Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Problem with Christmas Music

Nathan Lawrenson laments "The Problem with Christmas Music" without going all "Bah, humbug!"

Here's a snippet:

Christmas music is such a beautiful and fun part of doubt everyone has distinct memories of Christmases past (whether good or bad), and, my guess is that most of us relate many of our Christmas memories with the music of the season.

And, therein lies the problem with Christmas music. I've discovered over the years that, it's very easy for us (Christ followers) to sing our favorite Chrismas carols at church in December and never allow for anything more than that warm nostalgic feeling. We can get so caught up in the warm feelings that worship never really takes place...worship is our primary purpose when we gather together on Sunday mornings, not singing Christmas songs.
Read the rest here.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Peter Jackson to Produce Two Hobbit Movies

Yep. Peter Jackson, the (formerly) Hobbit-like director of the Lord of the Rings film trilogy, has agreed to produce the two new Hobbit movies due out in 2010 and 2011. The most astonishing news is not that New Line Cinema finally caved in to the 'Rings' fans by reluctanly bringing back Jackson. (Apparently he and New Line had an argument about money of all things?!)

Nope. The strange news is that there are TWO Hobbit movies in the making. Ummm...why two? Either they'll split the book into two parts, or make a sequel or prequel. Either way, I'm skeptical.

Michael Lynn, the co-chief executive officer of New Line claims:
The two "Hobbit'' movies will serve as prequels to the "Lord of the Rings'' trilogy, with the second film acting as a bridge to the first installment of "Lord of the Rings."
Even though it would be interesting if one of the films took us further back into Tolkien's greater work, The Silmarillion, I would rather that they make one movie faithful to the text, yet beautifully rendered. We'll have to wait and see.

If you're interested in Hobbit news and gossip go here.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Most Important Worship Resource of 2008?

Bob Kauflin's book Worship Matters: Leading Others to Encounter the Greatness of God will be available in April 2008. Having been hugely blessed by Bob's blog Worship Matters, his various lectures, and his God-glorifying, Christ-centered, Spirit-empowered songs...I am willing to go out on a limb and say that this book is going to be the most important worship resource of 2008!

You can pre-order it here. I hope to share the contents and endorsements as they come out.

For now here's a small taste...

What is our greatest hindrance in worshipping God? We could come up with a number of potential answers.

“Our worship leader isn’t very experienced.”
“The services are too planned/spontaneous.”
“The songs are too complex/simple.”
“The band/orchestra/organist/guitarist sounds bad.”
“There are too many new/old songs.”
“Our church is too big/small.”

Ignoring for a moment that all these statements refer to a meeting context, they reveal a profound misconception about the hindrances to true worship. Contrary to what we might think, our greatest problem doesn’t lie outside us, but within our own hearts. It’s the problem of idolatry.

--from "Worship Services: Idolatry on Sunday Mornings"

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Indelible Grace V

I've been pining for the arrival of my pre-ordered Indelible Grace's newest project, "Wake Thy Slumbering Children." I've been wondering what sort of treasures I'll find in their new collection of soul-stirring, faith-strengthening, Christ-exalting arrangements of sadly forgotten hymns.

No more pining. No more wondering. Almost. Because...we can all hear extended samples of the entire album online, here. Thanks, Corey, for pointing this out to me!

Thank you Kevin Twit and all of the Indelible Grace musicians for another blessing to our church, and more importantly THE Church of Christ.

Here's what they're saying about "Wake Thy Slumbering Children":

"It is a joy to introduce you to this latest collection of hymns with new tunes. These hymns help us express our heart cries in words richer than our own, and open our eyes to see the beauty of a Savior who has promised the blessings we need most. What joy to know that as we cry “Wake Thy slumbering children!” we cry to the Father for His “promised blessing” to revive His church. What comfort to know that even when our hearts are bereaved and lonely, we can be reminded and encouraged: “O watch and wait with patience, and question all you will; His arms of love and mercy are ‘round about thee still.” What power to know that as we cry, “Come, Lord, and wipe away the curse, the sin, the stain, and make this blighted world of ours Thine own fair world again” we actually cry out to the One who died to make this dream a reality. What glory to know that, even in our dying hour, we can plead “abide with me” to the One who has promised to never leave or forsake us. We commend these hymns because we believe they have power to wake us to the reality of our great need for Jesus and open our eyes to see we have a great Jesus for our need."

