a few words about Halloween, and living as witnesses to goodness and light

DSC_0011Today is Halloween. It’s an interesting observation on the calendar – fun, quirky, complicated, mostly misunderstood, and often downright bizarre!

I’m not going to try to spell out the history of the holiday, or tell anyone how they should celebrate; I’m simply going to share a few impressions, and hopefully influence the way my readers think.

First, I think any excuse to celebrate anything at all is always a good move. Party? Eat? Hang out with friends? Get the community involved? Play dress-up? It’s all good.

Let’s renew our commitment to not only stand as witnesses to the power of goodness, and light, and life, but also to live as faithful practitioners of the Gospel of Love and Grace.

The point of Halloween, and what I believe needs to be the unifying and dominant value that runs as an undercurrent through everything we do today, is that it doesn’t matter what we run into – things living, things not alive; things dead, things undead; things we understand, things we don’t understand; things from this world, things from another world; things of spirit, things of flesh – we are going to be okay because we are children of the Living God, and God is the Lord of all.

Obviously, Halloween has taken on a life of its own, and most people don’t give much of a thought to the idea that there is nothing in all of creation that has any power over Children of the Living God. Or, as Paul expressed the idea on Romans 8:37-39:

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

BRUTALITY: What does bother me, and what I always try to discourage, is the practice of portraying brutality as entertaining, and enjoying graphic representations of torture, pain, and fear. If we pay any attention to the news – international and domestic –  we know that such horrors are very real, and already a part of daily life for far too many people in today’s world.

IMG_2302So enjoy your Halloween, and celebrate the freedom we have to live free from fear. But at the same time, let’s also be aware that we live in a world where evil is distressingly rampant, and renew our commitment to not only stand as witnesses to the power of goodness, and light, and life, but also to live as faithful practitioners of the Gospel of Love and Grace.

In love, and because of love – DEREK

 

interested in men’s ministry? then read this:

Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:23-26

IMG_0398Wednesday evening I came home from my men’s Bible-study both inspired and encouraged. Everything about our time together hit the right note for me, underscoring exactly why I believe so strongly that such gatherings are key elements of a healthy, vibrant faith community.

So, listen up, friends: If you’re not involved in some kind of men’s-ministry initiative, make the decision to get hooked up immediately! If your church doesn’t have anything meaningful in place, shoot me a message and I’ll offer you some encouragement and ideas (WFPC men’s groups are listed at the end of this post).

One of the best things about small group ministry is how God brings everything together to – always – create something inspirational and new. Here’s what came to the table this Wednesday evening, along with a dozen good men:

  • We had all read the selected scripture ahead of time;
  • I had prepared an outline mapping the direction of our discussion;
  • Some of the guys had taken time to study more deliberately;
  • Everyone experienced real life, every day, all week;
  • We had all been moving forward, in some way, in our relationships with God;
  • Everyone prayed for each other, and WFPC, during the week;
  • We came to the church bringing expectation, and intention, and belief, and honest doubt, and commitment, and open hearts;
    • We opened with prayer,
    • We read the scripture,
    • We dropped all of the above on to the table (life, prayer, study, doubt, belief, and more…),
    • I asked some good questions,
    • God stirred it all together..
  • BAM! God created community, wisdom, insight, encouragement, more questions, and promise.

That, of course, is only a glimpse. I’d like to tell you exactly what Phil said that opened up the discussion so beautifully; or share Kirby’s profound insight; or repeat Paul’s strong declaration of faith; or pass on Robert’s keen observation; or let you listen in to Ray’s helpful question, Eddie’s “Ah-ha,” Dave’s thoughtful response, David’s compassion, Bernie’s strong witness, Wayne’s reflection, and Kevin’s enthusiasm.

PRAYER: Because twelve is a lot, we broke into four groups of three to share joys and concerns, and to pray together. I’ve got to tell you, being in a room where several small groups of men are sitting together, knee-to-knee, lifting one-another up in prayer, feeling the “buzz” of the Spirit in the air – now that is a glimpse into heaven.

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This is – as always – just my testimony, my honest and personal observations about this journey I’m on. But you can also take this as my invitation to join me.

Seriously, friends, what are you waiting for?

