Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Parkour and Free Running

Today I'll be hanging out with Tim Odell, who's into parkour. My kids think he's a real ninja, because he also does martial arts. They stood in awe as he ran up a tree onto a roof, jumped off, then did a back flip. This is ridiculous stuff... FYI, the opening scene of (this is a correction from the original...) James Bond: Casino Royale was parkour.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Y Word

Ed checks in with some great thoughts on whether or not we should say God's name: YaHWeH. Click here to be clued in to that uber practical theological discussion.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Week in Review

This is why we have so many kids... someone's got to grind the wheat. He's wearing ear protection. You never know when OSHA is going to show up. Actually our wheat grinder is super loud.
This is what I listened to on my laptop while cleaning the kitchen on my day off. Tim Keller, one of the brilliant minds (and pastors) of our day.

Our kids didn't do the best job of taking care of their frog. It shriveled up in the bottom of the bucket. Dehydration can't be a fun way to go.
A boy's jackpot.
The young guns
Makai playing dead
Grandma Marge holding Jett. What a legacy Grandma is leaving for our family... she is praying for all of her offspring to follow Christ until the day he returns.
Beck at Papa Jack and Grandma Linda's in Omaha last weekend.
For my weekly ministry report, click here. In this picture, Jeff Dodge is teaching church history as a part of Cornerstone's school of theology.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

While I'm Quoting People

Sometimes when preaching (tonight at Salt Company, for example), I'm tempted to stand up and say,

"Thanks for coming. We're continuing our mini-series on our core values. Tonight we'll be in Isaiah 42:5-8, focusing on God's Glory, God's Word, and God's People. To quote C.S. in Reflections on the Psalms:

“When I first began to draw near to belief in God and even for some time after it had been given to me, I found a stumbling block in the demand so clamorously made by all religious people that we should ‘praise’ God; still more in the suggestion that God Himself demanded it. We all despise the man who demands continued assurance of his own virtue, intelligence or delightfulness; we despise still more the crowd of people round every dictator, every millionaire, every celebrity, who gratify that demand. Thus a picture, at once ludicrous and horrible, both of God and His worshippers, threatened to appear in my mind. The Psalms were especially troublesome in this way —’Praise the Lord,’ ‘O praise the Lord with me,’ ‘Praise Him.’ . . . Worse still was the statement put into God’s own mouth, ‘whoso offereth me thanks and praise, he honoureth me’ (50:23). It was hideously like saying, ‘What I most want is to be told that I am good and great.’ . . . [Furthermore], more than once the Psalmists seemed to be saying, ‘You like praise. Do this for me, and you shall have some.’ Thus in [Ps.] 54 the poet begins ’save me’ (1), and in verse 6 adds an inducement, ‘An offering of a free heart will I give thee, and praise thy Name.’ Again and again the speaker asks to be saved from death on the ground that if God lets His suppliants die He will get no more praise from them, for the ghosts in Sheol cannot praise ([Pss.] 30:10; 88:10; 119:175). And mere quantity of praise seemed to count; ’seven times a day do I praise thee’ (119:164). It was extremely distressing. It made one think what one least wanted to think. Gratitude to God, reverence to Him, obedience to Him, I thought I could understand; not this perpetual eulogy. . . .

[Part of my initial problem is that] I did not see that it is in the process of being worshipped that God communicates His presence to men. It is not of course the only way. But for many people at many times the ‘fair beauty of the Lord’ is revealed chiefly or only while they worship Him together. Even in Judaism the essence of the sacrifice was not really that men gave bulls and goats to God, but that by their so doing God gave Himself to men; in the central act of our own worship of course this is far clearer — there it is manifestly, even physically, God who gives and we who receive. The miserable idea that God should in any sense need, or crave for, our worship like a vain woman wanting compliments, or a vain author presenting his new books to people who never met or heard him, is implicitly answered by the words, ‘If I be hungry I will not tell thee‘ (50:12). Even if such an absurd Deity could be conceived, He would hardly come to us, the lowest of rational creatures, to gratify His appetite. I don’t want my dog to bark approval of my books[!].

But the most obvious fact about praise — whether of God or anything — strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honour. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise unless . . . shyness or the fear of boring others is deliberately brought in to check it. The world rings with praise — lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favourite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favourite game — praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, motors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians or scholars. . . . Except where intolerably adverse circumstances interfere, praise almost seems to be inner health made audible. . . . I had not noticed either that just as men spontaneously praise whatever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it: ‘Isn’t she lovely? Wasn’t it glorious? Don’t you think that magnificent?’ The Psalmists in telling everyone to praise God are doing what all men do when they speak of what they care about. My whole, more general, difficulty about the praise of God depended on my absurdly denying to us, as regards the supremely Valuable, what we delight to do, what indeed we can’t help doing, about everything else we value.

