Friday, January 29, 2010

Links to the Intergoogle 1/29/10

Fishing in the famous Sea of Galilee has been banned for the next two years by the Israeli government because of decreasing numbers of fish.

Should I get a tattoo? A thoughtful question and response by Russell Moore.

Another reason why John Clayton is the most incredible reporter-analyzer of the NFL: He even knows that the football used for the Super Bowl has more paint on it than a regular season ball.

Memorable story about post-modernism by Ravi Zacharias.

Al Mohler comments on the marriage trial in California.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Music and the Church--Fitting the Occasion

On a typical Sunday morning at our church's worship service, you'll find the last row of pews on the right side filled with high school students. I'm thrilled they come, but I often wonder what they think about our service's music because its not what they hear on the radio or their I-Pods.

Our church uses the Celebration Hymnal. I like it because it combines the great traditional hymns with the more recent genre of praise music. The Celebration hymns are timeless, but its choruses gradually appear out of date in light of the latest round of good modern worship music. I'm glad our students get exposed to this type of music in our service--it adds to the diversity of music they hear--but sometimes I wonder if they think if Pastor Ted only like old hymns and 25 year old praise choruses.

As a former music store manager, I certainly like all kinds of music. In fact, I'm rediscovering a whole host of great jazz music, courtesy of the Hutchinson Library. But why does our worship service include only certain types of music and exclude others? I've received this question especially when at weddings and funerals. In a good article by Douglas Wilson, the answer comes down to appropriateness. Music needs to fit the occasion and not all music fits all occasions:
Ragtime is not suitable for a wedding march. Complicated operatic music is not suitable for congregational singing. Conversely, swing is suitable for a particular kind of dancing. It might therefore be suitable at a wedding reception, but not during the wedding itself. The preacher tells us there is a time to mourn and a time to dance (Eccl. 3:4). We have music for dancing, we have music for funerals, we have music for military parades, we have music for lovemaking, we have music for a peaceful evening at home, we have music to pump up the crowd at a basketball game, and we have music to write chapters like this by...

The music of Bach and Mozart are the musical equivalents of a great cathedral. And we can all recognize the vast architectural superiority of such a cathedral over the typical suburban house. But it would be a drag to have to make your breakfast or watch Monday Night Football in the cathedral. The fact that it is a superior building does not mean it is superior for every function.

In the same way, congregational worship has a particular function; our corporate goal should be to hallow God’s name. This is what we are doing in worship. And having come to this answer from the Bible, we should ask what music is fitting.”
I like all kinds of music. So on Sunday mornings, I'll be singing "Amazing Grace," and during the week, I'll be listening to James Brown, U2, 77s, Chris Tomlin, and Thelonious Monk.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Links to the Intergoogle 1/22/10

I can't believe it! Out of a three hour NFL game, there's only 11 minutes of action.

Picture proof: The world's tallest man meets the world's shortest man.

How to achieve more by doing less. I need to do this.

Creative! 25 most inventive companies.

The devil writes a letter to Pat Robertson.

What's in a Name Department: Little Hope Baptist Church in Canton, Texas suffers an arson fire. Years ago, I actually saw this church while driving.

An interview with Brian Eno, one of the most influential persons in modern music. I knew he was an atheist, but didn't realize his grandfather built the organ in the church he attended growing up.

Here's the recently created blog of music producer Charlie Peacock. I really like Charlie. He's a thoughtful Christian who made an impact on me years ago when I worked in music retail.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Links to the Intergoogle 1/15/10

Attention world travelers: 10 places you cannot go.

I really, really like Logos Bible software. Introductory discounts to version 4 end January 31. Get yours before its too late.

New York Times reporter and columnist Nicholas Kristof asks why so many religions oppress women.

Norway's Northern Lights in an evening: An incredible time lapse video by National Geographic.

Tragic pictures of the devastation after Haiti's 7.0 earthquake.

Denny Burk investigates and debunks Pat Robertson's claim that Haiti made a pact with the devil.

Albert Mohler asks if God hates Haiti.

John Mark Reynolds writes: "Pat Robertson’s statements on Haiti are bad theology, bad philosophy, bad history, and bad pastorally." Amen to that.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Goodwill Humor

Yesterday after the worship service, I was visiting outside with fellow members, when someone told the following story:

My neighbor is really good about cleaning out unwanted things. One day, she told her elementary aged son, "We're getting rid of toys and taking them to Goodwill." And the boy replied, "Mom, why are we always giving away my toys to Will? Why is he so good?"

Friday, January 08, 2010

Links to the Intergoogle 1/8/09

Advice on how to leave your church (not like I want anyone to leave...)

Top 10 funniest YouTube videos. Some of these are just plain stupid.

How religious is your state? Find out here. Kansas ranks #13.

Ford unveils a car that allows you to send Twitter tweets. Cool.

My friend's funny pic.

Can homosexuals be Christians?
A thoughtful article from C. Michael Patton.

