Thursday, February 25, 2010

When the guitar starts to mean a little too much. . .

Powerful, convicting video:


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Update on Church Persecution Videos

Video on Persecution of Christians

I’ve been in touch with the folks from Cornerstone Community Church, and the videos are being pulled until their accuracy can be verified.

The question is not, as one commenter thought, about whether or not we doubt that severe persecution is occurring in India or in other parts of the world. The question is whether or not the footage in these videos is depicting Christians being persecuted for their faith. If it’s not, we don’t want to show it, as doing so knowingly would be both misleading and manipulative.

I apologize for my contribution to any confusion. I hope this doesn’t distract from the fact that such persecution is real and terrible, requiring prayers for our brothers and sisters. Again, I commend to you The Voice of the Martyrs for ways to get involved and informed.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Call to Pray

This is a very heavy, disgusting, and heart-wrenching video. I wanted to re-post this so that more folks would get the opportunity to share with our brothers and sisters in India, in their sufferings, by praying for them. There is serious persecution of Christ's church in India, and we should be aware and active for our family. If you'd like to watch the whole unedited video, and see some links on how you can find out more, you can go here. Fair warning, that video is even more disgusting and sad. Let's be in prayer with Rev. Chan.

Persecution in India: Francis' Response from Cornerstone Church on Vimeo.

David Powlison

Let me offer a recommendation for everything that David Powlison has written. He's a biblical counselor, but doesn't counsel in the way you might think he would, or that many church counselors do, unfortunately. This gets into what I was talking about last week regarding marriage and "having a billion dollars". Check out this great article:


Why Me? Why This? Why Now? Why?

Don’t rush through this. It is worth reading slowly and repeatedly, for in it there is deep and profound wisdom.

So often the initial reaction to painful suffering is Why me? Why this? Why now? Why? . . .

[God] comes for you, in the flesh, in Christ, into suffering, on your behalf. He does not offer advice and perspective from afar; he steps into your significant suffering. He will see you through, and work with you the whole way. He will carry you even in extremis. This reality changes the questions that rise up from your heart. That inward-turning “why me?” quiets down, lifts its eyes, and begins to look around.You turn outward and new, wonderful questions form.

Why you?

Why you?

Why would you enter this world of evils?

Why would you go through loss, weakness, hardship, sorrow, and death?

Why would you do this for me, of all people?

But you did.

You did this for the joy set before you.

You did this for love.

You did this showing the glory of God in the face of Christ.

As that deeper question sinks home, you become joyously sane. The universe is no longer supremely about you. Yet you are not irrelevant. God’s story makes you just the right size. Everything counts, but the scale changes to something that makes much more sense. You face hard things. But you have already received something better which can never be taken away. And that better something will continue to work out the whole journey long.

The question generates a heartfelt response:

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget any of his benefits, who pardons all your iniquities and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion, who satisfies your years with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle.

Thank you, my Father. You are able to give true voice to a thank you amid all that is truly wrong, both the sins and the sufferings that now have come under lovingkindness.

Finally, you are prepared to pose—and to mean—almost unimaginable questions:

Why not me?

Why not this?

Why not now?

If in some way, my faith might serve as a three-watt night-light in a very dark world, why not me?

If my suffering shows forth the Savior of the world, why not me?

If I have the privilege of filling up the sufferings of Christ?

If he sanctifies to me my deepest distress?

If I fear no evil?

If he bears me in his arms?

If my weakness demonstrates the power of God to save us from all that is wrong?

If my honest struggle shows other strugglers how to land on their feet?

If my life becomes a source of hope for others?

Why not me?

Of course, you don’t want to suffer, but you’ve become willing: “If it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not as I will, but as you will.”

Like him, your loud cries and tears will in fact be heard by the one who saves from death.

Like him, you will learn obedience through what you suffer.

Like him, you will sympathize with the weaknesses of others.

Like him, you will deal gently with the ignorant and wayward.