I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed. It is frustrating to have discovered a new author and not to be able to tell anyone how good he is; to come suddenly, at the turn of the road, upon some mountain valley of unexpected grandeur and then to have to keep silent because the people with you care for it no more than for a tin can in the ditch; to hear a good joke and find no one to share it with. . . .

If it were possible for a created soul fully . . . to ‘appreciate’, that is to love and delight in, the worthiest object of all, and simultaneously at every moment to give this delight perfect expression, then that soul would be in supreme beatitude. . . . To see what the doctrine really means, we must suppose ourselves to be in perfect love with God — drunk with, drowned in, dissolved by, that delight which, far from remaining pent up within ourselves as incommunicable, hence hardly tolerable, bliss, flows out from us incessantly again in effortless and perfect expression, our joy is no more separable from the praise in which it liberates and utters itself than the brightness a mirror receives is separable from the brightness it sheds. The Scotch catechism says that man’s chief end is ‘to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.’ But we shall then know that these are the same thing. Fully to enjoy is to glorify. In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him” (pp. 90-98)."

Let's pray."

What from that quote can you possibly cut?!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

J.S. Bach Quotes

Johann Sebastian Bach is the man.

If I was alive when he was, I probably would never have heard of him. Thanks to technology we have access to his music and a window into his soul. These quotes reflect the true heart of a worship leader.

He told a student, "Just practice diligently, and it will go very well. You have five fingers on each hand just as healthy as mine."

To an acquaintance who praised his organ playing, "There is nothing very wonderful about it; you have only to hit the right notes at the right moment and the instrument does the rest."

Batting clean-up, here's the quote that clears the bases- “The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.”

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Here are some laughable moments from last week...

1. Inspired by opening week of NFL...

I had a half a loaf of banana bread that went bad and decided to throw it from my porch into the compost box.

I overthrew it.

It hit off the top of our fence, crumbling into about 20 chunks as it scattered like fertilizer onto my neighbor's lawn. I needed an excuse to jump the fence and get into their yard. So to save face, I "overthrew" the tennis ball to my son, hopped over the fence and quickly gathered the shards of stale banana bread.

I got the molded bread back to its organic home. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

2. Praying with Ava...

I often try to relate stories from my past to Ava's situation. She is nervous about an upcoming speech, so in my prayer I was reflecting on all the times I was nervous about a school project, but sought God's help to pull me through, "God, help Ava like the time you helped me write out the notes for my music theory composition."

Then I realized that my friend ended up doing the composition for me.

3. Anyone know David West?

This drunk dude at the Iowa- Iowa State game was so proud that his nephew is David West. Supposedly he's a famous WWF wrestler who played football at Iowa State.

Talk about being insignificantly famous.

I'm much more impressed with my fame due to the fact that I peed next to Jerry Tarkanian in the urinals at the 1994 Final Four in Charlotte.

Now that's stage fright.

4. Never give an old guy the remote.

We were watching Munich, a great movie with some bad scenes. I warned the older audience I was about to watch it with, but let them know the scenes were very predictable. All we had to do was hit the skip button.

My dad commandeered the remote.

"Okay, dad, this scene is going nowhere fast. Skip... SKIP dad... DAD SKIP!!!!"

I turned away in disgust, as everyone was subjected to some Titanic action.

They may have watched it in slow motion for all I know. But dad was crunching every button on that remote trying to save the day.

Friday, September 11, 2009

To buy or not to buy?

I took Beck and Ava to TSC with me last night. This pretty much tells the story for was a little too late for a 4 year old.
For a weekly ministry report, click here. God is doing some cool things, especially in the Greek community.
We were in Omaha over Memorial Day.

I went to the Stuff Mart (Cue the Veggie Tale music from "Madame Blueberry"...the best Veggie Tale episode, which still haunts me with conviction.)

Stuff Mart=Costco

I walked in a content, happy human being and then I realized the void that was missing in my life as I stared at the array of HD TVs. Am I living in a cave to not have one? And for only $599! (plus a $50 rebate).
I almost took the bait. I still might.

But thanks to our purchasing policy: the bigger the purchase, the longer we wait to buy it. And that only after talking it through with Leatha.

I almost got spiritual and included "talking and praying it through..." but the truth is that I generally don't pray about these kind of decisions, because usually that leads to not purchasing anything. I try not to put off my conspicuous consumption on God. That would probably be a form of taking God's name in vain.

Moreover, after getting wrecked by the Sudan video last night (previous post) and currently reading Three Cups of Tea and recently giving more thought to the Leatha orphanage, the HD TV purchase is becoming less and less likely.

I'm so blue I don't know what to do. (for the few of you who've seen Madame Blueberry)

Here are the kids striking a pose at Costco.

