Friday, August 3, 2012

Olympic Limericks

Behdad Salimikordasiabi

He's drawn super heavyweight, Iranian fame
And crumbled the uneasy challenger's claim.
Assertive and burly,
He began training early
By carrying the ponderous weight of his name.

Four years ago I wrote three Olympic observations in the form of limericks. Oddly enough, they still apply this year. So I dusted them off and am putting them back on the blog shelf. Then I added a couple more in honor of all the hours we've spent watching the games...and Geiko geckos and a conspiracy to get us to watch upcoming Bourne movies...and inarticulate Chevy truck owners...and other advertisements ad nausea... oh well, Olympics, I said.

Men's Gymnastics--The Chinese

They're doing remarkable things
On the horse, on the bars, on the rings
Their leads are commanding
They stick every landing
They've balanced their Yangs and their Yings

Michael Phelps
His perfect, elongated torso
has been featured as never before, so
When his swimming suit slips
Down toward his hips
The length of it seems even more so.

Badminton Scandal

These famous badminton abusers
Looked much more like cruisers than bruisers
Their plays were so lame
They were kicked from the game
For trying to be the best losers

Gabby Douglas

The smile is as big as the girl
With a twist and a leap and a whirl
She swings and she soars
While the crowd stands and roars
For their fabulous, high-flying squirrel

Shelly-Ann Fraser

The 100 is no piece of cake-a
You cannot afford a mistake-a
Just a cool running leap
for a clean medal sweep
It's Jamaica, Jamaica, Jamaica!

Ok, readers, if you want to add your own, send them to me in a comment and I'll post them...

Here's one from Carina:

In London the people are running
And swimming and boating and gunning,
But here I'm just beat
Walking out in the heat
Only watching and cheering and sunning

Then I wrote one for the runners:

Though chased by a feverish pack...
a Kenyan in front and in back... 
Tirunesh Dibaba...
from Addis Ababa...
took off with the first gold in track!

   This one's from Matthew

There once was a runner from Wales,
Who trained with his dogs on the trails.
When his races were run,
He didn't win one,
"I'm sorry I only chase tails!"

And another from Carina

There was a young lady from Perth
Who knew from the day of her birth
She was born to compete
Flying fast on her feet
Could she be the next fastest on earth?

Here's one to celebrate golds for Phelps, Franklin, Ledecky

We don't, in one night, as a rule
Make such a big splash in the pool
But Phelps took a gold
Then was followed, I'm told
By two girls not yet out of school 

 And one for the hours of diving...

There were few dives the diving team wouldn't do
And fewer than that that they couldn't do!
So, fearless and brash,
They made a big splash
Which is precisely what they shouldn't do 


For Beach Volleyball

Remarkable cheering, I'd say
For Kerri Walsh and Misty May
Whose volleyball shorts, 
quite the barest in sports,
Add meaning to "hip-hip hooray!".


They snickered when China's young Dong Dong
Was announced, but his program was strong strong
His daring routine
On the high trampoline
Beat them all, so they didn't laugh long long

Granada's First Gold

And, speaking of Olympic names
We can't forget Kirani James
Who ran for Grenada
As hard as he otta'
And earned the most famous of fames.

Here's one from Rinkly Rimes...who lives in Australia

Two sailors from my local area
Have beaten Taiwan and Bulgaria
The hopes of us all
Were pinned to their 'wall'.
Though others were quite a bit hairier.

To David Boudia (who beat the Chinese world champion to win a gold)

In the platform semi’s he nearly lost out
But Boudia’s grand final we all talked about
When the flawless Chinese
Began feeling the squeeze
And his gold-medal smile soon succumbed to a pout

 The Fastest Man
Like lightning, he bolted, then chattered
Of every world record he’d shattered
The mighty Usain
Left them all in the rain
And, to him, that’s the one thing that mattered



Wardrobe Malfunctions

When the suits of the polo teams

Are held on the body with strings
It's hard for them all
To keep watching the ball
Cause' they're worried about other things

And finally…I write one to all the Olympians

Alas, the Olympics are over
Say goodbye to the white cliffs of Dover
And to every athlete
Who went down in defeat--
All those who are not “in the clover”

No camera was trained on your face
No multitudes cheered for your race
Yet you ran in a manner
That would honor the banner
Of the country that gave you a place

And as fame is obscured by the years
So also, your pain and your tears,
Will yield to the glory
Of a much larger story
Olympians, you share the cheers!


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Leading Worship

There's a difference between leading worship and performing.
Most worship bands don't understand that.
If you are asked to be the entertainment for a group, and everyone will be listening to you, and enjoying your performance, then go ahead and perform. Be excellent!

But if you are called to "lead worship" at a convention or a weekend service, that's another thing entirely.
Your goal should be different. You can't merely "worship" in your own little over-lighted stage world. Your job is to pull from the audience their praise and direct it to the highest heavens while you stand out of the way, enjoying the inevitable presence of the Holy Spirit who comes to honor sincere worship.

Having attended over a thousand worship services in my lifetime, I've made a few observations that may be worth the time of an aspiring worship team:

I. The focus
It should be on Christ, not on you. This isn't the time for little jokes among band members, for idle banter and flattering introductions. If you play and sing well, the audience will be aware of that; you don't have to prep them by describing your talents and applauding each other. You don't need to entertain them with quirky stories about those who invited you to come. You need to direct them to worship.

