Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 . . . . . honestly

Hi Everyone,

Well, it is near the end of 2009. It is also my birthday. . . a day that seems to always cause me to reflect on things. (I know. . I'm a huge ball of fun).

This has really been a hard year. I'm going to try and avoid all the "hardest year of my life" hyperbole, although I do feel that way at times. I think, mentally, and emotionally I probably did better this year than some of my college days.

But, the non-whining rundown is. . . we have big money problems. . . we had house problems (I replaced every major appliance in my house this year, save the refrigerator). . . we had extended family problems, . . . marriage was tough this year (Jody is a trooper). . . . I didn't write many songs this year. . . .I got back out of shape. . . . we had a house fire . . . .we had relational struggles with some friends. . . .ok I'll stop.

I'm fighting for joy right now in these things, because I know that God sovereignly ordered all of this into my life this year. He has a purpose in it. I know that to be true more than I know most anything else. And, that's a comfort.

I"m not a "why me" kind of guy. In fact, those close to me are often frustrated by my lack of "why me" and expectations for myself. I"m a "why not me" kind of guy. Why shouldn't I have financial problems? What silver spoon do I have in my mouth that would exclude me from homeowner difficulties? There isn't one. . .and none of us are owed anything or should expect a trouble-free 2010. Matt Chandler's ( a favorite of this blog) recent battle with brain cancer has again helped and reminded me of these truths which are important to keep in front of us.

So, that's not the problem. . I struggle more with "how can we get back to the way it was"--itis, which is probably almost as bad as "why me"--ism :) We can't get back. Life changes and we're forever changed by what God has for us. The good news is, for Christians, this change has a purpose and God is in all of it. The bad news is. . . it's often painful.

So, I"m hopeful again for 2010. I"m not hopeful for a pain-free 2010. I would like it to be a "lighter" year and a year filled with more eustress (stress that moves you forward and leads you to good action and initiative) and less distress (stress that causes my cholesterol to go up, fights to happen in my house, and a cloudy brain).

In fact that might be a big one. . my brain is cloudy these days and my thoughts are quickly distracted or gone. I know, I'm older :) but I need to do better this year at silence and solitude.
Perhaps working on the "out of shape" thing will help there as well.

But, I'm hopeful because God doesn't change and since he didn't withhold his own Son, he will "also with Him graciously give us all things". I know that's true. It was true in this hard year, and it will be true if 2010 is harder.

But, the fight for joy continues, I don't just want to survive 2010, I want to live it more to the Glory of God. . . . Pray for me.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Best relationship advice I've heard in. . . . . ever

This little gem is from a CCEF booklet entitled Family Feuds: How to Respond by Tim Lane.

You can read the whole thing here. Even though this is mainly talking about relating to your extended family at Christmas. . . .I think this is great for marriage/parenting/any relationship . . . great stuff, and very helpful:

"Living with a conscious understanding of who you are in Christ can practically impact the way you love your family. Think of it this way: if you are very poor and someone steals a dollar from you, you’d be very angry and you’d try to make that person give you your dollar back. But if you are a multi-millionaire and someone takes $100 or even $1000 dollars from you, the offense, though real, doesn’t sting like it would if you were very poor. In the same way, when you become a Christian you are a spiritual multi-millionaire a millions times over!

Because of what Jesus did for you through his life, death, and resurrection, God has poured an unlimited amount of grace, forgiveness, love, commitment, security, and commitment into your life. Your spiritual wealth puts all of the slights, unmet expectations, and hurts of parents and siblings in a totally new light. It doesn’t mean you ignore or don’t feel the hurts, but they pale in comparison to what you have been given in Christ. Because of who you are in Christ, you don’t have to be overwhelmed and dominated by the sins and failures of your family. Instead you will be free to share with them the same grace and mercy God has given to you."

Tim Lane

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Two takes on the Tiger Woods story

I don't want to pile on Tiger Woods. I'm not proud of some of the things I've said about it this week. But, I found two good stories about the whole situation today. (one great. . one good)

CJ Mahaney blogs about Sin's pursuit of us and how "there but for the grace of God go I". . . A really, really great piece. I hope to one day find my first emotion in cases like this to be humility. I"m not there yet. But, this is a good word for all of us.

A sports columnist for the Omaha World-Herald had a different take. But, I think he has some good points as well.

What boggles my mind, though, is the idea that he thought he could get away with this, that it would never come out, that these women would keep quiet forever, that the constant media eye on him wouldn't eventually find out. He seemed actually upset that this is a story. Please, Tiger. You've used celebrity like no sports figure before you, even MJ, to become beloved world-wide and all the riches that come with it. Don't scold celebrity when it cuts the other way. This is not the media's fault. And please refrain from using the word "principles.''

That's Tom Shatel. . here's the whole piece. I certainly don't agree with all that he says. But, I do think it's fascinating, from a strictly human point of view, that he really didn't think any of this would come out. Amazing. As is the case with any marital infidelity, he obviously wasn't thinking clearly. And, it's a true statement that Tiger has used his celebrity status to make money, and now he's upset that it has cut the other way.

I just found that piece interesting. Now, go read the CJ Mahaney piece again for a great spiritual take on the whole thing that will actually help you. :)


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Shameless Self-Promotion

I don't usually do this. . . . . but all of you should go check out We've released a little Christmas ep, along with some Christmas thoughts from me, artwork, etc. . . Thanks to Stone Crandall for the design, and to Trev for fixing up the website.

The hope is that it will be encouraging to folks, and that some would give it away as a gift for some original Christmas music goodness.



Friday, November 20, 2009

The KU situation

Kansas football coach, Mark Mangino is under investigation for abuse and mistreatment of players in his system. There are some who think this is a witch hunt, driven by KU's poor record this year, and that some are trying to railroad Mr. Mangino out of town.

The facts are not known yet, so I'm not making judgements. But, when you're accused of something by others, this is probably not the way to react:

“I can't do the work of some parents,'' he said, “what they should have done before they got to me. And some of those guys are bitter. And some of that's the problem. And I can't do anything about that.”

Let's just say that response is not dripping with humility. I hope the facts are known soon, and more importantly that God will grant Mr. Mangino humility and a soft heart. How we react when allegations are brought against us says alot about who we are.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Be careful what you ask for. . . .

Here's some great stuff from Jeremiah Burroughs and Tim Keller via Kevin DeYoung today:

Jeremiah Burroughs’ (1599-1646):

Therefore for my part, if I should have a friend or brother or one who was as dear to me as my own soul, whom I saw discontented for the want of such a comfort, I would rather pray, “Lord, keep this thing from them, till you shall be pleased to humble their hearts for their discontent; let not them have the mercy till they come to be humbled for their discontent over the want of it, for if they have it before that time they will have it without any blessing” (The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, 159).

In other words, if people think they can’t live without some thing, they’ll still be miserable even when they get the thing they wanted so badly. Burroughs goes on to suggest:

There are many things which you desire as your lives, and think that you would be happy if you had them, yet when they come you do not find such happiness in then, but they prove to be the greatest crosses and afflictions that you ever had, and on this ground, because your hearts were immoderately set upon them before you had them.

So be careful how you pray. As Tim Keller (or was it that spirit of Jeremiah Burroughs?) has written, “We never imagine that getting our heart’s deepest desires might be the worst thing that can ever happen to us” (Counterfeit Gods, 1).

These are important things to think over as we enter the holiday season. Be careful what you long for this Christmas. . it might be the "worst thing that could happen to you".

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Humility of Thought

Now for something completely different. . . . . .

Our Culture encourages us to be confident, take no prisoners, exclude those who don't agree with us, get done what we need to get done, make sure we're happy, be self-actualized, etc. . . .

There is obviously danger in being timid, indecisive, and depressed. . don't get me wrong. But, I think we've taken it a bit too far to the other extreme where we reject any feelings of timidity, or sadness and try to move on quickly.

I think we need to have a healthy reluctance in our lives. Not timidity or immaturity, but a heart of humility that says, "I may be found to be not right on this, and others have thought this through perhaps more than I have".

