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.