Thursday, March 27, 2008

Puppy Love

Here she is... the newest edition to the family. Her name is Maggie. She is a Beaglier. That's cute-dog-speak for a cross between a beagle and a cavalier King Charles spaniel. She's been in the family for about 48 hours now, and my wife is in love.

Maggie is what you might call an impulse buy. OK, she is an impulse buy. We had been discussing adopting a golden retriever who needed a home. Then, while killing time during our daughter's dance lesson, we stopped by the pet shop. Guess who was there? Our daughter was mighty surprised at what happened during her class!

The idea of cross breeds is kind of strange. They call them "hybrid breeds" and they come in all shapes and sizes. Want a schnoodle? A puggle? Just mix 'em and go.

Q: What do you get when you cross an insomniac, an agnostic, and a dyslexic? A: Someone who stays up all night wondering if there is a Dog.

Q: What do you get if you cross an artist with a policeman? A: A brush with the law.

Q: What do you get when you cross a chicken and a pit bull? A: Just the pit bull.

Q: What do you get when you cross one dog breed with another? A: Apparently you end up with a hybrid breed with some of the characteristics of both breeds. Our beaglier has some of the coloration of a beagle and the facial expressions of a cavalier. We've already noticed that she follows her nose around like a beagle or any other hound.

The other side of the coin is that the hybrids end up with possible weaknesses from both breeds. Every breed of dog is succeptible to certain problems. Big dogs have heart troubles. Some terriers have weak livers. Check the list for a hybrid breed and it includes the weaknesses of both mom and dad's families. Not that every cross breed will have every weakness, but one side's weaknesses aren't cancelled out by the other side. There just aren't breeds with super-strong livers to counterbalance those with weak ones.

Into every relationship, each side brings its own set of baggage. With our relation with the Almighty, we bring in sin while God brings in perfection. Our sin is never fully counteracted in this lifetime. We continue to struggle with our sin nature. Yet, God brings to us the ability to overcome that nature. But we refuse to allow Him far too often.

Yet this hybrid of our sinfulness and God's forgiveness is infinitely lovable by the One who loves with an infinite love.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easy to Miss

Every year at Christmas time, I marvel at how easy it is to miss the real importance of the holiday. We become bogged down with shopping, baking, wrapping, travel plans, and the like and we lose sight of Advent. We have plenty of reminders like Christmas carols and songs, TV specials, traditional events and men in red suits on streetcorners. Still the meaning of the holiday is so easy to miss, even for a Christian. We become lost in tradition or busyness or anything which pulls our minds and our hearts out of God-mode.

I really hadn't considered the same effect on Easter, but it may be even more apparent here once you start to think about it. My Holy Week wasn't exceptionally holy, and I'm really quite sad about that. We had a short vacation on Friday and Saturday planned to coordinate with the only Spring Break our kids get from school. Earlier in the week I had the funeral of the two-and-a-half-month-old baby. We had a pizza party after worship on Palm Sunday and a carry-in breakfast between services on Easter. Plus I had two services on Easter to plan. Where did it all go?

I missed it.

I've blogged before about some of the Holy Week activities when I was a kid. Our church had services all week. Maunday Thursday was the Love Feast with footwashing and communion. It was special.

There are no Easter carols leading up to the big day. Sure, an occasional bunny appears on TV commercials and the store aisles fill up with bag after tempting bag of candy. But it would be easy to miss Easter altogether, let alone the meaning of the season. Unless I set aside specific time, Easter can fly right on past for the most part. The possibilities are lost. The clock is unable to be pushed back. I wait for next year like a deranged Cubs fan.

Fortunately, the Resurrection is celebrated every Sunday. That's the reason we gather on the first day of the week instead of the Sabbath, you know. Each and every Sunday is a celebration of the conquering of death. On every First Day we recognize that Christ provided the perfect sacrifice for us, and that the tomb that Sunday morning was empty. Our holiday is not annual, but weekly.

That way it's not so easy to miss.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Out of the Closet

Looks like all that talk about communism and nature was just a front. Mikhail Gorbachev has come out of the closet by confirming his Christianity. Read about it here. At least that's what he says. And to back it up, the former Soviet leader spent a half-hour in prayer at Assisi.

