Random Coolness – 08/31/13

Random Coolness Rando Sal Bando

The Inside of an AT-AT – Star Wars nerds unite!  The Lighter Side of the Force website brings you the delicious innards of everyone’s favorite All-Terrain Armored Transport.

Under Pressure (vox only) – Check out this amazing vocal track for the 1981 hit, “Under Pressure”, by David Bowie and Freddie Mercury via Consequence of Sound.  My dad’s favorite band is Queen, so growing up we always had Freddie Mercury’s explosive vocals and Brian May’s sneering guitar playing on Saturday evenings, but I never have heard Bowie sound so good.  These two guys had/have some serious pipes.

26 Current Series Worth Binge Watching – C’mon admit it, we’ve all done the binge watch.  Tina and I are guilty.  LOST, The Office, and Friends are some of our favorite shows and started with the binge watch.  Walking Dead, by far my favorite show on TV right now, started with a good Season 1 binge watch.  Click through as the AV Club highlights 26 series worth burning your corneas over.

Steve Gunn – Tiny Desk Concert – NPR’s Tiny Desk series never disappoints.  Check out Steve Gunn perform in the most recent concert.  Check out Gunn’s new album, as well, entitled, “Time Off.”  It’s a slice of jamming Americana, so it’s perfect for those looking for a little bit of country/folk goodness.  Check out the song Lurker, if you are going to jump right in.

Ronin 47 – Empire Online has the newest international trailer for the highly anticipated Keanu Reeve’s movie, Ronin 47.  If you liked movies like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, House of Flying Daggers, Ip Man, or or my personal favorite, Hero with Jet Li; then this movie is for you.  Taking place in Japan and based off of a true group of 18th century samurai, the story follows the 47 ronin as they band together with the help of Kai (Keanu Reeves), a half-breed they had previously rejected, to avenge the murder of their master.  Apparently it is coming out Christmas of this year, which will be quite a nice way to celebrate Jesus’ birth, with mystical samurai warriors and Keanu Reeves.


Random Coolness – 08/30/13

Random Coolness Videro James

Stream New Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. track – Paste Magazine has the new Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. track, War Zone, streaming on their website.  Really good track with some fantastic keys and catchy vox from the Detroit duo.  Their new album drops in October and if it sounds more like this, I’m listening and purchasing.

New TV Series based on the movie ‘Outbreak’ – Every hypochondriacs paranoia is about to reach fever pitch as NBC has ordered a pilot for a series based on the movie Outbreak (starring Dustin Hoffman).  Seriously, how can this possibly be a good show?  The movie wasn’t that good, nor can I imagine an extended, studio produced version be any good.

Fracking Causing Earthquakes in Texas – Although the earthquakes have been small, there has been an observable up-tick in quakes since the mass amount of fracking being done in the Eagle Ford Shale formation in Texas.  The Atlantic reports that the biggest one so far has been a 4.8 magnitude quake that was felt 47 miles away in San Antonio.  Despite your views on fracking and the new US oil boom, this does put a continued dent in the case for extracting oil from shale formations in the United States.  Is it worth it?

Teaser for New James Franco directed Cormac McCarthy movie – If you are in to McCarthy’s books, and you enjoy intense staring and banjo twanging, then this 45-second teaser is just what you need today.

Truthfully, I haven’t read any Cormac McCarthy, despite many people glowing about his books.  No Country for Old Men, the movie starring George Clooney, was a fantastic movie made from one of McCarthy’s books, so it is only natural to let the parade continue.  Franco has put out some great movies this year, and this one looks to be a very exciting and compelling cinema experience.  The film just premiered in Venice, so we’ll see if it makes the jumps to theaters here in the US and where.

‘N Sync Reunion Officially Over – Who didn’t see this coming?  Timberlake’s tour takes precedence over anything ‘N Sync, and it doesn’t look they have anything planned.  It was good while it lasted, right?  Anyone?  Joey ?  Lance?  JC?  Guy with soul patch?  Anyone?

Theology Thursday – 08/29-13

Theology Thursday

“How Faith Affects Our Work” – Keller recently put out the small book, “Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work.”  In this Gospel Centered Discipleship article, Keller summarizes how Christian faith influences our work.  So, if you are strapped for time, read this to get a good flavor and takeaway from his fantastic book!

