Monday, December 22, 2008

A. Bird

[For those who are wondering, this is not turning into a music blog. This post is as much of a thanks to Stephanie and Micall as it is an appreciation for Andrew Bird and his great musical talent.]

After Thursday night's awesome Bon Iver show, I didn't think my weekend would get too much more musical. But I was wrong.

At approximately 5 pm on Friday, I got an email from Stephanie, stating that she got some information from a friend of hers that Andrew Bird was playing a secret show at Ronny's in Logan Square. She couldn't verify the info, but her source seemed credible.

If any of you know me, I mean really know me, then you would know that many months ago, when I thought I would have to be leaving Chicago due to the lack of a job, my target date to leave this great city was the 4th of September. A Thursday. Who leaves on a Thursday? Well, it wasn't a randomly selected Thursday, but rather it was the Thursday after Andrew Bird played a free concert at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millenium Park. One of the more anticipated concerts that I had waited to see. It was the first and only time I had seen him.

However, this particular Friday Micall and I had planned to have our Christmas, go see the Lincoln Park Zoo Lights and have some time together. Alas, I would not see this show.

But upon mentioning this to Micall, she exclaimed, "Well, let's go! We can see the Zoo lights anytime."


Ronny's is a dive. A serious dive. One that sells PBR for $3 in cans (MSRP: $0.50). But as we waited through the sound check and starred through the glass door. Andrew Bird was sound checking his violin and whistle (his mouth). He played about an hour, mostly new stuff, and an old song that I hadn't heard before. It was great. And I was this close to him... Yeah that close. At one point, he couldn't find his shoulder pad thingy for his violin and I pointed it out to him. He head-nodded in gratitude. Yeah, I got a head-nod.

He has a new album coming out in January. Keep an eye out for it. And he's touring the US. He'll be in a city near you soon enough. Even Tulsa.

Friday, December 19, 2008


Chris has pointed out a great article by Alan Hirsch in Christianity Today's Leadership Journal that everyone should read. In the article, Hirsch rightly points out that missional theology applies to the whole life of the believer.

A missional theology is not content with mission being a church-based work. Rather, it applies to the whole life of every believer. Every disciple is to be an agent of the kingdom of God, and every disciple is to carry the mission of God into every sphere of life. We are all missionaries sent into a non-Christian culture.

Missional represents a significant shift in the way we think about the church. As the people of a missionary God, we ought to engage the world the same way he does—by going out rather than just reaching out. To obstruct this movement is to block God's purposes in and through his people. When the church is in mission, it is the true church.

In my current position, perhaps the most frustrating thing is that I am required to sit in an empty church building for approximately 30 hours a week. And while the word "missional" is continually described as what we are trying to accomplish, the fact of the matter is we are still expecting people to come to us. This is neither the way that God acted, nor expects us to act. Philippians 2:5b-8 reads,
Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
And John 1:9-10a, 14,
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him... And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
And the commission he gave us? I think you know where I'm going: Matthew 28:19, 20,
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
But go read the article for yourself. And the Bible. And Kevin Cawley's Missional Church Beginner's Guide.

We'll talk after.

Don't call me.

I'll call you.

Photo Friday :: Bon Iver Edition

I made sure I remembered my camera this time. I was purposeful in doing so.

And what do I hear as I'm waiting outside to sell my extra ticket? "No Cameras." Dang it. And while I felt comfortable sneaking in a burrito, if my camera got confiscated, I would not have been happy.

On another note. People: if you're going to a concert and taking photos, please don't use your flash. Especially if you're in the balcony. It won't reach that far. It'll distract from the lighting that trained and paid professionals have set up already. Turn your ISO up on your camera and convert to black and white.

The music was great though and I bought my first vinyl. I feel this beginning to be a long downward spiral. But a warm sounding one.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Bon Iver

Last April I received a call from a good friend asking me if I wanted to go see Bon Iver that night. I had a lot going on, but the stuff that I had heard so far didn't blow me away. It kept bugging me to check him out so the next week I did and regretted having "a lot going on" ever since.

But he's back in Chicago this Thursday and I've had tickets for a couple months now. Sold out show at the Vic. And it better be a good one.

If you haven't heard of him, then you need to check him out. If you have his album already, then you need to check out his special recordings.

Skinny Love on Letterman:

For Emma, Forever Ago on La Blogotheque:

Flume on TheCurrent:

La Blogotheque's Bon Iver Search Results. The first and third results are the videos.

DayTrotter Sessions (Complete with free downloads)

MySpace Transmissions Audio (Again, free downloads!)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Reflections on Advent

Last night at Berwyn, the Women's Guild put on a Christmas Musicale; a Lessons and Carols service. Scripture and reflective readings were read. I was told I had 10 minutes for a sermon. That's normally a warm up for me-- or at least, I'd like it to be. This one came in at 11:45.