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Fall Photos

Back by popular demand...more pictures of Zechariah!

He loves shoulder rides, especially patting my head!

Zeke's first guitar lesson.

He's one fast crawler!

The two most beautiful people on earth!

Out for a stroll in Naples.

"Listen to this song I just made up!"

Monday, October 01, 2007

Bob Lamson "When Snow Falls"

For years I've been blessed by being surrounded by musicians that are far better than me. How much better when an outstanding musician is also my friend! Bob Lamson is just that! His guitar work is poetry. His arrangements and melodic lines are not just good ideas, they're his life, his story. "When Snow Falls" is his first finger-style acoustic instrumental CD. You can hear some of the tracks on Bob's Myspace. The title track "When Snow Falls" steals you away to a cozy evening watching the winter flakes cascading down. "Just Restin' My Eyes" is as comfortable as your favorite sofa. "Sweet Man" celebrates the memory of dear friend.

But you'll have to buy the CD to here one my favorite's "Ode to Otte." I sounds like shameless plug...but the song is stunning. We were jamming away one day on a tune that Bob was working on when I suggested an unfamiliar alternate tuning. It worked great for his song, but one thing led to another and later that day Bob came up with the riff that turned into a song. Inspired by a new tuning!

Give him a listen. You won't be disappointed!

Hear and buy Bob's Music Online.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Brian Regan..."I eat fig newtons by the sleeve!"

Brian Regan is one of THE funniest comedians out there! And he does it without cursing every other word. He's original and hilarious. Give a listen.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Free MP3's from Sovereign Grace

All of Sovereign Grace Ministries MP3 messages, conferences, and sermons are FREE!!!!

You can download 'em here.

If you're trying to avoid IPOD gluttony, Bob Kauflin @ Worship Matters has sifted out a "Top 20" messages on worship: theology, leadership, musicians and tech teams, songwriting, children, and (my fav category) misc.

Download here.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

"$3 worth of Gospel, please!"

From D. A. Carson's Basics for Believers: An Exposition of Philippians, pp. 12-13.

I would like to buy about three dollars worth of gospel, please.

Not too much – just enough to make me happy, but not so much that I get addicted.

I don’t want so much gospel that I learn to really hate
covetousness and lust.

I certainly don’t want so much that I start to love my enemies, cherish self-denial, and contemplate missionary service in some alien culture.

I want ecstasy, not repentance;

I want transcendence, not transformation.

I would like to be cherished by some nice, forgiving, broad-minded people, but I myself don’t want to love those from different races – especially if they smell.

I would like enough gospel to make my family secure and my children well behaved, but not so much that I find my ambitions redirected or my giving too greatly enlarged.

I would like about three dollars worth of the gospel, please.

Via: Between Two Worlds.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

True Worship = Changed LIves

Here's this week's Worship Quote of the Week:

TRUE WORSHIP LEADS TO FAITHFUL OBEDIENCE It should be clear by now that true worship leads to a life of faith and obedience. It is the purpose of worship, on the human side, to inspire faith and devotion to the Lord, not just for an hour, but for the whole week and for the whole life. This was the emphasis of the preaching of the prophets and the teaching of Jesus and the apostles; and this emphasis was based on the significance of worship as a covenant renewal, a ritual that not only celebrated the blessings that God has bestowed on his people through Christ but also reminded the people of their own covenant responsibilities.

At the heart of faithful obedience is personal holiness and righteousness. True worship has no place for gossip, slander, malice, envy, strife, control, or any other sin that destroys worship. Our celebration of being at peace with God must issue in living in peace with other believers. Our covenant obligations do not stop with out purging out the leaven from our lives. There is a positive side of righteousness that calls for action. If the church claims to be worshipping but has no interest in helping the poor and the homeless, the widow and the orphan, the oppressed and the foreigner, or in championing justice and equity in society, then the worship is empty. And if the worship does not prompt the work of evangelism and missions, or simply sharing the faith, then the worship has not been led by the Spirit of God. With these and many other serious matters we may test whether worship has fully achieved what God has designed it to achieve.

