Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Monday, December 19, 2011
At its current rate of regression the music industry will cease to exist by the end of next year.
“Dad, what’s that noise you’re making with your mouth?”
“It’s called humming, son.”
“What are you humming?”
“What’s a song?”
“Well, it’s a long story but there used to be this thing called music. There were all kinds of different styles. It was great. So great in fact that the best music had a way of sticking around in your head years after you first listened to it. That’s where humming comes from.”
“I’ve never heard of music. What happened to it?”
“Lady Gaga, son. Lady Gaga.”
Below are a few records that might just keep the above conversation from happening for another year or so.
The Black Crowes and Kings of Leon had a baby and named it The Dirty Guv’nahs.
For my money, Sojourn is the best of all the praise and worship groups. They mix old school, biblically sound lyrics with Americana and the finished product is always well worth your dime.
This is PRo’s first official release with Reach Records and as you might expect, he blends his brand of southern hip-hop nicely with practical theology. The future is bright for PRo.
When Mat Kearney first came on the scene he was compared to Coldplay. With this album, he’s surpassed them. The album’s final song, Rochester, tells the story of Kearney’s father and caps off another excellent album from Kearney.
I can understand four words on this album but it’s some of the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard. Here’s a guarantee, if you buy Bon Iver, you’ll look cool at parties because everyone will know that you’re into a band that nobody else has ever heard of before. You get extra credit for pronouncing the name right. The only way that this purchase could go wrong for you is if you play linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens and it’s your week to pick out the pre-game musical selections for the locker room.
By the way, the video linked above may be the weirdest I've ever seen. I can't prove it but I think it was shot using a broken Etch-A-Sketch.
Lecrae isn’t the best Christian emcee. He’s probably the best emcee period. This is evident in the fact that this album of bonus material from 2010’s Rehab is one of the best records of 2011.
This is PRo’s first unofficial release with Reach Records (they offered it for free through their website and it’s still available for free through Noise Trade). This one has the feel of a cd you’d buy from an artist out of the trunk of his Chevy about 6 months before he hits it big. Put You On comes with references to King of the Hill and The Sixth Sense and is one of many highlights on this album.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Matt Hughes is a nine-time UFC champion and a member of the UFC Hall of Fame. He’s fond of chainsaws and guns. He drives tractors. Matt Hughes is a man’s man.
But Matt also professes faith in Jesus Christ, loves his wife and takes the initiative in leading his family. Again, Matt Hughes is a man’s man.
Recently, I had a chance to speak with Matt about his career, manhood and the daily fight against pride.
Matt, you’ve experienced a lot of success in the octagon. How have you managed to stay humble through this?
You know, I can’t sit here and tell you that I’m a humble person. Things do go to your head. It’s become a lot easier the older I get. But, you know, seven years ago I wasn’t that old, I was the champion, everything was going good for me and I did keep people around that helped me out. But I think what really kept me grounded more than anything was the fact that I really liked who I was before I became the world champion. So after I won the title I actually took my belt and put it under my bed. I didn’t want to sit and look at it because I knew it was going to change me and I just decided I liked who I was before and I’m going to stay that person. To be honest, it’s a daily battle not to be a bigger person than you are.
So it sounds like your identity is not wrapped up in the belt. Do you think that makes it easier for you to walk away from the sport when the time comes? A lot of athletes, things don’t end well for them. Does finding your identity in Christ make it easier for you when it comes time to hang it up?
Definitely. I don’t want to give it up [competition] because I love to compete. Christ just puts other things on your heart and you’ve got other identities besides that so I’ve just got to open my eyes and realize what’s the greater good here.
But there are other things you’re known for. Of course there’s your fighting career but then there’s hunting and farming. A lot of guys are in to these things. Is there a common link between fighting, hunting and farming and how do they relate to masculinity, something that seems to be going out of style in recent years?
Fighting and hunting relate directly. Farming is a manly duty as well. Manly people are going out of style. It seems like as this world gets older and older people get lazier and lazier. You just don’t see people doing manual labor like we used to. We’re creating machines to make life easy. That easy lifestyle has made us lazy and turned us soft. I’m kind of a man’s man because I use a gun, I use a chainsaw, I split wood, I use knives. So all those things put me high on the man list. Even if you don’t use a chainsaw but you own a chainsaw that puts you a couple of points higher on the man list.
I hope that doesn’t get you put on a terrorist watch list.
I think anybody who knows Matt Hughes knows I’ve got a whole boatload of guns.
Matt, you also have a wife and kids. Talk about that aspect of manhood.
The man is the person who should end up making all the decisions. In the end, it all comes down to the man. If something fails, it comes down to him, not to somebody else. I’m very blessed in that I have a good wife who makes very good decisions so I let her make decisions. I really trust her judgment. I try to be the man of the house but I do try and let my wife be the woman and make those good decisions she’s known for.
I became a Christian seven years ago, got married seven years ago and right after that watched my baby girl get pulled out of my wife’s stomach. With those three things, it’s definitely softened me up.
In my house, my wife is Old Testament. She’s strict and lays on the thunder. I’m New Testament and all about forgiveness. I’ve really turned into a softy here lately, in the last four or five years.
Your second fight against Frank Trigg, in my opinion, was one of the greatest moments in the history of the sport. Is that kind of drive and determination something that all men have or is it just reserved for elite athletes?
It’s very, very hard to get that mental aspect into somebody. Either you’re born with it or you’re not. In my sport, I think it’s fifty-fifty. It’s fifty percent mental and fifty percent physical. If I can break my opponent mentally, the physical will soon follow. I’ve always been a strong minded person and I think that’s what won that fight for me was the fact that I wasn’t going to give up where a lot of other people might have. But I do not know how to coach that into somebody. You’re either born with it or you’re not.
