Friday, February 28, 2014

Friday Fun: "Just Don't Go"

The Oscars are this Sunday, and it appears Frozen's "Let It Go" is the new "Gangnam Style." Parodies and memes abound on social media. Here's one that I enjoyed from a Cincinnati news station, and I hereby dedicate this post to all my fellow Americans who've suffered through the polar vortex and the named winter storms.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Pascal on Ministry

I had no idea that one of the 17th-century mathematicians I learned about in high school would also speak to ministry methods and cultural exegesis with words and wisdom that are almost prophetic:

Men despise religion. They hate it and are afraid it may be true. The cure for this is first to show that religion is not contrary to reason, but worthy of reverence and respect. Next make it attractive, make good men wish it were true, and then show that it is.

You can read Tim Keller's summation and unpacking of Pascal's thoughts here.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Faith in God? Or the Seattle Seahawks?

A seminary colleague posted this from FoxSports:

Adam Muema came all the way to Indianapolis only to skip workouts at the last minute.
Why, you ask?
Well, the running back from San Diego State had a religious reason for leaving LucasOil Stadium on Sunday. He said he was "following God," who told him that if he skipped workouts, he'd end up playing for the Seattle Seahawks, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. Playing for the birds is Muema's dream and apparently, every NFL team is aware of that.
"Can't go wrong with God," he said.
So, instead of working out for NFL scouts on Sunday, Muema caught a flight and headed back to San Diego. He can still get his day in front of NFL personnel at the San Diego State pro day in March.
"(God) told me to sit down, be quiet, and enjoy the peace," Muema said.
Well, all right then.
I don't think this is smart. What if the Seahawks don't ever sign him? Wouldn't this qualify as "putting the Lord God to the test" (Deut. 6:16)?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

New Collaboration Between Science and Religion?

The recent debate between the Creation Museum's Ken Ham and Bill Nye "the Science Guy" (whose TV show was the most successful in making science fun for me during my childhood years) most likely reinforced and re-popularized the notion that science and religion must be virtually (if not completely) mutually exclusive. It almost felt like the Scopes Trial and Inherit the Wind all over again.

But what do evangelicals and scientists really think about said relationship? Here's an interesting piece by the Huffington Post.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Theology of Frozen's "Let It Go"

Some good points here about Disney's "Let It Go" from Frozen. A few minor points I'll add:

-I'd argue that Frozen is a well-written song, save for its title. Disney's songwriters have always achieved popularity in their compositions by entitling their songs with common catchphrases (e.g. "Be Our Guest," "Mother Knows Best"), and "Let It Go," while a common phrase, has difficulty fitting in with the rest of the song's lyrics. To "let something go" usually involves sacrifice and the severing of an emotional attachment, whereas the song is about the opposite.

-I should point out that "Let It Go" is performed, in the movie, by the light and laser-like pipes of Idina Menzel, who also most famously portrayed Elphaba, the "wicked" witch of Wicked, who again discovers her dangerous potential and needs to relocate and build a kingdom. Elphaba's likely most popular song from Wicked, "Defying Gravity," has some very similar (and stronger) rebellious themes to "Let It Go," and it's not nearly as seen (if at all) as "Let It Go" to fly into the face of the Wicked's message.

-I would be surprised if "Let It Go" upset U2's "Ordinary Love" for the Academy Award for Best Original Song that's going to be handed out a week from Sunday. I've always respected Disney's creativity and execution, and it's good to see some fresh blood in Frozen's music department. But they're not U2. And Elsa is not a real person.   

Monday, February 17, 2014

9 Things You Should Know About George Washington (And His Birthday)

Happy Presidents Day!

You can read the quite informative article here.

Also, since it's Presidents Day, let's remember 1 Timothy 2:1-4.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Friday Fun: Super Mario Violin

I'm a sucker for when musical excellence and Super Mario collide. Have a great Valentine's weekend!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Commentary on "10,000 Reasons"

It's not often that there's an open commentary on a popular worship song. Matt Redman's "10,000 Reasons," which I first heard recommended from fellow worship leaders at a conference in Charlotte in 2011, has been making the rounds. 

