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.


See, I'm not the only one who feels this way

There is a new reality show coming up that I might actually watch.

( by the way. . .in the spirit of randomness. . . .VH1 should be ashamed of themselves. . there is nothing good on that network anymore, just endless bad reality shows. Music happens between 5 and 6 in the morning, and that's it. It's really our own fault, evidently "Rock of love" pulls in the ratings better than new works of art. . . sheesh. . . . )

This new reality series will be looking at some of the realities I was talking about in Suburbia. I might just watch this one! :)

"Jay Bienstock, a producer who has worked on “Survivor” and “The Apprentice,” said the concept is that suburban families lead such rushed, disparate lives, they don’t spend enough time together. This show will force them to do so. Dad can’t go off and play golf. The kids can’t go to ballet class or karate lessons. Mom can’t hit the mall."

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Suburbia wrap up

I know, I know. . .how sad that our suburbia series is ending. . . .

You may ask. . "why do you care about this stuff, Aaron?".

Well, it's not because I have a secret hate for the suburbs, or consider them to be more evil than other areas where you could choose to live. I do think that the suburbs are often assumed to be a "perfect" place to live. Especially, as a parent, they are often lifted up as a "safe" place to raise kids, and kind of a utopia. So, I felt the need to tear that down a bit.

Also, as stated in the intro, it's just good to know what sins your neighborhood will push you towards or what inherent flaws your area has (every place has something).

So, why do I live in the suburbs? Well, quite frankly, it was the only place I could afford to buy a house. I think this is true for many folks. . .we've actually created a new "ghetto" where everyone funnels who can only afford a certain level of house. If poverty ghettos were where immigrants were pushed in the early 1900's (harlem, south side of chicago, etc. . )then suburbs are where families are pushed to live in our day. I'm not trying to say it's hard in the burbs, like in the inner city or something. . . I'm talking about the true definition of a "ghetto". There is a similar lack of progress, culture, arts, and personal development in the burbs as there are in traditional "ghettos". I feel another suburbs post coming on!!!!! Just kidding.

All that to say, this is where I live, I'm trying to fight against the consumerism and comparitive tendencies with my kids, things, and house. I"m trying to fight against a homogeneous view of everything by experiencing different cultures and getting out alot. I'm trying to connect with my neighbors in meaningful ways by having block parties, dinners and good conversations. And, I"m trying to remain a citizen of "another kingdom" by not becoming too attached to my stuff and my area, and keeping things in perspective.

We'll see what series topic comes to my mind next. . . .



After the tragedy of Dr. Tiller and a really, really, bad example of how to be supportive of Pro-Life causes. . . I thought I would post the exact opposite. Here we have a mom who loves her kids and is appalled by "medical advice" that she receives from her doctors. This is really well-written and convicting for where we're at as a culture.


Friday, June 5, 2009

Proverbs 16:18, an illustration

Props to JT for this one. Absolutely hilarious. . . .and a great object lesson for pride.


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Suburbs #3

The Suburbs push us towards the sin of isolation.

Beyond the huge houses, cul-de-sacs, small backyards, and automatic garages,. . . with which we isolate ourselves. (those things are a whole different post)

There's also just a lack of identification with a "place".

When you live in a rural town, you say "I'm from podunk, USA" or whatever. You identify yourself with a town. You fight with kids from other towns, you put them down :). You wear your high school letter jacket until you're 26.

I am from such a town, and continue to claim it as my home town. It's where I grew up.

When you're from a city, you also identify yourself with that place. Watching MTV back in the day when they used to have videos on (hmmph, cough , cough) and live shows. The kids would always be yelling out "Philly!!!!" or "NYC!!!". They claim it. They are a part of that community.

I don't think my kids will be yelling "Canyon Creek baby!!!!" (our sub-division) at a t.v. camera one day.

When you live in the burbs you don't identify with a place as much, which is unfortunate.

It's healthy to identify with a place because it humbles you, it connects you with certain people (and perhaps alienates you from others), and when you're far away you still feel "roots" at that place.These are healthy things under the sun, even as the Apostle Paul encourages us to be "citizens of Heaven" as we go through this life.

