Showing posts from November, 2011

O God, In Whom We Have Our Life

A couple months ago, I woke up and thought, "I think I'll write an Advent hymn today." So I did. Here are the words, to the tune of "O God Our Help in Ages Past:"
O God, in Whom we have our life, in Whom our being dwells,
We thank you for your promised sign of hope: Emmanuel.

In stories passed through centuries, in this our current time,
And in all moments yet to come you guide all humankind.

Awaiting Christ’s approaching birth, we open wide our hearts
To be transformed, that selfish, sinful ways from them depart.

O God, through Whom new life occurs, in Whom our being dwells,
We ever seek your promised sign of love: Emmanuel.We sang it this past Sunday as our opening hymn, and I think it went well. There's something about hearing people sing words that you wrote that is incredibly cool.

The Broken Chain

When most people envision a career for themselves, I think that there's a certain idealism that is common among them. Most who embark into the world, degree fresh in hand, have an idea for how things will play out; how they'll work their way up the ladder, or create a life right out of the American Dream Storybook, or change some portion of the world for the better. These dreams and goals are good motivators; sparkling cinder blocks on which a foundation of the Perfect Life may be built, whatever that may look like.

Once most of us make it out into the Real World--which is really the same world, just with less safety nets--we quickly realize that this dream, if it truly is feasible, is going to be a lot harder to attain than we thought. Before Coffeewife and I were married, we talked about working ourselves through grad school at the same time while living on love and Ramen noodles, the two of us happy little hipsters in the big city, books strewn around our shoebox apartmen…







Happy Thanksgiving

Five Iron Frenzy Reunites

My favorite ska band and my favorite "Christian" band is reuniting to record a new album. Their goal is to release it in 2013, but they're doing it all on their own. Here's their official announcement:
We can’t believe it has actually been 8 years ago today that we rocked out with you at the Fillmore in Denver, on a snowy evening as we celebrated our last show. Now, all these years (and marriages and kids) later we feel the desire to write new material and make a record!

So, down to business:
We need your support now more than ever. The inspiration and energy to create an amazing record is there but this time we will be working without the support of a label. This gives us incredible artistic freedom, but it also means we need to raise our own financing.

Our hope is to release an album in 2013, ten years after our initial final show. We are shooting for the financial goal of $30,000. Your pledges will be used to pay for demoing new material, recording, mixing, masterin…

Pop Culture Roundup

I read The Magician King by Lev Grossman, the sequel to his excellent and engrossing The Magicians, which I read last year. We pick up pretty much right where we left off, with Quentin and his three friends kings and queens of the magical Narnia-ish world of Fillory. Quentin is getting bored: he has incredible powers in both the magical and royal sense, and life is very easy for him. Longing for a challenge, he eventually sets off in search of the Seven Keys, the incredible importance of which he slowly discovers even if initially he'd just wanted a quest. We also learn about Julia's background, which was probably the more fascinating part of the book for me. The characters face the same questions as in the first book concerning identity and purpose, and there's even a certain desperation on Quentin's part in answering them. I don't know that I'd call this book as good as the last, but it's still up there. The ending is unsatisfying, but it's obv…

The Death of a Ministry

Most churches do their best to offer a variety of ministries. Some are fellowship-based, some more educational, some more service-oriented, and on and on and on. And if organized the right way, there can be a lot of energy and excitement in the early stages: people are getting on board with the new venture, look forward to something different, and at times can't believe the church has either never done something like it before or that it's finally happening.

The bigger trick to any ministry is in the sustaining of it. How do you keep up a certain level of excitement and involvement after those initial good feelings have worn off? How do you keep something from becoming an institution; a bureaucratic lifeless activity, or something pathetically clung to by a small handful of people who rationalize that, well, people will show up in droves if you just publicize it more? All manner of tactics may be used when it reaches that point: browbeating, guilt trips, extra shiny fliers…

Vintage CC: Darren

From February 2008. It's been nine years since the events of this post took place. Its seemed like as good a time as any to re-post it.

While I was in college, I joined a fraternity. A lot of people who have never been in a fraternity or sorority wonder what possibly could have possessed me to do such a thing. In fact, I surprised myself the day I seriously began considering it. My experience of this consideration happened because two members lived across the hall from me my freshman year, I’d come to know a few others through my involvement with the Athletic Band and a few others through campus ministries. Essentially, I started relationships with a lot of the guys before I pledged, and as a result going through the process became a real possibility after a while. I got to know them first, and wound up pledging because of that.

That isn’t the full explanation, but it chiefly boils down to relationships that I had beforehand. That still isn’t enough for some, but I can't rea…

When to Wear a Headset

I tend to see similarities between pastoral ministry and being a college football coach. It may be because I'm obsessed with Michigan football, or it may be because there really is a lot to learn as a pastor from that other profession, or because I'm obsessed with Michigan football.

When Brady Hoke was hired as MIchigan's new football coach, there was no small amount of skepticism among certain parts of the fanbase. Some were simply glad that the team had someone new at the helm, others expressed doubts about the timeline of the hire, and others wondered about Hoke's less-than-stellar resume. As the year wore on, I think Hoke has won more and more people over, and now that his first season is going very well so far (except that one time, and that other time), a non-believer is perhaps becoming harder to find.

When Michigan lined up to play Western Michigan the first game of the season, I and others picked up on something fairly quickly about Coach Hoke. We already kn…

Pop Culture Roundup

This past week I read--by which I mean couldn't put down and gobbled up 50-100 pages at a time--Three and Out by John U. Bacon. As I've mentioned several times already, Bacon was given unfettered access to the University of Michigan football program the entire time that Rich Rodriguez was head coach. As a result, Bacon has a unique insider's perspective on the fumbled hiring process that brought RichRod to Ann Arbor, the fallout with West Virginia, the crummy games and seasons, the Detroit Free Press's hackjob and subsequent NCAA investigation, the infamous final Football Bust featuring Josh Groban, and the end shortly after. The main thrust, of course, is what Rodriguez goes through and how he reacts to every new dramatic turn, as well as how his staff and players handle it. There are strong indications that some within the ranks actively work against him or at least resist his approach, and certain figures don't look good at all: former Athletic Director Bill…

God's Healing Call

Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of my dad's ordination. My "home" church celebrated with him this past Sunday morning, which included inviting me to preach. This is what I shared that day.

Luke 5:27:32

Jesus is collecting disciples.

He's already called a few. Earlier in this same chapter, he called a couple fishermen. Besides that, he's been traveling through the region and making a name for himself by healing, teaching, getting into arguments with religious authority. He's been proclaiming his message of the kingdom of God. And all of this together has intrigued people enough to want to follow him. Besides specifically calling some, many others have been struck by what he's been doing, and so they've been tagging along as well.

As they're traveling, they come to a booth where Levi the tax collector is sitting. He's collecting tolls on goods people are moving from one place to another, as well as taxing people who are traveling. Otherw…

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