Thursday, July 29, 2010

Who I've Seen in Concert the Most

I really enjoy going to a good concert (You can see my favorite concerts here). I’m going to a few in the next couple months that should be quite epic. And several of them will be my first time seeing the particular band/artist (Arcade Fire, David Gray/Ray LaMontagne, The Avett Brothers).

This got me thinking, “I wonder who I’ve seen in concert the most?” And because I like lists, I decided to make one with every artist I’ve seen at least three times, and then I figured out who I’ve seen the most. Here it is:

Derek Webb (solo) = 7
John Mayer = 7
Caedmon’s Call = 6
Jump, Little Children = 6
Dave Barnes = 6
Nickel Creek = 4
Shane & Shane = 4
MuteMath = 4
Guster = 3
Martin Sexton = 3
Matthew Perryman Jones = 3
Mat Kearney = 3
Ari Hest = 3

(I should also give a special shout out to former roommates Evan McHugh and Nicholas Alan who’ve I’ve probably seen close to 50 times combined.)

So there it is. Counting Derek Webb’s involvement with Caedmon’s, he is the obvious front-runner. I also realized that the times I’ve seen a certain artist doesn’t necessarily correlate to the amount that I like them. Cost and amount of local shows are also big factors.

Now I’m curious. Who have you seen in concert the most? What would your list look like?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sweet Moves in the Rain

I really wish I had moves like this:


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Praising Completes Our Enjoyment

C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms, pgs 93-95:
But the most obvious fact about praise — whether of God or anything — strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honour. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise unless...shyness or the fear of boring others is deliberately brought in to check it.

The world rings with praise — lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favourite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favourite game — praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, motors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians or scholars...Except where intolerably adverse circumstances interfere, praise almost seems to be inner health made audible...

I had not noticed either that just as men spontaneously praise whatever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it: ‘Isn’t she lovely? Wasn’t it glorious? Don’t you think that magnificent?’ The Psalmists in telling everyone to praise God are doing what all men do when they speak of what they care about. My whole, more general, difficulty about the praise of God depended on my absurdly denying to us, as regards the supremely Valuable, what we delight to do, what indeed we can’t help doing, about everything else we value.

I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed. It is frustrating to have discovered a new author and not to be able to tell anyone how good he is; to come suddenly, at the turn of the road, upon some mountain valley of unexpected grandeur and then to have to keep silent because the people with you care for it no more than for a tin can in the ditch; to hear a good joke and find no one to share it with...
I love this section of quotes. I remember it first quoted by John Piper early in my college days, when I first began to understand the concept of Christian hedonism (Simply put = God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in Him). I can honestly say the more I am able to praise God for who He is and see Him as the giver of all good things (even the small stuff), the more I feel full of life and joy.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Ted Koppel on Information Overload

I fear that we in the mass media are creating such a market for mediocrity that we've diminished the incentive for excellence. I think we're losing the ability to manage ideas. To Contemplate. To think. We're becoming a nation of electronic voyeurs, whose capacity for informed dialogue is a fading memory.

If you have never had even a passing acquaintance with Aristotle, Socrates, and Plato, then you can't really understand the foundations of man's evolving struggle with philosophy and ethics. You begin to lose track of what has always been kind of undercurrent in man's development. And that is sort of a moral evolution. We have evolved in this century in technical ways that truly numb the mind.

Video here:


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Servants Who Become Sons

Screwtape (senior devil) addressing his nephew Wormwood about what God wants:
“He really does want to fill the universe with a lot of loathsome little replicas of Himself--creatures whose life, on its miniature scale, will be qualitatively like His own, not because He has absorbed them but because their wills freely conform to His. We want cattle who can finally become food; He wants servants who can finally become sons.”
C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters (p.37)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Don't Waste Your Life Sentence

Here's the trailer for the movie (being screened for the first time August 20 in Minneapolis):

From DG:
The Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, LA, is the largest and historically one of the bloodiest maximum-security prisons in the USA. In 2009, Desiring God and John Piper were invited to Angola to learn about prison life, hear from men who have been radically changed by the gospel, and minister to many of the 5,000 inmates.

Don't Waste Your Life Sentence confronts you with the realities of inmates who, though their lives appear to have been wasted, often have a greater grasp on eternity than those on the outside.

Monday, July 19, 2010

How to Read and Interpret the Book of Revelation

Dr. Knox Chamblin on how to read the book of Revelation (quoted from his class on the theology of C.S. Lewis):
"Don't get lost in speculation. My theory is that the people who really understand the book of Revelation are the oppressed people of God. I think the reason Revelation has become a happy hunting ground for speculation and chart making about the future is that we read it as the safe and comfortable people of God. It's when we're oppressed by the harlot, by the beast, by the false prophet, by the dragon that we begin to hear those major chords sounded in that magnificent book: Christ is Lord!"