And the volume goes up to 11 also.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Photo Friday

Haven't gotten out too much lately, but here's some more from early November.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Stewart & Colbert on Blagojevich

[The language may be offensive to some.]

Stewart puts it in layman's terms.

Colbert, well, Colbert is just bleeping gold.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


But these choices do not make matters whole-- the gospel does. Otherwise put, freedom is not an interior human capacity which needs but a homilectical push from time to time in order to function. Freedom is a consequence of the grace of God. Human freedom is therefore not a reservoir of capacity the preacher seeks to shape into a "decision for Christ" by means of a sermon. Human freedom is the capacity for choice that is generated by the gospel of Jesus Christ as proclaimed.
Eugene L. Lowry, The Homiletical Plot, p. 83.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Photo Friday

He wants to marry her.

She thinks he's funny.

He has a girl's name.

She does too.

June 20th, 2009, she'll have his name.

He'll still have his name.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Buechner on Advent

The house lights go off and the footlights come on. Even the chattiest stop chattering as they wait in darkness for the curtain to rise. In the orchestra pit, the violin bows are poised. The conductor has raised his baton. In the silence of a midwinter dusk, there is far off in the deeps of it somewhere a sound so faint that for all you can tell it may be only the sound of the silence itself. You hold your breath to listen. You walk up the steps to the front door. The empty windows at either side of it tell you nothing, or almost nothing. For a second you catch a whiff of some fragrance that reminds you of a place you've never been and a time you have no words for. You are aware of the beating of your heart…The extraordinary thing that is about to happen is matched only by the extraordinary moment just before it happens. Advent is the name of that moment.
-Frederick Buechner

Friday, November 28, 2008

Photo Friday

A couple weeks ago, Chris and I went on a walk. It was a nice day, so Chris drove down to my place and we walked up to Smoke Daddy's for lunch, then down Milwaukee to Michigan Ave. A brief visit at the Apple Store, then down to Grand and back to my place. These guys were doing some road work on Grand Ave, right near the Red Line stop. They were moving big metal plates to cover the big holes in the road. Every time they dropped the plates, a loud boom rang between the buildings, and dust billowed up everywhere. It made for some great shots.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Table of Thanks

I preached last night at Berwyn for their Thanksgiving [eve] service. Have a listen.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Best. Friend. Ever.

"Is that what you guys do?"
"Leave funny voicemails for each other."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tips for Thanksgiving

I'm preparing a sermon for Thanksgiving and have been plundering the depths of the internet's knowledge on Thanksgiving, which is really just "googling" Thankgiving. The most ironic thing about Thanksgiving has to be's post on how not to overeat on this last Thursday in November.

  • Drink Water
  • Eat the Fresh Salad
  • Have a small meal before the Turkey
  • Eat the Turkey
  • Savor the Fresh Cranberries
  • Don't forget to excercise
Somehow this all seems to go directly in the face of what Thanksgiving is really all about.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Photo Friday

About a month and a half now Chris and I went up to Wisconsin on a Monday because we can and we heard they had apples. Apples they did have and then we had and then we ate the apples and now we have no more. But I still have about 250 photos that I haven't gone through from that day that I need to. I figured two would be a good start.

Yes, I realize there are no apples in these photos.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Facebook Ads

I'm trying to figure out how Facebook is marketing to me.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Reversal

One does not begin with the idea that we have in the New Testament verbal statements that are obscure into what we must introduce the light of understanding; rather, one listens to the Word hopeful that it will shed light on our own situation which is obscure. The Word of God is not interpreted; it interprets.
Fred B Craddock, As One Without Authority, quoted in Eugene Lowry's The Homiletical Plot, p. 71.

Listening to...

I'm really enjoying me some Greg Laswell right now. A [swallow] friend pointed me to him. I'm a big fan of David Grey and he has a similar sound to him. He was recently featured on Grey's Anatomy with his song What a Day.

I'm really digging Comes and Goes:

And How the Day Sounds:

And my [swallow] friend really likes his version of Girls Just Wanna Have Fun:

I'm looking forward to seeing him at Schuba's tonight with my [swallow] friend.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Obama + Economics = ?

There has been a lot of talk about Obama and a new economic plan that would come with his presidency. Now that he has been elected, you can be sure there will be. So, as my most political blog entry to date, I thought of these today in the car and decided I'd coin them now. So when you hear them in a few months, just remember, you heard them here first.

Obama + Economics = Obamanomics


Barack + Economics = Baraconomics

Either are useful. But which is your favorite?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Laura's Engagement Photos

My sister got engaged about a month ago and engagement pics were taken and put up.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Friday Photo

A couple of photos I took around Bethel. The first is an old speaker in the nursury that would broadcast the sermons downstairs. Neither of which are being used now. The second is of old hymn booklets that are from the 1950s. They have quite a few of them. They're not used either.

