Sing a New Song

My God is a God who “makes all things new.” He’s in the business of renewing things. I love the vision of a new Jerusalem coming down out of Heaven to earth. We don’t leave this world behind and go somewhere else, God restores it!  That in mind, I’ve been searching for new worship songs.  What better way to worship God of the “New” than to sing a new song to Him?  We need to keep singing our old songs, because they remind us where we came from, but we need to make sure that we don’t allow the songs to become lifeless.  Here are some awesome songs I’ve found.  Please comment and let me know about any awesome worship songs you’ve come across.

Matt Maher – Alive Again
Matt Maher – Christ is Risen
Steve Fee – Rise and Sing
Steve Fee – We Crown You
Tim Hughes – Jesus Saves

Under the Boot

I wonder what it would be like it Christianity were illegal in the US. It kinda seems that it’s going that way. We claim free speech in the US unless it’s about Christianity. Not even God, just Christianity, because if a Muslim or a Jew or someone of another religion wants to talk about their religion then they’re expressing their right to free speech. But if a Christian does it, we need to separate church and state, and “don’t talk about your views in from of someone else who might not believe what you believe.” So for a lot of Christians it’s scary that this is happening. I wonder if it’s not a good thing, in some ways. Hear me out before you totally reject this idea.

For a long time – and really it’s still like this for the most part – Christianity is the default religion. It’s kind of expected to be a Christian, even if you don’t really believe in it deep down in your heart. So a lot of people who don’t really care about religion one way or the other become nominal Christians so they don’t get harassed or judged or whatever. They go to church on Christmas and Easter and if someone were to ask them if they believe in God, they would say “yes”. The problem is that they don’t really let it affect their lives. So something (religion) that is meant to be a basis or a foundation of a life, ends up becoming more or a decoration, or an afterthought. And Christianity loses it’s power.

But what if it were illegal to be a Christian? What if Christians were under the boot (so to speak) of the US government? What if it wasn’t the default to be a Christian? What if it actually cost somebody something to profess Jesus as Lord? There wouldn’t be the temptation to wear Christianity as a garnish and if you called yourself a “Christian”…then you really were a Christian. I think this world would look radically different.

Now, I don’t want to be persecuted for being a Christian, but neither am I afraid of where the world is allegedly headed, according to many people/christians. Either way God will be preached and people will come to know the loving power of the grace of Jesus.

Capitalism Breeds Greed

It’s rare that I get into a political rant, so enjoy it, or not.  I think there are good things about capitalism, but in a system where productivity is king and money is the bottom line, greed is always going to be encouraged.  Generally speaking, capitalism is good because businesses are encouraged to produce a new products and improve old products.  This works pretty well.  The big problem comes when there’s a new idea (or potential product) that’s far superior to an old product but not as profitable for the company.  Maybe the upkeep cost is very minimal, so the company won’t continue to make money on supplies for the superior product, or maybe the infrastructure isn’t in place for this new product, or the idea/product is owned by a small company or a couple of individuals and the idea/product is bought by a threatened company and quietly crushed forever.

An example of this might be the electric car. The oil industry big wigs are threatened by the possibility of removing our dependence on oil, so they use their power (aka. money) to buy support for their product. They start propaganda movements that undermine the new product: electric engines can’t accelerate like gas engines…BS; they say that the range that EVs have is unacceptable. Well in fact, for the majority of drivers, the range is more than enough.

That’s just an example. My point is that while sometimes consumer interest and the capitalist’s interest sometimes align, ultimately they will diverge. Only if the producers have integrity and do what’s right, instead of what turns the most profit, capitalism (or any other type) will destroy the world.

Commercials, oh Commercials

We all know, and love (ha ha ha), commercials.  They totally interrupt our tv show and movies at exactly the worst moment.  There’s nothing worse than getting to the big emotional moment of a movie and then going to commercial where they’re selling an SUV, trying to get you to switch your bank and the sham-wow dude is so excited about chopping something with some product you slap or whatever.  If I was purely artist (and didn’t care about making money from tv) about a movie I made I would never let my movie be played on tv unless it was commercial free because it totally kills the flow of a movie.

