Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Judging Rightly

MESSAGE: Wineskins (podcast)
SCRIPTURE: Luke 5.33-39

Before you go any further in this blog, watch this video:

This video is a witness encounter between Ray Comfort (the guy with the microphone) and P-Nasty (you can probably guess which one he is). This video is taken from one of the "Way of the Master" videos that we use in our evangelism training course (which you MUST do if you haven't already!). In one of our recent classes, one of the students saw this video and was outraged. He thought that anyone who would assume that P-Nasty was not a believer was judgmental and hypocritical, because we of course don't know what is going on in P-Nasty's heart, and even by his own admission he "accepted the fact that G-J-uh, Jesus Christ died for my sins, you know what I'm saying? He died for my sins, he gave me another chance. If it wasn't for Jesus Christ I wouldn't be here right now." Earlier in the interview, Ray told P-Nasty that he needed God's forgiveness, and P-Nasty responded by asking, "How do you know I ain't got His forgiveness?" and Ray responded by saying, "I know what's coming out of your mouth, and that's what's coming out of your heart - it gives me a clue." The student in our class thought this was the epitome of judgmentalism and legalism. What do you think? Was Ray right in "judging" the man as not being saved and as needing forgiveness?

In this past week's scripture and message, we saw the Pharisees judge the disciples as being unspiritual because they didn't spend all their time fasting and praying. Apparently, fasting and prayer were some important marks of true spirituality in that day, and since they weren't particularly observed in the lives of Jesus' disciples, they were judged as not spiritual. Jesus rebukes the Pharisees by saying that their brand of fasting and prayer isn't authentic because it's done out of a desire to fulfill a ritual and that there's no spiritual meaning behind it. Jesus would later go on to say that fasting and prayer aren't rituals - they're deep acts of communion with God. And he also goes on to say that the brand of fasting and prayer that the Pharisees are promoting isn't anything like the kind that Jesus is encouraging. In fact, they're so different, the two can't co-exist.

This should teach us as Christians a couple things: 1) we can't go around judging people by what they do and what they don't do, because we can't see their hearts. In other words, actions are actions, and they only mean something if they're done with pure worshipful motivations - which we can't see. Thus, we can't judge a person's spiritual authenticity by what they're doing - it might be authentic, and it might be phony - we just can't know for sure. 2) We need to be making sure that our own spiritual actions (prayer, fasting, Bible reading, serving, singing, communion, etc.) are done in truth, and in a desire for worship and communion with God. Anything NOT done with such motivation is worthless, and is not the kind of spirituality that Jesus demands from his followers.

But then, back to P-Nasty: was Ray right in "judging" him as being unsaved? This question requires some consideration. Since we can't know the hearts of people, the best we can do is form a hypothesis based upon the evidence of the fruit of their life. Are they living in holiness? Are they bearing "fruit in keeping with repentance?" Is the fruit of the Holy Spirit evident in their life? Are they communing with God on a regular basis (prayer, reading the Bible, etc. - again, these are mere actions, but they are actions that should be evident in the life of a Christian)? The Bible tells us that "out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks." This is one of the things that Ray says to P-Nasty: he says that he can tell that P-Nasty does not have God's forgiveness because of what is coming out of his mouth, which is ultimately coming out of his heart. And what was coming out of his heart/mouth? Self-righteousness; a love for sin; a refusal to admit his offense before God; by these things, Ray (rightly, I believe) determines that P-Nasty is not a believer. These are merely some criteria by which we can "judge" others to see if they are in the faith, but of course, this must be done lovingly and reverently, not done to condemn (but do know that scripture commands us to confront those who claim Christ but who are steeped in sin).

A lot of people toss around the old "judge not, lest ye be judged," phrase quite a bit these days. They say that Jesus never judged anyone. WRONG! Jesus judged everyone he came into contact with, as do you and I. It's impossible to live life and interact with people without making some kind of judgment about them. Plus, Jesus ALWAYS judged sin as being wrong, and the sinner as needing to be saved (he can do that since he's God). Thus, when we encounter sinners, we can make a similar judgment: sin is wrong, and sinners need to be saved. What that verse speaks to is making a moral judgment on someone because of their actions - condemning them - which is not for mankind to do, but for God alone. Instead, it's our job to love them, preach the gospel to them and introduce them to Jesus.

