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I have learned that my tastes in food render reality so that there is no connection or correspondence between “I don’t like this meal” and “This is not a quality meal”.
I thought some of you might like to know that over at the Gospel Coalition they published an article I wrote.
It’s six reasons I’m glad Pastor John was our family’s pastor. Go take a look!
Okay, so a design agency called Teehan+Lax’s Labs has developed a tool to create videos from Google Street View images. They’re called Hyperlapses and they’re very cool.
Here are a few that I created of some of my favorite locations:
There is beauty of God’s creation to be seen on the highways of America.
(Be warned – these take a little time – less than a minute – to load up.)
Which locations did I miss?
Update: Over at my Minnesota State Parks blog, I added a post with unique Minnesota Hyperlapse Videos.
I think it’s fair to say that most people have tasks, list items or chores that they put off. The question is – from the perspective of your creator, how important is that thing you are avoiding doing, and how unimportant is the thing you’re doing instead?
Please take a look around.
I’d also love it if you’d check out the project my family has been involved with – Fighter Verse Songs.
The newest CD has the entire Sermon On The Mount set to music.
As we often do on the way home from church on Wednesday nights, my kids and I were listening to MPR’s Fresh Air last week, and Terri Gross was interviewing the comedian Louie C.K. It was an interesting interview from several angles, but one section of it specifically caught my attention.
Terri asked him about the response from Christians to some of his more offensive material (and it is quite offensive), and he responded with a story -
I did this thing, this clip that went viral on “Conan” about everything is amazing and nobody’s happy, and it just was about appreciating what the world is like and not, you know, grousing about it. And it got really popular with Christian groups. And I heard that a lot of pastors would play it before their services and stuff. Anyway, so a lot of people that saw it would go to my website and be horrified by everything else that I say.
My comment to pastors:
So I guess here’s more evidence that you should do your research before you put up videos during sermons, or ‘like’ a clip on Facebook, or link to them on your blog. Because as a result of your actions, your congregation – those people who trust you – could be taken in directions you didn’t mean them to be.
So I got a lot of emails from people saying, why can’t you just keep it clean? Because I am now shut off from your act by the horrible things you said, and that’s such a shame. And I would not really respond to them because I don’t usually return emails, but in my head and to a few of them I said, well, you’re the one putting the limit. Not me. I mean I’m saying a bunch of stuff, and you’re saying that I should only say one facet of it. That’s a limit…. But at the same time, when these people would write to me, I kind of liked them. So whenever I’ve encountered a Christian saying, why don’t you stop talking like that so that I can hear you, you know? I think, well you’re the one putting the earmuffs on, but at the same time, I wish you could hear me because I like you…
My comment to Christians:
Did you see that? Despite the fact that he’s heard from lots of Christians complaining about his act he still ‘kind of liked them?’ He said it twice. Whoever wrote to him, good for you. You apparently didn’t alienate him. I’d like to know what you said.
This is yet another reminder that our message to non-Christians (even critical messages) can be made more palatable to the receiver if we say it in gracious ways.
He continued further:
… There’s been a lot of really simple vilification of right-wing people. And it’s really easy to just say, ah, you’re Christian, and you’re anti-this and that, and I hate you, and you should just go away. But it’s more interesting to find out, what is this kind of person like and how do they really think? Do I have any common ground with people like that who find me really, really offensive?
My comment to Louis:
It was encouraging to hear you say that you liked us. Or some of us. Thanks!
Yes, there is common ground. Listening to other parts of the interview, I heard that you love your daughters and want to protect them from offensiveness. We do, too, and we call that honorable. It sounds like you’re fairly strongly against suicide. We are, too, and we think positively about your comments calling it wrong, considering what they may prevent. You like honesty. We like it, too.
But there’s one other very important common ground that we share (at least I assume we do): You and Christians both care about what happens to you, Louis, and your soul when you die.
If we Christians are thinking biblically, this is much more important to us than any offensiveness in what you show on your website. Can we talk about it?
Over at my Dad Blog I just posted a list of six good truths we were reminded of as a family at Artist Point in Grand Marais. Please check it out.
I confess to having an affinity for the demotivational posters that came out several years back. But this one – does it strike a little fear in you?
What it depicts is not what I, or anyone, wants to happen.