This is not even the worst part of commercials.  The worst thing is that we now expect commercials to lie to us.  Maybe lie is a strong word, but if we did as kids what these commercials do, we would totally get busted by our parents for lying.

For example, take any diet/fitness product.  I’m talking the ones that promise spectacular results with little to no effort.  They claim that you’ll lose 457 lbs in the first week, and you’ll get 14 pack abs by week 4 or your money back.  Google around for about 5 minutes and you’ll find 1.4 million sites that will tell you that that product is total BS.  You can’t freakin spot reduce!  It’s a myth, why do people still buy those products?! I also can’t stand when they play the same commercial every break, or worse, multiple times in the same break! AHH!!

I digress.  The point is that we don’t even expect commercials to tell us anything true.  We expect that there’s soooome sort of truth, but it’s buried so deep down in tricky wording that we could never hope to find it.  So these sorts of commercials, in my opinion are a waste of time.  I think one of the few types of commercials that are useful are simply informative ones; commercials letting you know about a sale or something like that.

While I’m at it, why do we have commercials on cable tv.  If there’s anything web 2.0 has taught us is that free services have ads, paid services are ad free.  I pay for cable, do you?  Why do I have ads on my pay service?  Also, why do tv celebrities deserve $500,000/episode salaries?  Do they work harder than I do?  Why is their skill worth so much more than mine?

My Love

Got Married: 1 year, 9 months, 3 days or 15,456 hours ago
Got Engaged: 2 years, 11 months, 7 days or 25,800 hours ago
First Said “I Love You” to Heather: 9 years, 6 days or 79,032 hours ago
First Kissed Heather: 9 years, 4 months, 16 days or 82,224 hours ago

It’s been a good 82,224 hours.

Energy Generating Soccer Ball

Flippin’ brilliant!  A soccer ball that generates electricity for off-grid areas…what will they think of next?

http://www.inhabitat.com/2010/02/03/energy-generating-soccer-ball-brings-clean-power-to-off-grid-areas/

Called to Nineveh

I’ve been wrestling with my call.  I consistently am asked when I’m going to seminary.  I don’t really have an answer.  What am I called to?  I’m trying to listen, but I just can’t hear it right now.  So I asked a friend and he recommended reading the story of Jonah.  Jonah was called to speak the word of God to the people of Nineveh.  So what does Jonah do?  He goes 4 times in the opposite direction.  Jappa, modern day Tel Aviv, is where he set out from, Tarshish, modern day Cadiz in Spain, is where he set out to go (probably) and Nineveh, modern day Al Mawsil in Iraq, is where he was supposed to go.  Refer to the map.

When Jonah finally got to Nineveh and preached the word of God, the people of Nineveh repented and God showed them mercy.  What’s interesting is that Jonah then tells God that the reason he ran in the first place was because he was afraid that they might repent!  Jonah the reluctant prophet.

I hope I’m not being a reluctant prophet.

7 (Mostly) Natural Places I’d Like To See In Real Life

These are some places that I would love to visit before I die…otherwise, maybe there will be something much better in Heaven to visit once I get there!

Iguazu

Iguazu Brazil: just...wow

Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe: no words...

hawaii

Hawaii: chill on the beach in a hammock, maybe try surfing, find out what all the fuss is about.

vineyard

California Vineyard: Pretty much any vineyard in California, I'm not picky. Also, Santa Barbara sounds awesome, and I have to admit it's partly because of Shawn and Gus.

bora bora

Bora Bora: Just chill and relax on the beach, maybe kayak around the area...that'd be sweeeeeeet

Fjords

Fjords of Norway: I would love to hike this area! Also, it'd be cool to see what Slartibartfast won an award for😉

New Zealand

New Zealand: Again, hiking...and maybe take an epic quest to destroy a ring.