Here then, is what I think about P-Nasty. He says that he has God's forgiveness, and that he "accepted" the fact that Jesus Christ died for his sins (spiritual action). While I can't make a definite decision about the truth of this claim because I can't see his heart, I can form a hypothesis by the evidence of his actions, which are still steeped in sin and unrighteousness. Since the Bible calls believers to flee from sin, and to be living in righteousness, I can make a conclusion that he is indeed not saved, and that he indeed needs Jesus. I can't make a moral decision regarding him, though, and condemn him, because I can't see his heart. I can't determine what he believes in truth. Only God can do that. Thus, it's my job to love P-Nasty and to warn him that his professed lifestyle is not what the Bible says a believer should be doing, and I can encourage him to examine himself - examine his heart, his sin, his desires, his motivations, etc. as compared to scripture and make a decision based upon that examination.

So was Ray a Pharisee by "judging" P-Nasty because he didn't see him "fasting and praying?" Definitely not in the same sense that the Pharisees were judging the disciples. Ray used the evidence he saw in the guy's life and formed a conclusion - then he loved him enough to tell him about Jesus. He didn't make a moral or spiritual judgment on P-Nasty. Instead, he reached out in compassion. Let us go and do likewise.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Hanging Out With Sinners

SCRIPTURE: Luke 5.27-32

This passage is where we read that Jesus actually went and sought out those who needed him by going and hanging out with them. Also, we see this passage as a reason for US to hang out with those people who need Jesus. This is important, I think, because there is a certain segment of Christians who think that believers shouldn't be hanging out with non-believers, that light should not associate with darkness, and so on. And then there are those who use the fact that Jesus actually did hang out with sinners as an excuse to run off and party like the devil, all under the guise that they were doing evangelism as they did that keg-stand. As with most things, the key is balance. We do need to be hanging out with sinners because they DO need Jesus, but we need to be watching our motivation and our actions when we do so. What follows are a few observations I've made regarding hanging out with sinners.

1) We should hang out with sinners because they are in the same state that we were when Jesus found us. That is to say that we are no better than those who are currently engaged in active, open, sinful lifestyles. I don't know about you, but before I was saved, I was pretty rotten. I had nothing good about me or going for me. I was a sinner. And how else are sinners going to hear about Jesus? Are they going to come to church? Not likely. Thus, we need to be going to them.

2) If we're going to be hanging out with sinners, we need to be doing it for the purpose of arranging a meeting with Jesus. I used to claim that I was such a loving person because I hung out with sinners. I saw myself as so far above all those other judgmental Christians who wouldn't do so. But I was missing a hugely important thing: I wasn't hanging out with sinners to introduce them to Jesus, I was hanging out with sinners because they were fun to hang out with - and that was it. I had no intention to bring up spiritual things, I just wanted to have fun. If there was going to be any evangelism done, I was under the impression that it would be by these sinners recognizing and realizing the hope that lied within me, and they would somehow all of a sudden reject their sin and turn to Christ just by looking at me. What a stupid thing to think. I've never once had someone come to Christ because of me being a goody-two-shoes. This is not to say, however, that we CAN'T have fun when hanging out with sinners. It is to say that we have to be working under the agenda of bringing them to a point where they meet Jesus.

3) We need to be careful when we hang out with sinners that their sinful behavior doesn't rub off on us. If you hanging out with sinners in order to bring them to faith in Christ causes you to stumble, it doesn't honor God, and you shouldn't be in that situation. If you don't have the stamina to reject temptation and remain holy, then hanging out with sinners isn't for you. I can speak from personal experience on this one too. Every time I hung out with my sinful friends in attempts to "witness" to them, my mouth would foul up quicker than you can say $*%&#^. In Ephesians 5, Paul warns us to not be partakers with sinners as they go about sinning, but instead lead lives that reflect thanksgiving for what God has done to save us from sin. In other words, when you hang out with sinners you shouldn't be sinning - you should be showing how great God is because he took a sinner like you and saved you!

