Monday Music: ‘Pride and Joy’ (Stevie Ray Vaughan)

On August 27, 1990, Stevie Ray Vaughan was killed in a helicopter crash. He was only 35 years old. In his 35 short years he had become one of the greatest guitarists alive and, in my opinion, one of the greatest to ever live. He is my all-time favorite. I love the combination of his incredible skill mixed with his obvious passion when playing live. I have regularly sat around and just watched performance after perfomance of his on youtube. To be honest, I like his recordings ok, but his live shows are hard for me not to watch. Something about the way he plays and sings and just owns the instrument is mesmerizing, I can’t look away. Some people are great musicians, great song-writers, great live performers. And some just seem to be on a whole other plain, like they are actually too good to be believable. SRV is one of those artists to me. I hate it that he died so young. I am thankful for the music he left behind.

So in memory of the 25th anniversary of his death last week, I am posting a video of ‘Pride and Joy’ being played at Austin City Limits (you could spend all night watching his performances there and it not be a waste of your time):

Pride and Joy (live in Austin)



Friday Sports etc: Idiots Optimist Guide to the Vol Season (Rocky Top Talk)

My favorite place to get infomation on the Volunteers is Rocky Top Talk, the SB Nation site for the Vols. They normally post articles each day about everything that is going on with my favorite team, following the football and basketball programs the closest (which is what I mostly keep up with as well).

For the last few years, they always put up a post right before the football season that states plainly why we will go undefeated and win the national championship. Needless to say, it is a tongue-in-cheek article. Yet, it always gets me fired up for football time in Tennessee. So give it read, give it a laugh, and get ready for next Saturday when the madness truly begins.

Idiots Optimist Guide


Thursday Links: ‘The Shrug that Scares me to Death’ (Trevin Wax)

Today’s link is a sobering article on the continuing defense of abortion in our country. Let me give you a couple of quotes:

  • “It frightens me to think that we live in a society that can watch this kind of violence against the defenseless, say “Oh well!,” and then click to the next news story.”
  • “It frightens me to think we live in a society that knows full well what we are doing and simply doesn’t care.”

What if people find out the truth about abortion and just shrug it off like its no big deal? These are indeed scary conclusions, but ones we must be willing to face in our continued fight for life.

Give the whole article a read here:

The Shrug that Scares me to Death


Wednesday Word: ‘The Secret Wisdom of God’ (1 Corinthians 2:7)

I love a good mystery. I have shared before my enjoyment in reading fiction (like the Odd Thomas series by Dean Koontz). It all began for me in a class in college called ‘Mystery and Detective Fiction’ (now that is a good title for a college course). We read around 10 novels (some pictured above) in that class and it was the only class I ever took where I was actually ahead in my reading (it’s hard to put a good mystery down!) We regularly talked about whether or not the author was playing ‘fair’ with the reader (giving them hints and clues as to how the story would turn out) or if the ending was a complete surprise. Even today I ask those same questions as I enjoy good fiction.

Paul uses a term translated ‘mystery’ several times in his writing to describe something that was hidden before but has now been revealed with the coming of Christ. I first encountered this word when writing a paper on Ephesians 3:1-3. The mystery that Paul is describing in that context is the inclusion of the Gentiles in salvation. He concludes: This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel (Ephesians 3:6). The fact that Gentiles would be grafted into the people of God and become heirs with Israel was hidden. The Lord hinted at it throughout the writings of the prophets, but it was not clearly known until the coming of Christ. It was a mystery.

Paul uses the same term to describe the purpose of marriage in Ephesians 5. He commands the woman to submit to the husband as the Church submits to Christ and for the husband to love the wife as Christ loves the Church (5:22-30). Then he references the institution of marriage by quoting Genesis 2:24 and concludes: This mystery (concerning marriage) is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church (5:32). The reason why wives are called to submit like the church and husbands are called to love like Christ is because marriage is to be a disply of the gospel. This purpose was hidden until the coming of Christ. Yet, now that He has come and given His life for His Bride, the mystery has been revealed.

In 1 Corinthians 2:7, Paul again uses the term that is often translated mystery: But we impart a secret and hidden (mystery) wisdom from God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. Paul is contrasting worldly wisdom, which is here today and gone tomorrow, with the wisdom of God, which is eternal, decreed or predetermined before the ages began. The Corinthians were tempted to trust in the fleeting wisdom of the world and Paul encourages them to look to the everlasting wisdom of God. What is this wisdom that was hidden but has now been revealed? The secret wisdom of God is the glorious good news that sinners can be saved by trusting in the message of the cross. Jesus’ crucifixion is folly to the world, but to those who are being saved it is the wisdom and power of God (1 Corinthians 1:22-24). God has revealed this hidden wisdom to both Jews and Gentiles so that they can turn from their sins and be saved through faith in Christ. In other words, He has revealed this wisdom to those in Christ for our glory! He has opened our eyes to see our need for the Savior, to repent and believe, to live a life that honors Him, and to take us to be with Him forever. For our glory!