This is a good exercise politically,

(tangent: If you're going to let your viewpoint be dominated by the most extreme voices in your camp. . prepare to be marginalized. Republicans are finding this out now. . .if Limbaugh, Beck, Palin, etc are the only voices heard, than your real message is not heard. The same can be said of Democrats with Olbermann, Soros, Franken, etc. . . . If the loudest voice wins, we all lose. Here's hoping for a more measured debate in 2012. I"m not encouraged that it will happen. The candidates pander to their extremes, the message is diluted by it, and worst of all, we stop listening)

spiritually, and especially, relationally. We're not even infallible in the way we remember things. We have to leave room for the fact that others remember it differently. There is a time to present the evidence that shows your correctness, but most of the time these days, we're content to bash or degrade those who disagree with us. And, yes, husbands, wives, and others who love each other do this as well.

Especially those of us who are under 40. . . . we like to be right. We like to find others on the internet whom agree with us. We like to not listen to the 60 year old who has been there. We like to exclude objective truth claims and clasp our dead, cold hands on our open mindedness and flexibility (which is a very objective thing to do, by the way).

Here's to a healthy reluctance that is absolutely sure about our Savior, his cross, and all he has done. And is less sure about our own expertise, our track record, our reputation, and what we deserve. We've been wrong. We will be again. . . many times. We should confess that to other people and humble ourselves. We should give folks the benefit of the doubt on how they remember a situation. We need to be patient.

I'm not arguing for a Descartian post-modern mindset where everything is mush and no one can call anyone out. That's chaos as well, and we experience that in the church all the time.

I"m saying point the thumb, . . . . then later. . . point the finger.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Daves Highway

I stumbled upon this group via YouTube. I"m not sure if it's the cute factor, the flashbacks to my childhood, or the way the little guy clenches his fists. . but I'm a Dave's Highway fan. Enjoy

Here's a little MJ . . . .

P.S. Is the name of this group not the worst stage dad moment in history? If their dad's name is Dave, this is the most unfortunate and tragic name I've heard. :) They are well trained, though. . check out that intro on the MJ song. This kid has been around the block a few times.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sam and Star Wars

Sam has been going through a little Star Wars-obsession phase lately. This makes his uber-nerd dad pretty happy. But, what do you do when you need some Star Wars toys but you don't have room in your toy box and your dad is too cheap to buy them for you? You get creative, that's what. I give you Sam's lego version of the Star Wars characters. ( i had no part in making these, I discovered them tonight in Sam's room and he explained all the characters to me)

Yoda (this one kills me)

Princess Amidala (pretty accurate with the white hair extensions)

Darth Maul (no explanation needed. . he has the double light sabre)
Darth Vader (besides the crooked head, this one works for me)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Get over Yourself

This Sunday is Orphan Sunday, and we're celebrating at Calvary in the morning services, and later on in the day, we'll be showing the live webcast of the Orphan Sunday event in Nashville. Come on out. . it's at 3 pm in Boulder.

This week we've looked at many aspects of adoption, but I think the most important, or helpful, aspect of adoption is how it helps us towards self-forgetfulness.

Whenever you have a child, he/she is a gift from God that helps us get over ourselves and our selfishness. This is something we all need, especially in America. Suddenly "important T.V. appointments", "me time", and "guy's weekends" take their proper place in our life because we have someone to take care of, and someone whom we are responsible for.

With adoption it's doubly helpful because 1) your kids get to join in the self-forgetfulness, and 2) our favorite methods and prideful attitudes towards our parenting have to die if we're to raise the new child in a biblical way.

Every child is different, and I have no idea about Malachi's family, his emotional makeup, what his needs are, etc. . So, I have to lay my preconceived ideas about parenting and my comfortable places down and learn about who he is.

We've come a long way in knowing that . . . but it's still bizarre to not understand where he's coming from sometimes. With my biological kids, I know exactly why they are struggling with something or acting a certain way. That's because I see myself in what they're doing, and all of my flaws are on display. Well, lucky for Malachi, he's got another set of genetics there, and so we have to figure him out. This is a humbling thing, to be sure.

Now, he will grow into our family and follow us in our good things (and bad things) eventually, but that takes a little while.

I've also seen my kids developing more of a servant's heart as they have someone new in the family that they need to love and serve as their brother.

So, it's been a win/win as we die/die to ourselves. I really hope all of you get to participate somehow in an adoption sometime in your life. Sadly, there's plenty of kids to go around (4 million in Ethiopia), and plenty of loving, self-forgetfulness, and humility that we all need.

Happy Orphan Sunday!


Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Today is the one year anniversary of when we picked up Malachi from the transition home in Ethiopia. Those in the adoption world typically refer to today as "gotcha day", (which I find a bit blunt . . . but whatever).

But, Malachi is home. . . .God ordained it from the foundations of the world that I would be his dad, and Jody would be his mom. That's a sweet truth today. Even 3 years ago, I had no concept of who Malachi was, or why I would want to adopt a child into our family. It's crazy.

One of the most powerful cases for adoption for Christians. . . is the doctrine of adoption of us by God. You see, we were once far away too. . .we were without hope, without a "people", without a spiritual "family". But, God, being rich in mercy, adopted us as sons and daughters of the King. He brought us home.

This truth is so much more powerful for me now that we have adopted Malachi. He really had no hope. He was sick, abandon, without a family, and a ward of the state (a state that happens to have 4 million orphans).

But, now he has a home. . and we, as Christians, have a father in God.

Ephesians 1:3-8

3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5hec]">[c] predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace 8that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.

There is a further "adoption" to come for those who believe in Christ,

Romans 8:22-24

22We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in this hope we were saved.

You also see this through earthly adoption when you visit an orphanage and see the kids, "waiting eagerly" for their adoption.

So, happy "Gotcha Day" everyone. I hope that you know, and believe that God's "got" you today, and I encourage all of you to get involved with adoption and orphan care in some way. It makes all of these truths really come home to you, and it's a tangible way to work out our salvation in this life.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Why stateside adoption is important. . .

I can't help but think that many of these kids are foster kids or abandon children. . . yes, in the good 'ol USA.

It's sad to me how much our caring for children's health and safety has gone up over the centuries. . (car seats, medicine, pediatrics, etc. . . which are good things) while at the same time it seems like we do a terrible job caring for children and protecting them, as a society, even today.

Surely we can do better than this. . . .

This week. . . . .

Well, it was one year ago this week that we brought Malachi home. This Sunday is "Orphan Sunday" across the USA, and I wanted to do a series of posts related to adoption. It's hard to find what to say, since I could write about 50 blogs of 1,000 words about adoption. (my wife nearly pulled this off. . . i kid, i kid).

But, I think I'll mainly let other folks speak this week, so as to not be over-bearing. Here's John Piper's wife talking about their journey to adoption. (and a great look at the fact that John Piper has had some not-so-great moments. . . . .for all of you who think I claim that Piper hung the moon). This is a really honest series of posts from Noel that should encourage all of the praying wives out there.

A multi-part blog about adoption

Friday, October 30, 2009

Random Nuggets Blog

Well, we've passed the first 3 nights of the NBA season. . . and basically, the Nuggets are going to win the NBA title.

i kid, i kid. . . .

But, let me tell you why I'm hopeful. . . .

Carmelo: So, I know he's not going to have 41 every night. But, that was a masterpiece last night in Portland. He has this new jab step jumper to get defenders (I"m looking at you, Trevor Ariza and Ron Artest) off of his arms and to stop grabbing him.

That's 41 points with only 1 three pointer. He looks more in shape, quicker and his shot is more consistent.

Defensive Stoppers: Everyone wondered during the off-season if we successfully replaced Dahntay Jones with Aaron Afflalo. Well, we didn't. We succesfully replaced Jones with Aaron Afflalo and Joey Graham. They are both solid defenders who can shoot better than Jones (Afflalo has had a three pointer in each of the first two games). And, now we can throw 12 fouls at Kobe, Wade, LeBron, and Roy (this happened last night. . . Afflalo fouled out)

All in all we got more for less money in this deal. Way to go, Nuggets front office!

Ty Lawson and his headband: Um, yeah you can't guard this guy. He's basically a blur down the court. In fact, against Utah he found himself in two "1 on 4" fast breaks because the other Nuggets were lagging down court (Karl called them out on this). He had 17 points in his NBA debut, and was solid last night in Portland as well.

When we get JR Smith back, these two are going to be pretty potent off the bench. And when Lawson is put in the backcourt with Chauncey Billups, Billups basically gets wide open 3's all night because his man has to help on Lawson and Carmelo.