Bethel's been an interesting place to photograph. One that's been stilled in time for some years now. It's getting to the end of its time though. This Sunday we're holding a Celebration Service for Bethel Reformed Church to commemorate the 100+ years it has been around. Then we're dissolving the entity of Bethel to be reborn a month-ish later to be CrossRoads Community Church. Hopefully God will bless the work that is being done and transform the community here.

Friday, October 31, 2008

The Drama

Our competence as readers–as witnesses who attest to "what we have seen and heard"; as jury members seeking to do justice to the evidence–is what is on trial every time we interpret the Bible. For we attest what we believe–about texts, about God, about ourselves–in each and every one of our interpretations. The trial of interpretation ultimately concerns not the text but the interpreter: Will the readers respond to the word of the Lord appropriately or not?

Doctrine helps the people of God to participate fittingly in the drama of redemption, and so to be true and faithful witnesses to God's incarnate wisdom. . . Viewed against this backdrop, the church is less the cradle of Christian theology than its crucible: the place where the community's understanding of faith is lived, tested, and reformed.

Vanhoozer, The Drama of Doctrine, 21, 25.

Photo Friday: October 31

October 31st is more than just Halloween in my family. When we lived in Edmond, OK, my dad would decorate our house throughout the whole month of October leading up to Halloween. He had servos and strobe lights and miles of fishing line. All this added up to moving decorations in the windows: witches floating up and down and skeletons dancing. But the real excitement was taking place on the inside.

The foyer was transformed into a seating area for ghouls, gorillas, and giants, but the famed "Bonesy" was the one who lead the show. The kids would line up down the front walk and on to the sidewalk to wait to get in on the action-- and by action, I mean "get the piss scared out of them." Upon entering the house, there would be a monster and a gorilla seated in front of you. A 7 foot tall monster was standing off to the left. Dead in the center was the candy pot and not so dead behind it was Bonesy, a talking skull. Bach's Toccatta and Fugue in D minor would be playing in the background. Once the door was closed behind the kids, Bonesy would begin the show. Introducing them to each of the monsters around them. The older kids would play it cool, sitting on the various monsters and exclaiming inexhaustibly how they weren't scared. Eventually a rhyme came that they had to solve. Their attention would be directed to the stair landing where a strobe would reveal a gruesome scene and capture their attention long enough for the youth pastor in the gorilla suit to stand up to his own 6' 8" with his hands raised above him and styrofoam peanuts to blow out of the 7' monsters mouth. Blood-curdling screams would emit from the "coolest" of kids. Many moms that came through tinkled themselves.

I remember wanting to go in the front door after a night of trick or treating and my dad was still dressed up. He came out to greet me, using his own voice, rather than the digitally processed one. I had nothing to do with him and countered his approach with my own retreat. I wasn't cool. I was scared. And I didn't care who this man said he was, I'd been witness to what happened throughout the night. I wasn't going to fall for it.

But my dad didn't put on the production just for the pure joy of scaring hundreds of kids and adults throughout the night. It was also his birthday. And still is. So Happy Birthday Dad. Here's to many more years of scaring bowel movements out of both the young and the old.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday Photo

Early this week my friend Chris and I met up at IKEA, so I could take back my flat-packed furniture I decided would just not hold all my clothes. Sad, I know. But after unloading the still boxed fake wood furniture, we hopped in Chris' car and headed north, leaving the city. It is a difficult task to leave Chicago. It takes effort and planning. Neither of which we really did. But with little more than some directions scrawled on a scrap of paper, we headed north in search of fall color and apples. We did find both, at a small little orchard, nearly sold out of many of the varieties already, near Sugar Creek, Wisconsin. We also found this little country church. It seems to have more property than the church that I'm currently at, and way more than the church I was previously a part of and the one that Chris still attends. It's great to see country churches still expanding and reaching the community around them. It would be great to see that where I am.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sermon as Narrative

Everybody loves a good story. What if every Sunday pastors stood up and told the most captivating story ever told.

[T]here is almost always a sudden change whenever the speaker launches into a narrative. The audience becomes suddenly quiet, forgetting even to cough, sniff, or squirm, as the tale is spun. When they understand that it is over (and that now the speaker will draw his moral, make important announcements, etc.), the change back to coughing, sniffing, and squirming is equally as sudden.

Actually, it hardly matters what kind of story, how good, how funny it is, how moving it is, or how well it is told. Ther is something almost automatically captivating about a story that catches our minds and makes us forget to breathe until it is over."

[The] sharp delineation between story and "regular" preaching is unnecessary. . . A sermonic idea is a homiletical bind; a sermon is a narrative plot!
G. William Jones, The Innovator, quoted in Eugene Lowry's The Homiletical Plot, p. 13, 14. (The last paragraph is Lowry's reaction.)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The New Evangelism

While I'm reading about how to be the missional church and effectively reach the community around the church, some are taking another approach to reaching their neighborhoods.

