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Showing posts from 2014

The 100th post

It's my birthday. One of those magical birthdays that requires me to renew my license and registration. Naturally, I have known about this ahead of time for months. Equally naturally, I have put it off until today. So I'm driving home after renewing my license at the BMV today, dressed in formal attire, and driving Katie's car (both of which are unnecessary details). In my neighborhood there live a plethora of squirrels. I have always been in favor of letting the little curious creatures live as I think they are cute and relatively harmless. Harmless, that is, until they gnaw through your gutters and roof. Now we are sworn enemies of one another.

As I pull onto my street I see a squirrel sitting in the middle of the road and right then and there I decide that I would like to run it over. Now, I'm not talking about speeding up or swerving drastically--certainly nothing dangerous--but if the little fella happened to be within a wheel length of the car I could just give i…

Children of God

1 John 3:1 "See how great a love that the Father has given us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are."

We are in the thick of the holiday preparations and celebrations at the Read household and I get a chance to experience everything with a fresh set of eyes thanks to my kids. They are toted around with their eyes "all aglow" as they see for the first time a lit Christmas tree, a waving Santa, a holiday train display, and more. This truly is a wonderful season to be a kid, with all the stories and tales candy and lights...it's just plain fun!

And so this has me thinking about what it means to be a child of God. If we are called God's children (mentioned 11 times in the NT) then what does it look like to act as God's child?

I asked the staff at Parkside  what attributes we share with kids as God's children and got answers like:
-children are dependent on their parents for everything at first
-children are created
-they love to rece…

How chat rooms changed the face of improvisation

Have you ever put your foot in your mouth?

No, I don't mean literally placed your foot into your open mouth. You probably haven't done that since you were 6 months old and learned that you were capable of controlling those things at the end of your body. I mean, have you ever said something and then immediately regretted having said it?
I have.
Numerous times.

The most recent was while I was teaching an after school choir class to some inner-city kids. They were acting out and being intentionally hurtful to each other with their words and acting disrespectful and I had reached a boiling point. I was talking to one of the 5th grade boys trying to show him that he was in the wrong and get him to chill out and after one too many backlashes I firmly told him to "shut up." No sooner were the words out of my mouth then I was regretting having said it. Naturally the kids who heard me say it all piped in that I wasn't allowed to say that and said they were going to "…

Inside Out...

I was reading through the book of John today and was struck by how much the Jews seemed to despise Jesus (see John 10:22-42 for an example). Here's why I think I'm so surprised by this: The Jews were familiar with the messianic prophecies in the Scriptures. They were under Roman rule which meant that they were unable to worship God in the ways they wanted to. They had to bow to Caesar and worship him so they were under religious oppression as well as political. And yet....when Jesus shows up on the scene, fulfills the prophecies and preaches that He is the Son of God, the people want to kill him. Why is that?

The Pharisees and religious leaders were expecting a political leader to step up and deliver Israel from Roman oppression. Jesus was strangely fulfilling the prophecies and all signs pointed to Him to be the messiah, and yet Jesus preached a gospel of peace. He preached of a world where you pray for enemies. He preached of going the literal extra mile, of the Kingdom of G…

CHRISTIAM

Ephesians 1:5 says that we have been adopted into sonship with God through Jesus Christ. As we enter that sonship, we take on a new name: Christian. And we love to march around telling the world we are Christians and that we live with Christian principles and Christian morals and a Christian government and Christian families and on and on it goes.

But have you ever wondered what it means--really means--to call yourself a Christian?

To call yourself a Christian is to acknowledge that you have died to your own self and taken on a new name, the name of Christ. So what if, instead of calling ourselves Christians (an overused term which really has little by way of accurately labeling your belief system) we called ourselves CHRISTIAMS?*

ChristIAm

Think about it. Romans 8:11 says that "the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you", and if Christ is living in me and I bear his name and I have this same power living in me, then I can walk around claiming to have …

Duplos, not Times tables

Have you ever made a photocopy of a photocopy and then realized how terrible the end result was? There was a day when copy machines had such bad dpi that every copy of a copy resulted in a poor final print. Modern copy machines provide a much clearer image the first time around that is capable of duplicating itself much more cleanly.

