streets.

There were thousands here and most seemed to be looking for a good bargain too!   It happens to be in a part of the city that we keep coming back too (just south of Plaza Mayor) and an area that is easily navigable.

Tonight we have supper in the same area again at the worlds oldest restaurant.  Our supper time is.. 9:30 ( and that's the early seating--they wanted us to wait until 11:15!)   Ah, the spanish life...never in a hurry.


Today is my BLOG BIRTHDAY!  Four years ago I started this blog when I began my first overseas trip to Italy.  My, my the years have taken me several places:

Italy (2006)
Guatemala (2006)
India (2007)
England/France (2007)
Egypt (2008)
Greece/Turkey (2009)

And today--I'm in Madrid, Spain!

This blog started as a way for people to keep up with my travels but it has evolved into something more.  It's a place where I can gather a group of friends and start some discussions.  I've met many of my overseas friends and colleagues through this blog and have expanded my worldview from their relationships.

Who knows where the next four years will go?  This blog is just an infant but watch out for those teen years!

We Went To Toledo (NOT OHIO!)

We knew this would be a full day and after a good breakfast in the hotel we made our way down close to the Royal Palace. We had been here yesterday evening so we were comfortable where we were.

The first tour took us all over Madrid--showing us sights that we had seen and some that we hadn't seen. It was a historical tour ( I know very little Spanish history) and some art and architecture too. We ended the tour back at the Royal Plaza.

There is a group of cloistered nuns who sell DULCES (sweet cookies) in their convent. They can't make contact with the outside world, so to sell these cookies they put them on a spinning door and you put your money in hoping they give you your cookies. I say all that to say that we made a mad dash over to the convent, but no DULCES! May have to go back sometime.

We had a great lunch in the Plaze De Orient (the official gardens of the Royal palace) and had enough time for a bit of gellato before the bus left.

We went this afternoon to TOLEDO (TO-LAY-DO, sorry OHIO, you say it wrong). Toledo used to be the capital of Spain and still is the spiritual center of the country (the Archbishop (Cardnial)resides here not in Madrid) It used to be a fortress so you can imagine that the streets were very rough and rocky and hills up and down and up and down. It made it hard for my sister who is recovering from foot surgery.
We made it--but it was hard.

Back to the hotel we didn't want to venture far for supper, so we found the local equivalent to the IHOP and had a sandwich, fries and some Queso. Ok--we've been really good at trying strange food over here--so we needed some home cooking.

I think I'll be venturing out tomorrow for the last tour by myself. I've mastered the METRO line system and then will meet back with my sister here for some late shopping before we head home.

Busy day--and I'm tired!


I Attended A Spanish Wedding

Ok, I didn't really attend but I stood outside the church with a group of touristas and watched the event. We made our way down to Plaza Mayor (the large city square) in the center of town. We used the Metro and were very leary of anyone bumping into us and trying to pick pocket. We did it--but I don't think we'll do it again.

The city center was very sleepy about 4:00--I guess we arrived in the middle of siesta time, but by the time we got back around 6:30-6:45 the square was hopping. We covered a lot of territory for these 5 hours and ended it with a Tapas dinner in the square and watched yet another wedding taking place. Two weddings and I didn't even bring a gift!

Tomorrow--two tours, so we should be quite pooped by this time tomorrow. Buenos Noches blog friends!

Where In The World Is...Jim Drake (Part Deux)

On To Madrid!

So, as I'm typing this it's 10:56 AM in the morning (3:56 AM Texas time) and we are on a fast speed train from Barcelona to Madrid.  It's funny how this land looks like West Texas and New Mexico.  I was just remarking to my sister that Senor Coronado must have thought that he was home when he explored our area.  Small scrubby trees here look like Mesquites and the low lying hills remind me of 20 Mile Mountain just north of Fluvana.

The plans for the day are to get to Madrid around 1:30PM (about 5:30 AM Texas time) and get to the hotel. We'll explore Plaza Mayor (one of the big plazas here) while we people watch and get ready for tours tomorrow across the City and to Toledo (not Ohio, but the ancient spiritual center of Spain)   Sunday finds us doing an outing to outside of Madrid and some more exploration of the city.

All in all, Spain is a very friendly and clean country.  The people are most friendly and helpful and I find that the culture is very accessible ( even the language is coming easier).  Next time I'm here I will speak in Espanol~

The Hills Are Live (Monteserrat) With The Sound of Music...