Peace, hope, and the promise of rich blessing – DEREK

(author Derek Maul both writes and speaks about men’s ministry. Check out his books and his speaking schedule at www.derekmaul.com)

Here at WFPC you can hook up with the following men’s groups:

  • My covenant group – Wednesday evenings at 6:30
  • Charlie Gadd’s Bible study, Friday mornings at 6:45
  • Ed Pulliam/Kevin Meese covenant group – Saturdays, 6:45 AM
  • Dan Gregory’s covenant group – Saturdays 7:00 AM

 

you have eyes, but you can’t see!

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Jesus said (to the disciples), “Why are you arguing about having no bread? Don’t you know or understand even yet? Are your hearts too hard to take it in? ‘You have eyes—can’t you see? You have ears—can’t you hear?’ Don’t you remember anything at all? Don’t you understand yet?” – Mark 8:16-21

This is another “later in the day” post! The good news is that I have writing due for actual editors, and this morning I needed to finish one of those “bought and paid for” articles before I could turn my attention to this blog.

IMG_5528CLARITY: Today’s opening photograph comes from yesterday’s round of golf. I’m still in awe of the North Carolina topography, and the opportunity to see new vistas and have fun at the same time is priceless.

The full fall colors aren’t quite in evidence, but what’s making late October so amazing is how clear the air is, and how good it feels to be outside.

Clarity is a good word for how I’m experiencing life right now, and this week I’ve been reminded of how important it is to do everything we can to keep the view uncluttered and our vision clear. Because sometimes the reason we’re in a fog is nothing more than the clouded lenses we’re looking through, and the only way to deal with that is to open our eyes and apply the necessary elbow grease.

fresh and shiny

fresh and shiny

Case in point, Maul-Hall. We’ve been so focused on the huge kitchen renovation that we’ve let some other important areas slip by. Last week I talked about making a dent in the rapidly multiplying (and increasingly aggressive) dust-bunny population; well this week we’ve turned our attention to the windows.

Oh my goodness! Ever since I had that falling-out (almost literally!) with the extension ladder I’ve been trying to ignore the upstairs windows. Then the amazing fall weather caused me to open one to let the breeze blow through, but I immediately had to close and retreat due to the mass of spider webs, dirt, pine-straw, leaves, and debris.

I pulled up the blinds, took a serious look, and immediately called a professional cleaning service. They took care of the roof, the gutters, and all the outsides of the upstairs windows. That, in turn, caused us to do our part and clean the downstairs windows, the doors, the sills, the casements, and the screens.

IMG_5517SWEET! The result is clarity. The house looks better, we feel better, and the view is vastly improved too.

And what’s remarkable – to me – is how readily and easily we get used to a having a compromised view. But Jesus is always in the business of challenging each one of us to take whatever steps are necessary to see more clearly.

- DEREK

You have eyes—can’t you see? You have ears—can’t you hear? Don’t you remember anything at all? read Mark 8:16-21

But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. – Matthew 13:16

‘When they look, they won’t really see.
When they hear, they won’t understand.’ – Luke 8:10

re·birth: something North Carolina, something new

IMG_5494

For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.- Isaiah 43:19

re·birth /rēˈbərTH/ – noun: a renewed existence, activity, or growth; renaissance or revival

IMG_5478Sometimes it’s difficult to process the fact that Rebekah and I have been here in North Carolina 14 months now.

Sure, a lot has happened already; life/ministry (they’re the same thing, actually) is affirming and encouraging, exciting things are happening at WFPC, and we feel completely at home in this community… but then once in a while we’ll wake up and have one of those, “Can you believe we’re living in North Carolina?” moments, and we realize the “Just Arrived” sign we saw at Logan’s Nursery yesterday still kind of applies to us.

EXPLORING: That feeling of heady newness is one of the reasons we headed out exploring Monday. We’re still in the planning stages for what to do with our woodsy garden, and Logan’s Trading Company (downtown at the old Seaboard railway station near Peace University) is a great place to learn plants, dream, make plans, talk to experts about what works, and enjoy Raleigh’s urban landscape.

IMG_5482Logan’s is also a great venue for lunch. The menu items at the Seaboard Cafe are fresh, homemade, and imaginative. Anytime I have lunch with Rebekah is a treat, and you can’t beat an old train station, surrounded by plants, enjoying a perfect North Carolina fall day.