“The Awesome Church”  I’ve always felt a little uncomfortable with the shameless promotion we give our churches and Sunday gatherings.  It’s okay to not always be awesome, and this article addresses that a little caution is needed before you say that this Sunday is “HUGE” and mega-important.

“Why Mars Hill uses the ESV Bible”  I use the ESV.  I actually like the HCSB more from a reading side, but prefer the ESV for studying.  Mark Driscoll has a very good and informative (albeit long) article on why their churches use the ESV.

“From Strangers to Missionaries: A Neighborhood Strategy for Mission”  Really cool guest post from Tim Brister on some of the stuff he has been noodling over since he started engaging his neighborhood and city with the gospel more strategically and intentionally.  What percentage of your relationships are engaging people with the truth’s of the gospel?

“Atheists Take Old Hymns Out Of The Chapel And Into The Streets : NPR”  Interesting read about a hymnal choir that doesn’t really believe what they sing.  Judge not, lest ye be judged.  How many times have you sung a song by Jay-Z, Kayne West, Neon Trees, or REM and not believed every word you are singing?  It just goes to show, the old hymn writers weren’t just writing powerful, truthful songs about Christ, they were writing just plain good songs.

Is It Wrong to Be Rich? – This one quote really stuck with me:

“For everyone who has ever looked upon a wealthy person in disdain, I would urge they ask themselves how differently they would behave if their bank account suddenly acquired a few extra zeros.  The answer to this question frightens me, as I’m sure it would frighten most. Can anyone say for sure that their generous desires would remain, that their giving spirit would not be hindered by a sudden influx of ability to spend lavishly upon themselves?”

Click the link to read the whole article.  Solid points on wealth, money, and judging the rich in an affluent culture.

Don’t Laugh, Your Church Might Be Miley Cyrus – Sobering article from Out of Ur.  How often have you felt as uncomfortable with what the church does on Sunday morning as some of those audience members at the VMAs felt while Miley was twerking on stage?

6 Things Worship Leaders Need To Stop Saying, Now – I am guilty of having said one or two things on here, having led worship in the past.  I must agree with Los Whit, PLEASE stop saying these things RIGHT NOW!

Derek Webb was Sorry, He’s Wrong, and He Loves You – Mike Cosper, cool guy, worship leader for Sojourn in Louisville, and frequent Gospel Coalition blogger, tackles Derek Webb’s new album, “I’m Sorry, I Was Wrong, I Love You”.  I was excited for this album, and even more so after reading Cosper’s review.  I’m very pleased that Webb does not just return to previous form, but builds on his musical direction of making quality produced, interesting music.  You can also head to Relevant’s website to stream the new album this week.

Free Download of Mike Breen and 3DM’s forthcoming book – Mike Breen and the 3DM team are putting out their latest book to complete their series of books on developing a discipling culture.  Really excited for the full book, but you can snag a copy of the first 22 pages of “Leading Missional Communities” which drops in early September.  Good read to whet your appetite.  I picked up my free download, now you go do the same!

Mission Church – Shameless plug for Duncan and Carly Robinson, an awesome couple planting “down under” in Australia.  They are close to launching public prayer gatherings, which is a really exciting development.  Check them out and see how you can be praying and supporting them.

Random Coolness – 08/28/13

Random Coolness (1)

Welcome to Random Coolness.  A slight tweak on my previous Morning Brew segment.  Whenever I collect 5 articles I really like, no matter how random or cool, I will post them in a Random Coolness post.  They are 5-packs of random cool showing up on your browser/phone/tablet/e-reader/TV/retinas for your viewing consumption.  Enjoy!

“The Men – “The Seeds” (Acoustic)”  The Men, who put out the awesome LP, New Moon,earlier this year (which I really dug and made the list of best so far), return with a new all acoustic EP in October called “The Seeds.”  Looking forward to the listen and I highly encourage you to check them out.  Really great music that is a mix of punk, country, and and surf rock.  Perfect for Weezer and White Stripes fans (hey, that’s me!).