"Remember, if a person's coming to Jesus on crutches, they're still coming to Jesus."

Saturday, October 18, 2008


If you're reading this in an RSS feeder, you may have to click through to hear the audio.

I thought I'd share with you some recent voicemails.

I called my grandpa the other day and he was calling me back. I like how he identifies which grandpa he is, so I don't have to guess.

This is an old one from my birthday, but I kept it because I loved it so much. I love my sister and am very thankful for her in my life.

Michael, or Jimmy. He actually guessed right.; it was the second one. I was at the Fleet Foxes concert and the opener was amazing in so many ways. He may have been on the Oh, Brother, Where Art Thou? Soundtrack. I always leave Michael entertaining messages, and he never disappoints me either.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Photo Friday

Yeah, I know, I'm early. Trying to make up for all the weeks I didn't post, or posted way late. It is called Photo Friday .

I work at this church. It has two signs outside. One very obvious and pointing toward the neigborhood. The other is more subtle. It's smaller and is on the side of the building. But it's still there and may speak louder than the other.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Reflections of a Young Pastor #1

I've been in my position at Bethel Reformed Church for about a month and a half now and it's been an interesting one. Full of challenges both personally and professionally-- which for me are kind of blurred together. I have yet to figure out what my overall role is and at times feel like a triangle peg in an obtuse hole. Church revitalization is a mad, mad beast that has no reigns. At times it can get very disheartening. Those who have talked to me in the last couple of weeks have certainly heard of my struggles. But where, I ask, where is the hope in all of this?

1 Timothy 4:10 has an answer:

For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.
If I look to any place other than God for my satisfaction in the task at hand, then I misplace my focus and make that my God. Whether I'm looking to how well I preach or how many people are coming to the church, then I have misplaced priorities and I make something other than God god. Scripture calls that idolatry and we do it all the time, regardless of our intentions.

But if I'm placing my hope on the living God that He will move in his time and in His ways, then all that I do is a reflection of this hope, a patient expectation of what God is doing. If I try to move things in my timing, if I continue to be frustrated at my sermons, if I continue to agonize over the things that I cannot control, I will never recognize where God is moving and how He is shaping me to be the pastor that He has called me to be-- not my ideal of what I am to be.

Even at 27 years of age, it becomes frustrating to think of how much longer it will take to come into "my own." But in reality, I should never come into "my own," but always be pushing on toward Jesus and drawing nearer to him.

That I may never think I have arrived, but always seek to draw closer to my Savior.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Internet

I've been working at a church for the past 6 weeks or so and as amazing as it may seem, we just got the internet.

Well, to be fair and honest, we didn't just get the internet. We had dial-up. Yes, I said "dial-up." You remember the days, when you sat down at the big beige machine and waited 10 minutes to get to some semblance of what we call the internet now. Remember waiting through "bee bee bee bee, brr brr brr, BSHSHSHSHSHSH." During which you go grab a drink of water, do some laundry, maybe run to the store, grab some groceries, come home, fold the laundry, put together your IKEA furniture, get an eye exam, maybe a root canal. Anything to occupy your time, while your computer seeks to "log on."

Maybe the irony in all of this, is not that I didn't have the internet when in the office, but that my computer, my 4 month old MacBook Pro, with all its bells and whistles, in all its Apple Glory, can't get on the internet. It's not that it won't get on the internet. It's that it can't. I mean can't in the purest sense of "lacking the ability to." I mean can't in the same way that you used to correct your friend when they asked, "Can I use the bathroom?" "I don't know, Can you?"

Oh it can go wireless. I can tap into any WiFi enabled Starbucks at 100 yards. I can surf the internet at breakneck speeds with a LAN cable. But when it comes to dial-up, that technology is so old that my computer is not that "backwards compatible." In other words, I have no modem. "Dial up," in the words of a wise, wise man, "is worst than no internet at all."

But I have the internet now. High-speed. Wireless. Flashing green lights. Always on. And am free to waste more on it than ever before.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Friday Photo

Yeah, yeah, I'm late.

I keep wishing that I had my camera with me almost everyday when I left for work or just to hang out. So when I stepped out to go to dinner on Thursday night, I decided I'd take it with me. I found this bike just waiting to be photographed. Beware of the Rat Patrol.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Everyone Hates On the Cubs

I still love them. Disappointed. Let down. Doubtful. But still amazed.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Drama

I got a new book in the mail yesterday. Saturday I was talking to my old roommate-- old referring both to rooming with him in the past and his decrepit and crotchety nature-- and he told me about the "big orange pumkin" that is The Drama of Doctrine by Kevin Vanhoozer.

I read the Preface last night and I'm really looking forward to getting through it, especially since I haven't read an entire book that wasn't on a syllabus in quite a few years. And even then...