And here's the big realization: there are buzzwords floating around churches and "feel good" circles that encourage you to multiply yourself--rub off on other people in such a way that you change them in a good way. However, I don't think that should be our end goal. We shouldn't be seeking to find ways to multiply ourselves but rather just to duplicate ourselves. I allude to this in an earlier blogpost about the effectiveness of always mentoring one person at a time. But the idea of duplication helps me to better understand why this is effective.

You see, if you try to capture multiple images in one screenshot, invariably you will e…

Copycat

How to tell if your child is related to you, in 5 easy steps:

1) Does he choose to eat half a banana in one bite, smashing it into the deepest pockets of his cheeks to allow for maximum food storage while he chews? He probably picked up on that trick after watching you eat an entire piece of cake in one bite. Sure, he might almost gag on it, but he seems to be proud of himself so you should be proud too.

2) Does he crave seconds of chocolate milk shortly after you poured the first big cup for him? While technically you both know that milk isn't refreshing, you guzzle it down because it tastes so good. And why not tink your glasses together to create a little "cheers" moment while you do so? This is America, after all.

3) Does he request to eat cereal for lunch? Yes, lunch is technically one of those savory meals of the day, but when it's dad-and-me time, why not indulge with a little honey bunches of oats for lunch? Now that's nutrition!

4) Does he opt to pour th…

Stuck to the Cross

Last night Katie and I were blessed to attend a concert at CCU with some friends from church. Overall it was a very uplifting experience and was a great chance to enjoy quality Christian music and remember what was really important in this life.

The evening was sponsored by LiveLove who advocates for social justice globally. There was a 22 year old girl who spoke about her call to minister to girls in brothels in Greece, where women are regularly objectified and men are encouraged to visit brothels by peers and parents alike.

There were some other crazy empowering stories that people shared about getting muddy in the trenches of Christendom working with the impoverished and underprivileged, but you can check out those stories on their website if you want to learn more there.

The thing that I was really struck with while listening to the Christian artists was an overwhelming sense of forgiveness for my sins. I strive to live a life free of sin in my day-to-day routine that I frequently …

How invaluable $1Million dollars really is

I am going to pose two questions for you: 1)Would you rather get paid $1,000,000 up front to work for me for 30 days, or would you rather I pay you a penny on the first day and double your salary everyday thereafter for 30 days? 2)Would you rather start a Billy Graham-worthy revival or minister to one person over the course of a year?
Let’s take a look at Question 1. Likely your gut instinct told you to take the million dollars and do the work. That would be a pretty sweet deal. But if you went with the penny route, you would see a much bigger yield in your income towards the end of the 30 days. By the end of first week you would be making less than a dollar a day and by the end of the second week you would still be making less than $85 per day. By the end of the third week however, you would be making over $10,000 per day, and by day 30 you would collect over $5million dollars in one day. Day 1: $.01 Day 2: $.02 Day 3: $.04 Day 4: $.08 Day 5: $.16 Day 6: $.32 Day 7: $.64 Day 8: $1.28 …

The Piano Guys

So we got to see The Piano Guys in concert tonight. They were awesome. Some thoughts...
Expression through music.  These guys are 100% expressive when they play. They are as genuinely expressive as any performer of music can be. Through happy/major passages there is a look of pure joy and pleasure on Steve's face. During descending minor passages a furrowed brow crosses his face. They are so connected to the music that their very performance of the music is lyrical.  I so often disconnect myself from the music in my analytical way. I try to understand it, I try to calculate how and why it is making me feel a certain way. It has been years since I just put on an album and listened to it from front to back just for the sake of enjoying music.  I wonder if I do the same thing with Christianity. Do I spend so much time trying to figure out God that I forget to just enjoy Him?  I find myself challenged to soak in music for art's sake and to soak in God just for relationship's …

War of the Words

Did you know that the active definition of the word "literally" is "figuratively"?