Then we headed over the JC Raulston Arboretum, and spent a couple of hours wandering around the amazing 10-acre collection of trees, shrubs, herbaceous borders, and flowering plants.

The gardens – which include an exquisite Japanese garden and “Asian valley,” are crowded with marvelous specimens. And, rather than being manicured and ornamental, they have a slightly untamed, natural feel.

IMG_5501Being outside in the fresh fall air reminded me again of how completely different it is here. Living in Florida for over thirty years was a wonderful experience; Rebekah and I raised our family in the Sunshine State, and we were privileged to be a part of two great faith communities, congregations that grew in all the right ways. I don’t regret a single day we invested in Pensacola or Brandon, and it’s gratifying to realize that both cities are qualitatively different as a result.

But, just as the climate, the topography, the plant life, and the culture here are all radical departures – calling us to relearn, retool, rethink, and re-imagine – Rebekah and I also feel caught up in a transformational spiritual rebirth as part of a re-emergent community of faith.

It’s almost as if everything we are learning about our new life in North Carolina is a hands-on, living illustration of what God is teaching us at, through, and with the members, and friends, and new members at Wake Forest Presbyterian Church.

Hence the scripture passage from Isaiah 43:19:

For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.

IMG_5483“See,” God exclaims, “I have already begun! Do you not see it?”

In the spirit of hope, promise, and constant rebirth – DEREK

4-photo-Monday (replenishing more than the kitchen)

IMG_5467

“Because of God’s tender mercy,
the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.” – Luke 1:78-79

It’s another beautiful fall morning in North Carolina. It was 38-degrees and sunny when I walked Scout; the perfect invigorating, “wake-me-up,” “now I’m ready for some hot coffee,” start to the day.

IMG_5472Last week I posted all those photographs of the new kitchen, pristine and ready for a magazine cover, but the real point of all that cabinetry, granite, hardwood, tile, lighting, and stainless steel is good food, living in the space with Rebekah, and enjoying our home.

So, although I do clean everything to perfection after every meal, a great kitchen is more about untidy countertops, and fresh herbs on the cutting board, and pots on the stove, and dogs waiting patiently for the inevitable spills, than it is gleaming surfaces and everything in its place.

Fact is, “in its place” means “all over the place” if I’m making good use of my blessings.

IMG_5471And the same is true of how I live my faith out loud. Jesus makes me all shiny and new, certainly – healing me, restoring me, and replenishing me with good gifts – but I am made whole for a purpose, and that purpose is to be light and life and love in this world.

I like the way John the Baptist’s father, Zechariah, described the ministry of Jesus in Luke 1:78-79.

“Because of God’s tender mercy,
the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.”

May we all take our shiny, new, restored lives from Sunday, and let them get untidy and messy in the real world, as we do what we were made new in order to accomplish. Breaking in like a dawning; living the Gospel of Love like morning light from heaven.

- DEREK

Scout - waiting for some spillage

Scout – waiting for some spillage

WFPC: “where two or three gather together as my followers”

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For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them. Matthew 18:20

Wow, three days without posting. However, there’s nothing like a little “intestinal wipeout bug” to put a crimp in writing for 48-hours or so! Fortunately, I’m back on my feet again; but I’m disappointed I had to skip several scheduled events.

WORSHIP: Thankfully, I won’t be missing worship this morning (Sunday). There’s something exceptionally invigorating and rejuvenating about filling the WFPC campus with prayer, with presence, with joy, and with songs of praise.

I often wonder if it’s the combined weight of 400 or so souls filled with good intention and honest love that fills the sanctuary with such peace, or is it simply the presence of God resident in this place? I’ve concluded that it’s a matter of, “Yes,” “Of course,” “You’d better believe it,” and, “All of the above.”

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In the Bible, Jesus promises that, “For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” So it stands to reason that the presence of God is going to be particularly evident in such a large group of faithful disciples.

But I also believe that God is already on campus, deep in the fabric of every brick, every stone, every minute detail of the physical plant; because WFPC was imagined, visioned, built, and dedicated to the glory of God, and is being used – enthusiastically – for “the exhibition of the Kingdom.”

In other words, those of us who roll into WFPC this morning are not only meeting in a place where God’s presence has been active for over 20 years, we’re also bringing the presence of God to one-another, because God is alive and resident in and through each one of us.