Day 2

We took another tour today--to Monteserrat... the monestary in the hills just outside of Barcelona.  Up a winding hill and through the trees, we were greeted with a cool fall breeze some 4300 ft above Sea Level.  It was a bit nippy when we got off the bus.

We slipped in on a service in progress in the church.  Good thing I know the liturgy (The Great Thanksgiving) or I would have been lost--even in Latin.  I knew when they were passing the peace ("the peace of Christ be with you..and also with you) and also the prayers after the communion (which I didn't take--don't worry) "You have given yourself for us Lord, now we give ourselves for others.."

I was thinking that as I watched this I had a good idea of someone who comes into our services and has no idea of the language and the codes that we all know in Christianity.  It felt weird.

We wandered around the Basillica and to a gift shop before heading back to the chapel for a Boy's Choir concert (2 songs).  It was nice but especially nice was when the Padre had everyone recite the Lord's prayer in their own language.  I heard German, French, Spanish, Japanese, English and others.  What a sweet sound of heaven that was.

Back down the mountain we drove by the FB Barcelona Stadium (sorry Chuck--no pictures, but they say that it holds 98,000.  I don't think it's that large) and back into town where we had 3 kinds of Tapas for Lunch ( a cheese and potatoe omlette, greek salad and a stuffed potatoe and beef roll)  Pretty good and fit the bill to give us enough energy to get over to the Church of The Holy Family (Segrada Familia) constructed by Gaudi--the famous Spanish architect.  It's a jarring scene when you step back and view it.  It's unlike any other structure I've seen.  But once you understand his inspiration and his genius (the mathematics in this thing are amazing--parabales, hexicoidal, rombus, etc--enough to blow my non-math mind)  He was also inspired by the beauty of nature and much of that is presented in the schemes inside the church with plants and things carved in stone that you just wonder how they did that.

We figured out that reason we say "that was gawdy"---it's a reference to this artist who is so over the top!

The church will officially begin using it for services in 2030--in 2010 the inside will be complete and the Pope is coming in November to dedicate it.  They better get a move on... they've only been working on it for 110 years and got another 20 to go.  Talk about SLOW!
We're back to the hotel--very exhausted and very tired. But, I have learned that I know more Spanish than I think.  Listening to the tour director today, she would speak in Spanish, then English, then French.   I could decode some of what she was saying in Spanish, confirm it in English and then enjoy it in French.  My head was hurting by the time that I got off that bus.


Dance, Dance, Dance

Flamenco Dinner/Dance
Tonight we attended a dinner at a Flamenco Diner/Dance place.  It was a plethora of food and music like I've never experienced before. When I get back home with greater bandwidth I will upload a video or two.  Let's just say they have more stamina than anyone on SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE.  It was very artistic and impressive.

The Rambla comes alive at night.  As we left close to 11:00 PM (it's now after midnight here) the place was jumping with young people and artisans still out and about.  It was a different crowd than we saw earlier today.

I'm going to try a run in the morning here.  I saw several joggers here this morning.  We have another half-day tour to Monteserrat Monestary tomorrow and then a trip to the Sagria Familia (Holy Family Church) by Gaudi--and maybe a Picaso tour here or there.

Barcelona Day I

Day I in Barcelona

After the harrowing trip to get here, it was nice to start the day in a somewhat normal manner.  We had a splendid breakfast here at the hotel then it was a mad dash off to catch the tour bus for a Half-Day Barcelona highlight tour.  We started in the Gothic Quarters which date back to Columbus times (by the way, the Spanish do not claim Columbus--they think that his national origin is suspect (maybe a Jew, maybe Italian)... I've never heard this before.

A trip through the Barcelona Cathedral was beautiful.  The flying buttress architecture reminded me of Notre Dame (but it wasn't as dark and dreary as Nortre' Dame.  Back on the bus we made a quick trip to the Mediterranean sea and through the Olympic village and stadium from the 1992 games.  This makes two Olympic stadiums I've seen (Athens and Barcelona).  It's a very small stadium.

The overview of the city was magical from the Olympic hills.  Three million people live here, yet it's very clean and very well kept.
We ended the tour through the Spanish Exhibition (which was from a 1929 World's Fair) and it represented all of the regions of Spain.  (Think of Six Flags over Texas without the rides and you got the idea. Shops and artisans from all regions.  It was interesting.