So go and hang out with sinners - and hang out with them so that they can hang out with Jesus.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Amazing Video

Here's a video that I recently came across. It's a conglomeration of scenes from "The Passion of the Christ" set to a song called "Crucifixion Description," by a hip hop group called Hazakim. I've heard the song before, but I've never seen it with these video clips. I have to tell ya - this video is amazing. I wish I could show it to everyone. It gives graphic details of what Jesus went through in his beatings and crucifixion. I especially like the chorus:

He was a victim of crucifixion,
The most horrendous Roman invention
The infliction of pain that the victim sustained
We will explain using medical diction
Far from Michaelangelo's depiction,
He was brutally marred beyond recognition
His anatomy had to be scared for redemption
This is the crucifixion description.

And to think - he did it all for me. Amazing. Check it out:

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Missing The Point

Today as I was driving to the church, I was listening to my preferred extreme, right wing, talk radio station, and I heard a Public Service Announcement (PSA) that went something like this:

Janie is looking at all of the disgusting comments that have been posted about her.

Janie heard that a bunch of people from school have sent her pictures around the internet, and now everybody at school has seen them.

Janie is terrified, because her dad got the email, and has seen the topless photos of her.

Remember, when you post something on the internet, it's there forever.

And there's no way for you to control who sees what you post.

That's not the exact wording, but you get the idea. Here's a video PSA that I found that has basically the same message:

Allow me to explain to you (if you haven’t already realized this for yourself) that these PSA’s are completely missing the point. What is the message they are delivering? Don’t post your naked pictures on the internet (or compromising pictures – I suppose they don’t have to be naked pictures, but that’s the implication – also, there’s been a bit of a recent rash of kids taking naked pictures of themselves, and then sending them to their boyfriend or girlfriend, and then, of course, they get out to everyone else as well, and then the kid is devastated).

You’d think it would be pretty obvious: if you put pictures of ANYTHING on the internet, they are viewable by everyone, and they can never be deleted. Thus the warning: “think before you post.”

But, like I said earlier, this warning is completely missing the point. It seems to me that if you want to make sure that your naked pictures of yourself aren’t posted on the internet, the surest way to make sure that doesn’t happen is that YOU DON’T TAKE NAKED PICTURES OF YOURSELF. Wake up, you idiots. Sorry, I know that’s not very nice or PC, but come on – if you are stupid enough to take naked pictures of yourself and bring them within 100 miles of a computer with internet access, you are a complete fool, and you should not be surprised when you get weird looks from perverts at school and the movie theatre. Wise up and don’t be an idiot.

The same reasoning applies to the debate about sex ed. and safe sex practices. If you don’t want to get pregnant, if you don’t want an std, if you don’t want a broken heart and a broken commitment, DON’T FORNICATE. Yes, you could “protect” yourself, but the risk of “having your naked pictures get out to everyone” is still there. That is to say that there’s still a risk of all of these things happening when you engage in fornication – protected or otherwise. The safest – wisest – choice is to abstain completely. Then, in the realm of taking naked pictures of yourself, it stands to reason that the safest – wisest – choice is to not take naked pictures of yourself.

But I’ve got even more problems with these PSA’s (I know, you can’t wait to here what they are). One of them is this: The Ad Council and the other organizations would rather take care of a consequence of behavior (posting naked pictures of yourself), rather than addressing the root of the problem (the idea that taking naked pictures of yourself is a good idea). It’s the same reasoning as when schools pass out condoms to kids and tell them to be careful, rather than to not be an idiot and fornicate. The world is completely backwards.