But just like some supposedly motivational ideas can sometimes inadvertently cause a person to be depressed, could we turn this one around and make it inspirational? I think we can. Starting with a bad memory.
Do you have memories that make you cringe every time you think about them? And you think, why, why, why did I do that?
We can categorize those memories into three groups.
1. Those that should have taught you a lesson, but you’re still repeating the failure.
2. Those that taught you a lesson and you never did it again.
3. Those where the situation will probably never happen again and give you no opportunity to fail again.
Looking at those three types, I bet most of your embarrassing memories fall into 2 and 3.
And doesn’t that give you cause for joy?
Because if it’s a #3 memory, well, it’s no longer an issue, right? Confess it if you need to and then let it be.
But if it’s #2 memory, to paraphrase the poster, it could be that God’s purpose for that memory was to serve as a warning for you for the rest of your life. And you heeded it.
And that means God has done a work in your life.
That just leaves the #1 kind of memories. If you have those, pray that God will enable to you to make changes in your choices so they will fall into the type 2 kind of bad memory.
And then you can thank God that the memories that used to make you cringe now give you joy.
I’ll just leave you with another ‘Mistakes’ poster that made me laugh.
A Twisting Fascinating Epic Fantasy
5 out of 5 stars.
A decade or so ago, I watched the Michael Chrichton movie Twister, and the early dialogue explained that the protagonist researchers had three complex and expensive measuring devices and their goal was to successfully place one in a tornado’s path during a superstorm. So, I said to myself, the movie’s plot will be them failing twice and then being triumphantly successful with the last machine, against all odds and competing against a more fully funded research team. And this is exactly what happened [Oh, I’m sorry, Spoiler Alert!]. So I (along with, I presume, most alert viewers) knew the basic structure of the entire plot, including the ending, before getting twenty minutes into the movie.
In extreme contrast to that experience is the reading of ‘A Throne Of Bones’ by Vox Day. On a micro and macro level, the reader is surprised (not to mention shocked and stunned), narrative directions are turned 180 degrees and assumptions are ripped away. I never knew where it was heading next.
And here’s the good news: It’s a delightful experience.
When I reviewed ‘Summa Elvetica’, Vox Day’s last fiction book, I wrote, ‘My feeling here is that this book could be a “The Hobbit”-like prelude to a much more significant fictional writing.’ This, I’m pleased to say, is what the author has done. ‘Throne’ is placed in the same universe as that book and only a few years (months?) later.
And what is this universe? Just like with Summa, imagine Rome in the fifth century, complete with a Christian heritage. Now add in magic. And elves. And dwarves and goblins and some kind of new immortal creature.
But the geography is completely different. The Empire is Amorr. In it, there are two very strong family houses that are growing more and more at odds with each other. In one of these houses, two brothers are in conflict – for good reason. And dark tidings are reaching its neighbor to the north, Savonne, about the ulfin, sentient wolf-men, attacking it’s northern neighbor.
Vox has clearly done his research and I’m guessing that there are few books that give a better picture of what it must have been like to be in an armed conflict in a Roman legion. It puts you right into the battle. One of my favorite chapters has a stream of narrative following the downfall of several named but nameless fighters. In other sections, the reader is also given a fascinating (and I’m guessing fairly realistic) view into the inner-mechanics of Roman/Amorran politics.
Each chapter is from the perspective of one of nine different characters – A rebellious daughter, a general, a princess, a dutiful son, a crafty dwarf. All of these characters are flawed. All of them are interesting and complex.
I will say that in giving this five stars, I’m rounding up. I’d like to give it 4 ½ stars. The book is not perfect. To wit -
The author says in his acknowledgements that he won’t be letting his kids read this book yet. This, I think, is wise. Unfortunately. I’d love to give most of this book to my 14 year old son to read. Perhaps 98 percent of it. The offending two percent is some brief PG13 level sexual content and some fairly graphic battle violence. And some scatological stuff. Oh well.
My other disgruntlement is that this book ends very suddenly, with very little by way of denouement (yes, I just looked up how to spell that word – by all means, let me know if I’ve used it improperly). True, this book is the first of a set, but my thought is that a first book should tie up a few loose ends or have more of a cliff-hanger. You know, like winning the battle at Helm’s deep, or leaving Frodo with the Orcs in the Tower. (I must admit, however, that it does have a face-off that was somewhat satisfying and one mystery solved, slightly disappointingly, right in the last few chapters).