“How Ben Affleck Got Cast as Batman” – As some of you have probably heard, Ben Affleck has been cast as Batman in the forthcoming Zack Snyder Superman/Batman movie.  There has been widespread criticism of this move, but I like the choice and want to see the movie before I evaluate.  Affleck is comic a book guy (he is friends with comic book nerd Kevin Smith) and actually shares some commonality with the real life Bruce Wayne.  We must also remember, Michael Keaton was Beetlejuice and Mr. Mom before he was Batman, and I loved Keaton as Batman.  I have a wait and see approach on this movie and casting decision.  

“Salinger Doc Claims More Books to be Published” – New Salinger books forth-coming in starting in 2015?!?!?  I loved this book when I first read it in High School.  Salinger, a famous recluse, wrote these books with instructions to release them after his death and with some many questions surrounding his personality and his image, there is really not much to know about these books except that they are coming out and will hopefully be fantastic.  

“Passion Pit Releasing Rockumentary”  Listen, I like Passion Pit, and I am excited to view this documentary, but I am deeply weirded out by their association with Taco Bell.  I might not watch this, just because the fact that they are deeply tied to a fast food chain selling grade F meat and diet imploding menu options.  But, in the end, my desire to view Passion pit from behind the scenes will probably win out.  However, I am not happy about it…maybe…kinda…maybe I should get a gordita?

“John Lennon’s Tie Sells for More Than $5,600 at Auction”  This one is just for fun.  Lennon (not Lenin) is awesome, and it only makes sense that his killer thin-tie goes for $5.6K.  I would be more impressed if they auctioned off a looking glass tie.

Why I Am A Manchester City FC Fan

I don’t think I could be pegged as a proto-typical “soccer” fan.  My faintest recollection of what a “soccer” fan would be is the SNL short, “Scottish Soccer Hooligans,” with Mike Myers <link to all things Scottish>.  Nor am I English or foreign, which would automatically make me a “soccer” fan.  However, I can do a pretty dead-on Irish accent (thanks to my high school friend Sean having a 100% Irish mother).

Nor did I play “soccer” with any sort of aptitude.  I played in the Brookfield Youth Soccer Program from 3rd grade through 8th grade, but I was never any good.  The highlight of my time playing was the one game against the Rockets in 6th grade (I remember it was the Rockets because they wore bright orange jerseys and my good friend Adam, the wizard of SNES, was on their team) where I scored not one but TWO goals in the same game.  One was a deflection off the goalie (dumb luck) that I just tapped in the goal and the other was a chip shot from outside the penalty box that deposited itself in the top left-hand corner of the goal (pure luck).  I still to this day have no idea how I managed to kick such a pretty goal, but I’m positive it was an errant pass that “accidentally” ended up as a goal.  I’ll take dumb luck and glory over below average skill and kicks to the one part of your shins the shin pads aren’t covering any day.

Sadly, those were the only two goals I scored that year and the last time any ball booted by me ever ended up in the back of the net (except in practice).  I wasn’t too broken up, since I got to play football (which I also was terrible at) until Junior year when I gave it up to pursue playing guitar and ping-pong (I was probably the coolest person ever in High School).

Anyways, my exploits as a semi-skilled athletic loser aside, my love affair with the game of football (which shall never again be called “soccer” by me) began on Mother’s Day in 2012.  My wife and I and our three lovely children joined my Mom, Dad, Grandmas, and sisters at the Mother’s Day Brunch at Mo’s Irish Pub in West Allis, right near the Milwaukee County Zoo.  It was a fine brunch, and like any fine establishment that calls itself a pub, the place was littered with HDTVs, and fortunately we were plopped down right in front of them.

I was idly chatting while I ate and keeping a casual eye on the Manchester City v. Queens Park Rangers game that was on ESPN.  You know what I am talking about guys, that casual eye we males have on the TV when it is on.  Just enough to keep us from actually focusing on the conversation we are supposed to be having and just enough to pay attention to all the important details of what is going on during the sporting event we happen to be watching.  We do this despite out lack of multi-tasking prowess, and we think that no one notices.

As an aside and a wake-up call, everyone CAN tell.  I now do not sight within earshot or eyesight of TVs when Tina and I go out to eat, since my attention can be easily taken away from her to whatever is on the TV (almost always ESPN).  If you are a man, and are in any serious relationship, I highly encourage you to do the same to avoid the “ESPN Lazy Eye” and avoid the “Relationship Evil Eye.”

