Tomorrow is my last big band contest as a high school band dad.

I will grill (with great help from some other dads) about 70 pounds of chicken. I will ice down the bottled water and load the ice chests in the trailer. I will don my Duncan Band Boosters hat (one-of-a-kind, I might add) and may even take up one of those little red flags.

I will do my best to gather as many of the other parents together up high in the middle as I can. I won’t be able to sit still while the band before ours gets out of the way.

And just as our band starts into the stadium, while it’s still relatively quiet in the place, I will do what has almost gotten me smacked a number of times and often gets me disdainful scowls from startled people in front of us.

You see, I’m the guy that does the “Woohoo!”

I’ve been doing it for ten years now. I guess this makes my eleventh season.

I do it when it’s quiet, before the applause and the music. I do it between songs and at random times. The kids know it’s me. They ask me about it if, for some reason, I’m not there.

It’s just who I am—the guy that does the “Woohoo!”

I don’t think they know why.

I used to be a band director before I became a pastor. I was usually pretty good at getting my students fired up for a performance. Unfortunately, I wasn’t all that great at getting them musically prepared for the performance… but we all have to learn to work out of our strengths, right?

Now, I’m a band dad. It means I’m not looking to see what they mess up. I’m not watching to see what to fix next.

I’m a dad. And, though not all of those kids out there are mine, they are mine by association. Besides, seems like half of them have been around our table at one time or another.

I woohoo when they’re coming into the stadium so they will know that the other parents and I are in our places and ready to celebrate their performance.

I woohoo when it’s quiet, before the music begins, so they will know that I already think they’re the best band of the day—my personal favorite.

I woohoo so that my kids and their friends will know that I’m watching them and cheering for them and so excited to hear the music that is in them come pouring out through their instruments.

I woohoo so that every parent and spectator from every other band in that place knows those are my kids. That’s my band. This is our turn to fill the place with music.

I woohoo to let these students know that I am ready to do my part—to lean in and listen hard and watch closely and experience the music in sight and in sound with them.

It’s our last big head-to-head competition marching contest of the season tomorrow. And I will be there. And maybe this time those kids will hear that familiar sound and know that they are already champions in my book. Maybe they will hear it and that jolt of excitement will spring through their nervous system and they will play with more intensity and more attention and more passion than ever before.

I’m the guy that does the “Woohoo!”

And one last time under the lights tomorrow night I want to bounce it off the visitor’s bleachers and fill the stadium with that familiar, annoying, silly sound.

It’s what I do. Now you know why.


I’ll Be Back

October 12, 2017

It’s one thing to tell people you’ll be back. It’s another thing when you’re talking about your own death.

When Jesus drove the moneychangers and businessmen out of the temple, it was certainly a controversial moment. It stirred a lot of different responses from the people. But the next passage in John 2 (verses 18-22) relay a conversation that was so strange, so significant that it hung in the minds of Jesus’ followers for a very long time.

[Take a moment and read John 2.18-22.]

The Jews—which would have been everyone in the place because they were the only ones allowed to enter this space—asked Jesus an interesting question. They asked what sign he could give for his authority to do such a bold thing.

Jesus pointed them to the greatest sign of His identity as God in the flesh. But He did it in a strange way, a way that would have to soak in over time, a way that would not make sense to most of them for a very long time.

Jesus said these words:

“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (John 2.19)

He was standing in the great temple in Jerusalem that Herod had built for the Jewish people. This is the place that out of which Jesus had just cast the crooks who were defiling it. It had taken 46 years to erect this edifice. It was preposterous to suggest that it could be restored from ruins in 3 days.

Of course, for the One who caused the entire world to exist in 6 days, it doesn’t seem like much of a stretch.

But John offers the commentary of perspective that we need to get the point Jesus was making. John explains:

“But he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.” (John 2.21-22)

John explains to us how Jesus stepped into this place where the people were to approach the God who longed to be known by His people and drove out those who had made a business of their system of worship. Jesus came into the mess of their intense but often insincere religion and brought the clarity of relationship.

And the authority by which He did so was signified in the sign that was yet to come—His own resurrection from the dead. The temple of His own flesh, the dwelling place of the Most High God as He came into our mess, would be destroyed. And three days later He would indeed raise it up.

So, many months before Jesus died on the cross, He pointed to it and said, in a sense,… “I’ll be back.”

But here’s the deal… the disciples remembered and believed.

Will we?

Will we see Him as the God who stepped into our mess?

Will we believe Him—that He has the power to resurrect life out of the mess?

Will we know Him as the God who loved us enough to step into our mess, but too much to leave us there?

Father, open our eyes to see You, our minds to believe You, and our hearts to know You as God—even in the Mess.

When your dad owns the place, it changes the way you approach it.

I am reminded every time I see a certain pastor’s wife from my childhood of the time I asked her, “Do you know who my dad is?”

My dad was the camp director at the church camp we attended that particular year and, because of his position of leadership and influence (which to a small kid is pretty much the same as ownership) I felt that brought me a certain degree of… well, something akin to diplomatic immunity.

I was wrong… very, very wrong.

Nevertheless, there is something about being in your dad’s business or his house that a son naturally feels some degree of ownership or protectiveness toward it.

When I read in John chapter 2 about Jesus cleaning house in the temple in Jerusalem, I realize that this is a good thing.

Take a moment and read John 2.13-17.

It was a very important time in the temple as the people were coming to offer their passover sacrifices. As a matter of convenience, I’m sure, some of the authorities had allowed a sort of concession agreement to enable some local businessmen to set up a kiosk in the lobby to cater to those who had to travel some distance (which, of course, made the task of bringing animals for sacrifice much more difficult).

People being what people are, the profitability of such an arrangement had been recognized and sufficiently exploited as a significant business practice.

But they also had to have an exchange table that would convert the common Roman currency of the street into the exclusive currency of the temple… for a small convenience fee.
Jesus came into the temple, His Father’s house, and saw the bustling business taking place.

But notice his reaction:

“And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables.” (John 2.15)

The response was immediate and harsh. It was the kind of outrageous action that would get most pastors immediately relieved of their duties. He was clearly very angry at what he found taking place in this space set aside for worship.

His comments give us more insight:

“And he told those who sold the pigeons, ‘Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.’” (John 2.16)

Jesus had a passionate concern for what He referred to as “my Father’s house.” You see, even here Jesus was identifying himself as the Son of God. This seems to be John’s purpose behind relaying this event.

And, as John often does through his account, he relays a comment about how he and the others recognized in this event what the Scriptures had testified so long ago:

“His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’” (John 2.17)

John testifies here that Jesus’ followers, when reflecting on what they had witnessed, recalled Psalm 69 and recognized the fulfillment right before their eyes.

Jesus walked into the temple and observed the troubling things going on as the temple was being at the very least disrespected if not outrightly profaned. His reaction, though seemingly violent, was one of simply taking care of business in His Father’s house.

I wonder… what kind of passion ought we to have about our Father’s house today? I speak of the fellowship of believers in which we must be connected, the local faith family we call a church. Should we be outraged at profit-driven practices and self-benefitting arrangements?

Let me be clear: this is not about kids sharing fund-raisers for school in the church building. The building IS NOT THE CHURCH. The people are. Do we practice things as a people that are contradicting the work to which we have been called?

Maybe it’s time we speak up to the moneychangers around us and insist that our practices be cleansed and reformed. But one thing is for sure… we should have a Christ-like zeal for our Father’s house.

We need to prayerfully, obediently, set about taking care of business.

Father, give us a humble and holy zeal for Your house!