— Allen P. Ross, RECALLING THE HOPE OF GLORY: BIBLICAL WORSHIP FROM THE GARDEN TO THE NEW CREATION. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2006, p. 467-68. ISBN 0-8254-3578-1.
I highly recommend this weekly e-letter, Chip Stam (over at SBTS) gives us gems of truth, culled from some of the best books, old and new. You'll be blessed...I promise!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Andy Mckee " Drifting "

If you haven't heard this guy, stop whatever you're doing to give him a listen. I've never heard so many sounds come from one guitar. McKee's arrangements are breathtaking!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Perfect Preacher

This really helped me today. I take my self too seriously, too often. I struggle with worrying about whether I've made people happy and whether I've met their expectations. This brought me back to earth and up to heaven at the same time. So for today... I'm more encouraged to long for hearing Jesus say "Well done, good and faithful servant" at the end of my life than I am hearing someone from my church family say "Well done, your sermon was good today...not to mention not too long" at the end of a service.

The Perfect Preacher

After hundreds of years, a model preacher has been found to suit everyone. He preaches exactly 20 minutes and then sits down. He condemns sin, but never hurts anyone's feelings.

He works from 8 am to 10 pm in every type of work from preaching to custodial service. He makes $400 a week, wears good clothes, buys good books regularly, has a nice family, drives a good car and gives $60 a week to the church. He also stands ready to contribute to every good cause that comes along.

He is 26 years old and has been preaching for 30 years. He is short and tall, thin and heavy set, handsome. He has one brown eye and a blue one; hair parted down the middle, left side dark and straight and right side brown and wavy

He has a burning desire to work with teenagers and spends all his time with the older folks.

He smiles all the time with a straight face because he has a sense of humor that keeps him seriously dedicated to his work.

He makes 15 calls a day on church members, spends all his time evangelizing the unchurched and is never out of his office.

(How To Survive in the Ministry, Leslie Flynn, p. 16)

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Mt. Washington 2007

I've been looking forward to my (almost) annual hike of Mt. Washington for months. I was seriously bummed that 2006 came and went before I could hike my mountain-fortress of solitude. So it's no surprise that I cashed in some vacation time last week for some serious hiking and some serious downtime with Jesus, the Creator-Redeemer himself.

The forecast was not too promising, saying a chance of showers and cloudy all day. Which is not good news when you're trekking toward the "home of the world's worst weather." But I started off at about 7:30am. I hiked up the Lion's Head trail, ate a fantastic lunch at the summit, took a wrong turn down to Lake of the Clouds, hiked back up to the Bootspur trail via the Camel Path, finally began the long-descent back to Pinkham notch, showered up, enjoyed a fantastic burger at the Muddy Moose while watching Dice-K and the Sox take one from the Tribe.

Here are some of the best pics of the day. I hope you enjoy!

The Road Most Traveled--Tuckerman Ravine Trail.

First view of blue sky, a ridge of Tuckerman Ravine (Bootspur side).

A cairn with wooly-white cloud backdrop.

First view of Lion's Head.

Another view of Lion's Head and Tuckerman Ravine

Atop of Lion's Head.

Another helpful cairn, assuring my safe passage

The deceptive summit of Mt. Washington (objects are NOT closer than they appear!)

Looking back onto Lion's Head.

The path I should have taken later on in the day!

Ah, the summit of Mt. Washington!

I should not have been this close to the Lake of the clouds...missed the connector.

Closeup of the Lake of the Clouds Hut.

Looking back to where I was, wishin' I hadn't been. (nearly a 2 mile detour!)

Things are starting to get a little creepy!

Split Rock. It was like that...I didn't do it.

Blog Profile Pic 2.0

My favorite rock overlooking Tuckerman Ravine.