Like him, you will display faith to a faithless world, hope to a hopeless world, love to a loveless world, life to a dying world.

If all that God promises only comes true, then why not me?

—David Powlison, “God’s Grace and Your Sufferings,” in Suffering and the Sovereignty of God (pp. 172-173).

Friday, February 19, 2010


So, Denver folks. . check out Altitude t.v. today and watch the replay of last night's game. In the grand tradition of Bird vs. Magic, Wilt vs. Russel, and Jordan vs. everyone. . . this was an amazing 1 on 1 matchup that took place in the middle of a basketball game :)

Check out these numbers:

Carmelo 40 pts. 6 rebs. 7 assts. 1 stl. 2 blocks.

LeBron 43 pts. 13 rebs. 15 assts. 2 stls. 4 blocks.

Oh yeah: That's the first time in NBA history that anyone has had 42, 13, 15, 2, and 4. LeBron set a new mark.

Oh yeah: Carmelo hit the game winner in LeBron's face (they guarded each other near the end of regulation and overtime). LeBron missed his game winner, by about 1 inch.

All around amazing game. The Nuggets are taking this thing, I'm telling you.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Spiritual Randomness

I always talk about sports this way. . . . but this has been kind of a mentally draining week. . . so we're going to go random on biblical stuff that's on my mind these days.

--- Spiritual and biblical relativism is not biblical. You can't make the case from scripture that God and Jesus are different people than They say They are in the scriptures. If you're going to make a statement about who Jesus is (as many in our day do). . . it needs to line up with whom Jesus says that He is. So many people say that Jesus doesn't judge or condemn, and is all about peace. But, in the gospels Jesus has unbelievably harsh things to say to the Pharisees and others; He also claims to be God, so other religions that don't see Him as God are not compatible with Christianity. . . why? because Christ says that He is God.

--- Guys, if you're not serving your wife and helping her when she asks, I think you're giving in to demonic forces. Yes, I just said that. You know why I think so? Because if any other friend asked me to give him a ride, or grab him something at the store, etc. . . .I would do it in a heartbeat. Why is it a struggle to help my wife when she asks me for similar things? Why do I have to think about it? Demonic. (The enemy is after our marriages, I could tell you story after story from our church. We had 3 wives leave their husbands in the last month, for instance. Since we aren't under physical persecution as the church in America, I believe one of the main ways the enemy is after us is in our marriages)

--Having said that, Wives, if you're asking your husband to do things that you could very well do yourself, or playing mental "does he love me?" games by asking him to do things. . . I don't think that's the most honest, mature, or biblical way to treat your husband. Sometimes wives are taking the biblical commands for husbands as an excuse to be irresponsible, or worse, immature. Just so you know, . . many guys have a wound in this area from the past, or from other relationships where they were manipulated and mistreated. So, the "love" question won't get answered from a wounded man begrudingly doing things for you. And, there's a respect and honesty issue there as well.

--Having said that, Husbands, . . . you're called to "cherish" your wife, "care" and "provide" for her. That means that you'll need to cut it out and get up and help. We also are able to clean up vomit, . . we also are able to do laundry. I think I'm finally getting what the "weaker vessel" verse(1 Peter 3:7) means in regard to our wives. Maybe it is mainly an emotional "weakness" that needs to be shown love to believe it at times. Guys, biblically we're called to this. It says our prayers will be hindered if were not caring, cherishing, and loving our wives. And, If you need some healing in this area (see above) you should pursue that.

--Bottom line, both spouses are often looking to fill their love tank with each other (hmmm. . some quasi-biblical book talks about that) when we should be looking to the full tank that we've received from Christ and love each other out of that. It's like we've been given a billion dollar bank account that from time to time, our spouse will withdraw some money when they mistreat us. No worries. . .we have a billion dollars!!!! Stop playing games with each other. . . you have a billion dollars.