But overall this is a very readable book that made me want to keep on reading. It is, in turn, humorous, shocking and exciting. There are beautiful moments, there is clever dialogue, there is deep mystery. It took some level of genius to write it. I recommend you read it.
As a disclaimer, I should say that I was one of the proofreaders of this book. And Vox Day is a friend of mine. It was a pleasant experience to get an advanced reading of all these chapters. So it might be correct to assume that I am a little biased.
Because we’ve grown a little leaner,
Grown a little colder,
Grown a little sadder,
Grown a little older,
And we need a little angel, sitting on our shoulder.
We need a little Christmas now.
“Will it make someone feel bad?” is a fairly good heuristic for personal, political and ecclesiastical behavior. But it is an imperfect guide.
I hereby state that I am grateful to my God for so many things.
Yesterday, my church’s executive pastor, Sam Crabtree posted his thoughts about Minnesota’s Marriage Amendment.
I’m very glad he did. Pastor Sam is a great combination of Loving with Grace and Explaining Intelligently. Extremely Intelligently.
Here is just a little of it:
There are two kinds of thought: natural thought and revealed thought. Natural thought begins with human assumptions and extend from those assumptions. Revealed thought begins with a revelation inserted into the field of human understanding from outside the human race, and works outward from there.
I support and advocate one-man-one-woman marriage because we have a revelation.
Male and female—alike in many ways and unlike in many complementary ways (Genesis 1:27).
That for this cause a young man shall leave his father and mother, cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh (Genesis 2:24).
that the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is head of the church (Ephesians 5:23).
Aside from other civil rights that can be provided for homosexuals—including contractual rights to share property, convey inheritances, and more—even if homosexual unions were to be legalized, they are not biblical marriages.
I recommend you go read all of it.
Recently Pastor Sam posted a list of all the books that Pastor John has published since he (Pastor Sam) started as Executive Pastor in 1997.
So naturally I copied this list of book titles, took out all of the lesser words (or, a, the, and …) and went over to Wordle and created a word cloud from what remained. Here it is (click on it to make it bigger):
First off, I should just say that Pastor John would be the first person to say that he is not a superhero. Superheroes generally (1) save the day (2) with their own strengths and Pastor John makes no such claim to either. Secondly, I know that there are those who strongly dislike Pastor John (or at least his theology – I’ve read the comments) and I assume they would not approve of anyone describing him with such a glowing term. So can we agree on that? John Piper is not a superhero.
I should also add that Pastor John is in no way unique in what I’m about to say. He just happens to be my pastor.
But now that we are passed that, I will state that Pastor John is like many superheroes in that he has a weakness, a vulnerable spot, a way to get around his defenses when it comes to his theology. And I’ll reveal what this weakness is so that his would-be enemies can exploit it.
If you want to break down his systemic worldview of God and Man, if you want to blow a hole in the shield of his theology, the chink in his armor is that he claims to believe every word of what the Bible says. And his belief in the inerrancy of scripture gives those who would battle against him a tool that could be used to tear down a section of his stronghold.
To those who would exploit this vulnerability in Pastor John’s theology I suggest this: show him (or show the world) a Bible verse that proves his theology wrong. All you need is one Bible verse, a single biblical passage that goes counter to what he says, and Pastor John will be forced to retreat.
Do you see what I’m saying? Pastor Piper not only has a weakness, but he has chosen it for himself and it might be exploited by anyone who is willing to do a little Bible study.
So, for example, if a Piper Foe wanted him to back down on the issue of Women in the Pulpit, all that person would need to do is find a verse that says that Pastor John is being too restrictive – that he should find the concept of a Female Pastor acceptable. If you could do that, then you’d have him. Given his dependency on the truth of God’s word, he’d be forced to step away from his controversial belief.
Or if you think him wrong when it comes to homosexuality – there are more than 31,000 Bible verses, all you need do is find one that says that homosexuality should be counted as acceptable, and you could beat him. And here’s the beauty: you don’t even need to believe in the Bible yourself. Perhaps you reject all of the verses in scripture that say homosexuality activity is sinful; it doesn’t matter. Since Pastor John says he believes in the entire canon (presumably even the verses that go against his own personal feelings on any issue) you can force him to stick to his stated conviction, whether or not you personally hold to Biblical inerrancy.