Here is the active listing for "Literally" according to Merriam-Webster:
1:  in a literal sense or manner :actually<took the remarkliterally><was literally insane> 2 :in effect:virtually<will literally turn the world upside down to combat cruelty or injustice — Norman Cousins>

I am quite positive that sitting on some bookshelf in someone's home is a dictionary printed several decades ago. In that dictionary is a listing for the word literally which contains only one definition, and that being the literal one.  On a parallel vein, we see words imported from other languages such as "bitch" or "fuck" which have a literal definition in their native tongue, but when used in America, have taken on much stronger and much more crass interpretations. I am quite sure that the first American to incorporate the use of "bitch" in their co…

Settling for Mixed Drinks

I'm sitting here drinking a Redd's Hard Apple Cider. It's pretty good, but the fact remains that it isn't as good as a regular apple cider. The alcoholic content (8%) adds just enough bitter into the drink that it becomes unpleasant to drink. It isn't pure apples anymore.

How often in our day-to-day routine do we drink the drink that the world offers us?
Or even if you turn down drinking it today, are you allowing the world to pollute your drink for tomorrow?
Are you settling for a mixed drink? Letting the world influence your decisions and disguise itself in the midst of truth?

You see, the trouble with mixed drinks is that they are tasty, yes, but they also have a high bitterness content. Which, if you drink too deeply, you will alter your ability to think clearly. If you drink too often, you lose your ability to taste what is bitter and what is sweet. And eventually, you no longer need the sweet and you go straight for the bitter.

We need to remember that drink…

Enlightened Age of (t)Reason

Did you know that there are over 700 commands in the Bible? Well, now you do. And out of those 700+ rules, how many do you suppose you have kept/are keeping?

Some of those commands are relatively easy to keep (do not murder, do not steal, do not make sacrifices to other gods, don't have sex with animals, or even the command to cut off the hand of a woman who grabs the testicles of a man who is in a fight with her husband--I have kept that last one by simply avoiding a naked wrestling match with a wife nearby looking like she had a firm grip).

Some of those commands are harder to keep (don't shave the corners of your beard, honor your father and mother, stone and adulterer, let your yes be yes).

And some commands are easy to keep, but we are simply too smart these days for them (keep the Sabbath holy, keeping fasting days, homosexuality, etc).
It is some of these examples that have me particularly worried.

When Jesus is questioned about why his disciples do not fast, He explain…

Beauty in Movement

A couple months ago I was making a comment to the staff at church. I was trying to summarize the difference between good musicians and mediocre musicians and I was pretty sure I had discovered the easiest way to differentiate between the two. A good musician will play the music with their whole body, not just their fingers.

I have been stewing on this thought for many weeks now and I genuinely think that it is true. Someone who is 100% involved in performing a work of music will not be able to help pouring their whole selves into the performance, and it will show with their whole body language, not just the perceived sound.

Consider for instance, the following clip of the world renowned Yo-Yo Ma's performance of the Elgar Cello Concerto.
Even before he begins playing there is music in the way he raises his bow for the first time. Contrast the bodily connection that Yo-Yo Ma has with his orchestral counterparts. There is a reason he is the soloist and the other musicians are not.

C…

Pornography's Greatest Contributor: Clothing

Now there's a catchy title. Allow me to explain.

Last night I had a dream that I was getting ready to lead worship but I wasn't wearing a stitch of clothing.
Usually I have this kind of dream when I feel unprepared for something (a baseball game without my uniform, reciting lines for a play that I have never heard of, playing a song that I have never practiced, etc.), but this time there was a different twist. I remember recalling quite specifically in my dream that it wasn't I who was in the wrong, but rather people who were wearing clothes. I was being natural (perhaps even naturale) and they were the ones who were being unnatural.

