Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Great Impersonation of C.J. Mahaney

I love C.J. Mahaney. His books are amazing (2 of them are in my all-time Top 10 on the side bar). His love for God and Christ is contagious and constantly inspires and challenges me.

If you've ever seen him speak, you know he has a pretty distinctive style. At the Resolved Conference, Jonathan Rourke showed off his dead-on impersonation.

Great stuff.

Jonathan Rourke as CJ Mahaney from Resolved on Vimeo.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Pre-Order Andrew Peterson's "Counting Stars"


Andrew Peterson, possibly the most under-rated artist in Christian music, has a new album entitled Counting Stars coming out July 27th. You can officially pre-order the album over at The Rabbit Room now, and they have all kinds of different packages (you can also listen to samples of all the songs). There's the basic pre-order that just gets the CD shipped to you when it releases (along with a digital download of the bonus track), all the way up to a $200 package that includes (among other things) signed copies of the album, an immediate download of the entire album, tickets to a Behold The Lamb of God concert, and the opportunity to have coffee with Andrew himself.

My wife didn't sign off on the $200 package, but I can't wait for this album. Peterson's music consistently encourages and challenges me like no other. I highly recommend anything he puts out.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Praying About Annoyance

A powerful and very convicting prayer by Scotty Smith:
A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult. Proverbs 12:16

Jesus, of all the prayer-worthy things I can think of, “annoyance” has never made it onto my supplication list… until now. Though the pastoral pestering of your Spirit, I see and grieve that I’m too easily annoyed. Have mercy on me, Prince of Peace. Free my foolish fretful fitful spirit. How can I possibly reveal the magnificence of the gospel when I’m showcasing the arrogance of my annoyance?

I’m annoyed by the guy that races me when two lanes are becoming one. I’m annoyed when the bar-code reading machines in the self-check-out lanes can’t read my items. I’m annoyed when the gas pump trickles way too slowly. I’m annoyed by waiters that fish for a bigger tip. I’m annoyed by fish that won’t bite. I’m annoyed by humidity when I want to jog.

I’m annoyed by low talkers and loud talkers. I’m annoyed at people easily annoyed. I’m annoyed when there’s not enough milk for a late night bowl of cereal. I’m annoyed when I have to repeat myself. I’m annoyed at whiners, so much that I start whining. I’m annoyed at people preening in front of mirrors at the YMCA, as though I never peak. I'm annoyed when people use way too many words and way too big of words to say something way simple, as though that’s not me…

I’m annoyed at ever having to wait in line for anything. I’m annoyed by the color “orange.” I’m annoyed at any box that has the words “requires some assembly” written on it. Oh, Jesus, if only those were the only things that annoyed me…

My prayer? Gentle my heart with your kindness and grace. Grant me much quicker repentances. Help me to slow… way… down. Help me to live in the moment and not simply live to get somewhere on time or get something done. Let me see people with your eyes and respond to them with your heart. There are no ordinary people around me. Everybody matters. Everybody has stories of heartache, foolishness, fear, and longing, just like me. Jesus, thank you that you died for all of my sins, including my “annoyability.” I love being loved by you. I have no greater hope than knowing one day I will love like you love. So very Amen, I pray, in your gracious and patient name.

Music Video of the Week: The Gaslight Anthem

The Gaslight Anthem - "The '59 Sound"

Friday, June 25, 2010

Manute Bol's Radical Faith

Great story in the Wall Street Journal by Jon Shields about Manute Bol, a 7 ft. 7 in. former NBA player who passed away last week. There's a great discussion about what the term "redemption" means, and how Bol spent his life living out the "redemption" that was already his in Christ.
As any churchgoer who tuned in to watch the recent NBA finals contest between the Lakers and Celtics already knows, the term redemption is probably now heard more often in NBA sports broadcasts than in homilies. A Google search under "redemption" and "NBA" generates approximately 2 million hits—more hits than "redemption" and "Christianity." The term can also be found in more than 2,600 stories on ESPN.com.

What does redemption mean in the world of professional basketball and sports more broadly? It involves making up for—or, yes, "atoning"—for a poor performance. When the Lakers beat Boston, for instance, Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times called the victory "redemption for the Celtics' 2008 Finals beating."