Brothers and sisters, this is the greatest mystery of all: God loves us so much that He had a plan before the  ages began to redeem us in Christ. I love the mystery of God’s sovereign grace revealed through the message of the cross.


Tuesday Books: ‘The Biggest Story’ (Kevin DeYoung)

“Once upon a time, there lived a man and a woman. They were the happiest people on the panet. True, they were the only people on the planet, but they were still terrifically happy…Unfortunately, things didn’t stay happy and wonderful for long…”

So begins the new book by Kevin DeYoung entitled ‘The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher brings us back to the Garden’ (we should all buy the book simply for the sub-title). It is a walk through major stories of the Bible aimed at 5-11 year olds to help them see the great story of the Scriptures. The inside cover explains: “The Bible is full of exciting stories that fill children with awe and wonder. But kids need to know how all those classic stories connect to Scripture’s overarching message about God’s plan to redeem his rebellious people.”

I believe that one of the best things Christian parents can do for their children is to help them see the big story of the Bible and how all of the stories are connected to it. I am excited about DeYoung’s book because it will help parents to do just that.

Also, I should note that the illustrations are pretty cool too. I mean, just look at the Table of Contents page below! Barry Wallace sent me a good article where the illustrator Don Clark is interviewed about the book. Interesting to hear him talk about his work.

Parents if you are looking for a good resource for home devotions, then give this one a try. I think you will enjoy it!


Monday Music: ‘Build Me Up From Bones’ (Sarah Jarosz)

I love the show Austin City Limits. Some of the best live performances I have watched on TV have been from this show. Since I don’t have cable to actually watch it, I like the fact that you can go to their website and watch former performances (at least parts of them).

I was doing that once and stumbled across the artist Sarah Jarosz. I watched the videos they had of her and her band (a cello and violin player) and I was hooked. She would fall into the bluegrass genre of music, but her sound is bit more modern than typical bluegrass. She plays several instruments and the guys around her are talented as well (which makes for great live performances). Her voice is haunting and sounds great over the acoustic arrangements.

Sometimes when I watch someone play live that I like I fear that their studio albums will not represent their sound well. But this is not the case with Jarosz (how do you pronounce that?) Whoever recorded her did a great job of capturing her unique sound. At this point she has three albums and I like songs from each of them. Some of my favorites inclue: ‘Broussard’s Lament’, ‘Long Journey’ (really like this one), ‘Annabelle Lee’, ‘Over the Edge’, and ‘Build me up from bones.’ The last song is a good representation of her sound and a good place to start with her music. You can listen to it here (another great live performance, which sounds almost exactly like the CD):

Build Me Up From Bones

She is just getting started (I think she recently went off to music school somewhere) so I expect a lot more great music from her. Watch some of her live performances (like the ones from Austin City Limits, who knows you’ll probably find some other great artists there) and enjoy!


Friday Sports etc: Eric Berry returns

(Image credit: )

In the last 10 dismal years of being a Vol fan, there have been very few things to get excited about. Watching Eric Berry play was one of them. He was great as a Vol. I remember the pick six against Tebow (which I celebrated even though we got hammered in the game) and watching expectantly for him to break the NCAA INT return yards record (he ended up just a few yards short). He played hard and hit even harder. Fun times.

He was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs and has had a good carreer so far as a pro. To be honest, I have not seen him play much because I don’t watch the NFL, but I have stumbled across a few Chiefs’ games and watched them cause I know he was playing. He was doing well, but then life, or even worse, cancer, interrupted. He was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma last December. After taking treatments, he was cleared to play this season and made his return in the pre-season matchup with the Cardinals. The picture above is him and his mother hugging before the game began. Good stuff.

I hope he has a great year. But even more than that I hope he continues to be successful in his battle with cancer and the battle of life!


Thursday Links: ‘The Gospel, marriage, and sexual schismatics’ (Trevin Wax)

My college alma mater, Union University, has been in the news lately for all the right reasons. They decided to pull out of the CCCU (Council for Christian Colleges and Universities) since two schools have recently decided to allow same-sex marriages among their faculty. Union’s current president, Dub Oliver, stated that he felt like the action needed to happen in order for the University to stay in line with it’s biblical convictions. I am thankful for such a stance. Of course, not everyone agrees. Trevin Wax responds to one dissenter, Scot McKnight, who feels that Union should not have responded in this way. It is an interesting issue and illustrates well the struggle to be unified with other believers, while remaining faithful to biblical convitions. We will continue to face this struggle in the days ahead.