What's this book about? In Vanhoozer's words:

The Drama of Doctrine argues that there is no more urgent task in the church than to demonstrate faith's understanding by living truthfully with others before God. It further argues that doctrine is an indispensable aid to understanding and and to truthful living. Doctrine is a vital ingredient in the well-being of the church, a vital aid to the public witness. The problem is not with the doctrine per se but with a picture of doctrine, or perhaps several pictures, that have held us captive.
(Vanhoozer, xii)

Monday, October 6, 2008

DGM Conference Messages

I didn't get to go to the Desiring God National Conference this year, but thankfully God has blessed us with the internet and digital recording capabilities, so that, even though not being there, the messages can be passed on forever. Or until the server crashes.

I've listened to two of the speakers so far: Mark Driscoll and Dan Taylor. Dan's message, on Story, is extremely important for the those of us who are seeking to relate the Gospel in a way that impacts beyond head knowledge.

Go check them out.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Photo Friday

Friday Photo is BACK!

I was able to get through some old photos this past week. The above photo is one that I took the first day I was at Bethel. The second is when I was in Bent Harbor, MI, getting assessed. The photos may have turned out better than the assessment.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Photo Friday

Pastor's Study, originally uploaded by notashamed.

Yeah, I took a little hiatus through August and have had very little internet access since moving off campus into my temporary residence.

I started working though and went around the church and took a bunch of pictures. I'm going to try to incorporate them into my sermon next Sunday. I hope it drives the point home. It should.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Church Website

A church without a website is a surprising thing. When I first got up to Chicago, I did my preliminary checks on churches in my area by getting on their websites. Some were better than others, but just that they had them gave me an idea of their existence.

All that to say, I just got on board with a church located near Midway in Chicago and they, er, we have no website. So my question goes out to all five of you reading this: What would you like to see in a church website? What would be your top five most desired elements? If you've created a church website before, what did you put into it? And finally, what should not be on a church website?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Wii Danger

I want a dog very, very badly. I'd also like a Wii. I think I'll have to make a clear choice between the two.

Empty Hands

Faith is not something we give to God. In that case, faith would be a work, and a silly kind of work because it would be work we do even though it doesn't benefit anyone. But exactly the opposite is true. To have faith in God is to be "without works" before God. Faith is the way we as receivers relate apporpriately to God as the giver It is empty hands held open for God to fill.
Faith tells us that we do not exist simply to live our three score and ten years without pain, with ease and enjoyment, to accumulate possessions, power or knowledge, to receive accolades and enlarge our egos. How empty such a life would be! Faith is an expression of the fact that we exist so that the infinite God can dwell in us and work through us for the well-being of the whole creation. If faith denies anything, it denies that we are tiny, self-absorbed specks of matter who are reaching for the stars but remain hopelessly nailed to the earth stuck in our own self-absorption. Faith is the first part of the bridge from self-centeredness to generosity.
Volf, Free of Charge, 44, 45.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Preacher Man

So it's been about 2 years since I've preached what I would call a real sermon. I came to this realization this past Friday as I was preparing my sermon for yesterday. Such a thrilling and daunting task. I gave it at a church that just after the service was deciding whether or not they were going to stay open or close their doors.

And while I don't know the outcome of their decision, the sermon seemed to go well though. You can make up your mind about that though.

I welcome any and all feedback.


Thursday, August 7, 2008

Ephesians Quote

The picture the text paints is bleak. Because of sins humans are the living dead. They live in keeping with a world that ignores God and in keeping with a tyrant who works to cause disobedience. In their enslavement they follow desires and distorted reasonings that leave God out of the picture and, therefore, they are under God's wrath. But , the main point of Ephesians-- and especially of 2:1-10-- is that God will not stay out of the picture.

Klyne Snodgrass, Ephesians.

This is August?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Cubs Game

Not knowing just how much longer I'm going to be in Chicago it was
hard for me to turn down a spur of the moment Cubs game. We got there
just into the 2nd inning and squatted underneath the score board in
center field. It certainly wasn't the most comfortable game that I've
been to, but the excitement and the feel of having snuck in- which
trust me, for the price we paid there was no sneeking. But the W flag flew.

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

No Sleepwalking

Exegesis introduces another dimension into our relation to this text. The text as story carries us along, we are in on something larger than ourselves, we let the story take us where it will. But exegesis is focused attention, asking questions, sorting through possible meanings. Exegesis is rigorous, disciplined, intellectual work. It rarely feels "spiritual." Men and women who are, as we say, "into" spirituality, frequently give exegesis short shrift, preferring to rely on inspiration and intuition. But the long and broad consensus in the community of God's people has always insisted on a vigorous and meticulous exegesis: Give long and close and learned attention to this text! All our masters in spirituality were and are master exegetes. There's a lot going on here; we don't want to miss any of it; we don't want to sleepwalk through this text.
Eugene Peterson, Eat This Book, p. 50.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Quote of the Day

“I’m not going to lie: I used to smoke crack in there,” said one homeless woman, Veronyka Cordner, nodding toward the toilet behind Pike Place Market. “But I won’t even go inside that thing now. It’s disgusting."

