Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Banjo and a Bible

I love going back to my roots. 

I am a country girl and proud of it. I grew up loving agriculture, nurturing baby calves (and various other creatures) on our back porch and still get a little thrill from putting on my cowgirl boots that I got at the American Royal five years ago. 

Kansas (where I am from) definitely isn't "The South." But this weekend, I had a chance to get a little splash of country-- only to a much higher degree. 

While we were camping in the mountains (which we lovingly called the "Boondocks") this past weekend, we decided to step out of our "box" and attend a country church that was a few miles up from our cabin. It was called Bethel Independent church... and it was awesome. 

It was a medium sized church, modern, pretty and could hold a few hundred people. The first thing we noticed was that some of the men were dressed in button up long sleeve shirts with denim overalls. Some of the women were sporting fluffy western-ish skirts and bonnets. Yet as we looked around, we saw the "casual" goers wearing Ralph Lauren or Aeropostale polos and jeans. This could be interesting, we thought to ourselves. 

The beautiful Bethel Independent Church
Turns out, it was "Old Timers Day" at the church. The members had the option to "dress up" in Old Timers clothes to honor their heritage-- then a picnic in the outlaying field was to follow the service. How cool is that, right?! 

The music was great. So nice to get a dose of traditional gospel music... Then they invited the "choir" to the front-- there was a good 50 people who scrambled for their spots at the front of the room. Those fifty folks sang with such a passion that it might as well been the Bill Gaither band up there...  Music moves me, and I was certainly moving. (It was apparent that they had been coached on voice projection-- either that or their enthusiasm was so intense that it couldn't be contained) Oh, did I forget to mention that within their choir they even had a tambourine and a banjo? 

After the choir wrapped up, we heard from a wonderful Acapella gospel trio... Again, the passion was there, and the gentle "twang" of their words made me giddy from the inside out! 

Then it was sermon time. We met the pastor before the service when he saw us sitting near the back of the church. We talked briefly and told him we were in the mountains celebrating our one year anniversary.  He congratulated and as he walked away, we determined he seemed like a quiet-spoken, even-tempered mellow guy... That is, until the Holy Spirit got ahold of him. 

The message began-- and quickly heated up. It was fantastic-- rather unorthodox, but a lot of fun (and biblical) The bottom line focused on the differences of the "Old Timers" generation generosity vs. the new generation selfishness that we are living in now. The pastor referenced Matthew 21 when Jesus comes into the temple to find it has been turned into a "den of robbers." 

As the message grew deeper, the louder the pastor's voice became and the redder his face turned. This man was ON FIRE for the Lord and the Holy Spirit was clearly present. Talk about passion! Somehow, like it always happens when we visit a "smaller" church, we made the sermon-- he mentioned "a couple celebrating their one year wedding anniversary." (Don't worry, it was surrounded by great context)  

The theology was sound, so as far as we were concerned, it was a great experience. To be honest, it was very different from anything we had experienced before and had to stifle a good-natured giggle at a few places. I have never heard a sermon that said "They ain't nuttin" and "Some people have a hole in the wall of their house big enough to throw a cat through, but they have the biggest satellite you've ever seen." While the vocabulary was a little different than I was accustomed to, I knew that the pastor's message was all about priorities and where we are placing our hope. 

Pastor Doug wrapped up his passionate message with a few thought provoking comments. He said to remember that the decisions we make today, we are going to be standing in a year from now.  He also asked us that as a generation, are we happy with what we have become?

As we filed out of the church, I reflected on those statements. Brandon and I made the decision to pledge our love to one another a little over a year ago. We are standing in that today (such a great place to stand!) As far as happy with what we have become... our generation has issues. We are selfish. Heck, I am really selfish. But I have also watched God work and achieve greatness with a continually flawed population. So yes, while we certainly have room for improvement, I am happy with where we are. 

Are you happy with what you have become? Do you desire change? Where are you placing your hope? Think about it-- what makes you giddy for the Lord? For me, at least this last weekend, it was a banjo and a Bible. 

Playin' that mountain music, 

"There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord." --1 Corinthians 12:4-5
After our experience at Bethel church,
my beloved was inclined to purchase a
pair of overalls. Yes, he wore them out of
the store. 

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