Needless to say, . . . Chauncey can do a pretty good "Steve Kerr" impression when it's needed.
He's had 22 and 25 in the first two games, respectively.

Responsibility: In the last few years of being a Nuggets fan, I would've bet money that they don't win last nights game in Portland. It was the back end of a "back to back", they had the late game the night before, and they are shorthanded without Smith for the first 7 games.

Well, they took it right to the Blazers and led by 8 in the first quarter. They fell behind, but eventually won an important division game on the road.

The only concern: Nene and Birdman don't look any better than last year. They look about the same, with KMart always getting 12 and 10 and 5 (grimaces after dunks). Karl has said that Nene should be an all-star this year. Well, he should quit missing 5 footer's then. These two will have to step up if we're to beat the Lakers and/or Spurs. The good news is that Karl trusts them this year, they've both played 25-30 minutes in back to back games, and have performed solidly. . just not great. Birdman is out of shape (probably due to his new contract), which will improve as the season goes on, but they need to get better.

However. . I relish the thought of Kobe having to choose between Carmelo, Smith, and Lawson to guard, and I can't wait to see Derek Fisher try to stay in front of Lawson.

Good times.. . . . it's going to be a fun year!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

I always do this. . . . .

I always do this. . I always tell you "you have to listen to this" or "this is the best clip ever", etc. .

Such are the dilemmas of a chronic "over-speaker" like myself. I"m working on it, it's definitely a flaw and something I'm not proud of. I need to do a better job of using vocabulary properly and not to get a rise out of folks.

But, suffice it to say. . . . You really need to listen to this sermon from Matt Chandler. I would suggest that married couples listen to it together, and individually. And, I would suggest that single folks listen to it as well to help prepare yourself for marriage.

You see, marriage is usually the #1 way that God works in us to sanctify us and make us more like himself. There are others. . . but most married folks know that marriage is the platform where most personal change takes place. When folks are unwilling to change, repent, and sacrifice, . . marital problems will eventually happen.

Anyway. . . . Here is the message. Guys, if you don't like being yelled at, don't listen. Girls, if you don't like truth being spoken into your life, don't listen. Careful, it just might help change your marriage.

ps. I think Matt had a bit of a rough week. . . the way he goes after anonymous church comment card writers is epic. Perhaps too far,. . but epic :) I know how he feels.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Opening Night

Well, it's the opening week of the NBA season. Friends of this blog include a Celtics homer, and a Sacramento homer. . . . so, I will fulfill my role, as Nuggets homer. . . in this NBA preview.

There will be 3 sections to this preview:

Old Teams: Sorry Austin, but the Celtics are among a larger group of teams this year that are simply too old to take the title anymore. These teams include the Celtics, Cavs, Dallas, Phoenix, and perhaps, San Antonio (we shall see) None of these teams (save Cleveland) have an elite player in his prime.

Young Teams: These teams don't have enough experience to do enough damage in the playoffs. In the NBA, it's different, you have to lose before you can win. This has been proven for years. The young teams are: Portland, New Orleans, New York, Charlotte, Atlanta, Minnesota, and perhaps Miami (we shall see).

Teams with a good mix: These are teams that have a good mix of old guys, young guys and (this is key) players in their prime. The teams are: Lakers, Nuggets, Orlando, Utah, and perhaps, San Antonio (we shall see).

These teams have Kobe, Carmelo, D Howard, D Williams, and either Parker, or Manu in San Antonio.

I think that these five teams will be the class of the league this year.

The Wild Card is definitely Cleveland because LeBron is in his uber-prime which perhaps makes up for the gray hair of Shaq and Z, and the absolute insanity that is Delonte West. (this is one of the craziest stories in recent memory)

So, I guess I'm predicting a Lakers repeat with a Cavs caveat. The Spurs, and/or Ron Artest could mess up the whole thing for the Lakers. San Antonio is definitely an enigma with the addition of Richard Jefferson, DeJuan Blair and Antonio McDyess.

I'm ready for the season to begin, . . . This is my favorite sport!


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Random Football Blog

Well, I'm sorry that the blogging has been a little light and pithy lately. Life has been too crazy, and my family needs me more than my public (especially since I don't have a public).

Now, I don't usually blog about football because passions run deep in these here parts, and I'd rather not fight with friends about football, I've been there. I'm from other places in the country not named Colorado and have thoughts that don't sit well with many Coloradoans. So, I usually keep them to myself. . today I have a few thoughts that are generic enough to not upset too many folks.

One other disclaimer. . . I used to be pretty obsessed with football. . . I started both ways in High School, and grew up in Maryland (Redskins) and Nebraska, which (sorry colorado folks) are two of the most passionate and dedicated fan bases anywhere. I have breathed football obsession, and have tried to move on. I succeed, sometimes. (humor)

--First off. . . . .does anyone run the football anymore? And, no, I don't mean setting up in the shotgun and turning to your right to hand the ball off. And, no, I don't mean everyone running left in some lame zone blocking play. I"m talking about two tight ends, a fullback that weighs more than 220, a pulling guard and 8 yards of chewed up grass.

There are a few teams in the pro's like Minnesota who still value running the football. But, in college there is an epidemic of teams who throw it 90% of the time. Notice the CU Buffs success from last weekend was based on the option attack that Nebraska perfected over the best 25 year run in college football history. College games are hard to watch these days with the lame spread offense.

And, last night, the Broncos put the game away by running the football (from under center). I'm not sure why more folks won't do it. A lack of patience, is my personal opinion.

Everyone needs to acquaint themselves with John Riggins and the Hogs. Or perhaps Tommy Frazier/ Scott Frost and the 1990's Huskers. Heck, even give me Barry Sanders and Emmit Smith.
(seriously. . .take some time to watch these clips. . . .except the Emmit Smith one :) )

At any rate: Run the Ball!!

--Second. The Broncos are for real. It's kind of funny because we all knew that this offense had some serious talent. What Royal, Marshall, Sheffler, Stokley, Graham, etc. . . needed was a quarterback who would get out of the way and let them do their thing. Enter, Kyle Orton. My favorite Kyle Orton stat is how many balls he throws away. Instead of a sack or interception,. . my man throws it like 30 yards out of bounds. Awesome.

Cutler took too many risks (which you would need to do with a team with less talent). And, I was wrong about McDaniels, he even seems to not have such a huge ego lately. What a brutal off-season, . . but he seems like a pretty affable guy, and he graduated from H.S. the year before I did!

I think we'll see how tough they are against the Ravens. . that will be an interesting game that could show how far the Broncs go in the playoffs.

--Third . . . the NFL (and all sports, by the way) need dominant teams. There are two many teams just collecting their checks from the fans (and the league/conference) and not caring enough to put the best product out there. In college, the scholarship limits imposed in the late 1990's have really hurt the game. The weekly crapshoot that happens each weekend with no dominant teams hurts everyone.

Don't believe the hype, parity is BAD. The teams that aren't doing well need to shoot for excellence by being pushed to become better. Not by being placated by money (in the NFL) or by running some fly-by-night crazy offense (college). Let's cut out all of the underdog/suprise/trap game garbage and play football straight up. Let teams get as good as they want to be. Let bad teams be really bad. (which ironically, causes some bad teams to get really good. . . notice the 1980's Browns, or the 1990's Cowboys. . they were horrible and were pushed towards excellence by other dominant teams).

Down with Parity, up with the 1980's 49'ers, the 1990's Bulls, etc. . .Sports is better for it.


Bono in the NYT

Love Obama or hate him. . . . this is a masterful piece of writing by Bono. He has an Op/Ed column now in the New York Times, and it's always great stuff.

I"m not sure I even agree with some of the propositions he makes (smile) But, he just has a way with words and flow (his musical career might have something to do with that).

To be sure, American aid, relief, and development in other countries is a larger part of our Foreign Policy than we ever gave it credit for. I agree with that absolutely. But, just enjoy a master artist at work.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Praise God!

If the Lord of hosts had not left us a few survivors, we should have been like Sodom, and become like Gomorrah. Isaiah 1:9

Did you notice how God intervened this week? The Church of Jesus Christ did not go completely apostate. The Gospel Coalition did not disown its Confessional Statement. Acts 29 did not repudiate church planting. Together For The Gospel did not fragment in mutual recriminations. Sovereign Grace Ministries did not deny the new birth. And I did not walk away from Jesus.