You’ve implied before that you would like to have a chance to coach Georges St. Pierre. If you had that shot, what different approaches would you take that maybe he’s not already getting?
With GSP, I would say he needs no help in the technical aspect of things. He’s great with his takedowns, his striking and even his submission knowledge has come along quite a bit. I would love to help him more on the mental side of things. It would be a simple thing. I don’t think there’s been one fight that hasn’t gone the distance. I think GSP has so much talent that he can finish those fights. I would like to see him go with the mindset that no matter what’s going on I’m going to keep pouring it to my opponent and break him. That’s the only thing he lacks in being one of the greatest is the fact that he doesn’t finish a whole lot of people.
Thanks to Matt Hughes for taking the time to talk over the phone today. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go out and buy a chainsaw.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
I was trying to pull into a gas station but the lady driving out of the gas station had other ideas. Just as I committed into my turn she shows up in her gigantic car and takes up both the entrance and the exit. To top it all off she was talking on the phone. Sometimes when people do this, they will quickly see the error of their ways and give you that awkward wave to let you know that they know they can’t drive. Not this time. This woman’s bad driving was unrepentant bad driving.
I was furious but I didn’t lash out, not because of my superior self-control skills but because I was afraid that maybe she or one of her close relatives went to my church.
“Man, your pastor sure is good at fighting small, middle-aged women!”
Eventually the lady went on about her way still talking on her phone and I went on about my way still fuming over the whole ordeal. I spent the rest of the day analyzing what this woman did wrong.
A week or so after this incident a guy was pulling into the same gas station. As he was making his entrance into the gas station he also happened to be talking on the phone. There was a car trying to exit the gas station the proper way. Because the man coming into the gas station was too busy with his phone to be bothered with driving an automobile he came inches from side swiping the poor woman trying to leave the gas station.
That man’s actions were irresponsible.
That man could’ve gotten someone hurt.
That man was me.
But for some reason I didn’t spend near as much time in anger over the second traffic injustice as I did the first. This is because I’m better at pointing out the flaws of others than I am at correcting my own. I did, for the record, give the awkward wave to the lady I almost hit so that should count for something.
These two events reminded me of the importance of what Joe Thorn in his book Note to Self, calls “preaching to myself.” It’s easy for me to tell my congregation to kill their sin and rely on God’s grace. But for those sermons to carry any weight I have to preach them and live them out myself.
Below, in no particular order, are some of the things I made a practice of preaching to myself in 2011.
Jay, when you are caught up in your worries and anxieties you have stopped worshiping and trusting God. You have replaced grace with human effort. When you feel worry and anxiety creeping in, begin to focus intently on prayer and worship. Visualize the Lord Jesus Christ guarding your heart and mind with the peace of God (Philippians 4:4-7).
Jay, think of how Jesus has demonstrated his love for you and figure out how you can model that love for your wife today. What is something that she hates doing? Find out and do it. What scares her? Instead of viewing her fear as a threat to your ability to provide and protect, move towards her fear. Don’t just talk about serving her and leading her, do it (Ephesians 5:25-33).
Jay, never forget the brokenhearted pastor who told you about the time that his wife said that she felt like he was having an affair with the church he was pastoring. Never put the church before your family. This may make you a few enemies but that’s okay. Remember, if you make it your aim to always please the people in your church you can pretty much guarantee that you, your family and your church will all be miserable. When you’re on vacation, make sure your phone and e-mail take a vacation too. Guard your meal times with your family vigilantly. Equip other leaders in your church to help you in this. Love the church you pastor by loving your wife and kids more than the church you pastor (1 Timothy 3:4-5).
Jay, remember to be present and engaged with your kids. Being there is good and it’s a lot better than not being there. You know that from personal experience. But you can still be there and not really be there. Get on the floor with your boys, wrestle with them and make leaf piles all for the glory of God. Have fun with them. Yes, take the primary role of discipline and no, don’t try to be their buddy but remember, they need to see you smiling and having fun (Colossians 3:21).
Jay, focus more on engaging your culture than you do the culture. Know the people in you church and community. There aren’t a whole lot of young hipsters in your church or community who are struggling with whether or not they should accept that job with Apple or go on tour as the opening act for Jay Z and Kanye. Deal with it. You do have a lot of people in your church and community who are struggling with loosing a business, poor health and how to deal with kids that do the dumb things that kids do. Remember, engaging the culture doesn’t mean just engaging what you’re in to or what’s cool. It means moving towards the people in your scope and relating to them for kingdom purposes. Learn how to talk to hunters (Acts 17:16-34).
Jay, when you visit people in the hospital, stop going into the wrong room. It’s awkward for the family of the patient as they try to figure out who you are and it makes you look dumb when you explain why you just came in a completely random room to pray for a total stranger thinking it was someone else. You’ve only been a pastor for a little over three years and this has happened twice already. You’re grown up now. Get it together, man!
Jay, remember to preach to the self-righteous. This should be easy since you are so self-righteous. A while back someone told you that there is a broken heart on every pew. That is a true statement and you must remember that as you prepare and preach. But seated next to that broken heart there’s a heart that’s been hardened by dead, Jesus-less religion. Prayerfully and gracefully and boldly confront self-righteous legalism. It’s probably sending more people to hell in your community than any other sin (Galatians 2:15-21).
Jay, make the number one delight and desire of your life Jesus Christ. This requires a lot of grace. White-knuckling it wont help. Most of the things that compete for your delight and desire are not bad things. But they are not worthy of your worship. You destroy them and yourself when you act as though they are. Continually ask the Spirit to shape your heart so that you can see the surpassing value of communion with Christ (Psalm 84:10).
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Monday, December 12, 2011