Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Just watched the season premiere of American Idol. When an auditioner describes themselves as unique, it is never good. I'm just saying...

Sunday, January 07, 2007

A Voice Louder than Rock and Roll

Finished reading Caleb Quaye's autobiography A Voice Louder than Rock and Roll. Eric Clapton called him the world's greatest guitar player. He broke into the music business in London along with his friend Reg. We know Reg as Elton John. The book chronicles the rise of a great blues and rock guitarist. It really dispells any myth you might have about how glamorous it would be to be a big star playing in front of 50,000 plus people. He talks pretty honestly about drug use and the party life.

Caleb is now a Foursquare minister after accepting Christ in the eighties at Jack Hayford's church. The book is well written and has a lot of insight into the workings of the music business. It is a great read for fans of Elton John of which I am not one. But it also is a great testimony to the grace of God and how He can speak into even the loudest life.

There are a lot of great stories about the Beatles and other legends of the London music scene in the late sixties and early seventies. It was such an easy read that I finished in just a few hours.

Friday, January 05, 2007


At the same time sometimes there are legitimate reasons for doing something we have just forgotten what they are. Have you ever wondered why radiators in some New York City apartments are seemingly much larger than would seem necessary? It is because at the turn of the 20th century heating engineers sized their heating systems for the coldest day of the year and then adding 40% so they could bring these brick and plaster buildings up to temperature by burning coal in huge boilers each morning. Why so big? Because they had to hear with the windows open of course. Every one knew that back then. Why did they heat with the windows open?

It is because at the turn of the 20th century, many American cities teemed with immigrants who lived in tenements where the conditions weren’t much better than the steamship steerage that brought them to the New World. People slept, stacked like cord wood, in tiny rooms as cooking stoves fouled the air with noxious fumes. Gaslights in the homes of the more fortunate, traded oxygen for yellow light. Tuberculosis seemed to be worst where there were lots of people, and children died everywhere at an alarming rate, although no one knew exactly why. The idea of sleeping with the windows open and the heating system turned off started with the wealthy and caught on. Soon, everyone was doing it. So the buildings were designed for this reality.

Why do we have evening services at many churches? It is because that is when people would bring their friends to church. Today people are more likely to visit a church on a Sunday morning. Before we write off the practices of the past I think it would be wise to examine why things were done that way. Understanding the why can help us to capture the wisdom behind the practice. Once we understand the principle then we can adapt our practices in the present to the same purpose. Put another way, we may do things for the same reason but because things have changed the way we do them also have to change.

No one would suggest building an apartment building with oversized radiators and huge coal fired boilers today. It would be impractical and a waste of resources. We have better ways of improving indoor air quality without sleeping with the windows open and the heat off. In the same way we need to examine why we do things in order to maximize our effectiveness. There may be a better ways of improving the quality of our church.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


At Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, you will find Carpenter Hall, a building named for Rolla C. Carpenter, who in the 19th century was a professor of experimental engineering, and who in this century is mostly forgotten. In his 1895 book, Heating and Ventilating Buildings, Carpenter relates this story:

“Fahrenheit a German merchant, in 1721 was the first to make a mercurial thermometer. Fahrenheit took as fixed points the temperature of the human body, which he called 24 degrees, and a mixture of salt and salt ammoniac, which he supposed the greatest cold possible, as zero. On this scale the freezing point was eight degrees. These degrees were afterwards divided into quarters, and later these subdivisions themselves were termed degrees. On this modified scale the freezing point of water becomes 32 degrees, blood-heat 96 degrees (as determined later, this should be 98 degrees), and the point of boiling water at atmospheric pressure 212 degrees.”

Americans still use this unscientific instrument today, despite its awkwardness and foreign roots, a practice that perplexed the professor more than a century ago. “Except for the fact that it has been long in use, it has not a single feature to recommend it,” he concluded about the Fahrenheit system. Did you ever wonder why we say 32 degrees instead of say 30 degrees? Why is boiling 212 instead of 210 degrees? It is because Gabriel Daniel Fahrenheit made it all up as he went along, and today we treat it as though it were written on a stone tablet.

How many things do we do in church just because they have been long in use even if they do not have a single feature to recommend them? We often treat something as if it were one of the Ten Commandments just because we have always done it that way. I think another reason why in America we still use Fahrenheit is because we do not want to go to the trouble of unlearning degrees Fahrenheit and relearning Celsius. The same goes for inches and feet as opposed to the metric system.

I know that I am as lazy as the next guy when it comes to unlearning old assumptions and ways of doing things and then relearning a better way. But if our calling is to advance the Kingdom of God can we be so cavalier about changing our ways to be more effective. This year I am going to continue to reexamine how we “do church” in order to become more effective.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


LaDaininian Tomlinson was named TSN's sportsman of the year. He has set a lot of records for the San Diego Chargers this year and has led them to the playoffs. He may well be the greatest running back to every play. He is respected as much for the little things such as his blocking and receiving as for his running ability. Many scouts who watched Walter Payton say that LT has all of Payton's qualities but he is faster. What impressed me in the article is LT's dedication and hard work. He is always asking himself how he can get better and whether or not he is doing everything he can to be the best that he can be.

He also stays away from clubs because "I could do the party thing but why? It's not worth what could happen. One say we're going to have kids, and I want to set an example for them. I want them to be able to tell folks, "I want to be just like my dad." Contrast that with the Viking's wideout Traviis Taylor's arrest Sunday night at a nightclub. Or the Denver Bronco's player who was shot and killed after leaving a club. Remember all the trouble Randy Moss has gotten in? Randy Moss had more physical tools than Jerry Rice. He could have been the greatest WR ever to play. Instead he has settled for merely a very good player who takes plays off and doesn't always give his best effort.

As a pastor I want to learn from LT. What can I do to get better? Am I doing everything I can to maximize my potential for the kingdom? Or do I rely on natural talent and just get by? What about in your profession? Are you continually trying to make the most use out of the talent God has given you? Are you the best mother or father you can be? Do you use the gifts God has given you to further the kingdom?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


Last night I watched what was probably one of the greatest bowl games in history. Boise St. beat mighty Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. You had to see some of the plays to believe them. I was rooting for Boise because nobody gave them a chance and because they play on the coolest field in college football. Their artificail turf is blue! It looks cool on TV and on the XBox in NCAA Football. Fun stuff!