We all sinned this week, and a lot. No surprise there. After all, original sin means our wills are unfree. But we held fast to Jesus our Savior, and for a whole week.

Truly, the age of miracles is not over.

---Ray Ortlund

Monday, October 12, 2009

Just because you talk to yourself, doesn't mean you're crazy.

In fact, it could be really helpful. Good stuff:


D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression, pp. 20-21:

Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them but they are talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you. Now this man’s treatment [in Psalm 42] was this: instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. “Why art thou cast down, O my soul?” he asks. His soul had been depressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says, “Self, listen for moment, I will speak to you.”


And, I would add. . sometimes someone else is talking, . . .our adversary.

Great reminder

I found this article on the Christianity Today website. Great stuff from Carolyn Arends (any 90's Christian music fans remember her? "Just out of reach" (the cookie jar song). )

Anyway, I digress. This is a great reminder for worship leaders especially, for all who lead in corporate prayer, but also for all of us as we pray and seek God.

Play Catch, not Throw

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Good Call!

HT: Mark

Um, this is the most ridiculous call ever made on sports radio. Watch this whole clip and then go consult 1 Corinthians about the biblical gift of prophecy (i kid, i kid)


Last week I was perusing some John Piper sermons and came across this one from last month at a Christian Counseling conference.

here ( the bizarre-ness is in the first 5 minutes. . . .but the whole talk is great,. . . listen to it!)

This is one of the weirdest things I've ever heard. If you've ever heard John Piper speak you know that he doesn't do the typical "open with 5 jokes" as he preaches. He will use humor, but not in the way that this crowd was expecting.

This crowd of counselors just keeps laughing at Piper as he begins, and he eventually has to ask them to stop.

Greg Gilbert observes that these folks have just been conditioned to laugh at all the other speakers and so they thought Piper was going the same way.

This is kind of chilling as you realize how quickly folks can be conditioned to respond in a certain way, regardless of what the current purpose of the speaker is.

This had to be hopelessly awkward and Piper deals with it well. But, I hope this clip can push us towards more of a balance at church. Yes, we should laugh and have joy as we meet together. We shouldn't be so glib and light, though, that we can't feel the weight of heavy truths anymore. Or, as in this clip, feel the weight of someone confessing their sins(Piper was trying to be humble and broken in front of these folks). We should pray that we never get desensitized to God's truth and the weight of sin.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Great Parenting Resource

I think "Gospel powered parenting" is a great resource for the modern day parent. First, because it will encourage those who are stuck in the "I'm a terrible dad/mom. . . . " condemnation cycle. But, also, it will push us towards being concerned about different things as we parent, and focusing on different results. Many of us need correction in this area and need to get out of survival mode (read this awesome blog post from my awesome wife) I haven't read this book yet, (I will), but after reading this interview, I think it will be great.


Monday, September 28, 2009

I wish this were true in most Evangelical churches. . .

"A preacher should ascend to the pulpit to declare truths that are true even if he had never been born"

"He Should preach of things that are out of his control"

Doug Wilson--from the Desiring God conference last weekend.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Let it be true

Elyse Fitzpatrick and Dennis Johnson, in Counsel from the Cross: Connecting Broken People to the Love of Christ (pp. 86-87):

When relationships are built around the truths of the gospel—the truth that we are walking in light even though we are still sinners in need of cleansing by his blood—we can be free from feelings of inferiority and the demanding spirit that is born of pride. We can pursue relationships without fear of being discovered as the sinners we are. This kind of open relationship rests solely on the realities of the gospel. We are more sinful and flawed than we ever dared believe, and so is everyone we know. Because of this, we won’t be surprised by other’s sins. They won’t expect us to be sinless either, so we don’t have to give in to self-condemnation and fear when they see us as we really are. We don’t have to hide or pretend anymore.

The gospel also tells us that we are loved and welcomed without any merit on our part, so we can love and welcome others whose merits we can’t see. We can remember the circumstances under which we have been forgiven, and we can forgive in the same way. We don’t deserve relationship with the Trinity, but it has been given to us. We can seek our relationships with others because we know that we have been sought out by him and that he is carrying us all on his shoulders. (Yes, he is that strong!)


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Subjectivism in Worship

Recently I saw a video of some folks talking about worship. They were apparently asked “What does worship mean to you?” or “Why do you love worship so much?”, etc. . Their answers were heartfelt and I appreciated their sincerity and heart of love for God. Some of their answers were:

“When I worship, I forget where I am, . . . . . . . I don’t even know that I’m doing this or that when I’m up there. . . . . I feel like I’m saying, “God, can I talk to You?” . . . I love worship, it fills me up so much to sing to God”.

I resonate with a lot of those emotions. There is a felt benefit to leading God’s people in worship, and in the presence of God there is “fullness of joy”.

However, these feelings that leading the singing (I’ll stop using the term “worship” now, since worship is our life’s response to God, and singing with our church body is only one, important, outlet for that) produce are not the most important thing about our times of corporate worship together.

The most important thing when we get together is God, who He is, what He has done, and what his Son, Jesus, has done for us. It was a bummer that no one referenced anything objectively true about our great God in that video,. . . but only their subjective feelings about Him.

Unfortunately, many worship songs lead us to those responses with mainly subjective lyrics (not just “new” songs. . .how about “I”ll fly away”. . . now there’s a theological masterpiece J )

That’s why I make it a priority to sing objective truths about our God with songs like “The Solid Rock”, “Creed”, “In Christ Alone” and “Jesus, Messiah”. It’s these truths that we can hold onto no matter what our circumstances are like. And, yes, when our corporate worship is not going so well, and we’re missing notes, and we’re not feeling it. . . .these things are still true, and always will be.

These are the truths that I want to celebrate and “lose myself’ in. As Rich Mullins once wisely stated. . .

“Someone came up and said to me ‘ I really felt the Spirit at that one point of the song when you guys hit that crescendo’ . . . I said, no, I think that was the kick drum”

Let’s build our faith, and our gathered, musical worship on The Rock, and not on the subjective “sand” of our feelings, or the emotional effects of the music.

Let’s use all of that to glorify great truths about God and help folks to know and treasure Jesus in all of His Greatness and Grace.

Worshipping with you,


Monday, September 14, 2009

Wisdom doesn't always come with age

Well, if you think that insecurity, rash decision-making, and wrong headed logic will fade away with age. . . . . .I have bad news for you (smile)

Sadly, This lady is 107 years old!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Church Hopping and Inconsistent Attendance

With a title like that. . . who wouldn't want to keep reading! :)

There are two things in the present church culture that are too easily accepted and not called out. Church hopping (attending more than one church at the same time) and inconsistent attendance at your church of choice.

Most folks these days celebrate the ethic of variety, choice, and the different emphases two non-related churches might have. Also, folks celebrate meeting with God "when I go to the mountains" or "when I'm sitting at coffee with a friend." (nothing wrong with that, . . but not a full spiritual diet)

Let's tackle the first one, first.

When you attend more than one church, you lose out on many things that are important in your spiritual life,. . . .accountability/authority and humility, to name a few.

If you say, "I go to this church for the music, this church for the biblical teaching. . .and this small group, because it's my friends" etc. . . . you are not under any consistent biblical authority, teaching, or accountability. We need to be under a biblical body of elders that are praying for us, teaching us, and yes, disciplining us. I grieve over the guy who decides to leave his wife, while they attend two different churches. . . and no one is there to call him out, or to walk through this season with them. Yes, we need spiritual authority in our lives (the horror of it all). Yes, we need to hear the bible taught from our elders and need the same folks who know us to be able to speak into our lives with the gospel.

Also, in the humility area, if you're church hopping, you're making yourself the judge of all that is good and right (and wrong) about each church you attend. You're a consumer. . . .God calls us to be a Body. If the pastor says something you don't like, you hop churches the next week. . .if the band sounds bad, you go somewhere else the week after that. This is not a healthy spirituality. We need to plug in somewhere, commit, be under authority, accept correction from our elders (and friends) and encourage others.

Now, onto inconsistent attendance. . . . I"m not speaking here about things we can't control, like illness, lack of transportation, or sudden need for travel, etc. . . . But, I live in Colorado. Everyone seems to have a house in the mountains, they visit it frequently. . . they like to visit it on Sundays. I also had someone tell me this week, "I won't be there that weekend because I know my son has a soccer tournament". Even our occupations at times can take precedence over a commitment we've made to be together with God's people.

