Sunday, December 19, 2010

Why Should the Church Have all the Good Music?

Because it's Christmas, that's why. A great reminder here from that astute theologian: Steve Martin.

HT: Matt Chandler

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas. . . for everyone

This is a great post I found today. I hope it's an encouragement to you:

HT: Vitamin Z

Matt Redmond:

I get it. I mean, it makes sense on the level of Christmas being a time in which there is a lot of heavily concentrated family time. The holidays can be tense in even the best of circumstances. Maneuvering through the landmines of various personalities can be hard even if there is no cancer, divorce or empty seat at the table. What makes it the most wonderful time of the year is also what makes it the most brutal time of the year. My own family has not been immune to this phenomenon.

But allow me to push back against this idea a little. Gently. I think we have it all backwards. We have it sunk deep into our collective cultural consciousness that Christmas is for the happy people. You know, those with idyllic family situations enjoyed around stocking-strewn hearth dreams. Christmas is for healthy people who laugh easily and at all the right times, right? The successful and the beautiful, who live in suburban bliss, can easily enjoy the holidays. They have not gotten lost on the way because of the GPS they got last year. They are beaming after watching a Christmas classic curled up on the couch as a family in front of their ginormous flat-screen. We live and act as if this is who should be enjoying Christmas.

But this is backwards. Christmas—the great story of the incarnation of the Rescuer—is for everyone, especially those who need a rescue. Jesus was born as a baby to know the pain and sympathize with our weaknesses. Jesus was made to be like us so that in his resurrection we can be made like him; free from the fear of death and the pain of loss. Jesus’ first recorded worshipers were not of the beautiful class. They were poor, ugly shepherds, beat down by life and labor. They had been looked down on over many a nose.

Jesus came for those who look in the mirror and see ugliness. Jesus came for daughters whose fathers never told them they were beautiful. Christmas is for those who go to “wing night” alone. Christmas is for those whose lives have been wrecked by cancer, and the thought of another Christmas seems like an impossible dream. Christmas is for those who would be nothing but lonely if not for social media. Christmas is for those whose marriages have careened against the retaining wall and are threatening to flip over the edge. Christmas is for the son whose father keeps giving him hunting gear when he wants art materials. Christmas is for smokers who cannot quit even in the face of a death sentence. Christmas is for prostitutes, adulterers, and porn stars who long for love in every wrong place. Christmas is for college students who are sitting in the midst of the family and already cannot wait to get out for another drink. Christmas is for those who traffic in failed dreams. Christmas is for those who have squandered the family name and fortune—they want “home” but cannot imagine a gracious reception. Christmas is for parents watching their children’s marriage fall into disarray.

Christmas is really about the gospel of grace for sinners. Because of all that Christ has done on the cross, the manger becomes the most hopeful place in a universe darkened with hopelessness. In the irony of all ironies, Christmas is for those who will find it the hardest to enjoy. It really is for those who hate it most.

read the rest

Monday, December 13, 2010


I'm feeling snippy today:

Church signs are always good for a laugh. . . . or a cry.


Are you having a bad Monday like me? (it's mostly my fault).

If so, this might perk you up. This is just what I needed today!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

2010: When Sports were too important

And all the wives said: "It's been this way for years!!!". I know, I know. . . let me explain.

I've wondered why there's been such a negative vibe surrounding some of my favorite teams and athletes this year. I've wondered why I've been sucked into some of the stories so much that I lose focus on some things that are more important. I've also wondered at the hysteria/activism surrounding some of the major stories this year.

To wit:

--LeBron James' choice to play for Miami and leave his hometown of Cleveland has caused amazing backlash. The people of Cleveland have been burning jerseys, publicly hoping for LeBron to have a career-ending injury, chanting "traitor" as he and his friends enter a restaurant to have a meal. . etc. . . LeBron has admitted a mistake in the way he went about it, but it is not enough, he has been vilified, and in a year like this, that is no longer just a metaphor.

--Tiger Woods fall from grace. How many magazine covers have been spent on this story?

--The various coaching hires/fires in Colorado this year. Basically the negative atmosphere surrounding CU and the Broncos made it a necessity to fire the head coach.

--Carmelo Anthony's refusal to sign his contract and the ensuing trade rumors.