For me, such a combination of hallowed ground and consecrated souls is a phenomenon I never want to miss. It was that way when Rebekah and I worshipped at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Pensacola, it was beautifully evident at First Presbyterian of Brandon, and it seems especially powerful, today, here in Wake Forest.

110130God be in my head, and in my understanding;
God be in mine eyes, and in my looking;
God be in my mouth, and in my speaking;
God be in my heart, and in my thinking;
God be at mine end, and at my departing.

In love, and because of love – DEREK

 

“Why should the devil have all the good music?” (post reboot)

NOTE: Due to some technical issues, this is a repost of “The Soundtrack of my Life

This morning I’d like to send you all over to my Wake Forest Today column, “Reading Between the Lines.” I riff off of my daughter’s invitation to do an “America’s Got Talent” audition together, and writing about that led to some sweet memories and thinking about the soundtrack of my life.

Yesterday, my daughter, Naomi, posted the following invitation on my facebook page: “Dad. America’s Got Talent is having auditions in Richmond – Nov. 6th – wanna try for a million bucks as a father/daughter duo?!?! (…well, we would split it, so it’d be $500,000)” – read more…

So please visit the site. Wake Forest Today is still a young publication, and your “clicks” really do make a difference; even a few extra visits will help secure the future of what is shaping up to be an excellent resources. Thanks.

vpac-stage-seatsx350THE SOUNDTRACK: I like that phrase, “the soundtrack of my life”. It makes me imagine my life as a stage production, and begs the question, “what kind of music would be the best fit?”

Would my story be a comedy, a drama, a tragedy, an inspirational celebration, or a documentary? Maybe a little content drawn from each?

My first impulse is to say that James Taylor would have to write the score. But there would certainly need to be some hymns, and some praise music too – not to mention some serious rock and roll. So, maybe the late-great Larry Norman?

220px-LovemetenderelvissingleTo be practical, I guess the production would have to be eclectic. And, better than commissioning one songwriter to come up with a matched set, wouldn’t the soundtrack of my life be better illustrated with period pieces, contemporary to the age I was at the time?

BY THE DECADE: This is what comes to mind immediately:

  • In 1956, the year I was born, Elvis Presley released Love Me Tender. And that really is how my life began, nurtured in a loving family atmosphere, where “Love me tender, love me true, all my dreams fulfill” pretty much described life those first few years on Cherry Garden Lane.
  • BeatlesForSale_1The 60’s would have to be a combination of The Beatles on Radio Luxembourg, and Sunday evening hymns at Folkestone Baptist Church; Abide With Me, And Can it Be, and How Great Thou Art.
  • For me, the 70’s started with Elton John’s Your Song – from his eponymous album, hit full stride with Maggie May by Rod Stewart, completely changed course with Larry Norman’s Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music? and came to an eventful conclusion by way of Devil Woman (Cliff Richard), When I Need You (Leo Sayer), and Take My Life and Let it Be, the benedictory hymn at my wedding to Rebekah, and the purposed pattern for our life together.
My Redeemer is Faithful and True

My Redeemer is Faithful and True

THERE’S MORE: I can’t go much further without trying to fit a novel into one blog post. But I certainly plan on revisiting this topic.

So, skipping forward to 2014, I have to borrow a Steven Curtis Chapman song from twenty-plus years ago, for the soundtrack of this amazing year.

As I look back on the road I’ve traveled,
I see so many times He carried me through;
And if there’s one thing that I’ve learned in my life,
My Redeemer is faithful and true.
My Redeemer is faithful and true.
My Redeemer is faithful and true.
Everything He has said He will do,
And every morning His mercies are new.
My Redeemer is faithful and true.
My heart rejoices when I read the promise
‘There is a place I am preparing for you.’
I know someday I’ll see my Lord face to face,
‘Cause my Redeemer is faithful and true.
My Redeemer is faithful and true.
And in every situation He has proved His love to me;
When I lack the understanding, He gives more grace to me.
My Redeemer is faithful and true.
Everything He has said He will do,
And every morning His mercies are new.
My Redeemer is faithful and true.