--Hey, "Psalms only", "no instruments in worship" guys: (if you don't know what I'm talking about. . . trust me. . they're out there).

If we're supposed to only sing the Psalms in worship and not use instruments. . I ask you:

Which is it? Do we sing the Psalms as they are, which include exhortations to use instruments, instructions to sing to the Lord "a new song" and particular imprecatory Psalms against nations that no longer exist? Or do we obey what the Psalms say, and use instruments, write songs, and tell of "all" that the Lord has done (which probably includes modern testimonies, since He's still at work)

The point is, I don't believe the Psalms want us to be "Psalms only". What about Psalms talking about specific places that don't exist anymore. Like in Psalm 60 where the Psalmist asks God "Who will bring me to Edom?" Should we sing that? I guess we could change it a bit so that it's a historial celebration of what God has done in the past. But, then we wouldn't be singing the Psalms verbatim, would we?

Ephesians 5:19 helps us here.

--Sometimes the pastoral thing to do is to rebuke folks for their religion. If it goes as far as legalism, than definitely, a rebuke is needed. But, it pastors no one, and helps no one, if we're silent on these issues, and don't consider them "a hill to die on".

Example: D.A. Carson talks about the issue of alcohol and how if some Christians have a conviction not to drink and hold it charitably, . . .than that's wonderful, we should serve them, not embarrass them and help them in any way we can by not defrauding them.

If they are judging others for their obedient, responsible drinking and drawing lines in the sand (even making it a "you're not a real Christian" issue), or embarrassing them. Then, as Dr. Carson says: "Pass the Port!". Those folks need to be shown and pastored as to what convictions are biblical and what is a charitable way to hold convictions on conscience issues. We should drink in their presence to "heap burning coals" on their heads. Why? Because they're adding to the Gospel, they aren't able to fellowship because of a secondary conviction that they have in their minds (this is to be distinguished from dis-fellowshipping because of un-repentant sin, . . .which we're all called to do as the Church).

We need to correct people in their religion. It's the loving thing to do. If we consider it too much of a "risk" or are afraid of causing trouble. . .we're just letting those folks carry around un-biblical attitudes and convictions and letting them heap it upon others. I call it the "tyranny of the weaker brother". If the weaker brother needs to be served and treated gently (see above) than we should do that. If someone is adding to the gospel and judging others harshly for having different views than themself. . . "Pass the Port!".

Randomness over.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

NBA check in

It's All-Star weekend. . the 1/2 way point of the NBA season. I will try to keep this short, so as to not bore the masses.

1. The Lakers are not winning the NBA title.

Whether it's the Nuggets in the West, or the Cavs in the East, the Lakers are doomed. They don't have enough athleticism. Artest is not necessarily a great defender, he's a brawler. So, whenever someone goes to the rim, he'll foul them. They should've kept Ariza. And, they have nothing at the point. Derek Fisher is one of my favorite all time players, but he gets abused by Chauncey Billups, Mo Williams, Rajon Rondo, and any other point guard on a contending team.

Kobe can still have the "take over" game. . . but that won't work over a 7 game series, they're giving up too much at the other positions now (Gasol, although brilliant offensively, has lost a step and cannot guard quicker forwards. . Nene abused those guys the last time the Nuggets came to town).

2. The Cavs are winning the East.

The Celtics still have a shot, but they need to be healthy and need to add a piece (which they might, this week). Orlando still gives everyone fits, but since they downgraded from Hedo T. to Vince Carter, they aren't scaring anyone anymore.

In case no one noticed. . .Shaq did his usual "February wake up" and has had 3 or 4 double-doubles in the last week. So, that will be there for them come playoff time. LeBron is the best player in the league, so they have that going for them as well :) .

Dark Horse: Rumors are swirling that Miami might pick up Amare Stoudamire this week via a trade. If that happens, I see them getting past Orlando, but not the Cavs/Celtics. But, that will at least make the East playoffs more fun.