The second this is this: apparently people like the Ad Council believe (rightly so) that everyone is a pervert and will be scouring the internet for naked pictures of high school girls. While they are correct (they probably don’t even realize they are – people are depraved), they seem to excuse the behavior of those who view the pictures. That is to say that it’s normal for everyone (including the football coach!) to be scouring MySpace for teenage porn. Come on! Apparently it’s OK to look at teenage porn, and it’s ok to post it, but you need to realize that everyone can look at it. Is that the truth? Is that the message?

This world is totally upside down. Instead of telling kids not to do immoral things, we tell them to go ahead and do immoral things – but do them in private. Because, after all, we don’t want them to get hurt (!). That brings up another point. I have to believe that anyone stupid enough to post naked pictures of themselves and post them on the internet, in some way, WANTS people to look at them. Why else would they post them? I feel somewhat the same with sexual harassment suits where women claim that they’re being ogled in public. Have you looked at the way you dress? Doesn’t provocative clothing scream to all who can see it “LOOK AT ME!”? Doesn’t the very act of wearing skimpy clothing demonstrate a desire to be lusted after and desired by others? And then in the same way, doesn’t taking naked pictures of yourself and posting them on the internet in some way, shape, or form, demonstrate a desire to be seen? Oh no. Absolutely not. I know! We need another PSA to not address the problem, and instead address the obvious consequences of behavior.


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Science and the Bible

The title of this blog is also the title of a series of seminars that we are having at Riverview on Wednesday nights this summer. Pastor Wick and I have split up the topics and are taking on this challenge by way of Francis Schaeffer's "No Final Conflict" explanation. If you're not familiar with it, Wayne Grudem sums it up nicely:

In his book, No Final Conflict, Francis Schaeffer makes the point that in both our understanding of the natural world and our understanding of Scripture, our knowledge is not perfect. But we can approach both scientific and biblical study with the confidence that when all the facts are correctly understood, and when we have understood scripture rightly, our findings will never be in conflict with each other: there will be “no final conflict.” This is because God, who speaks in scripture, knows all facts, and he has not spoken in a way that would contradict any true fact in the universe. We should not fear to investigate scientifically the facts of the created world but should do so eagerly and with complete honesty, confident that when the facts are rightly understood, they will always turn out to be consistent with God’s inerrant words in scripture. Similarly, we should approach the study of scripture eagerly and with confidence that, when rightly understood, scripture will never contradict facts in the natural world.

Thus, in the sessions that I have led, the above is the frame of mind I have been in: no dogmatic answers, being willing to be wrong, and being willing to let others be right (and admitting it). In most cases, it hasn't been too tough. For example, you don't need to think too long and hard about Darwinian evolution. That is to say that if it is true, then we have SEVERELY misunderstood scripture, and that's just not too likely. The same is true for theisitic evolution. The theory is just soooo different than what scripture says that we've either completely misunderstood scripture, which again isn't likely considering the emphatic statements in the Bible, or we've completely misunderstood nature (assuming that it's "telling" us that everything evolved).

Schaeffer's premise HAS tested me in what I'm currently studying, however. We're getting into "The Age Of The Earth" category this week, and there's a TON of disagreement out there. I tend to be a young-earth kind of guy, so it's been interesting to dive into the old-earth theories out there. If we use Schaeffer's premise as a starting point, I think it would be safe to say that old-earth creationists believe generally that we have correctly understood the revelation of nature, but have misunderstood the meaning of scripture (and the traditional young-earth conclusions from said meaning of scripture). That is, science is right, and so is scripture, but we're just not understanding scripture the way it needs to be understood in order to agree with science. And to be sure, there are definitely ways to look at scripture that make an old-earth scenario possible which I won't get into here (if you want to hear about them, you'll have to come to Science and the Bible this week!).

I can respect the old-earth view - after all, like I said, they've got some really good arguments from scripture. I can respect the fact that nobody knows the correct answer, and we're all on a journey to figure it out, and we only have two sources of evidence available to us: science and scripture. I can respect sincere beliefs in an old-earth from Bible believing Christians who love Jesus.