More often, though, sports journalists use the term to praise the individual performances of NBA superstars. Thus, the Associated Press reported that Kobe Bryant "found redemption" after he won a title in 2009 without the aid of his nemesis and former teammate Shaquille O'Neal.

Manute Bol, who died last week at the age of 47, is one player who never achieved redemption in the eyes of sports journalists. His life embodied an older, Christian conception of redemption that has been badly obscured by its current usage.

Bol, a Christian Sudanese immigrant, believed his life was a gift from God to be used in the service of others. As he put it to Sports Illustrated in 2004: "God guided me to America and gave me a good job. But he also gave me a heart so I would look back."

...Bol's life and death throws into sharp relief the trivialized manner in which sports journalists employ the concept of redemption. In the world of sports media players are redeemed when they overcome some prior "humiliation" by playing well. Redemption then is deeply connected to personal gain and celebrity. It leads to fatter contracts, shoe endorsements, and adoring women.

Yet as Bol reminds us, the Christian understanding of redemption has always involved lowering and humbling oneself. It leads to suffering and even death.

It is of little surprise, then, that the sort of radical Christianity exemplified by Bol is rarely understood by sports journalists. For all its interest in the intimate details of players' lives, the media has long been tone deaf to the way devout Christianity profoundly shapes some of them.

Obituary titles for Bol, for example, described him as a humanitarian rather than a Christian. The remarkable charity and personal character of other NBA players, including David Robinson, A. C. Green and Dwight Howard, are almost never explicitly connected to their own intense Christian faith. They are simply good guys.

Christian basketball players hope that their "little lights" shine in a league marked by rapacious consumption and marital infidelity. They could shine even brighter if sports journalists acknowledged that such players seek atonement and redemption in a far more profound way than mere athletic success.
Read the whole article at the WSJ.

The Battle to Finish Off Marriage, Once and For All

Al Mohler comments on a Newsweek article written by two women who attempt to write off marriage as an institution completely. There's nothing really new in their article, but their ideas seem to be becoming more and more mainstream in cultural thought. Just makes me sad for people whose worldview leads inevitably to these types of conclusions.
“Once upon a time, marriage made sense.” So write Jessica Bennett and Jesse Ellison in the June 11, 2010 edition of Newsweek magazine. The two women who wrote the article are both young adults who identify themselves as “committed to our careers, friendships, and, yes, our relationships.” But, as for marriage, not so much.

As Bennett and Ellison explain their case, marriage once made sense, at least for women, because it “was how women ensured their financial security, got the fathers of their children to stick around, and gained access to a host of legal rights.” But now, thanks largely to the feminist movement, they claim, the financial and legal rights are theirs without marriage. They never actually get around to saying much about fathers sticking around to take responsibility for children.

The Newsweek article represents what may be the most direct journalistic attack on marriage in our times. Though only an op-ed column, it presents arguments that had to date been made largely, if not exclusively, outside of mainstream circles. Consider this column an opening salvo in a battle to finish marriage off, once and for all...

...The Christian church should take careful note of this essay, not because its arguments are unprecedented, but because its distillation of these arguments in one of the nation’s two major newsweeklies must not escape attention. Christians see marriage, first of all, as an institution made good and holy by the Creator. Its value, for us, is not established by sociology but by Scripture. We also understand that God gave us marriage for our good, for our protection, for our sanctification, and for human flourishing.

In other words, the Bible compels us to see marriage as essential to human happiness, health, and infinitely more.

The essay by Jessica Bennett and Jesse Ellison is an undeniable reminder of our challenge to rebuild a marriage culture, and to start inside our own churches. “Once upon a time, marriage made sense,” Bennett and Ellison assert. One essential task for the Christian Church is to rebuild and maintain a marriage culture — even when marriage itself no longer makes sense to so many around us.
Read the whole article on Al Mohler's blog. Read the whole Newsweek article here.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Responding Like Christ to Rejection and Disappointment

When God became a man in Christ, he deserved a blockbuster media campaign that would splash his name all over the world. What he got was a crucifixion.

Has there ever been a time when you didn't get the glory you thought you deserved? Maybe your ministry in the church wasn't acknowledged, or a coworker "borrowed" your idea, or the kids failed ot appreciate your daily service in their lives. Did you feel a sense of injustice, anger, the desire to set things right by wrenching heads in the direction of your sacrifice?

