The Best of Best

I have the best of best friends on the planet.

She knew I was getting ready to be out on the road on business for several days. She also knew that quite a few of our favorite shows actually have new episodes coming on while I would be on the road (she has satellite tv and DVR—she’s cool).

So, this morning, when I fired up my computer at work, there was an email waiting for me from her titled, “Reminder List.” In that email, she had carefully listed programs, days, and times of new episodes between now and when I return (11 hours in all!). I just need to follow her list when I program my VCR before I go and I’ll be home free.

It’s a thing of beauty.

But you what’s even more beautiful? Having a friend who knows me that well, who understands my life enough to know that a list like that is not only practical, it’s kind. She gets how much I enjoy tv, how watching beloved shows is a fun reward after spending time on the road. And she also knows that sometimes I’ve been a bit challenged in my taping skills (how many times has she heard my, “I can’t believe I messed up taping that show!” stories?) and is willing to lend a helping hand.

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Aushua - No Harm Done

So sorry for the long absence. A wedding, honeymoon, and preparing to move to Mongolia comes with a list of tasks that keeps my hands off the keyboard. The phrase that's been stuck in my head for the past week or so is, "there is never enough time." Though Kim and I are doing our best I know there will be loose ends here and, even worse, relationships we didn't get to invest in as much as wanted to before we left. It makes my heart heavy.

I'm sure there will be plenty of writing done on that in the future. In the mean time, here's a song that I have this weird mixture of pride and pure enjoyment in when I listen to it.

I've been blessed to have worked at New Noise with some of the most talented guys I've ever met, but at the same time I got to live with some amazing musicians as well. The four guys in Aushua lived in my house together for over a year - two in the house with me and two sharing a bunkbed in a dorm-style arranged garage. I first met Phil when I was at Concordia in 2002 and we sat next to each other in an English class. He answered a roommate ad I placed a few years later and lived with me for a year before his two brothers, Eric and Lee, and their friend Nate moved in.

I've gotten to watch them grow up as a band and as people over the past year especially as they went from a band that looked clumsy and awkward on stage to a band that is commanding and passionate. The easiest, and laziest, comparison you can make about Aushua is that they sound like a young U2 but from all of the VH1 Classic concerts they watched at the house I know they have influences ranging from Echo and the Bunnymen to Bruce Springsteen.

That's what makes a great band now that I think about it; they watch, they listen, they learn. I would come home from work and the four of them would be on the couch with some key bachelor recipe of frozen pizza or some kind of potato dish, attentively watching a classic concert of bands you have to be reminded of. Most bands mimic - like when you walk into a Guitar Center and you hear the endless sea of flubbed Zeppelin or Green Day riffs. Great bands pull pieces from their predecessors or peers and make them their own to the point that its their subtleties that make them truly great and Aushua has that. Their sense of melody in all of the instrumentation will be the first thing that you notice, but that just opens the door to you hearing the atmosphere and space that exists between the layers in their music. Because of their influences their music sounds familiar and new at the same time, but at the same time completely distinct. That distinction is what I'm proud of, the maturity; but thats probably just because I know them.

Anyway, I hope you love it as much as I do and that my small words might give you an appreciation for who they are as a band. Just press play on that little grey player at the top of this post.

You can visit them online at

I'll write more soon.

There's just not enough time.



Tags | Music

Angels, Satan and Demons

Bruce & Stan interviewed me on their TV show, Christianity 101 about what the Bible calls the spiritual forces of evil (Ephesians 6:12) and how this affects the Christian life.

I'm Fine With God...It's Christians I Can't Stand

Here is a podcast of a radio interview I did with M88, a Christian, non-commercial radio station that plays rock and pop music and occasionally does interviews on interesting topics. They thought "I'm Fine With God...It's Christians I Can't Stand" (the newest book from me and Bruce Bickel, my writing partner) was interesting. The host, who simply goes by "Yo," asked a bunch of great questions, including this one: How can we (meaning me and my writing partner, Bruce Bickel) be so critical of other Christians when Jesus told us to love one another. I could tell you now, but that would ruin the experience of listening to the podcast.

Juno, Marriage, and the Baby Carriage

"First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage." 

Or so we taunted anyone who we caught smooching out in the trees beyond the watchful eye of the playground monitors.  These were the worst possible outcomes for any fourth-grade boy, as in that day, every fourth-grade boy was firmly convinced that girls were a different species. 