--The yearly Nebraska football hysteria that cranked up a notch this year with the changing of conferences and us having a world-class 19 year-old athlete named Taylor Martinez on the team. Apparently some folks need to remember his age.

These are some of the big "stories" that I've seen this year. . .and it's just too much. We've "fox newsed" the sports world where everything is a huge, breaking story. . . The games are secondary to the larger social reactions that the media feeds (sometimes creates) and we consume.

I'm not blaming the media for this. The media simply feeds the monster, and we are the monster. There are a few voices of reason, I remember sportswriter Rich Kaipust in the post-game chat after Nebraska/Texas pastoring some crazy depressed fans to "relax everyone, it was just a football game". That's crazy talk Rich!!!! :)

It has been a crazy year. I'm asking for everyone, (and telling myself) to settle down and go read a book, or listen to some music or something. We have death threats against professional athletes and against conference commissioners, we have 24 hour coverage of events, we have helicopters circling airports, waiting for athletes or coaches to arrive, and we have folks (me) spending untold hours on the internet going after every rumor, every tidbit of information so we know what famous athletes and coaches are thinking to themselves.

The bottom line is this: Just like everything else that isn't God, sports and athletes will disappoint you. We can't find ultimate happiness even when our teams win. It's fun. . it's not ultimate. And, your team will lose.

And the practical truth is. . . . these things don't mean as much to the athletes and coaches/administrators as they do to you and I. They are not as loyal, obsessive, and crazy about what they're doing as we are about them. This is because, for them. . this is a job.

Now, of course, they are passionate about their work as we are about ours. But, they are trying to do what's in their best interest (as we are) and so you can't hitch your wagon to an athlete/team/coach for your happiness, when they are committed to their happiness.

What we learn from Tiger, LeBron, Carmelo, etc. . is that these guys are going to work, and they are trying to make money, and make a good life FOR THEMSELVES. . .not for us.

What we learn from Nebraska, CU, Denver Broncos, etc. . is that these guys are human (and sometimes very immature and/or young) and will make a ton of mistakes. There's something sick about grown men such as myself getting really happy or angry about the decisions or performance of a 19 year old.

There's alot to like about sports. If you've ever played organized sports, it's a great kick to watch a team function together. Also, if you've ever coached it's great to strategize and see the scheme behind what is going on. I've done both, and enjoy both about watching sports.

CJ Mahaney has a great book called "Don't Waste Your Sports" which explores the spiritual and character building things we can take away from sports.

We should enjoy sports. We should partake in them. We should root for a team. We should enjoy the good things about them.

This past year became for me. . a bunch of Jerry Springer stories, trumped up by the media, consumed by obsessive team idolaters that took alot of the fun out of the sports we enjoy.

I'm exploring how to go about enjoying sports differently moving forward, so that it can be FUN. Which is. . . kind of the point.

Don't call me for the next jersey burning or airport stakeout.

Theological nerds. . there is hope!!

This is funny: (i think the girl's comebacks are funnier)

HT: Vitamin Z

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Labor of Love

It is my goal, one day, to actually do this song at our church. This is probably my favorite non-carol Christmas song, and how can you argue with a song that starts off. . . "it was not a silent night; there was blood on the ground". Not a silent night indeed. . I love that. I know, I know. . kind of a downer at first.

But, this is a beautiful song. I hope you "get it". Most church folks don't want downers and hard reality around Christmas, and I understand that. I just think it would be really neat for a song like this to be heard around Christmas-time at our churches, . . during a time that is often mythologized, cleaned up, and "smiled up" which usually has more to do with American culture than anything related to the Christmas story. Rant over. . . enjoy this great song.

It was not a silent night
There was blood on the ground
You could hear a woman cry
In the alleyways that night
On the streets of David’s town

And the stable was not clean
And the cobblestones were cold
And little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face
Had no mother’s hand to hold

It was a labor of pain
It was a cold sky above
But for the girl on the ground in the dark
With every beat of her beautiful heart
It was a labor of love

Noble Joseph at her side
Callused hands and weary eyes
There were no midwives to be found
In the streets of David’s town
In the middle of the night

So he held her and he prayed
Shafts of moonlight on his face
But the baby in her womb
He was the maker of the moon
He was the Author of the faith
That could make the mountains move

It was a labor of pain
It was a cold sky above
But for the girl on the ground in the dark
With every beat of her beautiful heart
It was a labor of love
For little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face
It was a labor of love


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

We All Have Different Gifts

Many people think that they have a good handle on their musical acumen. They think that the American Idol auditions are fake, and that those folks are just acting and know that they have zero musical ability.