"The first time I heard Matt Redman’s '10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)' on the radio, I knew I was listening to a song that would soon be sung in churches across the United States. The plaintive melody perfectly suits Redman’s paraphrase of Psalm 103, and the chorus was singing in my head the rest of the day.
"According to CCLI’s biannual list of 25 songs reported by churches across the country, '10,000 Reasons' is now the most-often sung contemporary worship song in America."

I wouldn't mind more a little more open commentary (esp. musical) on the composition of worship songs. What are your thoughts on this idea and/or Trevin Wax's aforementioned review?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Annoying Things in Worship Songs

Well-written editorial. Are we comparing corporate musical worship to the Psalms or something else, such as our own tastes?

Don't feel I can preview it without spoiling it, so check it out here.

HT: Justin Taylor

Monday, February 10, 2014

"I Should Be Philip Seymour Hoffman"

Powerful meditations and testimony here.

I've seen every movie, read reviews of every play, studied the way he would prepare for a role. I wanted to be Philip Seymour Hoffman.

My friend Zach, an old college roommate from theatre school who moved to New York after we graduated, would often talk about serving him in the bar he was working at. I'd always ask what he was like. "Just a guy, really,” he’d say. “A normal guy, maybe a little eccentric. Wore a baseball hat, ordered a beer, but nothing strange."

Of course not. What would be strange about the most amazing actor in the world just ordering a beer? He was a local in his neighborhood and he worked a ton. Multiple movies and plays all going on at once.

In 2008, he told 
The New York Times, "I try to live my life in such a way that I don't have profound regrets. That's probably why I work so much. I don't want to feel I missed something important."

As the news of his death flashed on my phone this evening while I lay in bed with the flu, I felt a bit of my heart breaking. But not before it started to race with anxiety and fear. While I wanted to live Philip Seymour Hoffman's life, I realized that I came very close to dying his death.

HT: Blaine Hogan

Friday, February 7, 2014

Friday Fun: How "The Phantom Menace" Should Have Ended

It's been almost 15 years since my eagerly hustled my 9th grade, Star Wars-loving, model-building, Rogue Squadron-playing (go N64!) and movie-marathoning self into the 7-theater cinema in Cedar Rapids, Iowa to catch the debut of Episode I: The Phantom Menace.

So much has happened since then. There's been more Star Wars movies, TV shows and toys, and now there's going to be an Episode VII, directed by (gasp) the same man who helmed the two recent Star Trek movies. Also, what's happened after nearly 15 years since The Phantom Menace is that the humorous writers of HISHE have produced its episode. Star Wars fans will enjoy this.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Violence and Poverty: IJM's New Book

Yesterday, a powerful, challenging-yet-hopeful Christian-penned book about global violence and poverty and what you can do about it made some small ripples in cyberspace.

The book is entitled The Locust Effect: Why the End of Poverty Requires the End of Violence, and it's penned by Gary Haugen (International Justice Mission) and Victor Boutros (U.S. Department of Justice). With endorsements from QIdeas and others, and a good review by TGC, you might want to check this book out.

Gary Haugen, IJM's founder and president, has spoken at my undergrad's chapel. The Gospel is the reason he does what he does. Below is the trailer.

You can buy it on Amazon here. More info is available at

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

3 Questions to Ask When Planning a Worship Service

Wise words here from Ed Stetzer:

1. What does the Bible say to include in your worship?

2. How can I engage in biblically commanded worship in culturally appropriate ways?

3. What will help people in this culture and time worship in Spirit and Truth?

Click here for his explanations.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Modern 10 Commandments?

Are we slacking on the 10 Commandments? It sometimes seems that our version is more like below:

1. You shall not have too many other gods besides Me.
2. You shall not make for yourself too many images or dreams that you serve or to which you bow down.
3. You shall not take the Name of the Lord your God in vain too often or in ways that are too obvious.
4. Remember the Sabbath morning to keep it holy or if not, at least catch livestream or a podcast of a sermon. The rest of the Day you shall do whatever you want.
5. Tolerate your father and your mother. Try not to embarrass them too much so that they will tolerate you.
6. You shall not literally murder. Slander is ok, though.
7. You shall not commit adultery unless you are  in love or at least really like your partner.
8. You shall not steal too much; unless you steal from those who deserve to have their stuff stolen.
9. You shall not bear false witness in ways that are obvious. Unless you are a blogger.
10. You shall not covet, whatever that means.
Read the rest here.