In Love, and because of Love – DEREK

the soundtrack of my life

This morning I’d like to send you all over to my Wake Forest Today column, “Reading Between the Lines.” I riff off of my daughter’s invitation to do an “America’s Got Talent” audition together, and writing about that led to some sweet memories and thinking about the soundtrack of my life.

Yesterday, my daughter, Naomi, posted the following invitation on my facebook page: “Dad. America’s Got Talent is having auditions in Richmond – Nov. 6th – wanna try for a million bucks as a father/daughter duo?!?! (…well, we would split it, so it’d be $500,000)” – read more…

So please visit the site. Wake Forest Today is still a young publication, and your “clicks” really do make a difference; even a few extra visits will help secure the future of what is shaping up to be an excellent resources. Thanks.

vpac-stage-seatsx350THE SOUNDTRACK: I like that phrase, “the soundtrack of my life”. It makes me imagine my life as a stage production, and begs the question, “what kind of music would be the best fit?”

Would my story be a comedy, a drama, a tragedy, an inspirational celebration, or a documentary? Maybe a little content drawn from each?

My first impulse is to say that James Taylor would have to write the score. But there would certainly need to be some hymns, and some praise music too – not to mention some serious rock and roll. So, maybe the late-great Larry Norman?

220px-Lovemetenderelvissingle

To be practical, I guess the production would have to be eclectic. And, better than commissioning one songwriter to come up with a matched set, wouldn’t the soundtrack of my life be better illustrated with period pieces, contemporary to the age I was at the time?

BY THE DECADE: This is what comes to mind immediately:

  • In 1956, the year I was born, Elvis Presley released Love Me Tender. And that really is how my life began, nurtured in a loving family atmosphere, where “Love me tender, love me true, all my dreams fulfill” pretty much described life those first few years on Cherry Garden Lane.
  • BeatlesForSale_1The 60’s would have to be a combination of The Beatles on Radio Luxembourg, and Sunday evening hymns at Folkestone Baptist Church; Abide With Me, And Can it Be, and How Great Thou Art.
  • For me, the 70’s started with Elton John’s Your Song – from his eponymous album, hit full stride with Maggie May by Rod Stewart, completely changed course with Larry Norman’s Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music? and came to an eventful conclusion by way of Devil Woman (Cliff Richard), When I Need You (Leo Sayer), and Take My Life and Let it Be, the benedictory hymn at my wedding to Rebekah, and the purposed pattern for our life together.
My Redeemer is Faithful and True

My Redeemer is Faithful and True

THERE’S MORE: I can’t go much further without trying to fit a novel into one blog post. But I certainly plan on revisiting this topic.

So, skipping forward to 2014, I have to borrow a Steven Curtis Chapman song from twenty-plus years ago, for the soundtrack of this amazing year.

As I look back on the road I’ve traveled,
I see so many times He carried me through;
And if there’s one thing that I’ve learned in my life,
My Redeemer is faithful and true.
My Redeemer is faithful and true.

My Redeemer is faithful and true.
Everything He has said He will do,
And every morning His mercies are new.
My Redeemer is faithful and true.

My heart rejoices when I read the promise
‘There is a place I am preparing for you.’
I know someday I’ll see my Lord face to face,
‘Cause my Redeemer is faithful and true.
My Redeemer is faithful and true.

And in every situation He has proved His love to me;
When I lack the understanding, He gives more grace to me.

My Redeemer is faithful and true.
Everything He has said He will do,
And every morning His mercies are new.
My Redeemer is faithful and true.

61VUTfrO2hL._SL500_AA280_PJStripe-Robin,TopLeft,0,0_

Larry Norman – “Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music”

In Love, and because of Love – DEREK

 

 

 

throwing down a discipleship challenge

First Presbyterian of Greenville

First Presbyterian of Greenville

Tuesday’s speaking trip to Greenville turned out to be a good time. But my experience, without exception, is always positive when I have the opportunity to stand in front of a group of men and encourage them in their journey as followers of the Living Way of Jesus.

Essentially, we talked about the fundamental challenge I always throw down: “Let’s make a shift from thinking of ourselves as members of a particular church, to living as passionate disciples of Jesus.”

Church membership is an important commitment, and I’m all for joining the church. But I want us to think of ourselves as disciples, Jesus-followers who are exploring – and being encouraged in – living faith, in the context of our affiliation with the local church.