3. We might be headed for contraction or more likely, a strike.

Labor negotiations are not going well, . . .and as an indication of the league's current economic woes, there were 1200 people at the Nets/Bucks game last night in New Jersey. That's right, 1200. ouch.

I think the contracts and salary cap will look very different in a couple of years,. . . . I hope they can figure stuff out before a work stoppage.

4. I'm picking the Nuggets (homer) out of the West.

If the Lakers make the Western Conference Finals (that's right, I said "if"), the Nuggets will be ready. We match up well with the Lakers this year, and we've beaten them twice, once without Carmelo. The only team in the West that might scare the Nuggets a bit is the Jazz. We don't match up well with them, and even though we won the season series 3-1,. . the Jazz were banged up for alot of those games.

Dallas is lost (we just beat them by 36 points) San Antonio is old (we beat them in S.A. without Carmelo) Portland is hurt. . . and Phoenix can't beat anyone else (except, apparently, the Nuggets).

It will be an exciting Spring in the Mile High City!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Super Bowl music wrap-up

Because you knew I would have an opinion. . . . .

(it's good to watch these links again when you're not surrounded by guacamole and beenie weenies)

National Anthem:

Carrie Underwood gets a solid A- in my book. I know she missed the last note terribly. But did you hear the note on "Freeeeee". Wow! My suspicions are that the high note had something to do with her missing the last note of the song. It seemed like the throat hadn't yet recovered from belting out the high line. Take note singers. . .ya gotta save something. But, in this case, it was almost worth it. That was a great, heartfelt, national anthem.

Half Time:

Part 1 Part 2

I got on today and the opinions were all over the place on this one.

Full disclosure: I am a fan of the Who. I have been ever since I lived in New Jersey and saw them express the emotions of an entire city at the "Concert for New York" right after 9/11. If you have time, watch this show with all the firefighters and policemen in the front row. Pete T., almost deaf now, belts out "we are honored to be here". . . if that performance doesn't give you chills. . . . (strike that. . .even if you don't have time, watch it, epic, it's in 4 parts)

Now, Roger is 65, Pete is 64. . . .expectations need to be adjusted accordingly. If I still move like Pete Townshend at 64, I'll be happy. (I love it how he endlessly fiddles with his volume knob and whammy bar and it makes absolutely no difference :) )

The O.G.'s: I'm going to take the stance that Roger was not lip-synching. Many folks think he was, last night, but I thought it sounded pretty legit. It may have been a hybrid live/synched thing vocally. But, I have two issues, .1) Why was the tuning and phrasing off, if they were lip synching? and 2) that medley, with the different times of the songs and transitions, would've been hard to just synch to. Not, impossible,. . .but very hard.

Pete brought the noise, and Roger brought the soul. It was classic Who. There is some debate whether Roger's scream during "Won't get fooled again" was live. I"m not sure. . .the video doesn't show him at that moment. They obviously put some effects on his mic for "the scream". But, let me just take this opportunity to agree with many others that Roger Daltrey's scream at the beginning of "Won't get fooled again", on the original recording, is the greatest scream in the history of rock and roll. It probably encapsulated the feelings of an entire generation with one holler. It expresses more emotion than a thousand screams from modern hard-core bands. . . and, most pertinently, it makes CSI: Miami must watch television for the first 4 minutes of each show. (after that, the show gets stupid. . .that youtube clip is hilarious).

The Backing Band:

Pino Palladino (more famously of the John Mayer trio) has played bass for The Who often since the tragic passing of John Entwhistle, one of the great bass players of all time ( you can see a great performance from Entwhistle on the "Concert for New York" clips).

Pino played spot on and funky, as always.

Zac Starkey on drums: This one is hard for me. I think this dude is ridiculous on drums, and if anyone can capture the psychotic improvisation of the late, great, Keith Moon. . .it is Starkey.