Am I saying all of this because I just want alot of people to show up at church. . . big numbers? No, . . I'm saying it because our priorities are out of whack. And, in the case of soccer, for instance,. . we're passing on that ethic to our kids.

Why is it important that you attend church regularly? Because that's your family, that's your authority, that's the folks that need you to serve them, and those are the folks that need to serve you. The other choices of things to do are not as important.

Even in the case of work, sometimes our work makes us come in on Sunday. That's ok. But, I find that it usually leads to the folks not showing up even on other weekends, when they're off. They aren't fighting for that time. Unless folks are busy in personal study with an elder or having intercessory prayer for the Nations once a month (which you could do another day), they probably aren't doing something as important as hearing from the Word and fellowshipping with other believers.

Am I asking for 100% attendance like school or something? No. I just want to see folks fighting for that time. They fight for "family" time by going to a movie on the weekends. They fight for "me" time by reading a book, going for a hike, etc. . . I want to see folks fighting for "Body of Christ" time. The Body needs you, read 1 Corinthians 12.

So, please don't hear me being a legalist on church attendance. I don't want that. I just want to see folks fighting. Remember, we have an enemy who is fighting against us. Are you fighting back? Do you think it's a coincidence that it's always hard to get your kids out the door, or make the schedule work on Sundays? So, fight for that time,. . . .it'll be great for your spiritual life. And, it will free you up from the tyranny of choices on Sunday that battle against you. Choose church. Prioritize getting together with your local Body of believers. Then, there will be less choices to make.

Let's stop assuming that the folks who attend more than one church are really mature believers, . . or really want "the best" from many different churches. Let's stop celebrating folks getting away or being busy with their kids on Sunday morning. Let's celebrate faithfulness and hunger for God's Word. Let's celebrate folks fighting to arrange their schedules so that they can be at church, as a family.

Let's meet together and celebrate Jesus.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

If You've read The Shack. . . .

These are the problems I have with the Shack. . .but written by guys who actually know how to write, Trevin Wax and Justin Taylor. So, I"ll defer to them.


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Baby man turns 2

We're celebrating Malachi's 2nd Birthday tonight. His "official" birthday is September 1st, but who knows if that's correct, so we're celebrating tonight. (smile)

I caught him playing alone in his room, singing to himself yesterday and it struck me that there was no singing for him last year. You see, baby man had a pretty rough summer of '08, he was in the hospital for much of it, and almost didn't make it. They even covered his legs with a blanket in our referral photos because of how skinny and underweight he was.

He's healthy and happy these days and has been an enormous blessing to our family. I"m not sure I remember what it was like without him.

So, Happy Birthday buddy! Sink your face into that cake tonight! We're thankful to have you home and glad that the Lord has healed you (through medicine) of all of your ailments.

It's a great day!

p.s. we're having an intergalactic blowout party on Nov. 4th, the day he came home. . . tonight is a smaller party. . . .more news to come as November gets closer.

Me, Wally and Joann, and 120 years . . . . .

In 1889 a few immigrants gathered together as the Swedish Reformed Church and began meeting in Boulder Colorado. Today, their sons and daughters were in attendance at Calvary Bible Church, 120 years later.

It was a rich time together, my mind and heart are full, so I'm going to go about this the only way I know how . . . . random style.

--We had 2 former pastors share along with our current pastor, Rev. Tom Shirk, today. Rev. R.W. Hauser (pastor from 1961-68) was supposed to speak for 5 minutes and took 20. (smile). But, this was one of the richest encouragements I've ever heard from the pulpit. As he looked out on the church he helped to build, he exhorted us, through tears, to hold to the innerancy and authority of scripture.

"Keep it that way" he said, with full emotion. That means a little more coming from a guy who's preached the word for 50 + years.

--Then Rev. Culbertson (pastor from 1971-93) spoke and told of his bookcase full of pictures from his time here. His wife battles severe Parkinson's disease and doesn't do well in airports, so he drove from Wisconsin to be with us this morning. That meant a lot to me, he was a dear man and encouraged us to dream about the future God has for our church. Again, that means alot coming from an older man. Thanks to him and his wife for making the trek.

--Being a college town, we have many nationalities present in our church, and as we remembered Calvary's missionary legacy, we read our passage for the morning, Psalm 96:3-4 in 11 different languages
My favorite was going from an African tongue (the name escapes me) to Spanish. They could not have been more different! (smile). Also, to hear that passage in Greek was special. . Astrik Deirmendjian (84 years old) got up there and read it loud and proud. She was poking around the office this week looking for the Septuagint (the Greek old testament), to our shame, we didn't have one anywhere! But, she found a translation, and did a great job.

--We had 120 years of history on display inside the church, (much of it was in Swedish, we didn't switch languages until the early 1900's) and after the service, as I was tearing down equipment, Wally and Joann Schielke, (82 and 79 years old) pulled me aside and showed me some pictures that they were in from 1952. Her words were powerful to me.

--She talked about how "everyone had a job and everyone did something back in those days", "there weren't many of us". They helped to drywall the old church building on Broadway and Balsam, and everyone served. It struck me how we have trouble staffing our children's ministry from Sunday to Sunday.

--Wally wanted me to make sure we gave credit to someone who wasn't recognized in this morning's service. Done:

Gordon Oskarson was a missionary to China and when he came home to Bouulder in the 50's he bought the land on Broadway and Balsam and sold it to Calvary for us to build our building. A few years later, the church was in pretty bad financial shape, so Gordon bought the property back from from the church and gave it to the church AGAIN, so that we could continue to meet. An amazing, amazing story.

Wally said, "Gordon is a real un-sung hero in this story, and wasn't recognized this morning". What a great man. . . I"m pretty sure he didn't ask for the tax write-off either (smile).
Thank you Gordon! You were remembered today among Wally, Joann and myself.

--I was struck at our church's perseverance through the Great Depression. We almost folded, membership and money were down. But, that small group of believers persevered through it. . . I"m grateful for that. Today folks leave a church when they don't like the music or when the pastor says something that offends them. . . . try sticking with your church through the Great Depression!

All in all, these saints humble us, and show us what real sacrifice, perseverance, and faithfulness are all about. I'm humbled to be in their presence and to sing with them. And, I'm humbled for how faithful God has been to us, and how great He has shown Himself to be.

To God be the Glory, . . here's to 120 more years (that's 2129 Tom! (sorry couldn't resist))

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I think this might be a good thing for everyone to read today.

(and by everyone, I mean the 4 people who read this blog) (humor)

Good stuff.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

John Piper and Tornado Interpretations

Ok, so this title is a shameless attempt to get people to read my blog. . . .but, now I've stated it, so it's ok (sarcasm) (this is what I'll do now instead of emoticons. . my wife thinks they are lame. . so I'll just let you know when sarcasm or humor is implied)

Today John Piper posted some observations on the Tornado that hit downtown Minneapolis yesterday during the ELCA national convention. Here it is. . . I encourage you to read it. Go ahead, you there, read it. (sarcasm).

The ELCA was ruling on the issue of homosexual clergy and Piper was drawing some conclusions about God's warning to them and all of us via the weather.

Today, every blog that I read has commented on this. Most have been negative towards Piper that he would try to interpret God's providence (or judgement). Most people think this is laughable, negative, judgemental, etc. . . that God would ever use the weather to warn, judge, or get the attention of humans. I even had a facebook argument (someone retweeted the story).

So, what's the big deal? Well, if Piper was trying to say "this tornado shows that God is definitely mad at the ELCA and was trying to warn them specifically to stop what they were doing, and I am a prophet, thus saith the Lord", then I would be appalled as well.

I think he was very careful to not say that. Now, was Piper heavy handed in his analysis of the Tornado? Yes, I can see that. But, look what he said in his conclusion:

6. Conclusion: The tornado in Minneapolis was a gentle but firm warning to the ELCA and ALL OF US: (emphasis: Aaron) Turn from the approval of sin. Turn from the promotion of behaviors that lead to destruction. Reaffirm the great Lutheran heritage of allegiance to the truth and authority of Scripture. Turn back from distorting the grace of God into sensuality. Rejoice in the pardon of the cross of Christ and its power to transform left and right wing sinners.

