November 24, 2009

questions should lead us - dave gibbons.

"one of the axioms i've come to believe about life and ministry is that questions should lead us. questions, not answers. Jesus showed us this time and again."

"if Jesus doesn't answer a question with a question, he tells a story."

dave gibbons
the monkey and the fish: liquid leadership for a third-culture church


November 19, 2009

empire state of mind II - alicia keys (sans jay-z).


okayplayer just posted this on their blog and i am speechless. just watch the above video.

all i can say is that alicia's new album is out on december 15 and i am buying it. or getting it for christmas. but if you're getting it for me for christmas, you might want to give it to me 10 days early otherwise i'll have 2 copies cause i'll already have bought it myself.

i'm listening to that again.


REVIEW: battle studies - john mayer

first of all, i must tell you that i am not 100% comfortable putting a photo of this album artwork on my blog. john looks super GQ and super lame. however, the artwork actually ended up being a blessing - when i first saw the cover a few months before its release i thought, "seriously john? this album is gonna suck."

but it doesn't. not at all. and i will yet again claim that low expectations are a much healthier way of living than high expectations. high expectations can only be met or not met*. low expectations can be met or exceeded...and my expecations were exceeded.

* - obviously there are a few outlying exceptions here: kanye's graduation, my trip to st louis, harry potter and the deathly hallows, etc.

i told my buddy jon yesterday via a text, "this album has a heavier things feel to it." and i stand by that statement...kind of. the album as a whole gives that vibe, but there are a few tracks - who says, friends lovers or nothing, assassin - that don't necessarily fit the bill. did john mayer truly reinvent his sound on this album like he has with each of his albums in the past? not really. if anything he took a step backwards from continuum and revisited a sound he'd already dabbled in before.

that having been said - this is a terrific album. really terrific. especially if you can empathize with mayer's jilted-lover theme (which i cannot). literally every song on this album is about girl problems - the "Battle Studies" he alludes to in the name of this album makes complete sense - he takes a look at the different "battles" the heart faces in dealing with the opposite sex. it's a "love is war" theme. examples: "half of my heart" deals with the inability to commit, "heartbreak warfare" deals with what it feels like to be dumped, "perfectly lonely" is all about the freedom felt without a significant other, "friends lovers or nothing" is a great picture of the extremely common "more than friends?/lets have a DTR" situation of which i'm duly familiar with.

that last paragraph was so long that my coffee went cold. crap.

however, there are a couple songs that could've been omitted and i wouldn't've really missed them. i can hear you arguing, "but adam - that means there would only be 9 songs! that's not enough for a full album!" my rebuttal: Thriller.

"edge of desire" does nothing for me - i'm just bored/annoyed throughout. and "half of my heart" doesn't impress me either - but that's probably because i sit there for the first 2 minutes dreading the impending taylor swift on backup vocals. what a ploy to 1. sell more records 2. reach a slightly different genre 3. perhaps get invited to the country music awards next year. i just wish it wasn't her. anyone else...okay not anyone - i would also veto nelly furtado, lady gaga, fergie or sheryl crow. anyone else though.

that having been said, "friends lovers or nothing" is my favorite track on the album. it's on repeat as i type this blog. it is perfect - the first two piano chords hooked me and the rest of the song just continued to reel me in...that's a fishing analogy.

i love this album, but it's definitely not his best. in fact, it might be his worst. it's not as good as continuum. or room for squares even. but it's still john mayer. so it automatically lands in the "great" category. he's just a phenomenal musician. period.

i give it a 3/5.


November 11, 2009

mystery: velvet elvis.

"the christian faith is mysterious to the core...if we do put God definitively into words, we have at that very moment made God something that God is not."

"the bible has a different understanding of mystery. true mystery, the kind of mystery rooted in the infinite nature of God, gives us answers that plunge us into even more questions."

"truth always leads to more truth. because truth is insight into God and God is infinite and God has no boundaries or edges.

"one of the great 'theologians' of our time, Sean Penn, put it this way: 'when everything gets answered, it's fake. the mystery is the truth."
[entertainment weekly: feb 2004]

"being a christian is more about celebrating mystery than conquering it."
"when moses enters the darkness toward the top of the mountain, he has moved beyond knowledge to awe and love and the mystery of God." [exodus 19]

all of these quotes are from rob bell's velvet elvis. i am re-reading it finally. i went through a somewhat intentional rob bell withdrawl phase - there was an uprising over about 6 words that rob spoke that were twisted and morphed into the word "heretic". which is hilarious for so many unrelated reasons. selective hearing and matthew 7:3 come to mind among some others.

but i finally decided to pick up velvet elvis again for the first time in years - and wouldn't you know that the end of the first chapter is ALL about mystery, questions, and it's correlation to truth.

you're speaking my love language, rob. i'm even in the mood for a new flow chart, but i'm also so tired. sounds much more complex than i had intially sketched out. i'll save it for the morning. anyone else want to take a stab at it before i butcher it again?


wall clock.

this is freaking genius. and i want it. too bad it's selling for $2,338. maybe i can make it myself. maybe nick can make it for me for my birthday. nudge.