Anywho, I was watching QPR v. Manchester City, not knowing that it was probably the most important game of the Premier League season and an extremely important game for both teams.  Let me set this one up for you.  Manchester City was playing for the Premier League Title, something they had not accomplished in 44 years.  For a top-level club and one of the founding members of the Premier League this was an unheard of amount of time to be without a league championship.  However, standing in their way was their arch-rivals from the Manchester Derby, Manchester United.  Entering the final day the teams were in a dead heat, however it was Manchester City’s title to win due to their big goal differential lead over Manchester United.

The added twist was that the Queens Park Rangers (QPR) were facing the possibility of regulation (demotion to a lesser league) if they lost to Manchester City.  So, this was not going to be a roll-over win for Man City, QPR was going to give them all they had.  And trust me, QPR  brought it.

It was 0-0 (that’s nil-nil for you non-footballers out there), when Man City fans were subject to nerves as Manchester United took an early lead in their game on a Wayne Rooney goal.  For those of you not in the know, Rooney is like the Albert Pujols of Premier League Soccer.  Twenty minutes later, Man City gets a goal from Pablo Zabletta that puts them ahead and a win looks like a possibility if they can just hold on to the lead.  Blanking opponents was what Man City did best that year with the superb English National Team goalkeeper Joe Hart.

However, two goals by QPR in the second half (despite playing with 10 men on an inexcusable red card by Joey Barton) left Man City in a deep hole with little time left.  I remember, as I bit into my French toast, seeing the second goal and sensing the magnitude of the goal and audibly gasping as I started to realize what I was watching.

As the game progressed, Manchester United seemed certain for victory and as time dwindled into stoppage time (for you non-footballers, that is time added on at the end of the second half for time taken for injuries, corner kicks, penalties, etc.) for Manchester City, all hope seemed lost.  ESPN kept cutting to angry Man City fans, and I can only slightly relate to the frustration of a great season seemingly going down the toilet…wait, I forgot about Brett Favre and the 2007 NFC Championship game…I can totally relate.  Curse you Brett Favre!!! (we’re still friends and Go Pack Go).

At this point, I was pretty much watching.  The conversation had broken off after brunch and my son and I were idly watching when Man City tied it up at 2-2 with a header by Edin Dzeko.  They were tied, but it still wasn’t enough to beat Manchester United who had cruised to a 1-0 decision over Sunderland.

HOWEVER, with barely a minute left in stoppage time, enter the man of the year, Sergio Aguero.  After a throw-in, the ball moves down the pitch and into the penalty box area where a couple deft steps by Aguero open up a window and he slams the ball home past QPR keeper Paddy Kenny and celebrates wildly as bedlam ensues at the Ethiad.  Man City wins 3-2 and clinches their first League Title in 44 years!  Check out the video HERE!

At that point, I was hooked.  Others had caught wind of the game and many people audibly screamed or yelled out when Aguero scored, and I gasped and yelled, “No Way”!  I may have not physically done it, but the sporting fan inside me was bounding around like Mancini and tearing off my shirt like Aguero.  I wasn’t a fan of football, but I could sense the significance and how special of a sports moment that was.  There was nothing quite like it.  It was truly a great moment in sporting history, and I was glad I could see it and have such a vivid memory attached to it.

The pure jubilation of Man City players and fans, plus beating a heated rival for the title, and the sheer impossibility and improbability of the whole moment made it one of the coolest sports moments I have ever witnessed on TV. There are few things that can make a grown man tear up, but I could listen to the call of the game over and over again and it would make me tear up as I feel the pure jubilation and excitement from fans, players, and commentators.

From that moment on, I have become a devoted fan of the “beautiful game” and of the Sky Blues.  I’m following this year’s team and watched with joy as they took it Newcastle United to open the season.  Like that QPR game, they faced a 10 man squad in the second half, but this time there was no let downs or late deficits, as Manchester City cruised to a 4-0 decision over the decidedly outmatched Newcastle squad.

I’m looking forward to a Premier League season filled with excitement, superb strikes, stellar saves, and brutal tackles (all legal ones, of course).  Mostly, I’m looking forward to being a Wisconsin member of the Kippax and cheering on the Sky Blues to Premier League glory!

