Monthly Archives: January 2008

Anchor Worship Team’s Friday Night Gig

TimTerry_250.jpgThe Anchor worship team has a gig on Friday night. We’re playing for a couple hours at the Grind coffeehouse in Fort Wayne. I’ve not been there before. Interestingly, we’re required to do only our own original music. The Grind doesn’t want to purchase the BMI license needed to legally perform live music written by other people.

Fortunately, Tim (left) and Terry (right), our guitarists, have written gobs of music, most of which we’ve done at Anchor. Some songs are part of the regular song-package rotation, others we’ve done as preludes. We’re also doing a few songs written by Chris Kuntz, our former worship leader. And then you can throw in a few songs using someone else’s tune (like “Who’ll Stop the Rain” and “Mustang Sally”), to which Tim and Terry have written their own lyrics. I even contributed a song in this category, writing new words to Coco Montoya’s “Clean Slate.”

Put it all together, and we’ve got two hours of original music. Pretty impressive. I’ll be there, along with Terry’s son Joe (drums) and Tom, our outstanding bass player.

Tim and Terry are very talented. They recorded several songs. I’ve included them below, along with cord charts. I think you’ll enjoy them. I particularly like “I Don’t Believe in Luck,” perfect to accompany any sermon dealing with gambling or money in general.

I Don’t Believe in Luck
Chord Chart .doc | .rtf
Party in Heaven
Chord Chart .doc | .rtf
I Wanna Be Like You
Chord Chart .doc | .rtf
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The Dead Weight Around Hillary’s Neck

My brother Rick wrote an interesting piece on his blog called “Why I Don’t Want Hillary as President.” I gotta agree with him.

But there’s more: the Bill Factor. The guy just can’t help himself. He loves the spotlight, and can’t discipline himself to stay on-message with his wife, who happens to be The Candidate, in case he’s not aware of that. Bill’s gonna sink her chances, whether it’s in capturing the nomination or winning in November.

I just read an article in the current Newsweek about some of Bill’s business dealings with shady people since leaving office. We had eight years of Whitewater, a minor scandal that Republicans drew out insufferably. I’m afraid there are a bunch more Whitewaters just beneath the surface. And they would be inflicted on us throughout a Hillary presidency.

While I think she’s qualified and capable, a real sharp lady who knows policy and could make a decent president (despite whether or not you agree with some of her views), I think her husband is just an enormous turn-off for too many people. A big liability. Kudos for hanging on to a marriage when lots of people thought she should divorce the guy. But Bill, who would most definitely be co-president, is the main reason I can’t imagine voting for her.

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Why I Could Never Vote for Rudy

I’m not a Rudy fan, and would not vote for him. I don’t see that he has much of a moral base, and I’ve read too much about the bad ways he treats people (which speaks to his character). His ego is astronomical, and he doesn’t tolerate anyone else taking even a portion of his spotlight. Plus, he’s playing the fear card, straight from the Karl Rove Handbook. I detest that.

And I see him continuing and even expanding the imperial presidency which George Bush spawned–a presidency which is not accountable to Congress, views itself as above any checks and balances, that does what it wants in the world without getting anyone else’s approval. And that, to me, is dangerous for our country. George Bush has left us without friends in the world who would come to our aid should we need it. In that way, it endangers our national security.

So that’s how I felt until I read the “Old Habits,” an article about Giuliani in the January 7 New Yorker magazine. The New Yorker has written some fabulous, in-depth articles about the various candidates, all of which provide new light. This article focused on Rudy’s record as mayor, the good and the bad. While he did a lot of good, he left mountains of scorched earth.

He mistreated people. He left few friends. He picked fights out of pure capriciousness. He let his ego run amuck. The city’s largest policeman’s union and the largest firefighter’s union won’t endorse Rudy. “Rudy Giuliani is not the individual he portrays himself to be,” said the head of of the city’s fire officers’ union.

“Rudy was a good mayor in the sense of delivering services,” says former mayor Ed Koch. “He was not a great mayor, because he didn’t respect people.”