I'll take this at face value for the time being because I have no real reason not to. But what was it like for Gorby to deny Christ repeatedly for years? I write this in the midst of Holy Week, remembering Peter's threefold denial and subsequent glance at the Master he claimed to have never met.

I understand lying. Sad to say, I've lied myself on too many occasions. Those moments have been dominated by my own selfishness and fear of getting caught doing something wrong. I cannot, however, think of a time when I lied because I did something right. But I'm sure it may have happened.

The idea of a closet believer is so foreign to what I am used to. We are told that Nicodemus came to Jesus at night for a sermon because he was a secret believer. Pilate's wife was said to be a Christian. But my experience is with the closet heathen. You know the type: Talks about his love for the Bible, yet needs the table of contents to find any book except Psalms; Brags about her church, but doesn't seem to know many of the people beyond the occasional last name. You get the picture.

While I find it refreshing that Gorby has come out of the closet, I wonder how he was able to live with himself after all those denials. Peter got a face-to-face "Feed my lambs" experience with Jesus. Gorby got some prayer time at St. Francis' old stomping grounds.

At the same time, I wonder about the closet heathen. Would it be better for the rest of us if they would simply stop the charade? Or do we simply hope and pray (and pray, and pray) that somewhere along the line they listen to what they profess to believe?

If it's simply a matter of heart, we all have to fight off temptation and selfish desires. I just wonder if the closet heathen has fooled himself.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

After the Funeral

Thanks to everyone who prayed and sent words of encouragement. The funeral went well, or at least as well as a funeral for a two and a half month old baby can go. Lots of emotion. Hopefully some lessons learned.

I was surprisingly calm except for when my wife came to the funeral home. It did bring back a rush of memories of 17 years ago. Like I told the baby's mom, we never forget. Oddly enough, had my son lived, he'd be the same age as the mother of the two and a half month old baby. I guess I'm getting old.

I talked about not having answers, but having confidence in the afterlife. I spoke about a lack of understanding, but confidence in Christ as the way to the afterlife. And I spoke about God not guaranteeing a lack of trouble, but promising help through the trouble.

Please continue to remember mom and dad and the family, especially over the next few weeks. Thanks so much. And maybe I can get back to a couple of Holy Week posts this week.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

What to say, what to say...

I have a funeral to preach on Tuesday. This evening my wife asked me what I was going to say. I told her that I didn't know yet. She seemed surprised, but I'm not sure why. I don't know if I'll know what I said after the service is over.

The loss of a child is so different in each situation, but so similar. I've been reading poems and stories and although each honors a different child, a common thread runs through everyone -- an incredible grief. It's a grief that doesn't just go away. It's part of a hurt that pitches a tent and sets up permanent residence in a heart.

I wrote about my experience burying a child. It's here in this post. I just reread it, and I invite you to read it again or for the first time. I'll wait.

Not that long ago, I told my wife that sometimes I felt ashamed because I didn't think of our little boy every day. Unlike her, my life has gone on for short bursts without being dragged down by the memories. But not for too long.

You see, it seems like God is always placing people in my path who have a child in NICU or have lost a baby or have lost a grandchild far too soon. It's almost a little freaky. Last month, on the anniversary of my son's funeral, I was speaking with the mother of a sick little boy in NICU who shares my birthday. That mother shares my son's birthday. You can't make this stuff up.

I've mentioned to a few people that I wish I could remember more about my son's funeral, especially with this service coming up in 36 hours. All I remember is my wife and I taking pictures of our dead son in the casket, bringing him to the cemetary in what looked like an ice cooler, and a whole heap of crying. The minister traveled two hours to perform the service, and I don't remember a word he said. But I do remember he was there.

Maybe most of the burden for the family and friends (not to mention the pastor) is just being there. I believe God will give me some insightful words Tuesday morning, but I don't know if they will be memorable or even make a difference to anyone for the next week.

And in a strange way, I feel the love of God reaching out to me in all of this. I still feel the grief 17 years later, although it's not the same intensity. I have the comfort of knowing that I will see him again, without the tubes and wired that accompanied our first meeting. But I also have the prayers and well wishes of many people who realize that I have a tough job to do. My friends at the racing bulletin board, TrackForum, managed to find me even though I didn't try to burden them. (Hi, guys and gals!)

Then there is the bond that my wife and I share in all this. This death has brought back the experience that we shared so long ago and still share today.