Let's face it: some of our worst moments are how we respond when people don't give us what we think we deserve. But we're called to obey God by imitating the one who, when despised, returned kindness. When rejected, he showed love. When misunderstood, he remained patient.

Every day of his life, he pleased God with every thought and every action. I'm never close to being able to say that, even on my best days.

But here's the kicker: Christ said we're to respond to life the same way he did.

He understands our struggles. Christ "in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin" (Heb. 4:15). We're intentionally snubbed? Christ knows what it's like. People ignore our contribution? Christ understands. We have to deal with someone who must have been absent when God dispensed the courtesy and respect gene? Christ experienced the same temptations that boil up within us. Rejection, people who disappoint, forgotten efforts -- he was tempted in every way we are, "yet without sin."

Christ also empowers us to do what he calls us to do. We'll be rejected, misunderstood, mistreated simply because of our association with him. Being ambitious for the glory of God isn't an easy thing. We'll face opposition from the fallen world around us and, certainly, from the remaining sin in our hearts. But Christ has come to live in and through us by the Holy Spirit. We pursue the glory of One who understands our weaknesses and has made provision for them.

Do you want to walk in the power of God. Be ambitious.

~ Dave Harvey, Rescuing Ambition (Kindle edition)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Trip Lee - "The Invasion (Hero)"

Trip Lee's new album, Between Two Worlds, drops today. I highly recommend anything from Trip or any of the Reach Records guys. Solid theology, great sound, fantastic stuff.

Here's a track from the new album, "The Invasion (Hero)", with the lyrics.

Lyrics:

Creation’s groaning, lost their hope and feel they always closed in
Lots to cope with, on the ropes, wish they was in the open
This broken world is so dim, our souls are searching, groping
For one with hope to hold us close, and set goodness in motion
I remember growing up in Dallas, I thought me and my close kin
Was more than straight, our folks was great, not broke that paper flowed in
Not boasting man, just saying in my brain I didn’t know then
That all went wrong, and it just can’t go right like a broke pen
My mind was blind and cloaked in, but then that foolishness departed
I saw this thing’s an ocean, and we just tryna swim real far but
But can’t nobody float when we ain’t got boats or no fins
We need a hero to go in, cause our solutions don’t win
Education can’t fix it, more dough just leads to more sin
Medicine is temporary, government seems so thin
With all these weighty problems, that ain’t shrinking they just growing
Who’s adequate to save us, how about He knew no sin?

Hook:
Like a G5 yeah you rushed to rescue me
Took a cross in exchange for a throne to save me
You began the work and I know you’ll finish
And make all things right when you come back
Cause you’re my hero, you already saved the day
Cause you’re my hero, and I know you’re coming back for me

Verse 2:
Follow the steps bro, Adam sinned now we all dead so
We gotta sentence on our head like death row, everything is wrecked
All creation is a mess bro,
In the fullness of time, in steps the hero no red cloak, He’s Jesus
No flashing lights, glitz n glam, and no cameras
He came to serve needy folks, and point them to the answer
You see Him healing, feeding folks, and telling them the standard
Our most basic need is to be ransomed by Jesus
It has first place, yeah we separated in the worst ways
Even physically peep how the earth quakes
Separated socially, murder and the worst rapes
Even separated from ourselves, we in the worst state
It’s so major, that’s the reason that we need a Savior
Cause the root of needs is separation from Creator
Jesus came humbly to restore us to our maker
And later He’ll restore all that He made bruh, He’s Jesus

Verse 3:
God is not pleased man, it’s clear that His standards missed
The world is running rampant with, sin it’s an abandonment
Man is feeling stranded, feeling hopeless since his banishment
God is angry at the distortion and the mismanagement
Evil is at work, but don’t be thinking He can’t handle it
He promised He would do away with all of it, dismantle it
He’s put up with this damage in His world, but He’s promised us
That He’ll destroy all His enemies and then He’ll walk with us
New Heaven, new Earth that’s where all His sheep dwell
Cause Jesus succeeded in every part of life that we failed
Died the death we couldn’t die, paid our price with 3 nails
Began the work He promised, in the end we all will be well
Already beat our enemies and when His Kingdom’s realized
All those who oppose Him will see Jesus with some real eyes
Deliverance is offered us, the hero He is urging us
Salvation is exclusive to His people who have turned to trust
HT: JT