When I first read Schaeffer's comments on the "No Final Conflict" theory, my mind was blown. His words rang true to me in places I didn't know I had ears. It's a fantastic (and honest) way of looking at the evidence and the theories. I've come to approach the whole conversation with a much more open (and humble) frame of mind (however, it should be noted that I still hold to a young earth view, and I believe this is what the Bible teaches). I just wish everyone on both sides would adopt this line of thinking (the part about the open mind, not specifically the young earth view...althought that wouldn't be all bad either!).

Being on the young earth side of the aisle, I've had the opportunity to look at and read the young earth arguments. At times, I've been suprised at how scathing the arguments can get against old earth adherents. Sometimes it seems like we're ascribing evil motives to those who disagree, when in actuality, they're probably just searching for the truth of the matter like everyone else (even if they're wrong). I saw one article that really tears into an old earth guy and basically equates him with Hitler. Give me a break!

But during my research for the "Old Earth" session of the Science and the Bible seminars, I've come to realize that the animosity isn't, by any means, confined to the young earth camp. Old Earthers are just as rude as the rest! I found them calling young earth people idiots, ignorant, and people who don't like science (the last statement is just dumb - who would ever honestly say they don't appreciate science?), or even that they try to supress the "truth" of science in their reasoning. Come on. Let's all grow up a bit please.

So here's what it boils down to: the Bible has not specifically revealed to us how old the earth is (and, in fact, it doesn't really say that that's its purpose). The best anyone from any camp can do is form educated guesses (again, I would say that the best educated guess, examining both the scientific and biblical evidence - which we won't get into here - would lead one to believe that the earth is young). The point is, we don't know - and we're not going to know for sure. So in the meantime, let's all do our best to figure out what the answer is, while treating each other with dignity and respect. I like the way Wayne Grudem says it:

“…the possibility must be left open that God has chosen not to give us enough information to come to a clear decision on this question, and the real test of faithfulness to him may be the degree to which we can act charitably toward those who in good conscience and full belief in God’s Word hold to a different position on this matter.”

Monday, July 7, 2008

Determined To Get To Jesus

MESSAGE: Power To Forgive Sins Pt. 2 (podcast)
SCRIPTURE: Luke 5.16-26

One of the main points of my message this past week was that we, as Christ-followers, need to be coming up with creative ways to bring the lost to Jesus. In the story of Jesus healing the paralytic, we have the example of his friends who, when they saw that Jesus was inaccessible through the front door, they had to use their brains and their creativity to find a way to get their paralyzed friend to the feet of Jesus. Their solution? Lower him through the roof. This solution was, I think, creative and a demonstration of the commitment of these guys to make sure that their friend saw Jesus.

Also worthy of our consideration in this narrative, however, is the realization that not only what these guys did required some ingenuity, but it also required some work. Allow me to explain.

Jewish houses in the first century B.C. consisted of walls that were made of field stones held together by dried mud and clay. The houses usually consisted of a few rooms that were usually open to the entire house. This made it ideal for Jesus to be in - he could be in one room, yet accessed by the entire crowd that was in the house.

Most houses had simple and easy roof access, either through a ladder in the interior of the house, or by some steps on one of the exterior walls (we'll assume that this house had exterior roof access for the purposes of this story).

The roofs of the houses were typically supported by wood beams that were laid across the width of the supporting walls of the rooms in the house. And then on top of the beams were brush and shrubs mixed with mud and clay, which are then packed down into a smooth surface.

So then, here is the assumed process that these guys had to follow in order to accomplish their task of lowering their friend to Jesus:

1) They first had to carry the paralyzed man up the stairs to get to the top of the house. I was recently a pall bearer at my uncle's funeral (the first time I had ever done such a thing). Myself and, I think, five other guys carried my uncle's casket down steps from the church and loaded it into the hearse. I can testify to you that carrying a human body is not an easy thing - even if it's just a short distance. I can also attest to the difficulty of carrying a human body up or down steps - the whole process becomes even more difficult.