She was talking about the removal of the self cleaning toilet toilets. (eBay via NYT via Gizmodo)

Monday, July 7, 2008

When Love Comes to Town

I was sitting eating my granola and trying to find something to watch on the TV and the only thing I could find was U2's Rattle and Hum from 1988. It was shot all in black and white and documents their Rattle and Hum tour.

During that tour they encountered a lot of music over here in the States. One of the musicians they saw was B. B. King. After seeing him, Bono went back and wrote a song to play with BB. That song is "When Love Comes to Town." Phenomenal lyrics about what happens when Love comes to town.

I was a sailor, I was lost at sea
I was under the waves
Before love rescued me
I was a fighter, I could turn on a thread
Now I stand accused of the things I've said

Love comes to town I'm gonna jump on that train
When love comes to town I'm gonna catch that flame
Maybe I was wrong to ever let you down
But I did what I did before love came to town

I used to make love under a red sunset
I was making promises I would soon forget
She was pale as the lace of her wedding gown
But I left her standing before love came to town

I ran into a juke joint when I heard a guitar scream
The notes were turning blue, I was dazing in a dream
As the music played I saw my life turn around
That was the day before love came to town

When love comes to town I'm gonna jump on that train
When love comes to town I'm gonna catch that flame
Maybe I was wrong to ever let you down
But I did what I did before love came to town

When love comes to town I'm gonna jump on that train
When love comes to town I'm gonna catch that flame
Maybe I was wrong to ever let you down
But I did what I did before love came to town

I was there when they crucified my Lord
I held the scabbard when the soldier drew his sword
I threw the dice when they pierced his side
But I've seen love conquer the great divide

When love comes to town I'm gonna catch that train
When love comes to town I'm gonna catch that flame
Maybe I was wrong to ever let you down
But I did what I did before love came to town

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Heima means Home

I've been enjoying my Saturday with georgeous views of Iceland, augmented with the music of Sigur Ròs. They're music movie Heima is On-Demand with Comcast via Sundance. Combined with stunning HD views of Iceland, the music seriously comes alive. Below is the trailer (HD trailer.)

Happy 4th

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Can you taste it?

I can.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Post Sem

Question: Mark, What are you doing with your life post-seminary?

Answer: Nothing. Well, nothing right yet.

I thought today since I have been repeating myself many times lately on what is happening in my life, I would let you know.

Probably the last thing anyone heard about me was Kansas City. I was talking to Kevin Cawley and Kris McGee about joining his church plant Redeemer Fellowship as an intern. After much prayer, we decided that it would be best for us not to pursue working together. (To be clear, there are no hard feelings or anything of that matter. If you're in KC, I would highly recommend joining them.)

In March or April, my pastor at Grace Chicago, Bob Reid, and I started talking. He introduced me to a few people in the Reformed Church in America (RCA). In May, I met a couple men that are in charge of church revitalization in the Chicago classis. We started talking about two churches in the Chicago area that need revitalization. These conversations were extremely excited. We planned to have everything tied up by the end of June.

But the situation has proven more difficult than expected. The classis had to meet last week to be able to vote on taking over the church, which sounds extreme, until you find out the worship attendance has shrunk from 80 in May to 32 at last count. However, they were one person shy of a corum and nothing has happened.

Now the next meeting has been scheduled for the 21st of July, which right now is three weeks out. This has changed a bunch of my summer plans. I'm not going to Costa Rica like I had planned or hoped. I may be able to go back to Tulsa though for the third time in three months.

Everyone's frustrated by this, not just me. And we're not completely sure what God is doing in this time, or with the church, but we are trusting that we are doing his will. So be praying that God would move his hand, before I have to move!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Ephesians & Revelation

Words play an interesting place in our language as we use them to communicate and miscommunicate with those around us. Klyne always said that words are verbal symbols that have meaning made out of their relation to one another. One way of exegeting passages of Scripture is by counting how often specific words are used. Wordle does that for us now and presents it in an eye-pleasing way. The first picture above is Ephesians and the second is Revelation.

Go check out Wordle if you haven't already.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Friday Photo

red barn, originally uploaded by notashamed.

While at home in Tulsa this past weekend, my sister and I took a day trip down to Pops in Arcadia, OK. They have several hundred varieties of pop in glass bottles. Further, they have Dublin Dr Pepper. The famed DP that still uses real sugar and not High Fructose Corn Syrup. It's dang good.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Photo Friday

I haven't posted in a while, so it seems apt that I restart with Photo Friday. I took this boy's photo last Friday for some friends of mine. This is my favorite.