In my dream I recalled Adam and Eve who were created to be naked and it was only after they sinned that they felt the need to cover their nakedness. They were ashamed only in their sinful nature--only when they were trying to hide something about themselves. As of Genesis 2:25 they were naked and without shame but come Genesis 3:7 they are try…

Instruments need tuning

In order to be classified as a musical instrument, an instrument must be tuned.
While an instrument could be tuned in a number of varying ways, the typical tuning for, oh, the world is what we call equal temperament, which divides an octave into 12 equal parts. Standard tuning will put the A below middle C (on a piano) at 440 vibrations per second. Each instrument then uses this pitch to determine whether or not it is in tune, and each player of the instrument makes adjustments correspondingly. It is imperative that all other instruments use this same tuning in order to sound harmonious when making music together.

Fact: you can own the greatest instrument in all the world (be it a Steinway piano or Stradivarius violin) but if it is not in tune it will sound like crap.

You see, an instrument is only worth value to a player if it is able to hold its tuning during a performance. If the instrument keeps letting the tuning slip then the player will get quite fed up with the instrument and …

Buyable Community

Yesterday I had a couple homeless people help me paint my shed.

It was a unique experience at best. They came by the church Thursday evening asking for money and I told them I would gladly give them cash for labor if they came by my house the next day. I gave them my number and anticipated no phone call. The next morning I got a call bright and early. They were looking to catch a ride with friends and would be on their way. It turns out they didn't have any friends who were headed this way so they started to leg it. Probably 7 miles or so from their house to mine and they completed their quest just after lunchtime. Katie and I offered them some sandwiches and drinks and after a brief rest, we got to work on the shed.

It definitely saved me a bunch of time to have 3 people all working together instead of just me by myself, but their skill sets were not awesome (then again, we're talking about painting a shed--how good does it need to look by the end of the day?) but it certainl…

Night that magnifies Your beauty

A terrible thing has happened.

In disbelief, shock, and rage, I feel my body tensing to a boiling point. Ever ounce of muscle draws tight like a bow string ready to snap. Something has to give.

I tie on my running shoes and grab my phone, kiss Katie and it's out the door. Running. Running faster than I have ever trained for. Running away from the city lights, away from the traffic of the street, away from people, towards the park in the valley. Yes, there. There are no street lights there, no electronics to hum or buzz, no people since the park has closed at dusk. There will be nothing to welcome me there but the blackness of night and the hum of the tree frogs calling out the night hours as they pass by. There I will be safe to flee from the horrors of reality. 

I run past the last of the street lights, past the last turn off, down the hill rushing towards the darkness. Faster, faster, I keep my eyes on the horizon of nothingness, straining to see what lies ahead and welcome to see …

Piano Lesson Christianity

Observe the following statement: "Fake it til you make it."
Do you believe that it is true?
I'll tell you that I didn't for quite some time. Probably more accurate is that I didn't want it to be true. I wanted to believe in inspired passion alone being the thing that "makes it". I wanted to believe that marriages lasted because it was true love and because there were no conflicts in true love. I wanted to believe that a Christian could be on fire for Jesus 24/7 because of the passion inside of them, fueling them onward toward heaven's calling. I wanted to believe that anyone could become a good musician if they just tapped inside themselves and found that inner musician. 
But then I had a realization.  The realization came when I gave my 200th piano lesson (or so) to an aspiring 10 year old musician. The student had been studying with me for a couple years at this point and was somewhere between giving up and becoming a true pianist (most of us get…

Pregnant Marathon

Flying Pig Marathon 2014 recovery is sitting at 12 days, so it is probably time to recap just how exactly the first marathon went down. Below are the highlights, the low lights, the fun lights, and the Christmas lights.

The night before
Even though I laid everything out ahead of time (including pinning my bib number onto my shorts the night before, I was quite convinced that I was forgetting something. Shoes, socks, something important. But...I guess I wasn't. Went to bed around 10:30p while Katie fabricated coral numbers for Bret and I to be able to sneak into the correct coral. Apparently you need to gestimate your finish time accurately 9 months ahead of time or else be penalized by running with slow runners.

4:30am -Wake up time.
Woke up, put on warm up clothes and ate a bagel dry with a couple sips of water. Took care of the pre-race you-know-whats and put on my outfit. Left the house around 5:15a carrying nothing but some packets of gu and a sleepy smile.

5:45am -Arrival.
Go…