To identify with a place helps us to stop self-identifying, and helps to kill our individual pride. Of course, this can be replaced with regional pride, which would need to be dealt with,. . . . . but, we're talking about the suburbs. :)

Also, there aren't as many central gathering places in the burbs. There's no city center, places for concerts, events, lectures, parades, etc. . . . You go to the city center for those things. So, we're kind of culturally cut-off from some things in the burbs. (also, a whole nother post)

Now, I live in Erie, CO. . . a small, rural town, and we have a city center, . . .surrounded by 10 miles of suburbs in all directions. My beef with that gets into city planning and sprawl and other things we don't have time for. The best things about Erie, in my opinion, . . happen at the schools and in the town center.

So, isolation happens alot in suburbia . . . .

don't worry, I only have a few of these left :)

Can't let this one go

Sorry to all of you who are bored when I blog about basketball. . . . . . but I just can't let this one go.

Kobe is a great player. Kobe had alot to do with the Lakers winning 3 straight titles in 2000-2002. Some have said that for his legacy to be complete, he needs to win a title without Shaq to show that he can lead a team all the way to the trophy.

I would agree with that. . .(explanation forthcoming), Shaq has said he's rooting for Kobe to win #4 as well, he's always the consumate sportsman :) .

But, Kobe disagrees that his legacy needs this title and he said yesterday when asked a question about it: "Some folks think Shaq could have won those titles without me. . they're crazy".

Kobe, kobe, kobe. . . . wow, where do I start.

First of all, Yes, Kobe played a big role in those titles. He was not chopped liver on those teams. But, I think Shaq could have done it with a number of other players at the time. Here's a short list, there's more. . . . . Tracy McGrady, Ray Allen, Rip Hamilton, Allen Iverson, the list goes on. Kobe and Shaq were a great team, but for those years, a few people could have played the "Kobe" role. Kobe is a much better player now than he was then.

In the NBA playoffs from 2000- 2002, here are Shaq's numbers:
1999-00 30.7 .556 15.4
2000-01 30.4 .555 15.4
2001-02 28.5 .529 12.6

That's points per game, field goal percentage and rebounds per game.

Umm, that's ridiculous. Let me give you a hypothetical: If Michael Jordan had won his 6 titles in the 90's with David Robinson or Hakeen Olajuwon, would you say his legacy would be different?

Yes, without a doubt. You don't say,. . . . "wow, Larry Bird would have never won those titles without Kevin McHale" regardless of the truth in that statement, Larry Bird, was without a doubt the best player on all of those teams. . . . same for Jordan. . .

Also, the two blemishes that won't go away are 2004 and 2008 when Kobe was the best player on the floor and could not lead his team to a finals victory. In fact, I'm still not over 2004 when Kobe shot away the series against the Pistons. I could write 6,000 words about that series, but suffice it to say, Shaq put up a 38pt. 15 rb. game in game 4 of that series, a crucial game that the Lakers lost. Kobe continued to hoist contested jumpers throughout the whole series until Detroit hoisted a championship banner, but I digress. Bottom line, when Kobe has been the best player on a team, they haven't won the finals.

Kobe was a great support to Shaq through all the title years. People forget that they also had Ron Harper, Brian Shaw, Glen Rice (underrated), Derek Fisher, and other great players on those teams.

But, Kobe needs to be the best player on a team that wins the finals to be considered in the top 10 all-time players. Shaq dominated the entire league for these 3 years, and Kobe has not yet done the same. We'll see if he can do it in this series. If so, then he gets respect has having LED a team to the finals.

nerd out. . . .

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Ok, too much to talk about today. . .here we go.

---The nuggets' season is an unqualified success. That's the best our team has done since the 80's. It remains to be seen if our front office can have as good an off-season. We have some work to do there.

---The Magic were going to beat the Cavs. . they owned them for the whole season. We'll see if any of the same trends continue with the Lakers, whom the Magic also beat twice during the season. Lamar Odom is key. . .

---GM should have been allowed to go bankrupt. It is estimated that many jobs will be lost in the re-structring of GM. Oh, you mean like what would've happened if they would've gone bankrupt??? I don't understand.