I have few memories of this three-month boy who just died so suddenly, but the one that shines out is the last time the baby's mother brought them to church for Sunday worship. The baby's great aunt had been holding him through the pastor's long-winded sermon, but she had to come to the piano to play the final song for the service. So she walked with the sleeping baby in her arms and approached my wife from behind. My wife was suprised to see Great Aunt reaching out to her with that little baby in her arms, asking her to hold the baby while she played the piano. The expression on my wife's face was priceless. She's a little baby-crazy anyway, and the look of sheer joy on her face was something to behold! That tiny little boy had brought my wife an incredible amount of happiness.

And that's the story of his life. He brought happiness for almost three months. The mention of his name will continue to bring an odd mixture of happiness and sorrow for years to come, but the fact that he made grown-ups and children alike smile is a part of his legacy.

Some give joy their entire lives. This little boy was one of those people.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Prayers please

A teenage mother from my church is in need of prayer today. She and her boyfriend were staying with her brother and sister-in-law. The brother has a 2-year-old son. The teenage mother has a 1-year-old and a 3-month-old.
This morning, the brother stuck his head in the baby's room to check on him. The little one was on his stomach, against the side of the crib as usual. But he wasn't breathing. The brother turned him over to see that he was blue. 911 was called, but the baby was gone.
I could go through the litany of things that have happened to this family over the past year, but that's not really the issue. Pray that God will hold them through this horrible time. And pray for me, that God will give me strength and big load of wisdom for this.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The View From Atop a Donkey's Back

What did He see that Sunday as He rode on the back of a donkey's colt up the steep grade into the city of Jerusalem -- a city which meant so much to Him. What did He notice through the tears?

The Palm Sunday passage is such a bittersweet portion of Scripture. Jesus, being hailed as king by the peasants, yet being despised and laughed at by the Roman soldiers. What did He see in the eyes of those hypocrites asking Him to silence the crowd? Did it please Him to hear the sound of "Hosanna!" in His ears, all the while knowing that the shouts would turn to cries of "Crucify!" in just a matter of days?

The words of the gospels seem so poignant at that moment where Jesus breaks out into tears, crying over the lost people that He wishes to protect under the shelter of His wings. It seems that the rest of the happenings of that ride are almost inconsequential to Him. He is broken-hearted over the lost. He knows He will save some. He wants to save all.

My mind often travels back to the post I wrote about the show, "The Moment of Truth" a few days ago. There's that question featured in the photo, "Do you really care about the starving children in Africa?" I don't know how the contestant answered that question, but I would have to believe that there is a better-than-average chance she had to honestly say "no." It's trendy to say you care, but mustering up a lot of love and concern over some people you'll never meet and have precious little in common with... well, it's tough for the average Joe or Jo.

But the same issue plagues the Church. Do we really care about the lost? Do we ache for them? Do we actually love them? Or do we look at them as folks who are happy in their hedonism or forget 'em? If we're brutally honest with ourselves, we are probably closer to the latter than the former. Sad, aren't we?

Jesus wasn't like that. He looked out upon that city and saw the prostitutes, the godless, the hypocrites, the homosexuals, the rich, the powerful, the stubborn, the self-absorbed, the drunks, and the average Joes. His reaction? Deep sorrow for their loss.

What is your reaction? What is the reaction of the person in the pew behind you? In front of you? Beside you? Do we see people without Christ the way He saw them? If no, then why not?

Climb on the back of the donkey -- not for the cheers of adulation, but so we can see better the faces of those we struggle to care about.

"Lord, help me to see others the same way You saw them on that Sunday morning, and the way You still see them today."

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Heart Condition

"Only he who is helpless can truly pray." - Ole Hallesby

Interesting quote, don't you think? Prayer is one of those topics that we as Christians like to give lip service to, pledge to do better, swear how important it is, and regularly regret how little we do it. I think part of the reason is that we wonder if we're doing anything more than talking to the air. After all, God already knows whatever it is we're going to tell Him. So it's hard to get charged up about rattling off a grocery list of prayer requests, no matter how much in need those people on the list truly are.

Over and over again, the topic comes back to me with a big, flapping, red flag attached to it. The words on the flag are pretty simple: Prayer isn't so much the words, but the attitude.