Friday, May 16, 2008

I'm Done

I graduate tomorrow and today was spent finishing up the loose ends. Here are the first words of the last paper I wrote during my seminary career:

There have been many “F” words in the English language.Without going through specific examples, the thrusting of air between the lower curled lip in contact with the back of one’s upper teeth usually precedes the influx of air into the listener’s lungs. Perhaps no such word has caused as much damage in Christian circles as the following “f” word: Fundamentalist.
Now go read Marsden's Fundamentalism and American Culture.

Photo Friday

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, originally uploaded by notashamed.

Wilco has a great album out called Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and they have Marina City--or whatever this is called--on the cover. But of course, they have a lot of great albums out.

I took this during my long walk around downtown last Friday. I was taking photos of the homeless for a class project. One of my last class projects, actually. You see, I graduate tomorrow. Yes, that's right, me. It's something I've been waiting for since I was 4.

Oh crap, I just remembered, now I'll have to get a job.

My Photography || Flickr Friday Photo

Friday, May 2, 2008


It's the girl that you notice when you're in the airport, and just hope she's on the same flight as you. And then when she is, you just hope she sits next to you. And then when she does, you're not sure what to say! You borrow her National Geographic and she borrows your pen. And then finally when you find your [courage] to talk to her, the flights over, but you talk the whole taxi-ing to the terminal. She offers you gum. Gum. Then when she gets off the flight way ahead of you, she WAITS for you!!!

Did I get her number? Nope.

A last name? Nope.

Email? Nope.

Curly brown hair; brown eyes; half Columbian; sick tat; smiles alot; digs photography. Rather attractive. Rather. I said, "Rather."

Do I go to Rogers, AR to find her?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday Photo

I got some new photographic toys this week. I ordered an umbrella to shoot my flash through so it gives me some beautiful light and a stand to put it on. It's made me very excited. The first photo tryptic is of Josiah Corner, a friend's baby. The second is me. I've been listening to a lot of music lately and this is very apt.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Last Week's Highlights

A run down of the things I enjoyed last week:

  • A DTR that lasted a whole four minutes.
  • A chaplaincy consult that resembled Clevinger's Trial-- an excerpt from Catch-22.
  • Saturday's Lunch: Bacon Sausage and Duck Fat-Fries at Hot Doug's. Lest you be mistaken, dear reader, the word bacon modifies sausage. Oh, bring on the goodness.
  • Actually finding a research topic that NPU's Library had resources for.
  • New Running Shoes
And the lowlights?
  • The DTR that lasted only four minutes.
  • Not seeing my parents coming back from their cruise.
  • No one showing up to chapel Sunday morning at the hospital.
  • Missing Church, Sunday Brunch and small group.
  • Missing the Bon Iver Concert.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Photo Friday

It's been a bit of time. Some new photos for your enjoyment. The top is a panorama of Chicago from the 23rd floor at the south end of Michigan Ave overlooking Grant and Millennium Parks. It's where our community group meets on Sunday evenings. The second is at the Chicago Invite Ultimate Frisbee tournament. My roommate Luke organized it and those are his feet.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Let's be honest, I can't think of anything original to call this. "Cheesus" was already taken...

[HT: Chris Rosebrough]

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Old Spice: Most Powerful Deodorant outside of Mexico

Here's all the commercials.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Photo Friday

A couple photo's today. A little late I know, but I was on call at the hospital last night and then all day today. The first photo was featured on the front page of Chicago Public Radio Thursday.
Also today (14th) is my sister's birthday. She's 22, but you wouldn't know that because she's getting a bike for her birthday. I think. That's what I was told at least.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Keller in Chicago

I was finally able to convince someone to with me to hear Tim Keller at the University of Chicago Friday night. My roommate's non-girlfriend, Kelly, headed down with me and we made it right on time, but were put in the overflow room. They had a nice video projector up and it seemed like the sound was going to be great, but when Tim got up to talk, the problems started. It was very annoying and distracting throughout, but I know the sound guys were freaking out about it more than anyone else in the room. Parts of the audio were lost, or truncated, at times, but, Lord willing, the message overcame. Oh, and they were using Macs, unlike another popular pastor.

In typical Keller fashion, he was able to come across winsomely and intelligently. He clearly explained that everyone is believing in something. Whether it's Christianity or Atheism, both are based on empirical arguments that have exclusivity claims. When he went to frame the Gospel, he did so in a very unique way. Instead of coming out and saying "here's the Gospel" or now listen to this, he first joked that "Now, I'm going to solve all our problems. And you can say you were here when it happened." Then he told us Christians to listen up, because he was talking to us, but he wanted the skeptics to overhear.

