Sunday, December 31, 2006

Music memories

My friend Donna's thoughts here reminded me of how much music has complemented & defined me. Some examples of that...
  • Growing up, I listened to the small radio station from the local college. It was on FM and was a whole 10 watts. I remember waking up every Wednesday morning one year, hearing the Beatles sing "Good Morning" and jumping into Bruce Springsteen's "Blinded by the light"
  • I still have a dislike for Opera because every Saturday growing up I heard the Firestone Opera on the local AM radio station.
  • I still have a love of what Steeleye Span did for (to?) English folk music because my cousin gave my brother and I one of their albums for Christmas.
  • I still have an attraction to Herbie Hancock music because a friend and I arranged "Chameleon" for jazz ensemble in our senior year of high school.
  • I still love Procol Harem's "A Whiter Shade of Pale" because I did an arrangement for full jazz band that same year.
  • I still remember where I first heard the Eagles "Life in the Fast Lane" as I was crammed in the back of a car on the way to a college age church event next to an unwed soon-to-be mother thinking that it was so accurate (judgmental huh?).
  • My appreciation for Classical music (and probably covers) was enhanced by the versions of songs I heard from such unlikely sources as Spike Jones and P.D.Q Bach.
There are many lasting impressions like that and they continue to occur.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Plastic Jesus

Plastic Jesus, plastic Jesus
Riding on the dashboard of my car
I'm afraid He'll have to go
His magnets ruin my radio
And if I have a wreck He'll leave a scar

from Plastic Jesus

As I mentioned here, I was reading Eric Sandras' "Plastic Jesus: Exposing the Hollowness of Comfortable Christianity". The title and the chorus of the song above seem to expose the same thing. Too often, we have settled for much less than God would have us be and do.

"Plastic Jesus..." is published by NavPress.

In "Plastic Jesus...", Eric challenges us to quit being comfortable, raising lots of issues that affect me "where I live". For instance, it is quite easy for me to, once making the commitment to follow Christ, check that box off my to do list, continuing down the road to something else. This book challenges the reader to look beyond that initial commitment and determine what it really means to follow Christ.

I am putting this book back into my "to re-read" pile, actually, I am promoting this as a small group study for the group I am in.

2006 Coverville Countdown

I have been enjoying the 2006 Coverville Countdown. This is a selection of cover songs which listeners have voted on as their favorites (no, I didn't vote).

My favorites so far?

From Part 1, the Icehouse version of David Bowie's "Heroes" and The CopperBox version of Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb" (sort of bluegrass/zydeco).

From Part 2, the Cake version of the Muppets "Mahna Mahna" (progressive rock), the Johnny Cash/Joe Strummer version of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song" (folk), Joey Ramone's version of Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World" (punk) and the Yum! Yum! Orange! version of Bobby McFerrin's "Don't worry Be Happy" (ska).

From Part 3, the Opie Gone Bad version of the Rolling Stones (and Stevie Wonder) version of "Sympathy for the Devil/Living for the City", the Weird Al version of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody (actually called Bohemian Polka) and the Gypsy King version of the Eagles "Hotel California".

Since these are legally (as Brian does work with ASCAP) downloaded, check them out!

By the way, if you are wondering what Sympathy for the Devil is about, check out this Lyrics Undercover which explains the song. There is also a Lyrics Undercover on "Hotel California" here.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

A Life Lesson

No not plural, one really.

I stayed home today while Marj & Kyle went to see a movie. While flipping through the channels, I flipped stopped at "The Jerry Springer Show". I have one life lesson I have learned from watching that show.

If Jerry Springer (or any of those types of shows) call and invite you on, DON'T GO, SOMETHING BAD IS GOING TO HAPPEN!

There are numerous little lessons but that is the primary one and will avoid all the rest.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Eve Services

Today being Christmas Eve was a special time for many people. In fact, it is a time when many who don't normally attend church will show up.

In order to show Northern Hills to these people, we did something that, for some of us on the worship teams, was pretty revolutionary and somewhat stressful (for Dan & Dave more than us).