So, give it a read:

The Gospel, marriage, and sexual schismatics


Wednesday Word: 1 Corinthians 1:10-2:5 (Out of tune)

Give this video a watch:

This is me playing the old hymn ‘Come Thou Fount’ (ahh three chord hymns). During the first run the guitar is in tune, but one string is out of tune on the second. Man, does it sound terrible! Every musician knows the importance of tuning their instrument. And even if you are not a musician, you can hear the problem of an out of tune guitar.

The Church in Corinth was out of tune. They were arguing with each other about various issues and claiming to follow different leaders (Paul, Apollos, and Peter). They were believers, they had turned from their sins and placed their faith in Christ, but they were allowing secondary issues to divide them. And people were noticing. Paul says that Chloe’s people (probably folks from Ephesus who had visited the Church in Corinth) had noticed the divisions. He will spend the first four chapters of the letter addressing the issue.

And what is his solution? Simple: look to Christ. After identifying the problem in 1:10-12, Paul asks them: “Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” The obvious answer is a resounding ‘NO!’ Instead of being divided around particular leaders, they should be unified through their faith in the Savior. Some may be Jews, others may be Gentile, but all have been saved through the power of the gospel. Their faith in Christ should unite them.

Unfortunately some believe that Paul is teaching unity at all costs. In other words, truth does not matter only unity and love. But this is not what Paul says. Our unity is based on our faith in Christ, and for Paul belief in Jesus invovles specific content and results in faithful obedience (which is what he argues throughout the rest of the letter). It is not unity for unity’s sake, but unity in the gospel.

Every local Church is representing Christ to the world. Every community of faith is a display of the gospel, a song if you will. It is easy to let pride divide us, but the resulting sound is painfully shrill. Yet, by staying humble at the cross, by always remembering that none of us deserve to be a part of His Bride, we can avoid division over secondary issues and sing together: “Come Thou Fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing Thy grace…”



Tuesday Books: ‘Nine Marks of a Healthy Church’ (Mark Dever)

While I was in college, I was invited to one of my professor’s homes (thanks Dr. Thornbury, now president of King’s College in NYC) and given a little pamphlet with a big 9 on it like this one:

(this is not my original copy, not sure who I leant that to!)

That night myself and some other students discussed the state of the local Church and what the Bible had to say about her importance. To be honest, it was my first time to really think about the health of a Church and I realized I had much to learn. It was my first introduction to the writings and work of pastor Mark Dever, whose ministry has had a profound impact on my understanding of a healthy Church. A few years later, the expanded book came out and I grabbed a copy:

(This is my original copy, but you can borrow it if you like!)

Dever’s goal in this book and in the ministry founded around the 9 marks (which can be found here: 9 Marks) was not so much to define all the important marks of a Church (there is no mark on prayer or missions) but to deal with marks that have been neglected by Churches in the last 50-100 years (see his Introduction to the book). Thus, he identifies 9 Marks for a healthy Church:

  1. Expositional Preaching
  2. Biblical Theology
  3. The Gospel
  4. A Biblical Understanding of Conversion
  5. A Biblical Understanding of Evangelism
  6. A Biblical Understanding of Church Membership
  7. Biblical Church Discipline
  8. A Concern for Discipleship and Growth
  9. Biblical Church leadership

Dever devotes one chapter to each mark and concludes the book with three appendices that help in applying some of these marks at the local level. Outside of the Scriptures, I don’t think any other book has influenced me more concerning ecclesiology (doctrine of the Church). I have taught through the book at Trinity (even found my old notes that I used in the Fall of 2006 when looking through the book, see picture below) and attended a ‘Weekender’ at Capital Hill Baptist Church (where Dever pastors) to see how they are living out the 9 marks in their setting.

Now you may be thinking: ‘Sounds great for pastors/ministers, but why should I read a book like that?’ You should read this book because the health of the local Church depends as much on its members as it does on its leadership. I am not letting ministers off the hook for leading well, but it is amazing what happens when the members of a local Church get serious about Church health. So give this book a try. Read it, encourage others to read it, invite some folks over to discuss it (hey, you can even use my study notes if you want! Actually, I am pretty sure they made a study guide at some point). I want local Churches to be healthy for God’s glory and the exaltation of Christ. I believe Dever’s book can aid us in that.