Well I'm here to tell you that's false. I do auditions all the time, and people typically have an inflated view of their own skills. I do as well. . . you probably do too. The way to combat this is to simply record yourself and listen to it. Prepare to be humbled (and don't perform publicly shortly after you do. My confidence had to recover from my first album for about 5 months)

Unfortunately even that doesn't work for some people. And, unfortunately, some of those people audition for the music/worship teams at churches. I found this video on a great blog, (if you're a worship team person. . . bookmark it).

This guy says he has a "5 octave range". That would be pretty impressive. . . a few people can do that. (very few) I actually had a guy tell me during an audition that he had a "7 octave range". Besides being almost impossible, a skill like that would certainly not be helpful to any worship team, since you know. . . that person would probably be an alien. (I heard Mariah Carey has a 7 octave range. . . ok, I'd have to hear it . . . fyi, the piano has 8 octaves)

This video is classic, enjoy:

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Fallon love

We've got some Jimmy Fallon fans out there. Here's some more Fallon-genius:

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Bruce, circa 1975

So, the story goes that Jimmy Fallon asked Bruce Springsteen to be a part of a skit while Bruce was performing on his show last week. Bruce was hesitant at first, but decided to be a part of it, (and decided to dress up like himself 30 years ago).

I guess Bruce's manager was in tears once he saw him, and Bruce's people couldn't believe how real it all looked,

3 great things about this clip:

1) Jimmy Fallon nails Neil Young. . .absolutely nails it. hilarious.

2) This song is the most absurd thing ever. I youtubed the original version, it's some techno thing. yikes.

3) Is there anyone else quite like Bruce, where if your eyes were closed, you would know who was singing in about .2 seconds? I don't think so. What an awesome voice. And yes, that outfit is an exact replica of himself, circa 1975. (i guess he still had the sunglasses . . they just had to find a wig)

enjoy! music geek out.

Friday, November 19, 2010


Pastor Mark Driscoll, from the Washington Post---

When it comes to technology in general, and social networking in particular, the heart is simply revealed. Impatient, angry people post flame-throwing statements in haste. Boastful, narcissistic people post statements and photos constantly to ensure we do not ignore them. Dissident troublemakers post trolling inflammatory comments, seeking to have the same effect as a hose on a bees' nest. And the perverted pursue illicit connections, including adultery, as they enjoy posting and seeing sexualized photos and statements.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Six Second Kiss

Give it a shot!

Restoring Sanity

I used to not like "The Daily Show" very much. Of course, it was hilarious, and I would laugh when I watched it. But, I must say that John Stewart got a little tiresome with his "I"m just a comedian, we follow a show about crank calling" crossed with his biting critique that was supposed be taken seriously. Either your show matters or it doesn't, . . but you can't have it both ways.

Lately, John seems to be explaining himself (and acting) in a much more helpful way. He gave an hour long interview with Rachel Maddow after his "Rally to Restore Sanity" explaining what the point was, and why the left shouldn't have been so hard him (as they were).

This was a very helpful, intellectual interview. . . I really enjoyed it. I also enjoyed the parts of the Rally that I saw, and . . .

That seems to be the norm on "The Daily Show" these days. They have really honest, helpful, well-thought-out dialogue; something, unfortunately, that is hard to come by on MSNBC, CNN, or FOX.

Every time I watch the Daily Show now, I learn something. This week, JayZ had a really insightful interview about the history of rap. John S. also interviewed the writers of the new book "All the Devils are in the Room" about the financial crises on Wall St. I learned things about the breakdown of our financial system that I had never heard before.

The biggest reason I'm a fan of "The Daily Show" nowadays is that John S. is finally an equal opportunity offender. For years, he would say this, and then proceed to bash anything that smacked of conservatism or the Republican Party. But, lately (maybe because we have a Democratic president) he's been going after everyone. He obliterated Charlie Rangel this week (that piece was hilarious), he stood up for the Palin family a bit (while taking well-placed shots at Sarah. . .but her new show deserves it), and went after President Obama pretty good when they were in Washington a few weeks ago. To be sure, John Stewart veers left. But, he can see what's wrong with his own positions. In the Maddow interview, he went after Maddow and the left for calling President Bush a war criminal. He's pushing for nuance. . . I like that.