So, this tornado, along with all natural disasters that affect us, serve as a warning and a call to repentance. Piper references the "Tower of Siloam" episode in Luke in his article, which I think is the right way to look at all natural disasters.

Lessons: 1) Read things carefully. . .one has to only look at the comments on Piper's blog to see how to overreact to something that someone didn't even say. .(what a wonderful skill to posess!!! (sarcasm)) sheesh. . . I won't even point you to some of the other blogs today.

2) Let natural disasters sober you and use them as a time for self-examination and perhaps a re-dedication to the Lord.

3) Beware the whacked out prophet types who try and draw SPECIFIC inferences from natural disasters. The secret things belong to the Lord (Deuteronomy 29:29)

In conclusion, 9/11. . .was it a judgement of God against homosexuals and Roe v.Wade? No, I don't think so. Does that mean we dismiss 9/11 as having no purpose from God and that we should sober ourselves, learn from it, and repent of the sin in our lives(that goes for everyone, and yes, abortion doctors)? Yes, I think that's a mature, measured response.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Rick Pitino and False Victimization

By posting this, I'm taking a few risks. 1) I will come across as judgmental and graceless towards those who have fallen into sin. 2) More facts will come out that shed light on an on-going case. 3) Feelings will be hurt.

I"m going to try to avoid all of those. . . . . .

This case really shocked and angered me when I first saw it. For those of you who don't know, Rick Pitino is a basketball coach at the University of Louisville. He's one of the most popular and successful coaches in college basketball. He had sex with a woman at a restaurant, (not his wife), and she became pregnant. Weeks later, she called him and told him the news, said she was going to get an abortion, but that she didn't have health insurance. Pitino then gave her $3,000 to get health insurance. She used that money to get an abortion (either directly or indirectly via health insurance). Then, a few months later, she began to extort money from Rick Pitino, asking for $10 million dollars and threatening him with the story, etc. . .

The University of Louisville has pledged full support for Rick Pitino and is framing him as the victim of this woman's extortion plot.


Whew. . .what a tangled web we weave, indeed. . . . .What really sets me off in the whole thing is the attitude of the University. Rick Pitino, although the victim of the crime of extortion, is not the true victim here. I can think of two victims who deserved someone's full support, the rest of the Pitino family and the the unborn child. Unfortunately, they didn't really get it. (to be fair, the University has pledged their support to Pitino "and his family"). I have a hard time feeling for Pitino being the victim. Its not that he should be quiet and pay whatever she asks. . .but I don't sense alot of humility from either him or the University.

Do I think there is forgiveness for the sin of abortion? Absolutely. Is there forgiveness for the sin of adultery? Yes, absolutely (it's eerie how Pitino's case is similar to King David's here). I don't know what its like to be a powerful man in his position, and I"m sure temptations are everywhere. . . there but for the grace of God go I.

But, I think its a statement on how backwards our culture is, that we're more concerned about the crime of extortion than either one of the other crimes here. Extortion is wrong, and I don't support it. But, where is the outrage from the University on the conduct of it's coach? Where is the outrage or humility from anyone involved on the issue of a funded abortion?

I hope that Rick Pitino is given the gift of repentance and that his family can be made whole again. For his mistress, I pray that God gives her that gift as well and that He can make both of them whole again.

Saturday, August 8, 2009


I don't usually do straight music recommendations,. . . . .There's a few reasons for that:

1) Everyone has their preferences, and it doesn't bother me if someone likes different music than I do.

2) I'm around music alot and like to write about other things

3) I absolutely loathe the "this is a new band. . only I know about them. . you have to check them out. . . .you don't love music if you don't" attitude. And I don't want to come across that way.

4) I have a rather high bar in this area and you have to be, a) a really good songwriter or b) a really good musician, for me to get fired up. Not that I am the sole arbiter of musical talent. . but I think we all know that image tends to matter more these days than either songwriting or musicianship, so it's kind of rare.

That being said:

Dave, Carter, Stefan, Boyd, and LeRoi (RIP) are just showing off at this point, and I love it. "Why I am" and "Funny the way it is" are two of the fattest grooves you will ever hear on the radio. I have to start moving when they come on in my car, and it gets dangerous really quick. Yes, that's the Dave Matthews Band, folks. I know, this makes me old, but I challenge anyone to find better players than these guys (as a unit). It's great stuff on this new album, check it out.

I don't like to jump whole-hog on the Hillsong United/Brooke Fraser bandwagon. There are many reasons for this. . . that's another blog. But, our friend Brooke (say it in your best Aussie accent: Fryzuhh!) hit a grand slam with this tune, "Shadowfeet". I'm going to figure out how to sing this chorus at church (perhaps with a different verse, or no verse). She's not my favorite singer, but these are great lyrics. What powerful truth:
when the world has fallen out from under me
I'll be found in you, still standing
when the sky rolls up and mountains fall on their knees
when time and space are through
I'll be found in you, still standing

More worship songs should be like this and take the focus off of us and place it on Christ and what He's done. See, for the "me" generation it's good to hear that. . . on that day, it won't matter what we did or how cool we are, or what are facebook pictures looked like, or how many followers we have on twitter. . . We'll be found in Him, and with His Righteousness, not our own.

Great tune. enjoy.

HT: Metropuritan

PS: One more. "Stitched up" by Herbie Hancock/John Mayer is not new. . . . .but I just want to say that this song rocks. Notice how Herbie plays the blues riff a little behind the beat on piano, thus giving it that bluesy drag. Masterful performances all around on this one. I don't know who's on drums, but that is a masterclass on how to play behind the beat and draw folks into the song. (Also see: every song by AC/DC for this little trick)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

When Helping Hurts

There's a new book out called "When Helping Hurts" . Kevin DeYoung, a favorite of mine, is blogging through the book, and I think it's worth checking out.

It debunks alot of our assumptions about helping the poor. . what really helps. . . what we should be doing, etc. . . .

I'm not sure I'm 100% on board, but I thought I would point you to the blog and let you guys check it out.

I'm probably 90% on board and I think the church has some re-thinking to do, and, of course I always think the government has some re-thinking to do.

Check it out part 1 part 2


I'm in a ranting mood this week. . . .watch out, I"m preaching on Sunday.

Anyway, I"m a huge Counting Crows fan. They were one of the biggest bands when I was growing up, they wrote a song named "Omaha", they were sufficiently sad and introspective to be hugely popular in the 90's (he he), etc. . .all good things.

But, seriously, Adam Duritz has to be one of the worst lyricists in the history of rock music. I mean, random, stream of conciousness junk that doesn't make any sense has a prominent place in their music. And, if he uses the phrase "I dream of Michaelangelo as I"m lying in my bed" one more time, he should be arrested for self-plagiarism. (he's used that in 3 songs, I swear).

"I dream of sex and God and the belly of a black-winged bird. . ". Thanks Adam. . .good point, you must be the Rain King. what?

Its one thing to use stream-of-conciousness stuff and then edit it or make the rest of the song cohesive with it. Then, there's the "let it fly" method that Adam seems to employ. Please people, tell a story, make a point, have a thought. . . . less drugs.

You know who else did that, . . . "The Who". I'm a huge fan of the Who, love their stuff (although I don't like CSI, except the first two minutes, of course).

But, on the song "Eminence Front". . .Pete Townshend goes off into whatever land. . . . "eminence front, . . it's a put on. . eminence front. . it's a put on,"

Seriously, what?

I guess I should give a pass to Pete, it's one song out of their many good ones. And, I know there is pressure to crank out albums when you have a record deal. But the Crows, that's another level. . .

rant over.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Own it

Let me be the last person to refer you to the "Stuff Christians Like" blog. Everyone seems to know about this, so it's nothing new.

But, today there was a great post. Its something I've been wanting to say for a long time now. It's pretty chic to be a culture snob, especially directed toward the Christian sub-culture, and especially in the name of "excellence". This, despite the fact (this is but one example) that some of the greatest singers in history have been overtly "Christian" in what they say. . . but I digress.

Read this and own it if it's you. . . . . .

ps. If you partake of all Christian radio, books, culture, etc. . . without any discernment, there are about 300 other posts for you at this site. Today's post is for the other end of the spectrum.


This is a topic I have offended many single folks with. . . . .so I'm just re-posting here, don't shoot the messenger.