2) Once atop the roof, these men had to make their way through the roof. This would have been difficult, and probably would have required at least some use of tools. The mixture of brush, shrubs, and dried mud would have made for a thick, hard surface. Luke's gospel says that this mud mixture was formed into tiles that these guys peeled away. Even still, this would have been an enormously difficult task, not to mention having to do so while making sure that no significant chunks of roof fell into the house on the people inside. If you think about it, this hole probably had to be at least 6 feet by 4 feet in order to fit a prostrate male. That's a darn big hole in the roof.

3) This endeavor to bring their friend to Jesus required sacrifice on the part of the friends. These guys sacrificed their time to do this, and they also had to put in a significant amount of effort. Not to mention all that, but this is not their house. They are inflicting damage to someone else's house. Do you think the home owner was excited that his roof was being torn apart? Probably not. I'm sure that he insisted upon being reimbursed for the damages to his property, and this reimbursement no doubt came from the pockets of the friends. Thus, they were willing to not only do the work, but also pay for the damages.

4) Once they were on the roof and the whole had been created, the friends had to find a way to lower the paralytic down. See my earlier paragraph on the surprising weight of the human body. I can't imagine how difficult it must have been to lower this guy down to Jesus, while keeping his bed level so he didn't fall off, and making sure he wasn't dropped, etc. It had to be very difficult. And not only that, but these guys had to find rope to attach to the bed in order to lower him down (probably at least four 20-foot lengths of rope).

I could go on and on about all of the remarkable details that surrounded this display of compassion on the part of these friends. The point is that getting your friends before Jesus probably won't (actually, most assuredly won't) be an easy thing to do. Here are some parallels between the actions these friends took, and the actions we need to take to get people in front of Jesus:

1) It's going to take a lot of work on your part. In most instances you'll have to sacrifice your own personal time. Also, you'll most likely have to sacrifice some of your skill and labors - you'll have to work at it, and it'll probably be hard work.

2) Sometimes it might even require you to sacrifice financially - maybe the cost of a cup of coffee, or the cost of gas to pick someone up to go to church or a Bible study. The point is, you'll probably have to foot the bill sometimes.

3) Also, it's going to require careful skill and accuracy. You'll have to be careful about what you say. You'll have to be strategic and purposeful in your actions. You'll have to plan out how you're going to go about getting the lost in front of Jesus.

What it all comes down to is that these friends of the paralytic were determined to get their friend in front of Jesus. That was their priority, and they were going to take steps in order to make it happen. They knew it would be difficult - they knew it would be demanding - they knew it would require sacrifice - they knew it would require precision. They knew all these things. But they also knew the importance of the encounter. They knew that this guy HAD to get in front of Jesus, so they were willing to do what it took to get the job done.

Let us go and do likewise, doing anything and everything we can, striving to get the lost - those who need an encounter with Jesus - to his feet.

Amazon Customers Review The Bible

If you want a good laugh (or cry), I'd recommend this Amazon site where customers leave reviews of the Bible. Some are goofy and funny (my favorite is the guy who gave up on the Bible because he didn't receive a Porsche through prayer), some are legitimate questions, but most are scathing and full of anger, bitterness, misunderstandings, and hatred towards God. I'd love to be able to talk with these people personally so I could address some of their objections...but that most likely won't happen. There's a good explanation for every objection to scripture I can think of, you just need to know a little something about history and literature interpretation.

Friday, July 4, 2008


My wife's birthday is December 24th. Recognizing the inconvenience this presents to any kind of family Christmas gatherings, my family (my wife's in-laws) decided to celebrate her birthday in June as kind of a half-birthday thing. Last year for her half birthday, we got her a ridiculously expensive camera which she had been saving up for, for quite some time. We essentially gave her the money she needed to finally get the camera. This year for her half birthday, we got her a ridiculously expensive zoom lens for her ridiculously expensive camera. I have to say - the pictures this camera takes with with this lens are astounding.

Check out this album to get a look at what this camera can do with cuteness the likes of which my son possesses.