Jerome Hauer, who set up Giuliani’s Office of Emergency Management, said this: “From my perspective, Rudy would be a very dangerous President. And I think people need to be very frightened of him. When you look at the way he picked battles unnecessarily as mayor, imagine if he’s got nuclear weapons at his disposal.”

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I am a Workout Worm

I’m horrified. Ashamed. Smitten with self-loathing.

Last night, as Pam and I drove home from working out at the YMCA, I realized that I had committed a terrible faux paux. After 20 minutes on the arc trainer, I left…without wiping it down. All of that sweat just left to marinate. The guy beside me probably reported me to the Y authorities. I well remember the Seinfield episode about this.

Dare I show my face there again?

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Mitt Romney on Religion

Mitt Romney I finally got around to reading Mitt Romney’s December “Faith in America” speech, in which he talked about religion. It’s very good, and I fully respect what he said. Christianity is kind of the “dominant” religion of the US, and when you’re “in charge,” you don’t need to ask many philosophical questions about your place in the scheme of things. But as a Mormon, a minority religion, Romney has had to defend his faith and think deeply about religious issues as they affect citizenship.

Here are a few excerpts. Nothing earth-shaking, but good stuff. Good stuff for us evangelicals, who became addicted to political power when the Moral Majority came to power (though I think we’re getting over it).

Let me assure you that no authorites of my church, or of any other church for that matter, will ever exert influence on presidential decisions. Their authority is theirs, within the province of church affairs, and it ends where the affairs of the nation begin.

There are some for whom these commitments are not enough. They would prefer it if I would simply distance myself from my religion, say that it is more a tradition than my personal conviction, or disavow one or another of its precepts. That I will not do. I believe in my Mormon faith and I endeavor to live by it.

Americans do not respect believers of convenience. Americans tire of those who would jettison their beliefs, even to gain the world.

No candidate should become a spokesman for his faith.

I believe that every faith I have encountered draws its adherents closer to God. And in every faith I have come to know, there are features I wish were in my own: I love the profound ceremony of the Catholic Mass, the approachability of God in the prayers of the Evangelicals, the tenderness of spirit among the Pentecostals, the confident independence of the Lutherans, the ancient traditions of the Jews, unchanged through the ages, and the commitment to frequent prayer of the Muslims. As I travel across the country and see our towns and cities, I am always moved by the many houses of worship with their steeples, all pointing to heaven, reminding us of the source of life’s blessings.

The establishment of state religions in Europe did no favor to Europe’s churches. And though you will find many people of strong faith there, the churches themselves seem to be withering away.

Any believer in religious freedom, any person who has knelt in prayer to the Almighty, has a friend and ally in me.

There are a few points which invite quibbling. One is his line, “Freedom requires religion, just as religion requires freedom.” I agree with the first part, but not the second. Religion has often thrived–or, at least, shined with the most genuine of light–when officially banned. But I suppose it makes sense in the context of the Mormon religion; Brigham Young and Company migrated west to find a place where they could freely practice this new religion.

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Martin Luther King: “Jesus Wasn’t Playing.”

The worship team, as a special, did the song “Get Together,” from the 1960s, as a way to celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. While the band played, a series of photos from King’s life and from the civil rights movement appeared on the screen behind us. Last night, as I searched the internet for appropriate photos, I came across several of King’s speeches, and I was impressed with what I read.

One sermon is called “Loving Your Enemies.” King preached it in 1957 at a Baptist church in Montgomery, Ala. It’s quite a sermon. He quotes the verses from Matthew 5: “Ye have heard that it has been said, “Thou shall love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy.” But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.”

Then he says the following:‚Ä®

Now let me hasten to say that Jesus was very serious when he gave this command; he wasn’t playing. He realized that it’s hard to love your enemies. He realized that it’s difficult to love those persons who seek to defeat you, those persons who say evil things about you. He realized that it was painfully hard, pressingly hard. But he wasn’t playing. And we cannot dismiss this passage as just another example of Oriental hyperbole, just a sort of exaggeration to get over the point. This is a basic philosophy of all that we hear coming from the lips of our Master. Because Jesus wasn’t playing; because he was serious. We have the Christian and moral responsibility to seek to discover the meaning of these words, and to discover how we can live out this command, and why we should live by this command.