Good stuff.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Chris Tomlin, Andy Kaufman, John Cage, and Mob Art

I struggle with editing my titles. . . . .

Anyway, if you're a musician in the church these days, you've undoubtedly come across the music of Chris Tomlin. He has written most of the current widely-sung worship music in the church today. . .here's a taste: "Forever", "The Wonderful Cross", "Jesus, Messiah", "How Can I keep from Singing", "We Fall Down", "Be Glorified", "How Great is our God", the list goes on.

As with most people who become popular or very successful, Chris is now an easy target. The artistic community, especially, has come down on him for having simple music, sometimes simplistic themes, and not alot of "pushing the envelope" artistically.

It is my opinion that folks who criticize Chris Tomlin in this way have missed it. Even the magazine "Worship Leader" ( a magazine which, without Chris Tomlin, would probably not exist) cannot review a Tomlin recording without talking about how it's 'more of the same' or 'we've heard it before' etc. . . . (they do give him positive reviews. . .but those phrases are always sprinkled throughout, as if they wish he would do something different)

I think that Chris and the band are genuinely trying for artistic excellence on their recordings, and have become pretty solid musicians in the process. I also think that neither one of those things is their goal.

Chris Tomlin's goal is to have everyone singing his songs, to the Lord. He writes with the church in mind, and writes so that the church will be singing deep, glorious truths, in a way that is singable and familiar.

"Jesus, Messiah" declares the theological truth of "substitutionary atonement" in 3 or 4 minutes in a way that everyone can sing. "Forever" paraphrases Psalm 135 in a memorable way. "Holy is the Lord" comes from Nehemiah and leads us in how to respond to God's presence. . . . .

This is a different kind of art,. . . "Mob" art. Two folks in history who are masters of mob art are Andy Kaufman and John Cage. Andy Kaufman was a comedian who would perform bits that subtly "involved" his audience without them really knowing what was going on. This was frustrating and maddening to some. . .and you often didn't know what was happening until you realized you'd been had by the master comedian and the joke was on you. (check out the movie "Man on the moon")

John Cage was an innovative composer who actually invented alot of musical instruments (he has his own museum". He wrote pieces like " 4'33" where the orchestra would sit there for 4 minutes and 33 seconds, not play a note, and the art was happening when the composer would turn a page, someone would clear their throat, someone would shuffle their feet, etc. . . You were a part of the work of art and you didn't know it. Here's a performance of 4'33 here.

With Chris Tomlin, it's the same way. The songs he writes are meant to be sung by the church. So, the next time you're in a church meeting and everyone starts singing a Chris Tomlin song together. . . . that was the idea. That was his goal. You're a part of his "art" at that moment when you're singing.

Now, I'm not saying we can't appreciate artistic excellence at church. Even musical excellence, beauty, and virtuosity should be celebrated.

Its my opinion, though, that during most church meetings. . .we should celebrate God and what he has done, together, in song. Chris Tomlin is trying to help facilitate that,. . .and in those moments, be "artistic".

So, if you're going to criticize him, or others who are trying to write congregational anthems, just realize that the purpose is different for them than in most musical compositions, and recordings. He may not have the most intricate guitar patterns or alot of "old english" language in his music. But, folks all over the world are being given voice to declare great truths about God, express their heart to Him, and even learn some theology in the process.

Thanks Chris Tomlin!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Wedding Dance

So, the new uber-hip thing to do is choreograph an elaborate dance piece for your wedding reception (especially the wedding party entrance). I do alot of weddings and have seen a few on youtube as well.

I have always thought this was kind of lame,. . . .Jody and I missed the trend (we're old). . . and usually it's just not that good.

But, this video is really, really cool. I am tempted to use the word, wicked. . but will stick with ridiculous/awesome.

This is one of the few "auto-tune" songs I like, and the degree of sophistication is amazing. To top it off,. . this is in the CEREMONY, not the reception. I'm sure there are better ones out there. But, this is my favorite.


ps: watch for the slo-mo at the end and the bridal entrance.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Edmund Fitzgerald

Yes, it's the Chick-fil-a guy. But, this clip is really funny, especially because I (and my GHS homies) sang "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" in high school. Enjoy. . .

Oldest man on earth

I found a pretty amazing story about the world's oldest man, 113 years old, passing away this last week.

He was the last British veteran of WWI. The dude was born in 1896!

But, I had two thoughts as I read this:

1) what an amazing guy, and still full of strength a year ago at a British war memorial service.

2) His life still "was a vapor" even though most of us can't get our heads around 1896.

Good read.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Elijah was just a man. . . . . . . and so was John Calvin

I really appreciated this post from the folks at Desiring God. They have a conference coming up to celebrate the 500th birthday of John Calvin. Sometimes conferences like these can turn into a chest bumping, self congratulatory affair that lift too high the principal topic or person that is being discussed.

Obviously John Piper and the folks at DG are trying really hard to fight against that. I think this is an important lesson. . . to hold your convictions with humility. After all, John Calvin was only a man who had flaws, sins, and historical slip-ups. Does this make him less of a theologian and not worthy of our attention? Not at all. But, it's good to be nuanced, honest, and humble about our theological camps/teachers/fathers. . . . After Jesus, they were all just men. And, after the biblical writers were done, there were no more inspired texts. It's helpful to remember that.

I still remember doing a paper on John Calvin for my American History class in college (it was on the Puritans). I went to the Library at UNO (go mavs) and read some exerpts of his work for research purposes. I still vividly remember walking back down the main concourse at UNO, outside, in the summer (this music major was a big fan of summer classes) walking about 2 feet off the ground as I felt I had just discovered a whole new zip code of theology, heaven, and God-saturated thinking. That was a big day for the Holy Spirit's work in my life. I'm grateful for John Calvin. . . .the man.


ps. these videos are mostly done by baptists. . . so don't take offense at their baptist slant on some of Calvin's traditional reformed views. I'm most concerned with the overall tone of humility.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Hello! LOL

A modern day parable (unfortunately it's 100% true) that speaks to our cultural disease of not being fully present where we are. . . . and some pretty funny blame-shifting.


HT: Drudge

Friday, July 10, 2009

Happy Birthday John Calvin!

Today is John Calvin's 500th birthday. Here's a great article from Kevin DeYoung on being relevant in 500 years, (as Calvin most certainly is)

In Calvin's honor,. . . spend some time inspecting a worm today. It'll be fun with the kids, and you'll get some humility out of it!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Paris Jackson

I feel a little funny suggesting that you check out some music. . . . from a funeral. But, suffice it to say, that was a masterpiece today during Michael Jackson's funeral. My Favorites: Usher, Jennifer Hudson, Mariah Carey/Trey Lorenz. . . .and John Mayer, oh my goodness. That's the coolest version of Human Nature I've ever heard. That dude could play the 1812 overture on guitar and it would be cool. But, it was very haunting, him playing that song solo. . . .and way, way cool.

But, then something happened. . . sad, terrifying, and heart wrenching all at the same time.

Michael's daughter, Paris got up to speak. And, then I saw it. That classic face, the face the whole world knew, the face he tried so hard to destroy (and succeeded), the face that shone forth innocence, love, the human spirit, the face we hadn't seen for 25 years or so, hidden behind his "masks". . . was all right there in his daughter.

She said, while crying, "He was the greatest daddy, I love him so much". And, then I lost it, as Aunt Janet held her, weeping.

Why did that affect me? I feel so sad for her and her brothers. Their dad was a tragic figure, but the face he tried to destroy lives on in them. I also felt her pure emotion in that moment. I hope that my daughters say the same thing of me one day. She was able to find the emotion for her father that he could never find from anyone else or from himself, or from God.

There was much to mourn at this funeral. . the humanism, the tragic figure, the lack of a Gospel rescue in his life.

There was music to celebrate. And, in the face of a beautiful, little girl there was hope, hope that she finds her Father, hope that she can learn to love the face He, and he gave her, and hope for healing for her pain.

Seriously, check out Fox News or CNN where you can see clips from the funeral. Amazing music, amazing daughter. Sad. . . hopeful.

Monday, July 6, 2009

From the mouth of Babes...

We've been praying for the unreached people groups of the world by these flash cards that the kids got in Sunday School. It's very cool, "The Joshua Project" is the organization that blows the trumpet for unreached peoples. Many of them are tribal people, and all are 3rd world. The flash cards have cool pictures for the kids and some interesting facts about their culture.