II. The songs

An audience cannot worship if they don't know the songs. Even if the melody line is simple enough to play on two lines of the staff, learning a new tune and new words requires concentration. Nobody worships while struggling to learn the song. You probably think it isn't "cool" to sing last year's songs, but you have to think about why you're singing at all. You don't want to hear your own solo voice, however impressive it may be. You want to hear a river of praise--voices moving along together, harmony overlapping melody and ascending.   So sing songs the people are likely to know--not the three you wrote last week.

If you must sing the latest compositions, then teach them to the audience. Repeat them the next day, and the next. Give the audience a chance to really learn them; mix them with familiar songs people can sing without craning their necks to see the screen. I know, they will never get to see the massive range of your repertoire, but so be it. That's not why you've been asked to lead worship.

Don't just sing songs taken from albums of popular singing groups. They sound good. They have great chords and elegant key changes. But they are also pitched for professional singers. The average person out in the audience might have heard the songs, but they can't sing them--beyond joining in on an occasional "Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh".  If you are leading young people, who've memorized these songs as they heard them on the radio, it might still work. Otherwise, avoid them. Worship isn't supposed to be a group try-out for "Who's Got Talent?"

Keep the order simple. Don't take off swooping and diving from refrains onto bridges leading to sub-bridges and back to verse two again. If the slide-runner has trouble finding where you are in the song, so will the audience, particularly since they don't know the words and music. And, if they are stumbling all over the song, they will finally give up in frustration and sulk--an activity not very conducive to worship.

I'm not saying you should avoid new songs all-together, but use them sparingly, until they, too, become familiar melodies.

III. The power

Before you ever get up to sing, pray. In fact, prayer is a more important part of preparation than tuning the guitars to the keyboard. Also, include prayer as part of the worship. It's uplifting. It points to Heaven. It leads an audience to worship, something you can't force them or shame them into doing.
Worship can be powerful. There have been times when God's presence shook the house as worship and prayers were lifted. It was a phenomena that can't be evoked. Don't try to imitate it by screaming the guitars and turning up the amplifiers to make the place shake and all souls tremble. That's not power in worship. It's just noise.

Sometimes the greatest power in worship comes quietly...after the shouting.

So...ask yourself. Am I leading worship?
Are the people singing, praying, worshiping?
Who's getting the applause?
When it's all over, will they remember me?
If not, maybe I've been successful.

Worship Band

They move in syncopation
each in his shining circle
swaying on an elevated stage

Blasting--bold and brazen--
guitars like whips of rhythm, and a
drummer in his plexiglass cage

Nineteen spotlights flashing
blue and red and purple
changing to reflect the singer's mood

We cheer and clap with every song;
they pull the audience along
for, "Jesus, this is all about You".

But I wonder if we've thought this through enough
"Why aren't the blazing spotlights pointed up?"

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

North to Nebraska

Nebraska looks a lot like Kansas and Oklahoma, I discovered, except for one thing--Corn. I didn't see any wheat fields there, but the corn fields are impressive. They are planted on the flat fields and, just as often on the hills, even on the land that slopes down to the ditches and the creeks--almost to the water's edge.

Where the corn fields stop, there's another crop--a short, much greener plant--beans or soy, I assume, to rotate for soil replenishment. Occasionally, there are terraces on the hills, made with yard-wide swaths of some kind of tough-looking grass.
As we approached Omaha, the land became greener, and the hills higher. In the city itself, there was a hint of river moisture, but that might have been due to the fact that our hotel was within walking distance of the wide Missouri River.

We were at a church convention here for four full days, so it was refreshing to discover that the conference planners had done their homework well. The Embassy Suites hotel was wonderful. I have absolutely no complaints. Things ran so smoothly that it was difficult to tell there were two and, at one point, three separate conventions going on there. The first floor center attraction was a stream full of large goldfish. The little islands of dining areas and reading lobbies were all nestled into this stream. There was a waterfall in the corner of the second floor which fed the river.
Our room was a true "suite", with a little living and dining area, kitchenette, bathroom and large bedroom with an over the city view of the sunrise.
We were on the seventh floor, right under the roof.

 Omaha is in the process of revitalizing their downtown area. They've converted the run-down buildings into high-dollar condos and apartments and created an "Old Market" area close to the water front. Turtle and I were impressed by the plants on the roofs of downtown buildings.
 ...and climbing up the walls.
 I couldn't resist taking a few pictures of old buildings. They're impressive enough to amaze this Oklahoma yokel, but, I must admit, it doesn't take too much to delight me.

The food was scrumptious, and since I couldn't resist all the chocolate and cinnamon roll breaks, the buffet meals and "all you can eat" breakfasts of hash browns, bacon, eggs, sausage, omelets, biscuits, gravy, juice, milk, pancakes, etc. and etc, it was a battle to keep from putting on twenty pounds or so.

I managed to hold it to a couple. Of course that meant using the hotel gym, and taking the stairs instead of the spiffy-little glass elevator, but it was worth it!