Also, I've had a lot of fun on this site. It lets you turn your own pictures into those motivational/inspirational posters. You can check out some of my motivational creations here. But be warned! I've got a weird sense of humor that is based upon sarcasm - mean sarcasm. So if it looks like I'm picking on somone (particularly my son or nieces), rest assured - it's all in good fun.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Torment Of Having A Song Stuck In Your Head

All morning I've been humming a tune as I clean my house. And every once in a while I'll sing out a line of the chorus in my most dramatic, pop star-like voice. My wife tells me to stop singing that song, and then I go back to simply humming it and having it go through my brain.

I'm convinced that if you want to take revenge on someone, or defeat an enemy, or something like that, the worst thing you could ever do to them is give them a catchy tune that will get stuck in their brain. It really is enough to almost drive you (and those around you) crazy. Maybe I should write to W and have him use this strategy in the war on terror.

However, this predicament is not necessarily bad if it's a song that you enjoy. But over time I have also become convinced that the songs that inevitably get stuck in your head are NOT songs you enjoy.

Case in point: last week I was changing around my iTunes account information, which forced me to do some work on the "store" page of the program. I glanced at the "Top Songs" menu and noticed that the number 1 song that is being downloaded from iTunes is "I Kissed A Girl." There's also a picture of the artist next to the title of the song: Katy Perry.

"Wait a minute," said I. "That's a girl...singing a song called "I Kissed A Girl. Hmmm."

This might be a good time to mention that I have long since given up on the pop music scene. Most of it is crap, and it'll only be around for a week or two, so there's no point in getting into it. I'd rather listen to music that has passed the test of time, and will continue to be good throughout the ages. Either that or conservative talk radio. Take your pick.

So needless to say, I was not familiar with the song until I saw it on iTunes. I decided to check it out. Not willing to pay the $0.99 for the song on iTunes I swung over to Youtube and looked up the video. My first reaction to the video was that they don't make videos like they used to. The video was completely unimaginative, boring, and full of women who's only talent is their chest. Plus the woman singing the song didn't even look like she was singing! She was just mouthing words. It was completely boring (note: if you want to see a good video where the band actually looks like they're singing and enjoying what they're doing, check out the best music video ever made). Come on people! You're entertainers! Earn the fame and respect you're given! At least look like you enjoy what you're doing.

I must admit, however, that the song had a catchy hook - at least catchy enough for me to be singing it while I'm cleaning my house today. In that respect, pop music hasn't changed. People are still able to pump out catchy jingles that you'll like long enough for them to make millions.

The truly disgusting part (and this is nothing new in pop music) is the debauchery that's glorified in the song's lyrics. If you've never heard the song before, here are the lyrics for ya:

This was never the way I planned
Not my intention
I got so brave, drink in hand
Lost my discretion
It's not what, I'm used to
Just wanna try you on
I'm curious for you
Caught my attention

I kissed a girl and I liked it
The taste of her cherry chap stick
I kissed a girl just to try it
I hope my boyfriend don't mind it
It felt so wrong
It felt so right
Don't mean I'm in love tonight
I kissed a girl and I liked it
I liked it

No, I don't even know your name
It doesn't matter
You're my experimental game
Just human nature
It's not what, good girls do
Not how they should behave
My head gets so confused
Hard to obey

Us girls we are so magical
Soft skin, red lips, so kissable
Hard to resist so touchable
Too good to deny it
Ain't no big deal, it's innocent

I kissed a girl and I liked it
The taste of her cherry chap stick
I kissed a girl just to try it
I hope my boyfriend don't mind it
It felt so wrong
It felt so right
Don't mean I'm in love tonight
I kissed a girl and I liked it
I liked it

So, how's that for uplifting music? Something you want your kids dancing to? Something you want to hear your spouse singing while cleaning the house? Probably not. Now I understand that many of you would (rightly) say to me, "Joel, haven't you ever heard 'It's So Easy?' or 'Back Off B$%#h'? or 'In The Garden' or 'Shotgun Blues'" (all of which are songs by my all time favorite band, Guns N' Roses)? All I can say in response to that is: you're right. You got me. There is definitely an element of hypocrisy in what I'm saying. I can't very well condemn a certain form of entertainment for it's debauchery and then participate in another like form of entertainment that is equally debauched. With this reality in view, I'll limit my critique to style. So, all that to say that I've got a few gripes with "I Kissed A Girl":

1) The song is unimaginative and stupid. If you're going to express yourself through the medium of music, at least get some creativity.