The reason for them being in Washington was to hold their "Rally to Restore Sanity". In my mind, this was a historic gathering. John S. was criticized from the left and the right (which probably means he did something very right) but succeeded in showing the absurdity of our current poltical and media climate. The basic point was that if you shout about everything, nothing is emphasized, and that our discourse can be respectful and intellectual even though our viewpoints can be clearly divided. Crazy idea huh??

I think John S. and to some extent, Stephen Colbert are really two of the most important guys in the media right now. They're exposing the current media for what much of it currently is. . . ridiculous and laughable. They know (and can now explain) the important social place of the satirist. Here's some links to the Maddow interview, their Time Magazine recognition, and the Daily Show website.

Fair warning: the Daily Show does alot of vulgar comedy to make their point, . .

Monday, November 15, 2010


I'm pretty excited about this. . . Christmas present ideas for Aaron anyone??

But seriously, it's great to see someone who is excellent and world-class at what they do, infusing their art with their faith. It also makes me miss the fine arts community a bit, of which I was a big part in college. Enjoy this video and consider saving up for this work of art. Here's the Amazon link and the video.

Fujimura - 4 Holy Gospels from Crossway on Vimeo.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


We're going through the book of Revelation right now in our young adult's group at Calvary. Some of those passages that speak of the suffering of Christians are hard to understand sitting in Boulder, CO. Lately, we've seen the pages of scripture (unfortunately) being played out in Iraq. It's a humbling thing for us to see our brothers and sisters under attack for their faith, and literally not safe, in their own homes. If you have a minute to read this, take one more minute to pray for these folks and their families: (click on the title to go to the story)

Good Times

Tis the season for some trick plays. My buddy Dave Johnson posted one of these yesterday on Facebook, but here are a few more. And, let me say, as an offensive tackle growing up in Nebraska, the Fumblerooskie brings a tear to my eye. We practiced this play all the time, but I was never able to run it in a game. The Big Red pulled it off in the National Championship Game. Enjoy!

HT: Justin Taylor

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Provi tells me alot that I should go on Wheel of Fortune. We watch it together and I often get the puzzle right before the folks on t.v. (I'm not really that good, . .they're just playing for money, dragging it out, and they have pressure, nerves . . .etc . ).

Anyway, this clip is so ridiculous. Did this lady cheat? You make the call.


I'm just sayin. . . (I bolded some sections I thought were helpful)

Twinkie diet helps nutrition professor lose 27 pounds

By Madison Park, CNN
November 8, 2010 8:40 a.m. EST
  • Nutrition professor's "convenience store diet" helped him shed 27 pounds
  • Haub limited himself to 1,800 calories and two-thirds come from junk food
  • Haub said it's too early to draw any conclusions about diet

(CNN) -- Twinkies. Nutty bars. Powdered donuts.

For 10 weeks, Mark Haub, a professor of human nutrition at Kansas State University, ate one of these sugary cakelets every three hours, instead of meals. To add variety in his steady stream of Hostess and Little Debbie snacks, Haub munched on Doritos chips, sugary cereals and Oreos, too.

His premise: That in weight loss, pure calorie counting is what matters most -- not the nutritional value of the food.

The premise held up: On his "convenience store diet," he shed 27 pounds in two months.

For a class project, Haub limited himself to less than 1,800 calories a day. A man of Haub's pre-dieting size usually consumes about 2,600 calories daily. So he followed a basic principle of weight loss: He consumed significantly fewer calories than he burned.

His body mass index went from 28.8, considered overweight, to 24.9, which is normal. He now weighs 174 pounds.

But you might expect other indicators of health would have suffered. Not so.

Haub's "bad" cholesterol, or LDL, dropped 20 percent and his "good" cholesterol, or HDL, increased by 20 percent. He reduced the level of triglycerides, which are a form of fat, by 39 percent.

"That's where the head scratching comes," Haub said. "What does that mean? Does that mean I'm healthier? Or does it mean how we define health from a biology standpoint, that we're missing something?"