Then we proceeded to eat at Costco.

"Bless this food to our bodies?"
Is this another form of taking the Lord's name in vain? Or is it truly an expression of great faith?

And should I buy the TV or not?

I'm sure I'd use it for ministry.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

God have mercy on Darfur

I cried a lot while watching this, but I'm at a loss for what to do.

Thanks, Todd, for the vine.

Here's the trailer if you want the short version...

Head Coverings in Church

Here's an email exchange you might find helpful.

Hey Mark, I recently attended my home church's retreat at _____. During one of the meetings, I was wearing a hat. Not thinking anything of it, I had to go to the bathroom. When I was done, I headed back into the meeting when an elder stop me, and asked if I had heard the Holy Spirit talking to me. Confused and not knowing how to respond, he told me that the holy spirit was telling me that I needed to take off my hat while in the the presence of God. I quickly apologized, removed my hat and submitted to his authority.

My church has always held true to 1 Corinthians 11 in following what it says about woman wearing head coverings and men hats.

So my question is: Why is this teaching not common in a majority of churches today? How do we respond to this?

Here's my response, a quote from Grudem's Systematic Theology:

"Just as God the Father has authority over the Son, though the two are equal in deity, so in marriage, the husband has authority over the wife, though they are equal in personhood. In this case, the man's role is like that of God the Father, and the woman's role is parallel to that of God the Son. They are equal in importance, but they have different roles. In the context of 1 Corinthians 11:2-16, Paul sees this as a basis for telling the Corinthians to wear the different kinds of clothing appropriate for the men and women of that day, so that the distinctions between men and women might be outwardly evident in the Christian assembly. (footnote: The fact that head coverings were the kind of clothing that distinguished women from men in first century Corinth meant that Paul directed the women to wear head coverings in church. But this does not mean that women should wear head coverings in societies where that is not a distinctive sign of being a woman. The contemporary applications would be that women should dress to look like women and men should dress to look like men, in whatever form those clothing patterns are expressed in each society: Paul is not in favor of unisex clothing!) Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem, pp 459-460. See also Thomas R. Schreiner, "Head Coverings, Prophecies and Trinity: 1 Corinthians 11:2-16," in Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, pp 124-139.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Random Pictures

For my weekly ministry report, click here. This picture represents one of the highlights of my year. Those ants you see in the rows are college students picking up trash very late at night, with nothing in it for them. (Before you go patting me on the back, it goes to my salary...). Every once in awhile I hear reports of people or ministries accusing TSC of being big and shallow.

Here's Jett's second mom, Ava, giving him a bottle.

Batman was Ava's little "helper." Though not much help, as she asked him for a burp rag, and he comes hauling in with Jett's entire play place.

I guess that's life with super powers... always overdoing it.
Here's my friend (and Anthem song writer AND Wizard rocker (click here), Ryan Seiler with furniture he built for a museum in Iowa. I guess some guy from Iowa got the Nobel prize, Congressional Medal of Honor and who knows what else for saving millions of lives with his wheat hybrid. These benches (there are two more) represent the end of the wheat.
I went shopping for some new specks with Makai. He hit the jackpot- all those glasses on the walls just waiting to be tried on.
Maybe he was thinking, as he looked into the mirror, "Peter Parker. Clark Kent. Bruce Wayne. Every super hero needs an alter ego. This is my chance."

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Anthem on Willow Creek

Willow Creek just made the new album available on their website: Click here to purchase and/or give a review.

You can also purchase Esmerelda, Cornerstone's Christmas production, on that same website.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Bible Translations

Click here for an interesting article in USA Today about the updated NIV Bible that will be released in 2011.

Even though I'm currently listening to the English Standard Version, I'm dragging my feet on switching over from NIV to ESV for preaching, daily reading, and memory.

For preaching... because most people use the NIV, and if there is a significant point that comes out better in a different version, it's easy to reference that. Most often, I find the NASB to "color" in the text, as it's the most word for word to the original languages.

For daily reading... Part of me thinks that it would be good to switch over so it will be "fresher" when I read stuff I've read 50 times. On the other hand, there's something nice about the familiarity, and how it flows through the mind.

For memory... I gasp at the thought of relearning sections of scripture. Of course, I don't have to re-memorize everything in the new translation, but it's a pain when I'm trying to review and I can't use the ESV to quiz myself.

I think I need counseling.

Then there's the King James version. Anyone want to go back to Shakespearean English? Not me.

Example: Ephesians 2:5b in KJV: "...hath quickened us together with Christ."

What does that even mean?

Let me check the NIV: "...made us alive with Christ."

Going from not understanding what something means to grasping the promise that God has made me alive in Christ is of great consequence.

Translations do matter.