2) Singing about sex is the lowest common denominator. Any idiot can be shocking for the sake of being shocking. Sing about something that actually takes a little brain power to come up with.

3) Stop writing catchy hooks that get stuck in my brain. I'm tired of explaining to my wife that I didn't actually kiss a girl (besides her), and that I didn't like it.

4) Please, please, please, (and I can say this without being hypocritical, because I would just as well say it to Axl Rose) think about the content of what you're writing. And please, please, please, think about the young minds you're pushing it on. Do you think people in their 30's are listening to this stuff? Maybe, but not that many. Most of it goes straight to the ears of 12 and 13 year olds. Are these things that we want them to be learning? "I kissed a girl and I liked it - don't mean I'm in love tonight - Us girls we are so magical - Soft skin, red lips, so kissable - Hard to resist so touchable - Too good to deny it - Ain't no big deal, it's innocent". Check out some of the comments posted on YouTube regarding the "I Kissed A Girl" video:

I love this song, its the best. It shouldnt matter what kind person you are. Girls♥ are hott. And so are guys♥

I must agree with a lot of these comments. Nothing wrong with lesbians, the hot ones turn me on. sick song 2

She's not lesbo.sometimes girls just randomly experiment and kiss each other.

I love this song my parents hate it tho.

i love how she sings "innocent" toward the end.

i loves this song :P and lolli298 theres nothing wrong with a girl liking a girl or a guy liking a guy so keep your mouth shut :D

god dats hot

clap, clap, clap!!! Girls kiss girls. Boys kiss boys. Girls kiss boys. All the possibilities, its freedom, Its human dignity.

My comment (although I didn't post it on YouTube): More and more reasons to shelter the crap out of my son!

Well, that's enough of a rant for now - back to my cleaning. Let's see, what song should I listen to?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Letting God Wear The Pants

At the end of this past year, my wife resigned from her job at Coon Rapids High School. She did so mostly because of the commute - a 60 mile round trip is just too much with today's gas prices. She then looked for jobs closer to home, and the one she came upon was a special ed. teacher at Eagan High School. She took the job, and has been looking forward to starting this fall.

The occasion that inspired this blog, however, came at around 11:30 this morning. A woman from the school district called to inform my wife that they made a goof on her application and processing papers that would affect her salary. They had initially only given her credit for five years of experience, when in fact she has seven. They told her that this discrepency was worth an extra $5000 in salary! I don't know how you live, but that's an absolutely huge amount in our house.

This brings up another interesting point: I am not, nor will I ever be, the "pants wearer" in our family. As long as she is working, my wife will be the main income earner. My wife will always out-earn me as long as she is employed. This has been the case since we were first married. I've never made more than my wife. She is not particularly more skilled than I am. We are both working on our master's degrees, and we both have quite a bit of experience in our particular fields. Her profession just draws more salary than mine (understandably - you don't get into ministry for the financial perks!).

For some guys this would be a huge blow to their pride - to have their wife earning more for the family. It doesn't bother me though (but then again, if it truly didn't bother me, would I be writing this blog? Hmmm.). At our house, we don't particularly have an authority structure based upon income earnings. We've never argued over money, like saying that we can't spend anything because we're not the one who earned it, or anything goofy like that. We've always been united that everything we have is ours, and we operate in such a fashion. I guess I should say that I'm glad my family will have what it needs to get by, wherever the money is coming from.

All of that to say that we are celebrating God's blessing and provision in our house today.