A tribute to @ryanastadler. “Why I love my morning walk.” #vscocam #wp

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Music Monday: Newsboys

As a child, I was often to immature to admit that I liked something when my older brother was actively opposed to said thing, case in point: the Newsboys. I secretly loved their album Take Me To Your Leader.

I can remember the first time I heard the Newsboys. We had a video of Christian music videos that came free with a purchase at Northwestern Bookstore. There was a promo for their song “Not Ashamed” on that video and to this day I the only part of that song I know is the part that goes:

I’m not ashamed to speak the name of Jesus Christ

 

What I could never get past with the Newsboys was their lyrics. Their lyrics were always terribly hokey; they were basically the Christian precursor to Train. Case-in-point: their hit “Shine”.

And try as you may, there isn’t a way
To explain the kind of change
That would make an Eskimo renounce fur
That would make a vegetarian barbecue hamster
Unless you can trace this about-face
To a certain sign…

 

And yet, there is something in me that couldn’t resist making a playlist of my favorite Newsboys songs on Spotify recently. One year, for her birthday, my sister received Take Me To Your Leader. I can still remember illicitly listening to that album on her Aiwa stereo with her hope, wishing, and praying that my brother would not come in and find me relishing their sugar-coated pop-rock tunes. I think my favorite song on the album might be “Breakfast”, which is weird because breakfast is generally a meal that I do not eat.

When the Big One finds you may the song remind you that they don’t serve breakfast in Hell.1


  1. Is this line theologically sound? And if it is, to me, that seems to be a vote FOR Hell, not against it. 

What The Most Successful (Dutch) People Do On The Weekend

We’re on vacation for the week. While i never get through nearly the amount of reading that I hope (i’m an optimistically busy vacationer), I usually finish a few reading projects that I’ve been struggling to finish for a while.

Yesterday afternoon, however, I finished a book that has not been on my list for very long[1]: What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekend by Laura Vanderkam. I’m unsure if Ms. Vanderkam is Dutch by marriage or blood, but either way, this little book is nearly perfect for those of us who get excited by the thought of the weekend and on Sunday night realize that most of it was wasted.

This book is actually a part of a mini-series of books that I believe are extracted from her book 168 Hours, which is based on making the most of your time. There is a lot of carpe diem in these books and I think sometimes we all need a little kick in the butt. The carpe diem theme has a reoccurring one in my life lately. I think the latest round of thoughts was started by talking with the elder at our church that oversees our small group. He was saying that we should come to the end of our life and feel that we have been completely poured out for the sake of the Gospel.

Anticipation and Anchor Events

One of the main points throughout the book(let) is the importance of anticipating the anchor events we have set up for the weekend. If you’re familiar with Stephen Covey’s planning methods, this is the equivalent of fitting in your big rocks. Vanderkam recommends having three to five anchor events throughout the weekend.

The thought process behind these anchor events is that if we do not make progress in life if we let our mental muscles atrophy. Think of it as mental cross-training. Binge watching isn’t a good way to spend your weekend, surfing the web, or napping the whole weekend isn’t a good use of your time and it probably stresses you out without realizing it. The book summarizes it perfectly:

Likewise, other kinds of work— be it exercise, a creative hobby, hands-on parenting, or volunteering— will do more to preserve your zest for Monday’s challenges than complete vegetation or working through the weekend. As Anatole France once wrote, ”Man is so made that he can only find relaxation from one kind of labor by taking up another.”[2] (emphasis added)

Vanderkam also talks about the importance of anticipating events. A large part of our joy in events comes not from the event itself, but the time spent thinking ahead to how much you’ll enjoy the event. I’m very familiar with this thinking, and in part, it’s why I don’t go to concerts anymore. I finally realized that I enjoy thinking about going to see my favorite bands a lot more than I enjoy being around the other people who like those bands.

How are you spending your weekends? Are you feeling refreshed and recharged by them or a little stressed when Sunday night comes around and you look back on how you spent your time? If you’re feeling like me, go read the book. It’s $2.99 on your Kindle and it is really helpful even if you do feel great on Sunday night.


What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekend: A Short Guide to Making the Most of Your Days Off

Written by: Laura Vanderkam
Published by: Portfolio
Date published: December 31, 2012
Edition: Kindle
Available in Ebook

  1. At 38 pages, it would be embarrassing if it was on my list for a long time.  ↩

  2. Vanderkam, Laura (2012–12–31). What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekend: A Short Guide to Making the Most of Your Days Off (A Penguin Special from Portfolio) (Kindle Locations 141–144). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.  ↩

Can Freedom Make Us Slaves to Sin?

Let’s start this post off with a quick experiment. Go check your Instagram or Twitter feed. What’s the ratio of pictures of alcohol posted by Christians to Non-Christians? If you’re like me, then it’s probably about even. So with that in mind, let’s take a quick survey of the alcohol-embracing discussions in the Christian community.

Brett McCracken has a really thought-provoking post over at Mere Orthodoxy about Christians’ relationship with alcohol. I found the article intriguing because I’ve often thought about what level of influence I would let alcohol have on my life.

My story

I did not have a drop of alcohol until my 21st birthday, and even that was quite reluctantly. Growing up one of the few things I knew about my paternal grandfather, besides the fact that he abandoned my grandmother with 5 kids, was that he was an alcoholic. This made me really embrace an anti-alcohol stance from a fairly early age.[^beermug] I also do not remember seeing my dad have a drink until I was 22, and that was a beer in Germany, where buying a beer was cheaper than buying a pop (he is Dutch after all).

I regularly hear Christians quote Luther about drink as if Luther, as if Luther was infallible. Don’t get me wrong, I too, enjoy having an occasional adult beverage. But I think there has been far too much public embrace of alcohol by my generation.

Brett posed 4 questions in the article that I think we all should consider:

  • Is alcohol a “nice to have” or a “must-have”?
  • Are we mindful of those around us, and if they struggle with alcohol in any way are we willing to abstain for their sake?
  • Do we wear our freedom as a badge of honor, as “proof” that we are under grace and thus can drink and party to our heart’s content?
  • Do we have a serious-enough understanding of how dangerous alcohol can be?

Galatians 5:1

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

So here’s what I’ve been thinking about:

At what point are spending too much time and energy thinking and posting about earthly things compared to heavenly things? Is it possible to become a slave to “freedom”? At what point can freedom to enjoy something become slavery to enjoying something?

I’ve made a list of some questions I’ve been asking myself:

  • Do the contents of my posts social media show that I treasure Christ above all things?
  • If someone who didn’t know me read my feeds, absent any other information about me, would they see that I am looking to Christ alone for my hope and salvation?
  • More specifically: am I engaging more on posts about alcohol, food, sunrises, sunsets, fashion, home decor, or even cute kids, than on posts about the good news that Christ came to save sinners by taking on the wrath poured out against us?

May we leap for joy, in our souls, in our digital lives, and in our conversations with those who are perishing when we recall the truth of the Gospel.

What’s your ratio of posts about drink, food, technology, home decor, or really anything compared to the posts about Christ, the Gospel, and our hope?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

JPL Is Doing Some Crazy Stuff

So The Verge recently went to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to see what those nerds are up to. Let me just say the stuff they are working on is crazy. Things I’d never considered:

  1. There is a 20 minute delay to send signals to robots in space.
  2. How do you drill when there is little-to-no gravity?

To me the video starts to get really interesting at 7:12: the Microspine wheel, which is a wall / rock climbing robot.

Check out the video below to find out more.