November 10, 2009

more j.j. abrams: flow chart.

yesterday i posted my new favorite quote by j.j. abrams: "mystery is a better road to imagination than knowledge." my buddy, luke, commented on the importance of truth in that equation, and the more i think about it, the more i find it essential to the formula. sure, imagination is the force behind the abrams quote, but the overall point of it all is not simply imagination - the point is to discover the truth behind the mystery.

so during our all church staff meeting today i began to sketch out a flow chart of the abrams quote with "truth" added into the mix. my paper turned out looking super jumbled and sloppy and difficult to follow, so i made a quick less-confusing version quickly on my computer just now (i used a section of my desktop as the background for the chart - yep, hedges - perfectly mysterious).

i figure, if truth is the point, then knowledge doesn't necessarily get us there. we can only arrive at true knowledge if we know for a fact that the knowledge we have is truth. so we must start with mystery. we must start with the questions in order to fully arrive at the results.

my immediate response, then, is that in order to discover the truth behind a mystery, it is more beneficial to start with mystery than to begin with knowledge.

but what i also found interesting in the development of this flow chart was the importance of the process we go through between imagination and truth. that long downward arrow is essentially where all of life happens. we decide where we're going, what we're believing, who we're following, where we belong: basically how we perceive the world. this all happens within that stretch of arrow.

the quest for truth is found in mystery and imagination - not in knowledge.

anyway. those are my thoughts, but i'd like to hear yours. any changes you'd like to make to the chart? disagreements? things you really like? let me know.


November 08, 2009

j.j. abrams

"i came to realize that mystery was a better road to imagination than knowledge."

easily my new favorite quote. no seriously. check my facebook info. it's true.

i can't stop thinking about it. he said it in reference to LOST, which....duh, but it goes so much deeper than just television/entertainment/santa claus' existence. but i can't even begin to structure my stream of thoughts into a coherent blog. maybe later. maybe never. maybe let me know your thoughts? hmmmm.


November 03, 2009

getting out of the way.

it's interesting how easily we can get in the way of the work God is doing.

we can develop programs, create events and micro-manage details to the point that we're limiting the power of God to what our own structure can handle. we end up putting the Holy Spirit within our own parameters rather than trying to figure out what steps we need to take to catch up to the work the Spirit is already doing in our ministries.

it'd be interesting to see how effective our ministries could be if we quit worrying about the details, and started showing up with open arms expecting God to show up and lead instead.


November 02, 2009

november sizzler: the blazin challenge.

last night the freshman, sophomore, and junior guys small groups went out to buffalo wild wings to participate in the BLAZIN CHALLENGE: 12 blazin wings, 6 minutes, no water, celery, ranch, napkins, wet naps etc. just your face and your fingers - to take the popular Pink lyric entirely out of context: "it's just you and your hand tonight."

of the 40-some fellas that came to bww, the freshman group had 5 dudes participating in the challenge, the sophomores had 8 and the juniors added one more, bringing the grand total to 14 dudes - which, as you know, is two times the number of perfection.*

fortunately, we had managed to time the beginning of the event with the beginning of Game 3 of the world series, so our challenge began as all other terrific american sporting events do: with the star-spangled banner. so all 40 guys were belting it out along with the thousands in citizens bank park in philadelphia. an epic beginning to an epic event.

here is the sophomore event in pictures (with captions...because we found out after my st. louis trip that i'm truly incapable of doing strictly picture posts):

this is my challenge batch. notice the two stickers on the left side: one says "blazin"...the other is a warning label.

the munching begins. bring it on.

caleb polishing off wing 2 of 12. although not participating, colin is equally fierce and even brought some chocolate milk to tease the contestants. cruel.

dave is well on his way as well. both dave and i rocked white t-shirts. rookie mistake? or savvy veteren confidence? we'll see...

braden is a beast! he's a freshman, so he doesn't fit the "sophomore event in pictures" category, but LOOK AT THAT FACE! i had to include it. for more, check out tj's blog with a video of the freshman event.

caleb is feelin the slow burn! jack is all business.

my co-leader and best friend dave records the best time: 2 minutes 10 seconds. atta boy.

second place! my time: 2 minutes, 32 seconds. and hark! the white tshirts proved to be a stroke of confidence for both dave and i - not a single drop of sauce ended up there!

the group is finishing up...this is when the endorphins all ran to my head apparently.

lip ice baths! caleb and kurtis enjoying a quick dip in their ice water following the event. hilarious.

the blazin' graveyard. those bones didn't stand a chance.

this may be the first of many blazin challenges i'll participate in - all in all, i had a great time. i liked it so much that i might actually walk in to bww sometime this week and purchase 12 blazin wings for dinner. they were truly delicious. in the meantime, i'll be practicing my technique and further increasing my spicy food tolerance. can't wait for a rematch. the first sunday in november might've just become a new holiday and the host of an annual event. we'll see.

welcome to november sizzler everybody. this just might be the best month ever.


* - john buck reference.