The Q&A was very well done, having both written comments and personal questions being asked. Further he answered very well, first deconstructing their argument and then answering them in a non-offensive way. One example: some one asked about the Christian sexual ethic. First Christianity has a way of offending someone from every culture. Jesus says to forgive 70 times 7, and we say "Yes, of course. Forgiveness is good." But then we question when sex is brought up. "Sex only between a man and a woman in marriage? That's crazy." But if you go to India, they say, "Yes, sex is only between a man and a woman in marriage, but forgiveness is a horrible idea. Vengeance is the way." But as Christians we are called to love our neighbor. So, in Tim's words, my neighbor who is Indian, I love. I care for him in whatever way I can. But he's not an elder in my church. Every community, he continues, has its standards for who's in and who's out. That's what defines a community. Christians are just the same.

I don't know how many people who read "me" know who Keller is, but he's the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, NYC. He just put out a book called The Reason for God, which I did end up buying Friday night. If you haven't heard of him and don't want to drop the $14.95 at Amazon, he has some great audio out there. On the website for the book, there are some downloads, but the three that I would suggest one listen to are from a Resurgence conference (sessions 6, 7, 8) he did a couple years ago. Further, Steve McCoy has a bunch of Keller audio on his site. And I just found, Veritas has his talk that he did at Columbia University.

Below are my notes from the evening, which may or may not make sense. Please enjoy responsibly.

Tim Keller- Veritas Forum
7 March 2008 UChicago

  • Doubting
    • Jude "Be merciful to those who doubt."
    • Matt. 18 "Please help my unbelief."
  • Why are people so skeptical?
    • The exclusivity claims of Christianity
      • divisive, narrow.
      • Yes, they are one of the main reasons.
  • Five ordinary ways people deal with the exclusivity claims
    1. Hope it away
      1. The Still Born God, Mark Lilla
        1. The liberal mainline god
      2. science
    2. Outlaw it away
      1. China-- just makes it more indigenous
    3. Argue it away
      1. deconstructs evolutionary thought
    4. Condemn it away
      1. It's exclusive
    5. (I don't have this one)
  • Jesus: John 14
  • All religions are equally right?
    • Utterly impossible
    • Jesus says "I am God come to find you"
    • All other religious founders say "I am here to show you God."
    • Elephant analogy
    • It's not narrow to make an exclusive truth claim, everyone is trying to make an exclusivity claim.
    • Narrowness is your attitude toward people, not toward other beliefs.
    • Cultural claims are exclusive.
  • Tim's Suggestions
    • we need to realize our secular world-view as privileged
    • Christians need to recognize that we have been part of the problem, only then can we begin to be a part of the solution.
  • Moral performance narrative
    • Hard not to look down your nose.
  • Grace narrative
    • Christ went to the cross and died
    • A salvation that is accomplished in weakness can only be accepted in weakness.
  • "Have you ever seen an Amish fundamentalist?"
  • Depends on your fundamentals
    • A man dying for his enemies
  • Christianity absolutely atrophies when it gets into bed with power.
  • Cultural Biases
    • Sexual vs. Forgiveness ethics
  • Figure out which 2/3s of your beliefs g-kid's won't accept.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Friday Photo

Foxy and Toy, originally uploaded by notashamed.

I don't have any new photos-- haven't been able to get out lately. I have been catching up with my readings though, so that's a good thing.

This is an old one of Foxy. I've been dreaming about and seeing Boxers all over the place, sometimes when they're not even there.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

In Memorandum

I received an email this morning-- the first one that I read-- relaying that the first floor guys' bikes were stolen out of the basement. As I had my bike stored down there also and needed to do my laundry, I gathered my dirty clothes and headed down quickly. When I turned the corner and looked, where my bike had previously rested, it was no longer. I set my basket down and tore my clothes putting on sackcloth and ashes. I do admit to shedding a tear for my stolen bike.

Some of you may scoff and think, who cries over a stinking bike? Beyond the monetary loss, it held many memories for me. After my first bike that I had in college was stolen, I worked over the next summer and saved up enough to be able to purchase my Sugar. I logged many hours and miles on that baby. It was my primary escape when I was in college. It went with me to Colorado and carried me to and from work. I flew over the handle bars many times. But she treated me good. Her plush hindquarters allowed me to fly over rocks and roots with ease. I bombed down major sections of trail and she carried me to victory over my friends multiple times.

Since getting to Chicago, I've only ridden her a handful of times, but I always kept her by my side, knowing that some day I would have the opportunity to get her back out on some respectable terrain. And so in memory of my Sugar, I present the following montage. All the photos were taken in Manhattan, Ks my last semester at K-State, when Michael and Steve came to visit and I attempted "the jump." Steve, the cameraman, cut my head off in my second to last attempt, and encouraged my to do it "one more time." In the last photo, you can see the result of the "one more time." Good times, Sugar. Good times.