This morning in The River services as well as the two services held this evening, we played "Angels We Have Heard On High". Then Scott or Rob got up to speak. The topic was the "Noel's of Christmas". Noel means song. Prior to the bulk of the message, the people in each service were asked for things that Christmas that were important to them or that they were thankful for.

While Scott or Rob spoke, telling about the 5 songs or Christmas in the Bible, Dan (and in Whitewater, Dave) went to the back and wrote new a song based upon the phrases the people in that service expressed. By the time the message was completed, we had a new song. It was copied, sent up to the media team to be input for words up front and the worship team walked out on stage and performed it, asking the people in the audience to join in.

Each song from the services as well as the one the worship team put together was unique. The words, of course were different, but so were the chord progressions and the tune. The one with the neatest chorus was "Thank you for coming down here".

We then sang "Silent Night" and Dan's song "Humble King", finally we got to sing the song the audience helped to write as the final song.

As the day went on, each of the songs written to that point was performed prior to the service (we were out singing and playing 15 minutes prior to the last service).

This weekend, 5 new songs were written and sung for Christmas.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The "Saturdays with Mark & Tony"


Well, thanks to this post, I got introduced to Mark Lowry who is now doing a Saturday video or audio show with Tony Campolo called "Saturdays with Mark & Tony". I have had a long time interest in Tony Campolo and what he is thinking as he pushes the "traditional" evangelical envelope.

The first show I listened to was sort of "mind-blowing". One of the questions they were asked was "What is your soul?". Great answer!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

More Karate

By the way, I took Kyle to karate Tuesday and found he had earned his High Red. Only 3 more levels before he tries out for his black belt! It is a real pleasure to watch him teach and work with the younger students!

Christmas Early

If you don't live in Colorado or haven't heard the news lately, we're pretty snowy here. Marj got stuck in our development yesterday after coming home. After digging her out, I got stuck trying to get into the garage. We dug it out and both cars are in.

Kyle is staying overnight at a friends house so, depending on the weather, we may not see him until tomorrow.

Rocky was complaining that he needed his daily walk so I figured I should give Marj one of her Christmas presents early.... Here are a couple more pictures.

When Marj got back from her snowshoeing adventure in the development, I went out to clear snow away from the back.. Here is what I found!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The prodigal son...

I was mis-informed. Well maybe not as much mis-informed but just plain ignorant.

Back in February, I posted this. The title was "Todays Prodigal Sons".

What was I ignorant about? The meaning of the word prodigal. If you look up the word in, you will find out that prodigal means:

  1. wastefully or recklessly extravagant: prodigal expenditure.
  2. giving or yielding profusely; lavish (usually fol. by of or with): prodigal of smiles; prodigal with money.
  3. lavishly abundant; profuse: nature's prodigal resources.
  4. –noun- a person who spends, or has spent, his or her money or substance with wasteful extravagance; spendthrift.
Oddly enough, it doesn't really invalidate that post, it just puts it in a slightly different light.

Now, how did I find that out? I have been reading Plastic Jesus: Exposing the Hollowness of Comfortable Christianity. So far, it is an excellent book! If you'd like to read a few excerpts visit the authors blog here and here.

What I like about it so far is that it gets "into your business" but is still fun to read!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Congratulations Kyle

This is a picture of Kyle after the conclusion of yesterday's Power Up weekend at Origin Martial Arts. Kwanjangnim Scott is with Kyle.

A little over a year ago, we were extremely proud of Kyle and I posted about his green belt here. Besides the color of belt, he also is wearing a new outfit. That is the Dojo's (Karate Studio's) outfit (and can be taken away if Kyle does not fulfill the responsibilities of his position or belt). It signifies that Kyle has worked as an apprentice (the black shirt) and has put in 200 hours helping out (the black pants). Kyle started as an apprentice early last year for the right reasons. In his words, "...because I want to help other kids...". I have gotten to watch him teach over the last year and he is pretty good at it, especially when you consider his age.

I wish him luck and blessings over the next year as he pursues his brown and black belts!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Understanding your pet

We often don't realize how much our pets understand of our speech. We had an interesting revelation this morning however.