So, tonight, Eden says: (go ahead, do your best whiny voice. . . )

"Dad, do we have to pray for the naked people again?"


yes, Eden, naked people need Jesus too. . . and besides "naked you came from your mother's womb and naked you shall return".

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Big Encouragement

Psalm 73:21-26 (English Standard Version)

21When my soul was embittered,
when I was pricked in heart,
22I was brutish and ignorant;
I was like a beast toward you.

23Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
24You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.


I've been convicted of some sin lately in my life. When that happened, I did what I usually do, which is to make excuses, equivocate, minimize, and deflect. As this Psalm says, ". . when I was pricked in heart, I was brutish and ignorant, I was like a beast toward you". That pretty much describes me.

But, the great encouragement in this passage is what comes next. "Nevertheless. . . . " might I submit this is the greatest use of "nevertheless" in the history of prose (thank you Asaph). Don't neglect your conjunctions. . . .

"Nevertheless, I am continually with You, You hold my right hand". God is faithful, even when we act like animals, and in verse 24, he will continue to "guide us". He will also continue to convict us of sin and give us the gift of repentance. It really is a gift that God doesn't let us get too far without calling a timeout for us. :)


Saturday, June 20, 2009

From the mouth of Babes. . . extended jam mix

Tonight the kids and I were reading the story of the Children of Israel in the desert. We read how they didn't trust God and went back and forth in their devotion to Him. . . . . with the Manna, the Water from the Rock, etc (it's all in Exodus 16-17).

So, Provi says "That's just like Pharaoh, when he kept changing his mind" (when Moses asked him to "let my people go").

I had never seen the connection before, but yes, the Children of Israel were acting rather similarly to Pharaoh, so soon after they had been rescued from the man himself.

So, what's the difference?

God hardened Pharaoh's heart, . . . .

But, God chose the Children of Israel and had made a covenant with their father, Abraham to be faithful to them.

That's the difference.

Chilling stuff, . . But, God gets his glory even in the disobedience of the Israelites and in his sovereign choice of His people.

Good theological word, Prov!

Good day for Twitter

So, I've made a little fun of twitter over the last few months. . . . .

But, the fact is, without twitter or facebook we wouldn't have the true story on what's going on in Iran right now. Check out this website. It seems like some of the local Iranians have discovered the power of user-generated new media. It's very graphic and sobering, . . but I"m proud for these people that they're getting the word out. Bravo for them, bravo for twitter!

Also, support protests are being organized here in American via Facebook. They're having a huge one in Chicago tomorrow!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

From the mouth of babes. . ..

I love VBS. . . . yes it's cheesy, yes the songs get annoying. . .but you get great conversations with your kids, (I've had 3 the last few days). This was definitely a highlight:

Sam: Dad, how old is Jesus?

Eden: To infinity and beyond!!!!

That's right Eden, you're a good theologian!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Great Fatherhood Quote

I always have trouble explaining to my friends, and ultra-hip Boulderites why I love being a dad (and yes, Boulder I do know how all 4 of them "happened". . sheesh) .

Is it hard? yes. . .are there other things I sometimes wish I could do more of? yes. Do any of those things really matter, comparatively speaking? No, not at all.

There are too many books being written to try and get guys to go do man things, get out of the house, go out with the guys, etc. . . and not enough about reading your kids a book, hanging out, and laying your life down for them and your wife.

It's really where the joy is. It just takes a while to strip away the stupid, early 20's, time wasting, selfish dude that I was. It's still a fight at times. But, this quote by Andrew Peach from First Things shows how dying to yourself is a good thing, and how sometimes the hard things are the best things. . . .

Most fathers-to-be suppose that their old ego-centered lives will continue more or less unabated after the child arrives. With the exception of a few more obstacles and demands on their time, their involvement with their children is envisioned as being something manageable and marginal. Nothing like a complete transformation—an abrupt end to their former life—really enters men’s minds.

But then the onslaught begins, and a man begins to realize that these people, his wife and children, are literally and perhaps even intentionally killing his old self. All around him everything is changing, without any signs of ever reverting back to the way they used to be. Into the indefinite future, nearly every hour of his days threatens to be filled with activities that, as a single-person or even a childless husband, he never would have chosen. Due to the continual interruptions of sleep, he is always mildly fatigued; due to long-term financial concerns, he is cautious in spending, forsaking old consumer habits and personal indulgences; he finds his wife equally exhausted and preoccupied with the children; connections with former friends start to slip away; traveling with his children is like traveling third class in Bulgaria, to quote H.L. Mencken; and the changes go on and on. In short, he discovers, in a terrifying realization, what Dostoevsky proclaimed long ago: “[A]ctive love is a harsh and fearful reality compared with love in dreams.” Fatherhood is just not what he bargained for.

Yet, through the exhaustion, financial stress, screaming, and general chaos, there enters in at times, mysteriously and unexpectedly, deep contentment and gratitude. It is not the pleasure or amusement of high school or college but rather the honor and nobility of sacrifice and commitment, like that felt by a soldier. What happens to his children now happens to him; his life, though awhirl with the trivial concerns of children, is more serious than it ever was before. Everything he does, from bringing home a paycheck to painting a bedroom, has a new end and, hence, a greater significance. The joys and sorrows of his children are now his joys and sorrows; the stakes of his life have risen. And if he is faithful to his calling, he might come to find that, against nearly all prior expectations, he never wants to return to the way things used to be.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The future of the Christian music/book subculture

A few posts ago I threw in a short bit about the demise of the Christian record labels and the overall downward trend in the Christian music and book industries.

I felt the need to clarify some things, since that's a pretty broad statement to make.

First of all, let me say that I think you should support your local Christian book store. You should support publishers and musicians that are putting out worthy material that impacts your life.

Here's a blurb from Tullian Tchividjian (Billy Graham's grandson) that basically expresses all that is wrong with Christian book stores:

TT: Yeah, Testamints. I walked into one Christian bookstore a while back and there was this comparison list between secular bands and Christian bands. So if you like Dave Matthews Band, you'll love such and such. If you like Counting Crows, you'll love such and such. If you love Beyonce, you'll love - . We've basically created a parallel universe, a copycat culture. And so that's kind of silly because, and it's somewhat frustrating because we think, are we really being creative in a pioneering way, or are we just looking around at what's cool in the world and then copying it with a little sprinkle of Jesus on top?

Ouch. Yes, this is why the Christian sub-culture is dying. . .because it's not really a Christian culture anymore. The last time I was in the Christian book store. . there were Terry Bradshaw books, Lance Armstrong books, cooking books,. . . music by the Jonas Brothers etc. . .

By trying to capitulate to culture we've lost the power of the gospel and the uniqueness of the Christian message.

Now, this is not always true. There are many fine books at christian book stores, and many fine albums. The worship music movement that I spoke of last time is very prominent these days.

But, the reason record labels are going out of business and publishers are going under, etc. . is because they've lost their message and have just put out "inspirational" "right wing" "feel good" stuff, instead of resources that are specifically Christian. By that, I mean music and literature that is theological and Christ-centered. I mean resources that are rigorous and explicit with what they believe and not success, leadership, best life, financial formulas. (which is pretty much anti-Christian in alot of ways).

That's why, as stated last time, I think this correction will be good. Those folks who are just trying to make a buck off of Christians will be forced back into Wal-mart, Target, and ITunes, and those Christians who want to impact culture will need to be competitive in those venues.

Those who are trying to serve the church will also be able to speak to the folks whom they want to impact. . .the church. What better place for a book store/resource center than the church? Churches should be rigorous in what they have in there. . . . Jesus clearing the moneychangers from the temple comes to mind.

It's not that we need "Christian music" and "secular music",but there is music that is written specifically for the church to sing. Regarding literature. . Christian fiction authors should be able to compete in Borders/Barnes and Noble, etc. . .and non-fiction theological authors (pastors too) need to be deep, biblical, and meaningful in what they present to the church.

Don't get me wrong, I value Christian resources. I'm reading 3 great books right now. I wouldn't have made it through high school without Audio Adrenaline and Jars of Clay :) .

But, if Christian companies are going to dumb everything down and make everything nice and easy. . . etc. They will continue to go out of business. I can go get Lance Armstrong's book at Borders.