Jesus talked about the Pharisees who loved to be the ones called upon to make the big public prayer. They'd even do the prayers when nobody asked them to do it. They liked to be heard. They said all the right things. They were smooth as silk, and people looked up to them for their incredible prowess at public prayer. "Surely, that's a spiritual dude," the passersby must have said.

By Jesus talked down those showy prayers and the ones praying those prayers. Why? Probably because it was performance. I've done a little theatre work, and I realize that when I'm reciting my lines or even when I ad lib in character when I've forgotten what I was supposed to say, those words aren't real. Sure the words exist, but they don't really reflect what's in my heart. The words are uttered to keep the performance going. The show must go on, you know.

So all the recited prayers in the world don't seem to make a dent in our souls unless there is a true heart condition -- a point where what is said matches what is believed. On top of that, any prayer that does not come from the heart seems to me to be an almost useless exercise. Sure there are days that my heart doesn't seem to be in everything I pray, but if I am detached from what I say or simply praying out of obligation with no feeling whatsoever, I have to wonder what the point is.

Let's get back to Mr. Hallesby's thought. Helplessness. Do I really see myself as helpless when I pray? Am I fully leaning upon the everlasting arms? I'm not sure I can honestly answer that question because I'm not really sure. But what I do know for sure is that unless my heart is in my prayer, I feel nothing from it. I can use all the beautiful, poetic, psalmistic words my mind can recall, but as Paul might say, without my heart in it I am like a clanging cymbal.

I hate being helpless. I love to be able to do things myself. Down deep my manhood is bruised when I have to ask for help to do something that some other guy could do by himself. That same feeling hits me when I go to God for all those things I know I cannot do. Sick children I cannot heal. The pain of grief I cannot take away. Temptation I cannot extinguish. And my heart should reflect that in my prayer life.

So prayer actually begins, not with a list of concerns or a journal, but with a heart condition. Understanding my own helplessness puts me in the right frame of mind to go to God. I go not as a person saying all the right words, but as a person who acknowledges his own inability to do anything right.
"Apart from me, you can do nothing." - Jesus Christ.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Fall Forward

Daylight Saving Time begins tonight. It's the Spring Forward portion of our annual ritual, which means we will all lose an hour of sleep tonight -- like I needed one more thing to lose sleep over! Actually the hardest part about DST is remembering how to set the clocks. It's not just a matter of grabbing the big hand and running it clockwise one revolution. Oh no. It's holding the set button while pushing the seek button three times while repeating, "There's no place like home," or something like that. I'll have to look that one up.

Anyway, I have no real problem with DST. Usually I like it, although it's really kind of strange to still have daylight in July at 10 p.m. But I can adjust.

I live in an area near the great state of Indiana. I like Hoosiers. I was born and raised in the state. But you see Hoosiers are just recently a part of the whole DST world. Until last year, the state ignored the clock-switching tradition. As a result, there are plenty of people there with a vile hatred for DST. I mean hatred. Almost violent hatred.

I know a few of these people. They carry on like Satan himself has taken over the government -- at least the clock-setting portion of it. Cows won't give milk on time. It's too dark in the morning. The earth may fall off its axis. All pretty typical from some of the anti-DST hardliners. To hear them talk, that one hour is the one thing they hold precious in life.

Of course I've seen the same attitude in the church as well. Hymns vs. choruses. King James vs. New International. Pews vs. chairs. Some folks miss the point of why we gather on Sunday mornings. It's not to proclaim the truth that doesn't change in the traditional way that doesn't change. It's to worship God and to proclaim Him and His gospel to the world. And though it may bring a tear to the eye of the traditionalist, the time-honored traditions of the past 150 years is probably not the best or most effective way to proclaim Him. The truth doesn't change. Just the delivery method.

So as you and I move clocks tonight, let us remember that the responsibility of reaching others for Christ and helping people grow in Him is not a matter of making them learn and worship exactly the way our grandparents did, but of bringing them into His Kingdom. They, as we, are to conform to the image of Christ, not to the image of the churchgoer.

Tomorrow, we'll just do it one hour earlier.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

I'm Favred

As a Chicago Bears fan, I can't say I was all teary-eyed when I heard earlier this week about the retirement of Brett Favre from professional football. I always enjoyed beating the Packers. Favre stole too many of those games away with some bizarre lucky play. Of course he gave a few away by throwing foolish interceptions as well, so it's probably even.