Recent Sermon: The Meal Jesus Gave Us

A few weeks a ago I had the privilege of preaching at CenterPoint Church, in Concord, NH. Their lead pastor, Dave Spencer, and I used to serve together in South Portland. It was great time catching up with him and his family, and I was deeply encouraged by the group of Jesus followers that had gathered to worship there in the capitol that morning.

I preached a sermon called "The Meal Jesus Gave Us" (nod to N.T. Wright). In it, I give an overview of what the Lord's Supper is all about, and spent some time explaining two key OT background passages: Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Isaiah 25:6-9. (Pretty hard to do in about 30 minutes!) I cannot tell you how faith-invigorating Isaiah 25 has been to me over the past few years and how fills my heart with expectant joy whenever I drink the cup and eat the bread. If you have a chance to listen, I hope you're encouraged by what you hear.

Listen/download here.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

More Zeke!

Yeah we can't get enough of him either! Here's a bunch of pics of Zechariah. Everything from just relaxing in the lazyboy, to hanging with Grandpa O., to his first feeding of rice cereal...and prunes!

Acadia National Park Trip

Back in early June, my sister, Phyllis, and her hubby, Ben, finally made it up to Acadia National Park. We joined them for the weekend and drove all over the island, walked around Bar Harbor, heard the crashing of Thunder Hole, ate at the Jordon Pond Carriage House, saw the sunset at Cadillac Mtn. Had a FANTASTIC time. Zeke was the most patient, chill, happy baby even after 5+ hours on the road. Here are some highlights from the trip.

Just the three of us...on Sand Beach (photo by my sister, Phyllis).

The family at Thunder Hole.

My sister, Phyllis, and her husband, Ben.

A view driving up Cadillac Mtn.

Sunset driving up Cadillac Mtn.

Dead tree watching the sunset with us.

Beaver dam near Jordan Pond.

Back at Thunder Hole looking towards Sand Beach.

Yep. Thunder Hole again, looking not towards Sand Beach.

Heidi and Zechariah just chillin'.

Bass Harbor.

Me and my favorite sister.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

More Him We Proclaim Resources

For those of you interested in Dennis Johnson's new book Him We Proclaim, I've got a few more new resources you're gonna want to listen to and read!

For starters, the White Horse Inn recently interviewed Dennis Johnson. In about 1/2 an hour you can get a the skinny on this pretty fat book. My buddy Dave let me know about this...To think I've been living like a pauper when all along I already had this interview podcast in my ITunes! Crazy! You can download the interview here.

Next and last, Colin Adams of Discerning Reader recently gave a very helpful overview and review of
Him We Proclaim. Whether you've started reading the book or not, it will help you climb this worthy mountain of a book.

Commentary on the New Testament's Use of the Old

I heard rumors in the halls of Gordon-Conwell about this book. Finally we've got a pretty solid release date (Nov. 2007) for Beale and Carson's Commentary on the New Testament's Use of the Old Testament. The list of contributors is stellar, and their insights will no doubt bring a fresh breath of air into the commentary world, opening new perspectives into texts that we wrongly thought we had all figured out.

Professors, pastors, small groups leaders, and every Jesus follower should have this book on their shelf ASAP.

If you're wondering what to gift to get me for Christmas, don't bother with this one...I'm pre-ordering it right away. (But if you're really wondering, feel free to drop me a line and I'll send you my Wishlist!)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

6 months ago...

I slept for 8 hours in a row.
I was timing contractions, hoping we'd get to the Birthplace in time.
I fell in love with Heidi all over again as she gave birth to my son.
I saw my son for the first time.
I knew nothing about fatherhood (update: I still know practically nothing).
I never knew the joy of seeing my son smile or laugh for the first time...the gazillionth time.
I couldn't have understood the magnitude of the love that a father has for his child.

That's right, but I would never want to back to 6 months ago. I absolutely love being a dad. Heidi and I have only begun to know the joys and sorrows of parenthood. Yet our love for Zechariah is greater than the fear and frustrations that we've already encountered and will sooner or later. We constantly thank God for supplying us wisdom to know how to love this little guy.

Happy 6 Month Birthday Zechariah!