Monday, June 21, 2010

Music Video of the Week: Switchfoot

Switchfoot - "The Sound (John M. Perkins' Blues)"

"John M. Perkins is an American civil rights leader. Born in Mississippi to a sharecropper, he grew up in the dire poverty and bitter racism of the time. At the age of 17 his older brother was murdered at the hands of a town marshall, so he fled the state vowing never to return. Yet in 1960 Dr. Perkins and his wife, Vera Mae Perkins, felt compelled to go back to help the poor in rural Mississippi. Since then, Dr. Perkins has written numerous books, lectured across the world and has devoted his life to community development and racial reconciliation throughout the world. Dr. Perkins turns 80 on June 16th....this video is a tribute to his compassionate commitment to love the oppressed and the oppressor. His life is living proof that love does conquer all, including violence and hatred. Love is the final fight." --Jon Foreman, Switchfoot

Friday, June 18, 2010

Are You a Consumer or Servant in Your Church Family?



HT: Adrian Warnock

Observations on the Life Series

Kevin DeYoung:
Our family has been watching the BBC production of Life (narrated by David Attenborough). This sequel to the much (and appropriated) ballyhooed Planet Earth is nothing less than a work of artistic beauty and technical excellence. It’s also really cool. You get to watch scary Komodo dragons and a sacrificial mommy octopus and amazing little falling frogs and lizards that run on water and hippos crashing into each other. It’s amazing the things animals do for food, for a mate, for life.

Watching Life leads me to worship God for the wonders he has made. It also causes me to marvel at the crown of God’s creation: man. We are more than impressed to see hyenas working together to outnumber a pride of lions or to watch a monkey crack open a nut with a rock. But then you realize men and women made the camera to video tape the monkey, and the DVD to watch it, and the internet and computers, with their silicon chips made from sand, by which to order it. Animals are amazing to us because we don’t often see or think about what they do. But if we weren’t so familiar with humans, so used to the advances thought up by man and the God-given abilities only mankind possesses, we’d be in constant awe of their creativity, ingenuity, and brilliance.

This isn’t a paean to us, but a call to consider the genius of God in the glory of man.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mini Cooper Training Montage

Ok - this is hilarious. Mini Cooper challenged Porsch to a throw down. Porsch has since declined, but they went ahead and put together an awesome training montage of the Mini getting into shape. If you've seen Rocky 4, you'll get a huge kick out of this. Gotta love the 80s.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Embracing Accusation

I've posted a video of this song before, but I found one with the lyrics and the actual video of Piper at the end. This continues to be one of my all-time favorite songs and a great encouragement when I feel defeated by sin. I hope it blesses you.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ray Ortlund on Wholeheartedness

Ray Ortlund:
My dad used to say to me, when I was a kid, “Listen, son. Half-hearted Christians are the most miserable people of all. They know enough to feel guilty, but they haven’t gone far enough with Christ to be happy. Be wholehearted for him!”

I used to roll my eyes when you said that. I don’t any more.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Book Review: Frank Pastore - Shattered

Genre: Biography
Publisher: Tyndale
Publication Date: April 12, 2010


From his difficult childhood with a manipulative mother and distant father, to excelling at baseball in high school and ultimately in the Majors, to his failures, and eventually successes in radio, Frank Pastore has lived an interesting life. Not knowing anything about him before reading his new book Shattered (I should have being a huge baseball fan), I wasn't sure what to expect. What I found was a fascinating memoir about a man that discovered the goodness of God's relentless pursuit of him, despite how often he tried to run.

Biographies are a different animal than most non-fiction to me. Stories are great, but unless you can show how those individual stories fit together to create the person you're reading about, the book can end up just a hodgepodge of "here's something that happened to me once." I don't enjoy those kind of books.

With Pastore, you see the development of a man who struggled with confidence, trust, and other issues as a boy, pride and arrogance at times as a professional baseball player, emotional detachment after that, and ultimately, became a godly man with the largest christian radio show in the country, a great family, and a strong faith in God. I never get tired of hearing stories like that. There were lots of hardships on the way, and Pastore is very candid about how he felt about things, but the story is really about God and his pursuit of one man. In that way, Frank's story is my story.