Everyone always seemed to glow about Favre, not necessarily because of the games he won or the touchdowns he threw. It always seemed to be about the way he played the game. He was the Pete Rose of football -- the guy who played with all his heart and soul.
But at the press conference where #4 announced he was calling it quits, he didn't look like he was a kid playing a game. He didn't look like he couldn't wait to run out on the field and let a few 50-yard bombs fly. He looked tired. And to back it up, Favre said he was tired. Mentally. Physically. Tired.
So after 17 seasons in the pros, 4 in college and most of his life growing up, Brett Favre is too tired to devote himself to playing football anymore.
I can relate. I'm tired too. The main difference is that there was no danger of me taking the field to rifle a few throws at acrobatic receivers. But I understand some of what Favre is going through. I've had plenty of Monday mornings where I didn't feel strong enough to start work on another Sunday service or any other administrative work of the church. There have been plenty of Monday mornings that I haven't felt good enough to head out to my secular job. Tuesday mornings too. And Wednesdays. And... well, you get the idea. So why do I go?
I suppose it's a sense of duty and commitment at my secular job, and a sense of calling for the pastorate. But I'm still tired. I'm tired of trying to run the ministries of the church with only a handful of people willing to do the work. I'm tired of doing the same old nonsense day after day at my secular job. I'm tired of the hardships and the setbacks and the disappointments.
But I go on. But it's not my own strength. I ran out of that years ago.
I can pretend that I'm superhuman, but I'm not. My strength is in the Lord. And when I try to convince myself that I am strong, something will usually happen to remind me just how strong I am not. But fortunately, I am weak but He is strong.
And so on those mornings (and afternoons and evenings) when I don't feel ready to try to round up a volunteer at the church or perform the same old tasks at work, and like Brett Favre, I feel like calling it quits for a while, I lean upon the Lord and accept the strength He gives me. Like after waking up from a good night's sleep, I head off refreshed and ready to go on.
Tonight I'm ready for a good night's sleep. Tomorrow, with God's strength, I'll head off to work again to do what he has called me to do. And luckily for football fans everywhere, I won't be chucking the pigskin around. Besides, you don't want to see me in those tight football pants.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Moment of Truth or The Biggest Loser

I watched the first episode along with the rest of my family. The idea seemed intriguing. A guinea pig willingly gets hooked up to a lie detector so he has to reveal embarassing things about himself just to try and win a million bucks. Now, that's television!

So we tuned into the debut of The Moment of Truth to watch the fun. But the funny thing is, it wasn't especially fun. It was more like driving by an accident along the highway and straining my neck to see the dented sheet metal and blood-soaked windshield.
The premise is fairly simple. Contestants are hooked up and asked questions that they have previously answered. If they don't set off the lie detector, they win cash and the audience applauds. It starts simple, like asking the pro athlete if he thinks he's better looking than his friends or if he's peeked at other men in the shower room. Embarassing, but hardly fascinating.
Eventually the stakes are raised. "Have you ever touched a female client inappropriately since you've been married?" "Do you really care about the starving children in Africa?" "Have you ever gambled away one of your children's college fund?" These questions are asked in front of the contestant's spouse, friends and parents to heighten the tension, not to mention the pain.
From what I've heard, last week's show featured a blonde lady who was bound and determined to win that cash, no matter the consequences. By the end of the hour she revealed that she had stolen money from work, she had been sexually unfaithful to her husband and that she thought she should have been married to her former boyfriend. Amazingly after each revelation and confirmation by the lie detector, the studio audience clapped, celebrating the woman's theft, unfaithfulness and all-around poor character. And with every answer, the woman's husband buried his face deeper and deeper into his hands.
Promos for this week's show promise a contestant having a nervous breakdown on-camera from the pressure of revealing the "truth" in front of her family. Just keep telling yourself, "It's entertainment. It's entertainment."
Why would someone put themselves through all this? Better still, why would someone put their loved ones through something like this? Money? Maybe. But I'm thinking these people are looking for their 15 minutes of fame. Attention. That's the name of the game. It's the same reason that Jerry Springer was able to find guests all those years. People crave attention. Even being known as "that chick who embarassed her husband and ruined her marriage" is better than not being known at all.
Somewhere in the back of my mind, whenever I try to think of the title of the show, "The Moment of Truth" I always think of "The Biggest Loser." Nobody is losing any weight on "The Moment of Truth." Perhaps it's my age and the effects of acquiring an addled mind. Or perhaps subconsciously I associate these attention-seeking attention with losers.
My wife has an almost-violent reaction to "The Moment of Truth." She often says that no amount of money is worth the damage some of these people cause by revealing their secrets on television. I understand that point of view, although I also wonder why people need to keep the secrets or harbor feelings that would hurt others in the first place. But to purposely expose and embarass a wife or husband or parent or anyone is beyond appropriate. Maybe these folks are the biggest losers.
But I remember how I felt after I watched that one episode. Maybe it's not the contestants on "The Moment of Truth" that are the biggest losers.
"Lord help me from judging others unfairly, especially when my own behavior is less than what you want from me on far too many occasions. Let me not revel in the pains of others or take cheap enjoyment in the presentation of hurtful behavior."