Avoiding Snapshots in a Picasso World – GCD Article


“In Luke 24, the risen Lord explained the central idea of Scripture in his conversation with the disciples on the road to Emmaus in verses 44-48. In this passage, he told them everything in Moses, the Psalms, and the Prophets, meaning all the Scripture they had, must be fulfilled. And then he told them what these Scriptures say: that the Christ must suffer and rise from the dead, and that repentance and the forgiveness of sins will be preached to the nations. Jesus makes crystal clear the redeeming mission of God through all of Scripture. Similarly, in 1 Corinthians 15, Paul related Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection to all the Scriptures.

The mission of God is central to all of Scripture, all of creation, all of history, and therefore, all of life. Jesus and his work on the cross speaks to everything from attitude (see Philippians 2) to forgiveness (see Ephesians 4), from how we understand finances (see 2 Corinthians 8) to how we deal with sexual temptation (see 1 Corinthians 6), or from how we deal with disciple-making (see 2 Timothy 2:1-2) to how we understand marriage (see Ephesians 5:25). Our encouragement in facing persecution for Christ is the gospel (see Acts 4:23-31), and our instruction in how to live all of life (see 2 Corinthians 10:9-21) is found in the gospel. Give disciples the message of God so they can spend their lives living out the mission of God.

A few years ago, I took a different approach to looking at Scripture and sharing the good news with others. I shifted from trying to spit out the most basic propositions in as brief a summary as I could, to telling them the great, epic Story of the gospel seen in Scripture. I realized most people I talked with had no clear idea of what the Bible’s message is, but saw it as a reference book for problems or a guide for morality. Where does the gospel start? With a virgin birth? At the cross? According to Luke 24:44-48, Jesus said all Scripture from Moses forward points to his work on the cross. Unlike Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, which separates the Bible into individual stories for moral training, for Jesus there is one message in Scripture, all of Scripture, and that message is the gospel.”

Great article from Gospel Centered Discipleship on the gospel, story, and evangelism.  Click on the above link to read the whole thing.

By the way, I highly recommend the material at GCD.  Great resources on growing in disciple making and creating a discipling culture among your church family.

Should Pastors (or any of us) Read the Word on an iPad?


Should We Preach with iPads?

Christ and Pop Culture continues The Gospel Coalition’s thoughtful discussion on using iPad’s and other electronic devices in the pulpit.  Derek Rishmawy takes a look at both sides, and concludes with this excellent thought:

“Each pastor knows his congregations and their needs. In some places it might be a significant pastoral move to emphasize unplugging and focusing in on a simple printed page. In others, that might not be the issue but integrating the Word within the whole of life. I suspect that the way the Word is preached will have a greater impact on whether their people value and submit to the Word of God written than the print medium it’s being preached off.”

Here is the link to TGC’s oiginal post: Dear Pastor, Bring Your Bible To Church

I appreciate both of these articles and their commitment to thoughtfully reflecting on the value of bringing a physical Bible to the pulpit.  I have to admit I have used both a physical Bible and my Kindle Touch for preaching in the pulpit, and I am still a much bigger fan of a physical Bible.  I feel like, unlike an app or even an e-book, I can navigate faster and find my way around with much greater ease.  Also, there is no trepidation of an electronic failure or slow down that could cause some really awkward pauses and asides while you wait for something to load.  However, I found no moral or philosophical objection to preaching with an app, e-book, or software as opposed to a physical Bible.

If any one else can back me up, I find the same to be true when I study the Bible, as well.  I own Logos Bible Software, but find it to be cumbersome and extremely impersonal when I am interacting with the Word of God.  Feeling the weight, turning the thin pages, and writing in the margins or taking notes in my journal as I study seems a much better connection than typing in notes and burning my retinas out staring at a computer screen.  It might be nostalgia and my mind longing for that simpler time when I first became a follower of Christ and was using the free CRU bible I received in college to devour the Word, but maybe not.

What do you think?  Is there merit to this discussion?  Are we just being archaic?  Is it too backward and simplistic to expect preaching to come from a physical Bible as opposed to an app, software, or e-book?    What message do we send when we use electronics in place of a printed Bible?