Speaking of stories, Pastore has some great ones: his elopement with his wife (then 16), pitching through a horrible injury, becoming a Christian, starting up a radio and teaching ministry from basically nothing, among others. I think my favorite story dealt with getting released from the Reds and sitting down with then-manager Pete Rose. Rose basically said he'd lost his edge because of his new faith, so Frank proceeded to basically share the gospel with him. Those familiar with Rose can anticipate his reaction.

Overall, as a Christian, a baseball fan, and a lover of stories, I found this book very enjoyable. Frank' story is interesting and he and his co-writer Ellen Vaughn tell it well. I would recommend it as a quick, easy read about a fascinating life.



This book was provided for review by Tyndale in exchange for a review. No expectation of a positive review existed.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

C.S. Lewis and Kevin DeYoung on Humility

C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity:
To even get near [humility], even for a moment, is like a drink of cold water to a man in a desert.

Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call “humble” nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody.

Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him.

If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.
Kevin DeYoung:
Lewis’ point is well taken, and, as always, well put. The humble person does not draw attention to his humility; he draws conversation out of you.

There are hundreds of ways to love and a myriad of ways to demonstrate humility. But one of the most effective ways to accomplish both is to simply ask questions. True, it’s possible to be nothing but a smooth talking salesmen who cares little for the actual person across the table. But every virtue can be faked from time to time. So let’s not let that deter us from giving others the gift of our curiosity.

Almost everyone loves to talk about themselves. So loving others as we want to be loved should entail asking lots of questions. Ask how the couple met. Ask what their kids are like. Ask what their plans are for the summer. Ask what you do with a packaging degree. Ask where they learned to speak French. Ask when they first came to the United States. Ask what they miss about being at home. Ask if they’ve seen any good movies or read any good books. Ask where they’re from and what they are studying in school. Ask about their health and their jobs. Ask about sports or the weather or the local news. In time, ask about Jesus. Ask about their church. Ask about what they’re learning in the Bible. Ask how the difficult conversation went last week. Ask how you can pray.
Read his whole post.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

John Wooden's Love Letters

The world lost a great man last week. Here's a great feature done on him last year. He was 99 years old.

R.I.P. Coach John Wooden.



Once I was afraid of dying, terrified of ever-lying,
petrified of leaving family, home and friends.
Thoughts of absence from my dear ones,
brought a melancholy tear once,
and a dredful fear of when life ends.
But those days are long behind me,
fear of leaving does not bind me,
and departure does not hold a single care.
Peace does comfort as I ponder,
a reunion in the yonder,
with my dearest one who is waiting for me there.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Friday, June 4, 2010

Russell Moore on the Oil Spill and Evangelicals

Russell Moore with a needed word for a lot of conservative evangelicals:

Every human culture is formed in a tie with the natural environment. In my hometown, that’s the father passing down his shrimping boat to his son or the community gathering for the Blessing of the Fleet at the harbor every year. In a Midwestern town, it might be the apple festival. In a New England town, it might be the traditions of whalers or oystermen. The West is defined by the frontier and the mountains. And so on.

When the natural environment is used up, unsustainable for future generations, cultures die. When Gulfs are dead, when mountaintops are removed, when forests are razed with nothing left in their place, when deer populations disappear, cultures die too.

And what’s left in the place of these cultures and traditions is an individualism that is defined simply by the appetites for sex, violence, and piling up stuff. That’s not conservative, and it certainly isn’t Christian...

...Pollution kills people. Pollution dislocates families. Pollution defiles the icon of God’s Trinitarian joy, the creation of his theater (Ps. 19; Rom. 1).

Will people believe us when we speak about the One who brings life and that abundantly, when they see that we don’t care about that which kills and destroys? Will they hear us when we quote John 3:16 to them when, in the face of the loss of their lives, we shrug our shoulders and say, “Who is my neighbor?”

I’m leaving Biloxi today, with tears in my eyes. But I’ll be back. I’ll be back whether the next time I see this place it’s a thriving seacoast community again or whether it’s an oil-drenched crime scene. But I pray I’ll never be the same.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Surprised by Grace Trailer

I love all these new trailers coming out for books. Here's the one they made for Tullian Tchividjian's new book, Surprised by Grace.

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