A year ago when we were going through training, we were told that dogs, especially Border Collies, could learn as many words as a 2 or 3 year old child. I suspect they learn these words just like a child does, by context.

One characteristic of the herding dogs is a desire, no, a drive, to anticipate what is going on. This comes in especially handy when you have an unruly animal who will not cooperate. With no animals to herd, Rocky has decided to anticipate what we want.

It was especially funny today. Kyle was getting ready to leave for a Karate Power Weekend and we told Rocky to say goodbye to Kyle. Rocky would start toward the stairs, then turn around and go to his kennel, even though Marj was ready to take him for a walk. We called him out, started to send him upstairs to say goodbye and he again headed for the kennel.

We figured out that he knows that the word goodbye meant that we were leaving and failing to put everything into a proper context and faced with a drive to anticipate, we had him running in circles.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Music downloading and the recording industry

Every since Napster and the popularity of the iPod, the recording industry has (rightfully) cried foul.

They have been aggressively pursuing violators without prejudice. Sometimes some rather funny stories about this such as grandparents who don't use a computer are sued.

All the time, they wronged party is the poor artists who deserve their royalties (no argument here -- it is only fair).

Of course, though out the last few years, the recording industry is just as much trying to protect it's fiefdom as evidenced by this report.

The short form?
RIAA Petitions Judges to Lower Artist Royalties
Aggressively litigious group has claimed to protect musicians in the past. Now believes musicians deserve less for "innovative" music distribution.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Prolific no, oops yes

I had my friend Scott make a comment this weekend that got me thinking...

No, I didn't post 20 items this weekend. What I did do was fix some of the labels for those items.

It hits the RSS readers really hard.

National Treasure and Family Business

If you have watched the movie National Treasure, you learn about Trinity Church and the wall at Wall Street, at least the movie version.

This weekend I received a call from my Aunt in Iowa. When I called back she told me that she had found an ancestor with ties to those New Amsterdam (now New York) land marks.

According to Roots Web, it tells about one of my ancestors, Christian Barentse.
On August 1, 1657, Christian Barentze, carpenter, was granted by Peter Stuyvesant, director general of New Netherland, a lot in New Amsterdam, by the Land Gate, (now Broadway and Wall streets) for a house and garden. He also owned several other properties in the neighborhood, some of which are said to have covered a part of the present Trinity churchyard.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Kyle made me post this


Last night was a very special occasion for Shelby.

It was the night she got her black belt. This is after 14 years of training (she moved around a lot and started over each time).

It was also a special night for Kwanjangnim* Scott, the leader of the school, she is this school's first black belt.

We considered not going to the ceremony but were quite glad we did. Why? First of all, while we do not know her well, it gave us a chance to honor Bo-Sabumnim** Shelby as she is now titled. Second, it gave Kyle a chance to see what he would be doing if/when he graduates to black belt level. Third Kyle got to particpate (more later). Fourth, I got to hear more of the faith (Christian) of Scott than I have before.

The ceremony started with a diagram of the Black Belt testing stations and Scott asking Shelby to set up the stations silently according to the diagram. There were 8 bricks set up around a circle with the black belt stretched across the center. On each brick was a tree of candles. A fourth candle tree was set across the black belt. A student or friend was set up at each station around the side. Shelby was then given a word which described a characteristic of a black belt and asked what that word meant to her in relation to her life and in relation to karate. After she explained what it meant the person sitting at that station was asked to blow out the candles in front of them because without that characteristic, the world would be a darker place. The characteristic Kyle blew out the candle for was 'respect'.

The final characteristic was faith. That candle was not blown out. After this was done, Shelby was presented with her black belt.

* Kwanjangnim means Kwan Leader, a Kwan being a martial arts school. (see Taekwando)
** Sabumnim means teacher, the bo in front means baby or beginning.

My friend was right!

Years ago, when I was doing a lot of cycling, a friend used to tell me things like "The wind is your friend. It cools you on a hot day and teaches you to ride harder."

The same sort of thing you might hear watching Kung Fu.