The Problem: He is a son of Ringo Starr (apparently Keith Moon gave him his first trap set). Ringo, perhaps the worst drummer in rock and roll, and definitely the luckiest man on the face of the earth. . . . sullies the name a bit.

But, catch those fills during "Won't get fooled again". That's legit. Starkey is legit, and brings some great emotion to a 12 minute Super Bowl Set.

The Rhythm guitarist was Simon Townshend, Pete's brother. . . who gets alot of credit for holding down the BGV's. (although the keyboardist may have been triggering some of that).
The Keyboardist was Rabbit Bundrick who had some tasty piano stuff, and triggered all of the old Synth patches.

(a side note. . . did you know that Pete Townshend wrote and played all of that crazy synthesizer stuff on analog synthesizers 40 years ago? There was no pro-tools, no Reason, no digital sequencing, and no click/computer tracks in music. . . . wow!)

One downside: The Who really needs back up singers. Pete should stop singing (about 8 years ago). That's the one thing that always bring The Who down these days; Pete's vocal stylings. Just my personal opinion.

All in all. . I enjoyed the set. . . although I hate the quick medley versions they have to do. It really hurt Springsteen last year, and this year it hurt too. I would've rather had "Baby O'Reilly" and "Won't get Fooled again" with a 5 minute guitar/drum solo section.

Wow, this turned into a long blog. sorry. Enjoy the clips!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Let's cut it out with the in-ear monitor excuse. . .

Ok, so I neglected to do a grammy wrap-up this year, because basically I thought it was a yawner. I found the show to be a bit dull this year. And, the best performance, I thought, was by Andrea Bocelli and Mary J. Blige on the Haiti benefit song. Not much to say there. . . . he's an outstanding vocalist, and he tore it up.

Taylor Swift's performance was really, really bad. She couldn't hold pitch or hit notes in her own song that she's probably sung 3000 times in the past year. It brought me and my wife to wonder "Has there ever been a worse singer that's won album of the year?". I couldn't think of anyone.

Now, to be sure, . . . pop music has had it's fair share of folks who aren't great singers; all about the image; pretty face; etc. . . . .

I don't consider Taylor Swift to be that. She writes great songs. These songs connect with kids in an un-common way. I think she's a wonderful song writer.

However, in the long tradition of Madonna, Britney Spears, Shakira, etc. . . she can't sing that well. In most of those cases, though. . . they could at least hold pitch and make it through the song doing fairly well. Taylor Swift was not making it there on Sunday night. She just wasn't. It was bad. . if she was singing in one of the groups that I lead. . I probably would have given her part to someone else.

Here is the explanation from the Swift camp:

But on Sunday night's Grammy show, Borchetta said Swift had a technical issue that made her worry about her performance. (Attempts to reach The Recording Academy for comment went unanswered.)

"We had a volume problem in the ear. So, she was concerned that she wasn't able to hear everything in the mix," Borchetta said. "That's just part of live TV. ... So you're going to have difficulties on occasion. Unfortunately, on one of the biggest stages, we did have a technical issue. She couldn't hear herself like she had in rehearsal."


Just stop it please. . . . In-ear monitors can cause problems when they go out. It can make it hard to hear yourself. But, please. . . .I'm pretty sure that monitor difficulties were not the issue here. Celine Dion famously had a mic go out on the Grammy's a few years ago, and did great. Bono, the same. Now, again, those folks are great singers, but that's the point. Taylor Swift, isn't yet. . . so let's dispense with always blaming the in-ear monitors. How about, "I'm sorry, that wasn't my best effort up there. . . . . I'll get 'em next time."

And, as an in-ear monitor user for 8 years, let me say. . . . . you can get around this. You can make it through when your batteries go out, or you can't hear yourself, etc. . . . It's possible to still sing well. Whatever happened to "the show must go on".

rant over.

ps. I really like Taylor Swift's songs, and hope that my daughters enjoy her more than about 100 other young singer/songwriters. This is not about her. . .it's about the tired monitor excuse.