Christianity Today interviews Fox News anchor Brit Hume about his "become a Christian" remark to Tiger Woods.

I love Taylor Guitars.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Epiphany Through Donald Miller's Story Lens

Today is Epiphany, the 12th day of Christmas, or the last day of Christmas on the church's liturgical calendar. The day traditionally celebrates the episode in Matthew 2 where the Magi find and worship the Christ child. In our worship service this past Sunday at the Congregational Church, the Magi's story was the first Scripture reading of the New Year.

In my sermon, I took up the New Year's challenge of author Donald Miller and urged the congregation to not make the typical new year's resolution, but resolve to live a good story. Toward this end, Miller suggests we do three things--want something, envision a climatic scene, and create an inciting incident. Each of these elements are essential toward making a good story. Interestingly, these elements are evident in the story of the Magi. Consider the following...

The Magi wanted something. For several weeks, they traveled in search of a newborn Jewish king. They were highly motivated to find this king.

The Magi envisioned a climatic scene. Before leaving on their journey, the Magi packed their bags with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. They anticipated finding this child and when they did, they bowed down and worshiped him.

The Magi had an inciting incident. Events in the sky convinced the Magi that the Jews had a new born king. The unique appearance of a star compelled them to act. Staying was not an option. They had to go.

The Gospel of Jesus contains the elements utilized by modern writers and movie makers to create compelling stories. This is no surprise, because the Gospel is the story of all stories.

What story do you want to live in 2010?

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Hume Offers Woods Spiritual Advice

Former Fox news anchor Brit Hume made a bold suggestion on Fox News Sunday to scandal stricken golfer Tiger Woods--turn to Christianity:
"Whether he can recover as a person depends on his faith. He’s said to be a Buddhist. I don’t think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. So my message to Tiger would be, ‘Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.’"
Hume's advice to Woods is creating a stir. Why does he bring up Christianity on a political program? Some think he should save the remark for church or the 700 Club. But the claims of Christianity go beyond the realm of private faith and personal experience. It is public truth. Christians call Jesus, "Lord" because in all times, in all places, we believe He has dominion over life.

Who knows? Maybe Hume's message will prompt Tiger to consider the Savior Jesus.

Monday, January 04, 2010

How Far (and Little) We've Advanced

Cell phones. Internet. Airplanes. Electricity. Computers. These are modern conveniences we often take for granted. Last week I was reminded of how recent and incredible is this technology.

I was in St. Louis last week for a short family vacation. There, we visited the Gateway Arch. Seeing it up close and personal is an awe inspiring experience. It's catenary curve is 630 long from leg to leg and 630 feet high. The margin of error for joining the two ends was only 1/64". All measurements were done without the aid of computers. When you watch the movie of how the Arch was built, you realize it was an incredible engineering accomplishment.

While we were in St. Louis, I learned that a 95 year old member of our church had passed away. This dear lady was born in rural Kansas in 1914. Rural Kansas a that time had no electric lines or telephone. Cars and farm equipment were scarce.

But fast forward 50 years later. Electricity, telephone, cars, and farm combines are in abundance. And in 1965, the Arch was completed. Obviously, the innovation in technology continued to explode. Today, we have robotic surgery, the Internet, cell phones, and computerized everything.

We have all this amazing technology--and it's come about in just the last 50-100 years.

And yet, humanity has progressed so little. 1914 was the start of World War I. A few more wars have occurred since then. We still have conflict, aggression, self-centeredness, and wickedness. We still need a Savior.

We've come so far, but not much has changed.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Top 10 Tweets from 2009

2009 wasn't a great year for my blog. Between pastoral responsibilities at the Congregational Church and teaching responsibilities at Sterling College, I just didn't have much time for writing thoughtful blog posts.

However, 2009 was the year I wrote extensively on Twitter. Twitter is a site where you confine your thoughts to just 140 characters. Yes, it's limiting, but it's amazing how much you can communicate in so little words. My "tweets" can be found on the bottom right of this blog or you can follow me at Twitter.

The impact of Twitter in social media is evident in this article--"The Top 10 Most Important Tweets in 2009."

Check it out and start tweeting!

Friday, January 01, 2010

A Bible Reading Plan You Can Do!

Reading the Bible regularly and consistently is always a challenge. If you're like me, your motivation is great at the beginning of the new year and wanes as the year progresses. And then, when you get behind, you get discouraged, and eventually give up.

But fear not, here's a plan that provides the guidance, discipline, and (missing from most plans), the grace to help you consistently read the whole counsel of God's Word. Called the "Shirkers and Slackers" program, it assigns a specific section of Bible literature to a day of the week. So for example, Thursday is dedicated to the Old Testament prophets. When you finish a reading, you check it off. If you miss a day, the reading will be waiting for you next week.

This is my official Bible reading plan for 2010. I challenge you to do it too! Tortoises, charge!

HT: Justin Taylor