Monthly Archives: May 2011

Benjamin Zander

When I was a kid, my parents made me listen to Classical music like it was going out of style. Which is funny, because it obviously had. But now I appreciate them for doing that. They made me take piano lessons, and study about the lives of the composers who created the music. Which was fascinating, because let’s be honest, Lady Gaga has got nothing on some of the weirdness of those old fellas in white powdered wigs.

In a world where Jay-Z and  Coldplay are the Chopin and Vivaldi of the day, we are missing something vital in our music (I actually like Jay-Z and Coldplay), but there is something that is missing. In a world where most Worship songs consists of G,C,D, it’s good to be reminded that there are songs that have lasted centuries.

That some music has a soul.

My favorite part of this video is where Banjamin Zader talks about finding just the right E chord. That no other variation of that chord could fit, because that particular chord was like coming home.

There is a resolution that music, well done music gives us, that nothing else can. It helps us hope into a better ending.

Thanks Benjamin Zader for reminding me of that.  Continue reading Benjamin Zander


A few months ago a college student came into my office with a question. They had felt called to go to into missions, specifically at a country that was in a time of political upheaval. Everyday in this country, bombs were going off, and people were getting killed. Needless to say, it wasn’t a popular tourist trap, but my friend still wanted to go.

The problem was that this college student had parents. And like any parents, they didn’t want their kid to go to this dangerous of a location. Which is understandable. But that didn’t change what this college student felt. They really thought God wanted them to go to this country, but they wanted to honor their parents. And so they asked me what they should do. Should they stay or go?

What would you tell them?

So I’ve been thinking a lot about Risk for the past year or so. I like this way of talking about Jesus-following a lot, it is, after all, s a synonym for Faith. And that’s important, because the word faith has gotten a lot of baggage theses days. It’s started to mean to just believe something cognitively, but that’s a definition that James would take issue with.

But this is a hard word for most churches. Institutions, by their very nature, don’t like risk. But Faith, by it’s very nature, is risk. So what does an institution that tries to form a risk-taking people look like? Continue reading Risk

May 22nd

I remember when I was a teenager, my Indian brother, Simran, had been staying with us for a while, and he had started to freak me out. Most kids might stay up late listening to ghost stories about the hook, or the zombie babysitters. But I had someone living with me from New Delhi, and he would tell me stories about Nostradamus and the Inca’s creepy prophecies about 2012. The ones that were all about how the world would end (in a variety of ways) but this much was certain, it would end soon.

While it’s true that every culture and religion develops ways to talk about the end of the world, I would imagine that Western Christianity has done a bit more than it’s share to add to the mix of this. Think about the things that are out there right now…There is a group of Atheist’s who offer pet-sitting services, and for a mere $150, they will come rescue your post-rapture pet. This is a serious business, and they are expanding.

For 14.95 a year, you can pre-write a message to all your heathen friends and family, and if 3 out of the 5 Christians that maintain the database don’t log in for a 6 day period. The “You’ve Been Left Behind” database automatically sends out your message to the Pagans you care about. Again, this is for real.

For the past year, I’ve been driving past billboards that tell me the world is going to end on May 21st, 2011. The billboard leads you to a website, and if you go there, you hear some people talking about how Noah knew the world was going to end and you can too. If you just do the appropriate math that the Bible has hidden throughout itself, use the correct logarithm, and have just a touch of crazy, you too will come up with the same date.  Continue reading May 22nd

Mere Mortals

So I spent a few hours Sunday evening at a bookstore. Which is one my favorite places to pass time at. Eventually, like always, I gravitated toward the Theology section, and passed through the Christian Living section. Now I tend to get a lot of books, and most of them come from this section. But I noticed something Sunday, that hasn’t really struck me before.

For the past couple of hundred years, Jesus followers thought about God through the lens of Deism. Basically, the view was that God wound the universe up like a top, and then stepped away. And while we could understand him through things like Scripture or Creation, all we really knew about God was that he was really, really big.

But then, like always, the pendulum swung. We started to realize the defecencies of that single perspective about God. We realized that the God that was revealed in Jesus was intensely personal. He attends the funeral of every sparrow. He knows the number of hairs on our head, and knows the number of tears that we have cried. God, in other words, is love. Ask anybody on the street today to describe God in one word and this is the one that they would choose…hopefully. And that’s a good thing. It’s much better than previous decades of thinking God was angry all the time. But it’s a short move between thinking of God primarily this way and then wearing shirts that say “Jesus is My Homeboy.”

And here is the problem. Continue reading Mere Mortals

The Reason for Celebrities

So let me just get this out there first. This weekend, on a flight back from Burbank, I bumped into Rizwan Manji who plays “Rajiv” on Outsourced. At first I thought I knew him, but then I realized that the recognition was unilateral. Later I was checking my flight information in my terminal, and there Rajiv was again…which leads me to assume only one thing.

Rajiv was following me.

Turns out the recognition wasn’t unilateral after all. He must have realized that I was a preacher at a church in a small, lesser-known tribe of Christians and thought, “I have got to meet that guy!” I told him that I appreciated his work, but he only said thank you…I guess he was just trying to be coy. Don’t worry Rajiv, I know what you were trying to say.

But the truth is, all week long I had been looking for celebrities. Every conversation I had, I was looking over their shoulder to make sure Brad Pitt didn’t walk by. I’ve always had this in me, and I’ve never really been proud of it. One time, Jameel White was runored to be at a nearby nursing home, and I went there to “visit” a resident I knew there just to bump into him.

And if I’ll do that for the chance to meet Steve Urkel, you know somethings wrong. Continue reading The Reason for Celebrities


So this is one of my favorite weeks of the year. The Pepperdine Bible Lectureships are a great way of getting recharged for ministry. The classes and Keynotes are phenomenal (seriously Josh Graves and Chris Seidman preached two of the best sermons I’ve ever heard). Worshipping with all those familiar faces was great. the fresh fish was amazing…

But my favorite part of Pepperdine every year isn’t on the schedule. It’s the meals.

Because one of the things that happens at our Christian colleges, or in our newly globalized life, is that we make all of these connections from a thousand different venues, and then we move away. And I have a sense of loss at every move. It’s like those relationships have reached the end of the season. and it’s always painful.

One of the ways that the authors of Scripture talk about the New Heavens and the New Earth is a table. It’s people gathered around a meal, laughing, sharing memories and life together. That’s the best part of this week for me. The teaching times are great, they inspire and motivate me. But there is something about those meals that feed my soul. Continue reading Pepperdine

A New Superhero

I still remember being a kid, watching Superman for the hundredth time. I still had another few hundred times to watch it, but by then I had been thoroughly indoctrinated. I had been convinced that Christopher Reeve really could fly. Like many other children of the  day, I tied a towel around my neck and flew around the house. Unlike many adults of my day, I am still doing that.

But there has been a new development in the world of Superheroes. The famous catchphrase of Superman was that he fought for Truth, Justice, and the American Way. He was, after all, an American superhero. He did bring down the KKK in real life (not even kidding…Google it). He was birthed out of the depression and our modern hope for progress. He was what we hoped we would all one day be like. Some of us still hope that, but with professional counseling “they” are getting over it.

But Superman, like the rest of our world, is a product of the culture that he lives in. And Superman is changing.

Maybe you’ve already heard this news. In the recent Superman comic book, Superman stops being American.

But what is really interesting to me is what is underneath all of this. Continue reading A New Superhero