DISCIPLE versus MEMBER: Here are a few sound-bites that seemed to be helpful over at First Presbyterian Church in Greenville.

- Membership identifies us… Discipleship animates us.

- Membership quantifies the church… Discipleship equips the church.

- Members sit on the premises… Disciples stand on the promises.

- Membership brings us together in community for worship… Discipleship is what happens the other six days of the week.

Membership notes our affiliation; Discipleship is the living faith that animates the lives of committed followers of The Living Way.

Men's leader Dallas, and Roy Alexander

Men’s leader Dallas, and Roy Alexander

COMMISSION: I shared a few stories about how being a disciple has impacted – and continues to impact – both my day-to-day life and the lives of the people I encounter.

And that – the encountering part – is critically important. Because encountering turns out to be a key element of what it means if we intend to be disciples of Jesus instead of just church members. You see, part of being a disciple is making disciples.

In Matthew 28, when Jesus gave The Great Commission, he didn’t charge his followers with the responsibility to, “Stay put, get comfortable, form a private club, bring a casserole if necessary, and hope some other people who look and think just like you walk in off the street.”

No! What Jesus said was, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” “Go to the people of all nations and make them my disciples.” “Go and make followers of all people in the world.” “Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life.”

“Go into your everyday and share the Gospel of Love with everyone; invite them into life; and bring them along as new disciples.”

with Roy, my host

with Roy, my host

So what’s it going to be? Are we going to be members of a social club, where the preacher plays the role of chaplain? Or are we going to be followers of the Living Way of Jesus, disciples, and disciple-makers?

Peace – DEREK

what it takes to be a disciple

web_13This afternoon I’ll be driving over to Greenville to speak at a men’s ministry gathering; I’ve been thinking about what I want to say.

Typically – and especially when I’m just visiting for a short “after-dinner” talk – I like to engage people in a conversation about how important it is that we see ourselves as “disciples of Jesus” rather than merely “members of a church.”

This idea has been on my mind a lot lately, as the men’s ministry groups I’m involved with at WFPC have been talking seriously about the practical applications of faith, the “how do I live my relationship with Jesus,” challenge, and the “what does being a Christian look like when I’m not at church” question.

THE BLUES: I find myself coming back to a story I shared in my first book, GET REAL: a spiritual journey for men, about wanting to play the blues on my guitar. We lived in Brandon at the time, so I asked our Praise Band director for some advice. Don was an accomplished musician who played trombone with the Florida Orchestra; he knew all the white notes, and all the black notes – plus the ones in-between.

I told Don I wanted to learn how to play “bluesy stuff” on my guitar. “I’ve got just what you need,” he said, and hooked me up with this really thick book. It had a photograph of a jazz guitarist on the front, looking so cool playing his blues.

I took the book home and I dove into it, excited, motivated, and ready to sound like B.B. King. But I was instantly disappointed; the volume was 80% theory, musical scales, finger exercises, and tedious repetition.

The next week I took the book back to Don. “This book is nothing but scales and exercise,” I complained. “Where’s the part where I can lay down a few sweet chords, plug in my amp, improvise, and get all bluesy?”

Don looked at me with a kind smile (and here I’m going to quote directly from GET REAL), “You don’t understand. You can’t improvise unless you have something to improvise from. If you don’t memorize all the scales first, you’ll be pulling from a dry well.”

You can’t improvise unless you have something to improvise from. If you don’t memorize all the scales first, you’ll be pulling from a dry well.

DISCIPLESHIP: WOW! I immediately thought about my spiritual life, and about how I want God to be with me every moment of the day, and how I want my life to play the sweet tune of the Gospel of Love as a natural response to whatever is going on, whatever the circumstance, and whoever I’m with.

And I realized that if I don’t give God something to improvise from – if I don’t ground myself in prayer, in study, in learning, in fellowship, in service, in mission, in the disciplines of faith – then God is not going to have anything to improvise from.

Being disciples is about equipping ourselves for God’s service, and a large part of that is theory, scales, exercises, and (sometimes tedious) repetition.

Derek Palm Sunday 1TALK: That’s what I intend to talk about tonight in Greenville.

Please pray that God will help me get the message across with clarity, with encouragement, and animated by the Spirit.

- DEREK