Sunday, March 02, 2008

A Weekend of Music

It's been an interesting musical weekend. On Friday night, I attended a concert consisting of one man and his guitar, occasionally set aside for a piano. No background singer. No bass player. No fanfare. Just a one man band in the midst of an elegant theatre.
Livingston Taylor is an interesting guy. That's him at the right. He will play a poignant piece, or a medley of interpretations from "Oklahoma" and follow it all up with a quirky comedic number. Much of his banter between songs reminded me more of an odd college professor than a tender-hearted poet. His humorous asides seemed so out of place at times, but then again here is a guy who played a beautiful number on the piano about pitch, yaw and the Wright Brothers followed by a quick tune about the upcoming intermission which would probably end about the time the CD sales in the lobby slowed down.
He's not exactly a well-known performer. In many circles, he's simply a footnote to his famous brother, James Taylor. But that sells Livingston short. At times during the show I found myself wearing a goofy contented smile, just wrapped up in the sound of a man and an instrument.
The atmosphere was different on Saturday night. My wife and I sat in a somewhat smoky bar and grill listening to an oldies rock and blues band. This wasn't just any oldies rock and blues band. This band is fronted by my mother-in-law. I realize that may sound strange to many, but it's old hat to me. Hey, I've known my mother-in-law longer than I've known my wife!
Besides, the band is good. My mother-in-law is a good singer too. They play every weekend at clubs and fairs around that area and have a pretty good following. I haven't spend an evening in a bar for a while, so it was an interesting change of pace. Of course I knew most of the songs Saturday night where the evening before it was rare that I had heard the tune before the performance.
Then this morning during our worship service, we had a guest performer. A high school junior, this boy did two numbers on the piano and two other tunes on the accordian. Yes, I said the accordian. I'm not a big accordian freak, to say the least. Weird Al Yankovic, Lawrence Welk, assorted polka kings... what other use does this squeezable "concert in a box" possibly have?
The kid did well. He explained that he learned the accordian because his grandmother played it, so I could at least understand his attachment. He did a fine job too, playing His Eye Is On the Sparrow and How Great Thou Art. I'll admit though that I enjoyed his two piano numbers much more. Maybe it's because the accordian seems a little cheesy to me. I'm sure it's difficult to master, but overall the presentation of music on most other instruments is much more enjoyable to me. Then again, I'm not a big polka fan.
Music has always been a big part of my life. The ten years of my life spent working in radio found me immersed in music of all styles and helped form my rather ecclectic musical taste today. It also burned me out on a lot of overplayed pop and rock songs from the 80s. At times these days I retreat to some types of talk radio or classic radio programs to cleanse the palate, as it were.
Still I find it easiest to slip into a mode of worship with music. I sing, but I can't play any instrument worthy of public performance. I wish I could. There is something about being able to journey to a place where worship flows freely, or for that matter, where non-religious thoughts flow freely.
I don't have to mention just how divisive music can be also. You've heard the stories of churches splitting over the whole "hymns vs. choruses" war. But even in the secular marketplace there is a gap between die-hard country fans and hard-core rockers, even though there are similarities between the genres. Mostly I think it's a matter of what reaches the soul. I'm thankful that in one weekend my soul can be touched by a guy and a guitar, my mother-in-law singing rock and roll and a high school kid with an accordian. Thank you Lord for my easy-to-reach soul.