Love, marriage, and babies.  When I heard about Juno, I thought it was primarily about babies and whether or not teenagers should have them or abort them.  And for good reason--this is clearly the driving question for the opening to the film.  Juno gets pregnant, and struggles with whether she should abort the child.  

But it is not the only--or even, I think, the main--question the film adddresses.  What's interesting about Juno's pregnancy is how it is viewed in light of marriage.  

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Tags | Film

I Am Sad Today

I am sad about Heath Ledger’s death.

Not the kind of sad I’d feel had he been a friend or family member. But the kind of sad I feel when someone is talented, 28, and dies alone in their apartment.

I enjoyed watching him work, in his very good projects and his not-so-good projects, on the big screen and small. Before his appearance in the movie 10 Things I Hate About You, he had starred in a tv show called Roar. It reminded me of Braveheart, only I think it was the Irish and Romans duking it out rather than the Scottish and English. The SciFi Channel reruns it from time to time, and it’s kind of fun to watch working actor (and very young!) Heath Ledger before he became movie star Heath Ledger.

I like his acting. Even if a movie was so-so, I thought he was worth the price of admission. He was one of those young actors that I thought would be so interesting to watch mature into his thirties and forties. What kind of roles would he chose? What kind of performances would he give us? With his Oscar-nominated turn in Brokeback Mountain, it seemed he was on his way to the acting career he truly desired—complicated characters, memorable films, notable work. And I think we saw in him something beyond teen heartthrob. We saw something unique.

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For God, Every Year is an Election Year


I make no claims of being a theologian or a philosopher, but I am beginning to understand why the oh-so-troubling theological concept of “election” makes people crazy. Universalism is so much easier to espouse. We all know the famous question lobbed to every Christian being interviewed: Do you mean that if someone doesn’t believe in Jesus Christ—if he doesn’t espouse your religion—God will send him to hell? That question is designed to expose the absurdity of salvation, and it always works. If the Holy Spirit has transformed your thinking, you wait for the “born again” interviewee to give the right-but-crazy-sounding answer. Then you nod.  

But if you love to watch a hunter attempt to trap a Christian, you rub your hands with glee: Oohh—he got him! Doesn’t that guy look like a fool now? If this faith of mine depended only upon my good sense, I would throw my head back and laugh with contempt like the rest. But I don’t. How come?

I used to think there were only three things I could count on:
  • God is supremely sovereign.
  • Jesus Christ is the only way to God. 
  • My opinions about the first two don’t matter.  
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Who Knows If...

The moon hung low and beautiful and huge in the clear winter sky this morning as I drove into work. Whenever I see such a bold and amazing moon, I think of a poem by ee cummings I happened upon in college…and haven’t forgotten since.

who knows if the moon’s

who knows if the moon’s
a balloon, coming out of a keen city
in the sky—filled with pretty people?
(and if you and i should

get into it, if they
should take me and take you into their balloon,
why then
we’d go up higher with all the pretty people

than houses and steeples and clouds:
go sailing
away and away sailing into a keen
city which nobody’s ever visited, where

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One Isn't Enough

Being content is a state that is much sought after, and few seldom achieve. In fact, when I quizzed my students recently about what defines them, I was shocked when one of them answered "I'm content." You don't often hear people say that these days, even less when they are college students. It was a pleasant surprise, and one that I will cherish because this student had already discovered something that many adults her senior still chase after.

As frequent readers of this blog know (that's you, Mom) I write about being content a lot. A psychologist might say I'm projecting, but I don't think that is true. Just like my student, I think I'm a pretty content individual. Despite a pretty disciplined nature (which I've recently felt is more of a reaction that a proclivity), I'm not ambitious. On any given day, I'm pretty happy with the way life is, and even when there are challenges, I recognize that its a season and that I'm still way beyond blessed. I've also discovered though that there are some things we should not be content with such as an reluctance to completely surrender to God. Sometimes, we should want more than we have.
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Even If It's Not Your Fault, It Is Your Problem

An advertisement for the provacative new book, unChristian, by David Kinnaman, says this: Christianity has an image problem. If that's the case--and there's good reason to believe that's true--then I have a suggestion. We need to give Christianity an image makeover. And I know just the people to do it: the customer service pros at the Walt Disney Company.

Years ago when I was running our family's Christian bookstores, I attended a seminar at the Disney Institute in Orlando so I could learn how to better serve our customers. It was a great experience and very practical. I took what I learned back to our stores and noticed an increase in sales in just a few months, all because we followed Disney's advice.

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