Or perhaps you think that Pastor John’s reformed theology is a false shell that he has placed around himself. Well, that shell is a bubble that can be popped with a single contradicting verse. If you think that Bethlehem’s Affirmation of Faith goes too far when it states that “We believe that God upholds and governs all things – from galaxies to subatomic particles, from the forces of nature to the movements of nations, and from the public plans of politicians to the secret acts of solitary persons”, then all you need to do to bring it down is find a Biblical verse where God said about any historical happening, “That wasn’t me who did that”
Like I say, Pastor John is far from the only pastor or theologian with this weakness. There are many out there and the person you are trying to prove wrong may be one of them. So rub your hands together, laugh menacingly and start mining the Holy Scriptures for nuggets of Kryptonite. They must be in there somewhere.
One word of warning though: watch out for ‘Fool’s Kryptonite’ – verses taken out of context. Pastor John can deflect those easily.
Last week I made a stand alone statement that I thought was going further than an earlier post, but I actually never posted the first post, so here it is:
A person who complains about free food has left the path of wisdom.
Last summer I posted a compilation of quotes from the funny, helpful, God-glorifying blog, Stuff Christians Like. I now have enough compiled for another. This time I’ve included the link to the actual post, in case you’re interested to read them.
Everything I Ever Needed To Know I Learned From Stuff Christians Like :: Serious Wednesdays :: Last Lines :: Part 2
You are not naked.
Stop drinking poison.
I want Him to be enough.
Jesus knew how to love people.
We will hear the father’s voice say, “You are mine.”
Kids are not afraid to draw Jesus with a great big smile.
The pressure of perfection is off. We’ve got a perfect God.
God’s got a plan more wondrous than you can even imagine.
Surrender is not the end of a beautiful life. It is the beginning.
He sees a son. He sees his child. And that changes everything.
I’m ready to stop looking through the telescope the wrong way.
Maybe it’s not just about renewing. Maybe it’s also about reaching.
Please don’t for a second believe that God wants you to be miserable.
In dark arenas God reminds us why you and I have got to keep singing.
The more I see the world, the harder it is for me to think God is vanilla.
Kids get grace. That’s why I think Christ wants us to have faith like a child.
What if God might be quiet because he’s too busy planning a party for you?
Our God always works toward a good greater than we can possibly imagine.
Our welcome home party won’t be nearly as fun or as interesting without you.
At the end of the day, the devil has one lie to dress up: God is not good. Don’t believe it.
When you hear that voice, think of the thief, think of Christ, and think of grace.
“Be still” isn’t a casual suggestion. It’s a command. And it’s one I want to obey.
I’m going to trade in my plan for a party, which I think is always a deal worth making.
At the end of the day, the devil has one lie to dress up: God is not good. Don’t believe it.
When I chase a purchase as the pathway to peace, I take my eyes off my true source of joy.
On my best days, when I’ve avoided every signature sin, I am in desperate need of God’s grace.
Maybe the answer to the question, “Should I wait on God or hustle as hard as I can?” is “Yes.”
On God’s calendar, there’s always the perfect amount of time for a second, third, or 500th chance
God is big enough for my anger, small enough for my whispers and strong enough for my worries
Today is the time to stop asking for clarity and instead start asking for courage to get started.
True change, heart change, life change, can only come from one place, your relationship with God.
At some point, I’ve got to be honest with myself. And God is making that harder to ignore lately.
(as previously announced at my Dad blog)
I have a blog that I’ve been working on this spring, and I thought that June 1st would be a good day to let people know about it.
It’s called “Revisiting Minnesota State Parks” and in it I have been reviewing and ranking the state parks we’ve visited and we’ve visited many.
Minnesota has great state parks.
Go check it out!
I’m glad you’re here!
My primary creative endeavor is writing music for the Fighter Verse Songs Project.
It has 99 key bible verses put to music in 40 Songs. It includes Psalm 1 and Psalm 23.
It’s made for families to help kids learn the Word of God, but adults like it, too.
So go listen to some samples and buy one!
No Bible, no breakfast.