Body builders know that as they lift weights, it creates small tears in the muscle that are replaced with other muscle cells.

The principle holds through a lot of things in life. A show on the Discovery Channel or one of it's affiliates that we saw called Xtreme Martial Arts tells how the process of breaking boards causes small cracks in the bone being used. The healing process of the body, like with muscles, repairs these cracks, filling them in, making them harder.

I think that many of us are so comfortable that we are afraid of challenges. In fact, we are more than willing to whine when things get tough. We forget that they do build us up.
Remember what James 1:2-4 says:
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Done with the end...

I finally finished Great Tribulation--Past or Future?

It was sort of a long read but I did it because I have been curious about the Preterist and Futurist views of Revelation, The Great Tribulation and the end times.

Just to set the record straight, I think to adhere to either view takes faith. In this book, two "evangelicals" debate the issue.

The interesting thing about this debate was the way it was approached by the debaters. I the attitude I picked up in the book (and I could be very wrong about this) was arrogance. I felt the preterist had a much more humble spirit, at least at the start (and again, I could be quite wrong).

A word of warning about debate (not necessarily this one). The winning of a debate does not necessarily depend on the facts.

An example of this was a debate I was assigned to participate in while in High School. I was assigned the position that the world was flat. We won! Why? Because the opposing team was so convinced (and rightfully so of course) of their viewpoint, they forgot the rules of debate, that the newer (in this case, 15th Century view point) was considered true unless proven otherwise.

The format of the book is 2 chapters of explanation of the preterist view, 2 chapters explaining the futurist view then rebuttals.

Would I recommend it? If you are willing to trudge through a lot of linguistic mire, yes. If you hold one viewpoint or the other and wonder how in the world someone could think differently, yes. If, like me, you hold what a friend called a "pan" view (it will all pan out in the end), this one is probably not for you.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


As parents we often under estimate what our kids can do and what they can accomplish.

As I was thinking about this weekend I was over whelmed with the busyness. 2 trips to Longmont, a Christmas party and a banquet.

Why so busy? Because Kyle was in Black Belt University. At 11, he now has a solid goal of becoming a black belt. He already teaches as an apprentice so is doing well. This weekend, he earned his high blue and tonight is testing for his red belt.

What actually brought on this post however is this from my friend Dave's wife Tara.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Snakes in the Pew

I was reviewing some of those items in Google Reader that I looked at and marked for later. 1 month later, I ran across this from Church Marketing Sucks. It struck way to close to home, leaving me very sad and very encouraged.

Snakes in the Pew

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Thinking things out...

Today, we got a layer of snow on the ground again

I got the privilege of shoveling the layer off alone. Why is that a privilege? Because I get to think while I shovel.

Some time ago, when email was relatively new, I got a list of "imponderables". Thinks like:
Why do we drive on parkways and park on driveways.

I would characterize an "imponderable" as a question with no real answer.

I tend to think in "ponder-ables" lately. Here is my pondering.

Yesterday, as I drove to a park-and-ride to catch a bus, I listened to the start of "Focus on the Family". Not a show I typically would listen to. As the host was introducing his guest speaker, Josh McDowell he made mention of McDowells latest book, "The Last Christian Generation", he said the book was "scary". Through this, I may have discovered a little more what has bothered me about the traditional "Christian Right" movement (this links to an article about the Christian Coalition for instance).

I heard fear. Fear that the our children may not follow Christ. Fear that our "Christian lifestyle" may be nearing an end.

Contrasting that, we went to a Worship and the Word Movement dinner last night. There Dave said that God is doing great things today.

Why the difference?

I think many Christian leaders have substituted the things of God with the things of this world. This then dribbles down. Here is the list that I thought about this morning.

Gods thingsThe Worlds ThingsIn Substituting...
HopeFearWe look at the things around us and forget that God is in control
LoveHateWe forget that those who are our enemies are people that Jesus died for also
We cast of the beauty of God and portray God as unattractive to those around us.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Scott McKnight

I have been enjoying reading Scott's blog.

I have never met but have enjoyed his writing and perspective. You can read more about him here.