Monday, June 30, 2008

You Know It's Summer When...

You wake up and it's 11:00 o'clock. Great day.

It's important to have some good reading for these lazy summer days off.

Here's what I'm enjoying currently (note, I usually am reading 5-7 books at a time, so it takes me a long time to finish any single one...):

-Vintage Jesus by Mark Driscoll [don't read if you're easily offended ;-) ]
-Heaven by Randy Alcorn
-Worship Matters by Bob Kauflin
-Crazy Love by Francis Chan
-The Reason For God by Tim Keller
-The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton
-The Bourne Ultimatum by Robert Ludlum

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Purpose In Pain

I was listening to the only radio station I get out here in Valencia, 89.9 KCRW, the other day. They did a segment on a symphony from German composer Robert Schumann, in which they had a guest musicologist in to talk about the piece, it's origin, it's movements, and different musical themes that paralleled what was going on in the life of the composer.

She mentioned that Robert Schumann endured several bouts with extremely severe depression throughout his life, and that eventually, he would attempt suicide and end up in an asylum towards the end of his life.

It was interesting to hear her, and the radio host, both talking about how the music clearly narrates a time in Schumann's life when he had just recently overcome a depressed period, and how shifts in the music represent his depressed state being conquered, and the joy that followed.

They both considered the question: Would it have been possible for Schumann's symphony to exhibit the same depth of character, the same passion of overcoming extreme hardship, without his horrific battle with depression?

So many people are critical of a God who "lets bad things happen to good people," and while it's easy spout out the "well none of us is really 'good' according to God..." answer, it is fascinating that even in a completely secular context, people can choose to see the "good" in pain, and a purpose in suffering.

It's generally agreed upon that the quality of endurance is a positive characteristic. What's interesting is that endurance is ONLY EVER produced through trial of some kind. When I think of endurance, I think of a long distance runner, or cyclist. What kind of pain do they put their bodies through to develop the physical endurance to run a race? Immense.

Romans 5 says that we have peace with God because we've been justified by faith, and that we have obtained access to his grace, and the hope of the glory of God...
But MORE THAT THAT, we rejoice in our SUFFERINGS, knowing that suffering produces ENDURANCE, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Sometimes evil and suffering in the world bring confusion, and the temptation to doubt God, but in the same way that we saw purpose in the suffering of Robert Schumann, without which he could never have composed the depth of music he did, we can know God has a purpose with a more beautiful and perfect result than any symphony: his glory.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Resolved 2008 Recap

So it's been a week since I was at the Resolved Conference, and I'm just now getting to write about it. It could be that my church had our very first service in our new building in the Valencia Industrial Center, and there was about 1,ooo,ooo,oo1 things to do to make that happen. It was a great morning, and I may write about it separately, or on my church worship blog, but for now, here's what went down at Resolved:

Jess and I arrived in Palm Springs on Thursday, and ended up hanging out with my parents most of the afternoon and evening. They had been there the previous week for vacation, so it was nice to spend a little time with them. We ate at a great seafood restaurant, and walked around the street fair downtown.

John Martin (worship leader) gathered us all in his room and gave us the coolest thank-you gifts, including a copy of the new CD they had recorded for the conference under the name Enfield: "O For That Day," a totally custom-made leather-bound music notation/sheet music folder, and an extremely generous honorarium.

The next day we got all set up and rehearsed for the better part of the day. Stage setup had gotten put on hold due to some "fire safety issues" and so we were a little behind schedule with a lot to do before the first session that night.

Basically the following days looked a lot like this:
-7:30 am call time for sound check/ rehearsal
-9:00 session 1
-11:00 session 2
-1:30 lunch
-2:30-4:30 relax by the pool, try to catch a quick nap
-4:45 call time followed by quick dinner
-6:00 session 3
-8:00 session 4
-10:00 unwind and hit the bed

Jess got a little more well-deserved relaxation time, and she spent a lot of it by the pool with a book. She did start a new online grad. course that she had to work on, but all in all, we both were able to rest a little.

The sessions were focused on "Heaven and Hell" and the speakers included:
-John MacArthur
-Rick Holland
-Randy Alcorn (who quite literally wrote THE book on heaven)
-Steve Lawson
-C.J. Mahaney
-John Piper

Five speakers who each delivered two sermons made for a LOT of sermons, and it took some discipline to make it through them towards the end, but all of those guys are tremendous teachers, and they really challenged me in how I think about heaven, and what means for me as I live life presently.

The worship sets went really well, lots of great music, lots of new songs, lots of congregational participation; it was so great to look out from the stage and see 3,000 people singing together!

Here are some videos from the worship times:
"Eternal Praise"

"Here Am I"

"O For That Day"

"Finally Home"


So yeah, that's the gist of what went on last weekend; check out Lukas Van Dyke's photos from the weekend HERE.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Church Is More Than Just A Building...

...but it sure is nice to have a place to call home!

We are having our very first worship service in our new church building in the Valencia Industrial Center this Sunday, and everyone is invited!

We will plant ourselves here for the next few years as we still prayerfully hope to end up in the Newhall Ranch development that's supposed to go up on the West side of the I-5 freeway in the next decade or so.

I'm thankful for the planning and foresight of our pastor, Todd Smith, and I'm excited to be a part of the extra-amazing things that God continues to do at Crossroads Community Church!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Resolved Conference: Check

Just got back from Resolved, and I'm trying to get back in the swing of things, so I'll put a more in depth review of the conference up later, but for now...

Check out photographer Lukas Van Dyke's blog for some visual recap...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Planet Earth: The Birth Of A Panda

I have been watching the BBC series "Planet Earth" on DVD, and it is absolutely awe-inspiring, and screams for the existence and creativity of God! HIGHLY recommend it.

That said, I occasionally run across awe-inspiring "nature-things" in my travels on the world-wide-inter-web, and so I thought I'd give them a category all their own on the ol' blog, so enjoy the first of my "Planet Earth" categories: Birth Of A Panda.


Friday, June 6, 2008

Listen To The New Coldplay Album!

This site called "" is letting us stream the entire new album for free! Check it out!

The only thing is that in the middle of each song, there's a voice that comes on and says "Music, on demand." I think the idea is similar to that of photographers putting small versions of their photos on the web with their copyright info printed across the middle of the photo.

Savin' Some Gas, Ridin' A Bike

So Jess and I bought bicycles. I work close enough to our house that I figure I could ride to work as much as possible, and since Jess is off all summer, we can use them for all our short commuting needs!

I paid $42.00 to fill up my little civic the other day; madness. Now I just have to decide if the soreness in my hindquarters is worth the trade...

Oh, and the bikes come with that handy little water bottle right? But does the gross plastic-y smell on the inside ever go away?? I'm not too excited about drinking water outta that bottle, but I DO get thirsty whilst riding...

So I guess the next step would be to get spandex riding gear, am I right? I wonder who would pay to see me donning an all-spandex outfit? Let me know, and we'll talk details.