---Re: Supreme Court. . . .Judge Sotomayor is a respectable judge. She has ruled favorably on some abortion cases, as a matter of fact. The concern is that her judicial philosophy is fairly liberal (I don't mean liberal in the political sense, . . I mean it in the judicial sense) and not constructionist. So, for the future cases that will come before her, there's not alot of clues on which way she'll go, since she's been fairly independent, and doesn't hold a constructionist view. Her credentials are unquestioned. . her judicial philosophy is where I differ with her.

---Kristian Stanfill and Christy Nockels both have new albums out on Passion's record label, Six Steps. Christy Nockels has been "that girl singing that one song" on all of the Passion albums, and was "Watermark" with her husband, Nathan, for years. She's one of the best singers out there,. . I'm talking Carrie Underwood good. . .(readers of this blog will get that one). Her album sounds great. Kristian, I've followed for many years as he led at Northpoint church in Atlanta. His songs are great, and the album sounds great. He deviates a bit from the Tomlin standard production, which is good,. . . and he's got an edgier voice than Tomlin or Crowder. . . . It seems like Passion is branching out a bit, which is good.

---That reminds me. . . I haven't written at length about the state of the Christian music industry, basically because I feel like it doesn't have much of a future. I think the Nashville party is basically over. Here's an article that talks about many of the current problems. When folks with a record deal are working at Starbucks, it may be time to turn out the lights :).

I think it will be a good thing though. . . . Folks that lean more towards general artistry and edginess will go "secular" and influence the broader world with their art. The artists that want to serve the church, will be able to do just that. That's why Passion has had so much success,. . they're writing songs for the church, to sing at church, by worship teams. The artists whom heart is there will continue to be able to minister as long as they're serving the church.

And again, . . .all of the bands that should've been "secular" a long time ago, will become so. And, this is good. . .we don't need to abandon the general music industry to artists with a secular world view. There are many current Christian artists in mainstream music. Many of the Christian acts that were simply "making money off the church" in my opinion, will be able to use their gifts for the furtherance of the gospel in the wider artistic world, which they should have been doing all along.

The separation will be needed for the business model to work, and I think it's a good thing.


Suburbia #2

Everyone loved the first one. . . .so here we go. :)

Suburbia pushes you towards the sin of idolizing your children.

If you want to hear a good message about this, check out Matt Chandler from last month here. (as well as the funniest Star Wars reference in a sermon I've ever heard :) )

Again, I'm not sure exactly what it is, but for some reason, those of us in the suburbs tend to idolize our children. We are competitive with them in sports, academics, and skills (my kid just did all of the ABC's and he's 6 months old!! ) . We tend to do what they want, and since kids don't have a good filter yet about how many things they should be involved in, we truck them around to 2 different soccer teams, swimming lessons, camp, afterschool art class, etc. . . .It gets rather insane.

In rural areas it seems that kids view themselves more as a part of a family and a needed help to get things done (i.e. helping on the farm, helping take care of a larger family).

In urban areas I think kids are more humbled by the size of their community and identify themselves more with the city, and they gain some balance from that. More on that in a future post

Our kids need us to set boundaries for them and to absolutely not use them for our own advantage. (i.e., the competitive bragging thing mentioned earlier). Our kids need discipline and structure to their life. They need us to not cave to what they want and change the vision of our family to suit what their friends are telling them. If they spend the ages of 5-11 staring at the back of a seat in a mini-van,. . always on the way to some activity. . . we've done something wrong.

We're teaching our kids what is most important and most ultimate by what we allow them to do, and how quick we are to take on a new activity, t.v. show, buy a new toy, cater to them. . . .we're teaching them what's important when we do those things.

None of the activities mentioned above are wrong in themselves. . . we just need some discernment. Again, the numerous options placed before us in the suburbs, and the tendency for coveteousness/comparisons push us towards idolizing our kids.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Tragedy of Dr. Tiller

There is enough tragedy to go around in the case of Dr. Tiller in Kansas, the doctor who would perform late-term abortions, some would say so late so as to be against the law. Aborion is murder, and is tragic.

But there is equal tragedy in his murder in the foyer of his own church yesterday. This is a tragedy for he and his family, a moral tragedy, and a not a good day for those of us working for pro-life causes. Here is a very thoughtful article from Dr. Albert Mohler. I highly recommend reading this and learning something from history as to how Christians should and should not confront unjust laws. (which our country's abortion laws are very much so)

Great Read