We finally found our way down The Rambla ( which is an open pedestrian area for about  15-20 blocks (or more) where the artisans and street performers, florist and musicians gather and people  ramble (walk) down the mall.  Very interesting.  We had lunch here and a cappucino here and just watched the people go by.  This is one of my favorite things to do.

Back to the hotel to rest and tonight is a Flamenco Dinner and dance in the Rambla area again.  More about that later.

Day 1 in the books!


One year ago today I made a decision.  NO MORE SODAS and in particular, NO MORE DIET COKE.

I was convinced of this after attending a health workshop  and hearing the tales of what all went into Diet Drinks and their effect on your body and in particular your liver and lymph system.   Shocking!

I didn't know if I could go a whole year without one and believe me in the beginning it was murder.  But I've learned to crave water (and occasion Tea or Juice).    I can tell a real difference!

So--here's to the first anniversary of NO SODAS.

Could you give it up for a year!

Where In The World Is....Jim Drake

Worship Confessional, September 5, 2010

Set List

Walk In--You, You Are God (Gateway)
Majestic (Brewster)
Scripture Reading (Psalm 55:16)
Our God Saves (Baloche)
Mission Focus- Peru (Video)
Announcements/Offertory Prayer
We Will Remember (Walker)
I Can Only Imagine (Millard)
Morning Message--The Challenge To Believe
I Surrender All ( Don Chapman, arr.)

This post is part of Sunday Set Lists over on The Worship Community Blog.

Idol Worship---"Uhmm....You'd Better Watch This!"

I post this in honor of all of us who will be traveling this weekend to a local temple to pay homage to our teams.  Sometimes it's just too close to home.

Idol worship or not?  Hmmm.....?

We Were All Created To Be Farmers!

I'm amazed when I look at Facebook how many people play FARM VILLE.  The latest statistic I found was that 71 Million--MILLION people are users of FARM VILLE.   No wonder we have requests for plows, hoes, rakes, cows and barn raising going on all the time.

Seventy one million-MILLION--users have expressed an interest in taking care of something that real farmers know is a life long calling and profession.  FARMING is hard work--can I get a whoop, whoop from my farmer friends.

There is something deep within the human soul that wants to tend and nuture and care for something (not that I'm equating raising radishes in FARM VILLE is equal to the back breaking work of real crops and their trials--no sir!)  But just look at it.  Why would anyone care to manage a virtual farm if they didn't internally and secretly care how something thrives and succeeds. (By the way, are there rain showers and tornadoes in FARM VILLE?  How about droughts?)

Something has clicked with these virtual farmers that makes them check in on and care for their farm and I think it's something worth exploring.  Were we all created to be farmers?  Maybe so, maybe no--but I do think we were all created to nuture and to take care of what God created.. Why else would we care?  Because God does--and he has imparted to us his caring nature for relationships, for families, for friends, and so on.

So, are you a FARMER?  And no, don't send any requests for mango trees--I killed all of mine a long time agon.

Henry Slaughter Gospel Course Taught Me Praise and Worship

I'm asked from time to time how I am able to play music from charts and pages without complete music transcription of bass or treble parts. I tell them "Henry Slaughter taught me praise and worship"

Really!  The Henry Slaughter gospel course was a season of my piano training that helped me improve my "Hymn playing" by seeing chord structure and adding to hymns (embellishing) them with different accompaniment than just the choral structure.

So, I learned to recognized chords and their inversions.  This led to a more relaxed piano playing style and when praise and worship came along some years later, I was ready to read charts because "Henry Slaughter taught me praise and worship"

I still have these books in my library--some 30 years later!

What musical influences are you still using in your life?

The Goal of The Gospel

I wrote this quote down from the book "The Tangible Kingdom" 

"The church is not the goal of the gospel"

Does this quote grab you like it did me?  Have we turned the goal of sharing Christ into converting people to a membership into an organization?  Is the gospel more than church membership?

The premise of the gospel is the GOOD NEWS--that Jesus Christ has come to restore a relationship with the creation and that through that relationship we can have fellowship again with God and consequently we can have relationships here on earth that add value to this life we have in Christ. 

However, these earthly relationships are never the end in themselves. The church is never the goal of the gospel. The goal of the gospel is the life changing message of Christ living in and through his redeemed creation. It's never been to get people to CHURCH.  The church is the expression of this gospel ( a group of redeemed and reclaimed misfits for the kingdom)

So, what do you think?  Is this quote right or wrong?