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Embodying the Character of the Coming King

This is a snippet from a recent blog post by Ed Welch. He is talking about how the hope of being with Jesus in heaven should cause us to love now and to diligent in pursuing Christlikeness.
A little while ago my wife left for a week—nothing personal, she was visiting her parents on their fiftieth wedding anniversary. Within two hours of me dropping her off at the airport, our typically tidy house looked like something from Animal House or at least a combo of a men’s dorm and a smelly locker room. I had reverted back to my feral state. My wife, on the other hand, enjoys visual order and cleanliness when they are possible. She is flexible. She can go to Africa and stay in less sanitary conditions, but her natural state is one of ordered beauty and cleanliness.

During the first few days that she was gone, I was a bit sad and occupied myself with what I though were useful projects. With two days left, hope kicked in. I was looking forward to picking her up, thinking about our reunion, imagining how she would be pleased with my projects, and just seeing her again.

With twenty-four hours left before I had to pick her up, hope took on a different form. Whereas the previous form of hope was limited to random imaginations, this kind of hope felt urgent and was decidedly active. First, I made the outside of the house as nice as possible. Nothing too new there in that I usually do that, but I definitely added some flourishes I thought would catch her eye. Then on to the inside. Cleaning is not my passion, but, with this new version of hope, I suddenly became borderline compulsive and was loving it. Dish washer empty, everything vacuumed, dust bunnies vanquished, candles lit in order to overpower the locker room smell, and cut flowers. I was becoming civilized again. I was becoming…. my wife.

This is real hope.
You know the person well.

You can’t wait to see the person.

You create an environment suitable for the person so that, when he or she comes, everything will be just right. You work to bring the agenda, character and interests of the other person into the present.

You begin to take on some of the characteristics of that person.
So, real hope means that as you wait expectantly for Jesus, you find yourself wanting to bring heaven to earth. You are not content to simply wait, patiently imagining what is to come. Real hope wants to embody, right now, the character of the coming King. That character, of course, is love. Real hope in Christ compels us to love today. To paraphrase Paul, the only thing that matters is hope expressing itself in love.

What a lovely way to be sanctified: look forward to knowing the love of Jesus in person, dream about what it will be like to love him with a pure, sinless heart, and then head back to today and see if you are inspired to love.

The apostle John reiterates this approach.
Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure. (1 John 3:2-3)
We usually imagine no more tears when Christ returns, and that is, indeed, a good thing to imagine, but Scripture doesn’t suggest that such musings will change us. Next time you are meeting with some of God’s people, dream about the lover who is to come, imagine loving him perfectly, and watch love break out into the present.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Double Rainbow...All the way

I saw this video earlier last week. A man witnesses a double rainbow in Yosimite. His reaction is quite funny:You can also enjoy the auto-tune version here and a pretty funny KFC parody here.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

You Can't Believe in Something You Don't

"I wish there was a God. I wish there was. It would be great. From what I've heard, he's brilliant. But, you can't believe in something you don't. Also, if there is a God, why did he make me an atheist?"
These are the words of the atheistic comedian Ricky Gervais coming from this video interview. I've been thinking about these words for the last several days since I saw the video, particularly about Gervais' explanation of not being able to believe in something you don't. I saw this on Abraham Piper's blog and he had some thoughts on this that got me thinking even more:
Here’s a thought experiment:
  1. Pick something you believe (anything, no matter how insignificant…)
  2. Now believe something different.
How’d that go for you?

We’re all myopic, in that we can only see what we see, believe what we believe. Sometimes what we see changes, and with it our beliefs, but what if what we see doesn’t change?

The more I keep this in mind, the harder it is to find fault with people who disagree with me…
I agree with AP's final thoughts. Over the last several weeks some experiences have humbled me and created in me some sense of understanding why some people don't have my worldview.

For instance, I talked with a good friend of mine Sunday night who considers himself a non-Christian. However, he used to consider himself a Christian and was a dear brother who was mightily encouraging in my walk with Christ in college. After having a discussion about what he believes to be true in life, I hung up the phone in sadness and frustration. I asked God, "Why do I believe and why doesn't he?"

It's not a matter of winsomely explaining the gospel or the apologetic arguments for belief. At the end of the day, the God who spoke light into darkness has to shine in a person's heart to give them the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 4:6). This truth is humbling, because I didn't do anything to deserve it. But it's also a hard truth to me right now, because I know people that don't believe and I know God is in control of that.

