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How did you do it all those years, Mom?

The foods I liked included quite a few that weren’t all that good for me.  You somehow convinced me I needed green things to eat. You and Dad mildly insisted and now that I think about it, I probably grew up healthier as a result.

How did you know when to just wait it out? Did you ever really think that I’d grow up to actually like things like green beans and spinach salad and (honest!) cauliflower?  Was it a wild guess?  Desperation?  Or just soft-spoken stubbornness?

Was it a big challenge to disguise things so I’d eat them before I knew what they were?  That under those toasted marshmallows were sweet potatoes? (ew-w-w)  That under those crunchy fried things were green beans?! Did you ever dream that as an adult I’d order a “loaded” sweet potato at a steakhouse – and pay extra for it?

How did you resist the continual pressure from us kids, maybe even your own likes, and deliberately craft balanced meals day after day, week after week, month after month?  You had something on the table for us every time we gathered to eat. In the summer, much of it came from our own garden. You made it delectable and tasty.  We grew up.  Quite a few of the things that wrinkled our noses before are now our staples.  Some of them are our favorites.

In late summer we’d occasionally pig out on roasting ears.  Just corn on the cob for supper, nothing else. It was fun to step out of bounds a few times a year. But from the freezer, all winter long, you kept corn on the menu.  On purpose.

I’ve never been a mom.  I never will be.
But I am a worship pastor.  And I’m thinking about diet.

The last few years radio stations like “The Fish” and K-LOV have made worship life interesting. They play a handful of songs over and over until you absentmindedly memorize them, even the songs that don’t really say anything.  “Can we sing that at church?” people ask, “I really like it.”  But many can’t tell me what it says or what it teaches. (So THAT’s how Mom felt.) What I WANT to say, but seldom do, is “I like all eight of K-LOV’s songs. but we’re not going to wear them out the way they do.”

Some of the questions Mom asked herself in the kitchen, I now ask myself in my study: Some of my family want things that really aren’t good for them. Shallow, even trite lyrics, repetitious little motifs or “licks”. But they’re like M&Ms. (I love M&Ms – but not for dinner).  How can I insist -politely- that they need greens in their diet? That they need protein? How can I be gentle every time I say “You can’t live on milk.  You’ll be healthier – trust me on this one.”?

In each place I’ve served it’s taken three to five years for my church family to discover that the meat and vegetables in our repertoire (play-list) are not only good FOR you – they’re GOOD.  It’s hard to know when to say, “OK, you don’t have to eat everything I put on your plate, ready for dessert?” Sometimes you just have to excuse them from the table with a smile and let them go play.  But that doesn’t mean we start with chocolate chip cookies at dinner tomorrow night.

The menu-chart idea, like Mom occasionally resorted to to make sure we had balanced meals, is coming in handy now. Mine are songs, though, not entrees:

  • We need this one. It speaks to where we are and where we need to be.  Let’s serve it often from this date to this date.
  • This one they like. It’s a pretty good song, let’s make sure we sing it enough that everyone in the family partakes, and actually take five bites of meat in the process.
  • We need to read Scripture aloud. Together. Yes, we will take the time.
  • We need to pray. And we will. Join me, would you? – and we do.

I remember going to Burger King back when the motto was “It takes TWO hands to handle a Whopper” (and gas was 25c a gallon).  You had to lean forward when you ate a Whopper or juice from the tomato and too much mayo could run down the front of your shirt. We enjoyed eating out – but not every night.  Normal was home-cooked, tasty, and together as a family. Mom and Dad put effort into making it enjoyable. I’m trying to do likewise as a worship pastor. So it doesn’t sound like the CD. We don’t have the resources to even try. But this is us. And it’s what’s for dinner. Enjoy ~

Some of our friends and us smile and say “The reason Krispy Kreme donuts taste so good is because they’re really not very good for you.”  While it might be a bit of an exaggeration, I believe the same is true of much of today’s Christian music. Substantive, meaty lyrics have been difficult to find the last three or four years. The Gettys and a few others are making an efforts, but much of current Christian music sounds just like everything else hitting the airwaves.  I’m craving some originality, how about you?  While I wait I’m trying to figure out how to tactfully tell people “You can listen to that on the radio all you like; there’s nothing wrong with it, but we won’t be doing it at church.”

I’m glad Mom set a good example.  I’m glad I was paying close enough attention to apply some of her principles to worship ministries, believing I can be as successful in the worship venue as she was in the kitchen. Someday someone is going to ask if we can sing “Before the Throne of God” again, or “There is A Redeemer”, maybe even a song that’s older than they are.  Wouldn’t that be something? When it happens I’m going to try my best not to smile so big I pull a muscle.

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