Left Unhealed

I’ve been preparing to give a message on “Simplifying Your Life” and in the process I have been challenged to simplify my own life.  This is good, and I shouldn’t be surprised, it’s always the teacher that learns the most.  One of the most freeing things I came across while I was researching was this idea.  Jesus left people unhealed.  Think about that.  The God-man.  Fully God, had the ability to heal, yet fully human, couldn’t do it all himself.  If Jesus had to take time to rest, so do I.  If Jesus didn’t fix everything for every single person he came across, why do I feel like I have to?  It’s such a difficult thing to wrestle with.  When do I need to help people and when do I need to say no?  Do I need to give money to every beggar I come across?  If not, then why do I feel guilty when I tell them I have no cash and I really don’t!?

Bottom line, I can’t save everybody (that’s ultimately Jesus’s job anyways), but I also don’t think God ever wants us to get to a place where it’s easy to deny people.  I think there’s a healthiness in always wrestling with “can/should I help?”

Music Is Powerful

I remember this very clearly.  I was in 1st grade at Tanglewood Elementary in Fort Myers.  Our music class was at the end of the hall if you walk in the front door of the school and turn right down the first hallway.  So we’re there and we were taking a test and one of the questions was “Can [instrumental] music tell a story?”  I answered “Yes” but I was wrong.  I remember being angry because I thought the teacher was dead wrong about this.  I still believe she was dead wrong about it.

There’s something about music that is powerful.  It might not tell a story in audible words, but it invokes emotions if it’s good.  And given a title to the piece, it can tell some of the best stories.

I’ve made a playlist on grooveshark.com that is only for epic instrumental soundtracks.  Right now I’m listening to “Black Hawk Down.”  Wow!  Talk about epic.  The music style, chosen instruments and tone of “Leave no man behind” are causing some strong emotions.  I think about the conflict in Somalia that raged throughout the 90’s and it makes me sad.  I think about my friends in Naivasha who are no stranger to conflict in their own town.  I hate that the world is such a violent place.  There’s no winner in war, and that seems so dumbly obvious to me that I find myself asking “Why do people/nations/tribes/ethnic groups do things that will cause war?”  The best answer I can come up with is a struggle to fill an insatiable need for love and acceptance (which is sort of an ironic answer on the surface, I know) coupled with a need to protect ones-self and their people group.

The worst cause of conflict comes from individuals, or a small group of people, who are corrupt and try to achieve power and money (are they separate things?) via stepping on the backs of anyone and everyone they can.  Not that the US is perfect by any stretch of the imagination (I could write a book on problems with the US), but in this country there is a fairly decent infrastructure of checks and balances for power that prevents corrupt leaders from obtaining/maintaining said power.  In many developing countries the checks and balances are not in place and the result is far sub-standard living, famine, rampant disease (many that are curable), and general extreme poverty because a corrupt few (many?) have taken much for themselves.  I’m not just talking about leaders from the countries in question, I’m talking about business men in the US, and pretty much any 1st world country, that deepens poverty through unethical (sometimes illegal) business practices.

Are these people rotten to the core?  Maybe some are?  Maybe some are so far removed from the effects of their deeds that they can’t really feel the evil they are breathing out on the world.  Mostly, I think it’s the need for love and acceptance that drives them.  “Acceptance” to them means a relentless pursuit of power and a relentless pursuit of wealth.  The epitome of this idea are warlords.  Play the game Modern Warfare 2 and you will see, what I think, is a fairly accurate depiction of corruption and warlords given (or taken) free reign.  They themselves are killing hundreds, even thousands themselves just so they can get that much more power and that much more money, so they can try to satisfy their need for love and acceptance just a little bit.

How can people do this to other people?  I know the reasons, but how do they do it?

That is what powerful music causes me to hurt for and pray about.  Epic.  God, when will this sort of thing end?

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