What would happen if we actually lived by this? If we took it as seriously as King took it? What are the implications for us Manifest Destiny Americans? “Jesus wasn’t playing,” King said. And we know from Jesus’ life that he, indeed, lived by this–as did King. So for us to take this seriously, what does it require of us as a nation, and as citizens of the world’s dominant nation?

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The Road Untravelled by the Likes of Me

Last year, on the Sunday prior to Martin Luther King Day, we showed a clip from the “I have a Dream” speech in church. That was really neat. We’re not doing that this year, but last night at music practice, we pulled out a song from the 1960s that goes along with the Civil Rights movement: “Get Together,” by the Youngbloods.

Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another right now.

We decided to play it as part of the service. So we practiced it last night, and it came together real nicely. A fun song to do.

And yes, it took me back…back to my days dropping LSD, smoking weed, the constant sex, cruising the country in a VW van, sticking flowers in soldiers’ guns, wearing hideously unmatched (and probably tie-dyed) clothes, getting wasted at Woodstock while Jimmy played….

Oh wait, I must be thinking of somebody else. I didn’t even wear my first pair of bluejeans until 1972, a radicalizing turning point which left me awash in euphoric sensations of counter-cultural rebellion. Wearing bluejeans and listening to the Carpenters (my first album, “Close to You”), are about as rebellious as I ever got. I sure missed out on a lot. Thanks, Mom and Dad, for raising such a boring kid.

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The Self-Superiority of the Macintosh Minority

Mike Dennis pointed me to an article about the mindset of Mac buyers, which is perhaps the only minority group WASPs like Mike and I can claim to be part of. According to Mindset Media, a group I know nothing about, people who are “highly open-minded” are 60% more likely to buy a Mac. In addition, “These purchasers are also more liberal, less modest, and more assured of their own superiority than the population at large.”

More liberal? Less modest? I don’t know about that. But being a Mac user since 1988, and therefore obviously equipped with enormous foresight, I have no problem attesting to my own superiority.

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Incrementally Saving the Environment

And now, a lesson in coffee preparation technique.

I use cream, and I always put it in first. That way, when I pour in the coffee, it automatically mixes. You don’t need to find one of those cheap plastic straw-things to stir it up.

Starbucks, being upscale, doesn’t condescend to using plastic tubes. Instead, they provide wooden sticks to elevate your stirring experience. They’re like popsicle sticks, but skinny and longer. Of course, I never use them, because my first stop when I enter the store is the cream counter. I pour Half & Half into my travel cup, and then go get my decaf. When they ask, “Leave room for cream?”, I say, “It’s already in there.”

I did that today. When the girl brought my coffee, she said, “Are you saving the environment one little wooden stick at a time?”

“What?” I asked. I had no idea what she was referring to.

“There’s another guy who always puts cream in first,” she explains. “He says he is saving the environment one little wooden stick at a time.”

Hey, it’s something.

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Humility, Credit, and Blame

A very interesting post on what I’ve discovered is a very interesting website: Swerve, by Craig Groeschel, pastor of the highly innovative Lifechurch.tv. Groeschel is writing about humility. He says it is dangerous to not only take all the credit when something goes well, but also dangerous to take the blame when things don’t go well.

For example, when a ministry struggles, some totally blame themselves: “I must not be doing a good job. If I were, then this would grow and thrive.” If we blame ourselves for the hard times, we’ll likely take credit for the successes, too.

That’s a fascinating thought, particularly in a church setting. When things don’t go well, we tend to castigate ourselves for dropping the ball–not working hard enough, not praying enough, not whatever enough. When things do go successfully, we say in humility, “It’s all God. He deserves the credit.” And yet, are we actually thinking but not saying, “Man, we sure pulled that off well! We thought it out, we put in the effort. We accomplished!” Deep down.

I’m certainly not one to avoid self credit. Just being honest.

How does this work theologically? Can we give God the credit whether something bombs or triumphs? We certainly do deserve the blame for failures. At the same time, we may deserve all the credit for the success–because we pretty much pulled it off in our own strength, without wrestling with God’s desires and praying. Heavens, during my lifetime in the church, I’m sure I’ve done many things for God’s glory without seeking his help.

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