Haub's sample day
Espresso, Double: 6 calories; 0 grams of fat

Hostess Twinkies Golden Sponge Cake: 150 calories; 5 grams of fat

Centrum Advanced Formula From A To Zinc: 0 calories; 0 grams of fat

Little Debbie Star Crunch: 150 calories; 6 grams of fat

Hostess Twinkies Golden Sponge Cake: 150 calories; 5 grams of fat

Diet Mountain Dew: 0 calories; 0 grams of fat

Doritos Cool Ranch: 75 calories; 4 grams of fat

Kellogg's Corn Pops: 220 calories; 0 grams of fat

whole milk: 150 calories; 8 grams of fat

baby carrots: 18 calories; 0 grams of fat

Duncan Hines Family Style Brownie Chewy Fudge: 270 calories; 14 grams of fat

Little Debbie Zebra Cake: 160 calories; 8 grams of fat

Muscle Milk Protein Shake: 240 calories; 9 grams of fat

1,589 calories and 59 grams of fat

Despite his temporary success, Haub does not recommend replicating his snack-centric diet.

"I'm not geared to say this is a good thing to do," he said. "I'm stuck in the middle. I guess that's the frustrating part. I can't give a concrete answer. There's not enough information to do that."

Two-thirds of his total intake came from junk food. He also took a multivitamin pill and drank a protein shake daily. And he ate vegetables, typically a can of green beans or three to four celery stalks.

Families who live in food deserts have limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables, so they often rely on the kind of food Haub was eating.

"These foods are consumed by lots of people," he said. "It may be an issue of portion size and moderation rather than total removal. I just think it's unrealistic to expect people to totally drop these foods for vegetables and fruits. It may be healthy, but not realistic."

Haub's body fat dropped from 33.4 to 24.9 percent. This posed the question: What matters more for weight loss, the quantity or quality of calories?

His success is probably a result of caloric reduction, said Dawn Jackson Blatner, a dietitian based in Atlanta, Georgia.

"It's a great reminder for weight loss that calories count," she said. "Is that the bottom line to being healthy? That's another story."

Blatner, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, said she's not surprised to hear Haub's health markers improved even when he loaded up on processed snack cakes.

Being overweight is the central problem that leads to complications like high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol, she said.

How well are you managing your diabetes?

"When you lose weight, regardless of how you're doing it -- even if it's with packaged foods, generally you will see these markers improve when weight loss has improved," she said.

Before jumping on the Ding Dong bandwagon, Blatner warned of health concerns.

"There are things we can't measure," said Blatner, questioning how the lack of fruits and vegetables could affect long-term health. "How much does that affect the risk for cancer? We can't measure how diet changes affect our health."

I was eating healthier, but I wasn't healthy. I was eating too much.
--Professor Mark Haub
The ultimate Twinkie diet

On August 25, Haub, 41, started his cake diet focusing on portion control.

"I'm eating to the point of need and pushing the plate or wrapper away," he said.

He intended the trial to last a month as a teaching tool for his class. As he lost weight, Haub continued the diet until he reached a normal body mass index.

Before his Twinkie diet, he tried to eat a healthy diet that included whole grains, dietary fiber, berries and bananas, vegetables and occasional treats like pizza.

"There seems to be a disconnect between eating healthy and being healthy," Haub said. "It may not be the same. I was eating healthier, but I wasn't healthy. I was eating too much."

He maintained the same level of moderate physical activity as before going on the diet. (Haub does not have any ties to the snack cake companies.)

To avoid setting a bad example for his kids, Haub ate vegetables in front of his family. Away from the dinner table, he usually unwrapped his meals.

Study: U.S. obesity rate will hit 42 percent

Haub monitored his body composition, blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose, and updated his progress on his Facebook page,Professor Haub's diet experiment.

To curb calories, he avoided meat, whole grains and fruits. Once he started adding meat into the diet four weeks ago, his cholesterol level increased.

Haub plans to add about 300 calories to his daily intake now that he's done with the diet. But he's not ditching snack cakes altogether. Despite his weight loss, Haub feels ambivalence.

"I wish I could say the outcomes are unhealthy. I wish I could say it's healthy. I'm not confident enough in doing that. That frustrates a lot of people. One side says it's irresponsible. It is unhealthy, but the data doesn't say that."