Another good friend reminded me last night the helpful truth that we're not going to fully grasp these realities. And when in heaven, we will see nothing of God's sovereign decree as being unfair or wrong. Instead, we will worship the God who graciously spared a few sinners undeserving of His love.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

When Doubts Arise

When dealing with doubt, Ed Welch offers a practical solution:
Read the Bible. Here is one of the great “duhs” of all time. When doubts flare, read the Bible. That has become my number one response to doubts. Sounds pretty easy, but it isn’t. The ennui that accompanies doubt works against picking up a Bible. Reading the Bible is hard enough anyway. To read when faith is at a low ebb is counterintuitive and unnatural. That’s why I have appreciated the motto, “Force feed.” There are times when I don’t know what is good for me. A Blizzard from Dairy Queen seems preferable to . . . anything. Those are the times when I have to over-ride my physical cues and tell my body that it is time to eat something decent. So, when doubts come, force feed. The Word of God is what is best for us.

I stick with the Psalms or the New Testament. The Psalms expand our vision and remind us of God’s mighty acts. The Old Testament suggests that one of our prominent sins is that we forget. The Psalms help us remember. In the New Testament I can turn anywhere. Like the Psalms, it reminds me of what has happened, and that is usually enough. But sometimes I need to be surprised again.

One vacation my wife and I read the book of John aloud to each other, and we found ourselves laughing all the way through it, at least through most of it. What was funny was how Jesus always said and did the unexpected. Even though we knew the stories, they never failed to surprise. That, for me, is a profound answer to doubts.

When I was in college and reading about different world religions, I noticed that while all of them were interesting, they were all very predictable. Work hard to be good. Follow the rules. Don’t rock the implicit caste system – some were in, others were out. Men were entitled. Good men are promised good sex, or at least lots of sex. And keep working to be good. All this could be easily invented by a bunch of guys on a weekend getaway.

Then I read the Bible, and it was like nothing else. Jesus never acted like a mere man. No one could have ever invented him or his way of living, especially when we consider the historical situation. The story of the Samaritan woman in John 4 is enough to cure the spiritual jitters. Nothing is what you would expect. Throughout the New Testament, the disciples do what you would expect. They get ticked off at the little grommets who follow Jesus, they jockey for the highest position, they run and hide when things get a little risky. But Jesus never does what you expect. And, somehow, that makes him seem more human. Somehow, his unanticipated responses make perfect sense.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

The Basis For Democracy

"The Declaration of Independence dogmatically bases all rights on the fact that God created all men equal; and it is right; for if they were not created equal, they were certainly evolved unequal. There is no basis for democracy except in a dogma about the divine origin of man." - G.K. Chesterton
(HT:Jeffrey Overstreet

England, it's too late to apologize

Here's a clever video celebrating our independence.(HT:JT)

Thursday, July 01, 2010

The Idolatry of Patriotism

Even though I disagree with Greg Boyd on some big issues, namely open theism, I liked his article in the latest issue of Relevant Magazine. He talks about the idolatry of patriotism. Here are a few paragraphs:
"I appreciate that America recognizes my rights to 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,' but there is nothing distinctly Kingdom about these rights. They're nowhere to be found in the Bible. To the contrary, as a follower of Jesus I'm called to surrender my rights to life, liberty, and happiness, and instead submit to the will of God. These rights are noble on a political level, but they can get in the way of my call to seek first the Kingdom. I'm grateful America extends these rights to people, for most countries throughout history have not. But my sole allegiance is to the heavenly Kingdom that calls me to surrender my rights. If I get too concerned with an earthly county that frees me to pursue my rights, my healthy patriotism becomes idolatrous, I've put my country's ideas before God.


Despite the fact that He lived in an age when plenty of political and nationalistic issues were being hotly debated, Jesus never displayed the slightest interest in such matters. He didn't come to bring us a 'new and improved' version of the Kingdom of the world. He came to inaugurate a Kingdom that is 'not of this world.' It's a Kingdom that is no more Israeli than it is Palestinian; no more American than it is Iraqi; and nor more socialist than it is democratic. Instead, it's a Kingdom that encompasses people from every nation and political persuasion, for it puts on display the 'one new humanity' Jesus dies to create (Ephesians 2:!5). In this Kingdom, Paul declares, there is no longer any Jew or Greek (Galatians 3:27-29). In our Kingdom, all national, tribal, ethnic, gender, social and economic distinctions are insignificant.

So over the Fourth of July weekend-and all year-be appreciative of your country. Be patriotic. But make sure your patriotism pales in comparison to your sacrifice, commitment and allegiance to the Kingdom of God."