I posted this video on Twitter a few weeks ago. It is the adorable story of a semi-domesticated hippopotamus named “Jessica.” It’s amazing that Jessica is so docile around humans when she is, in fact, a completely wild animal. She is free to go as she chooses and is able to socialize with both humans and other hippos. I suspect this is even more impressive with how dangerous hippos are known to be. I’ve heard it said that they kill more humans in Africa each year than all other animals combined (e.g., Lions, Crocodiles, etc.). Apparently they often kill humans because they are protective of their territory. The combination of a territorial attitude, huge tusks, strong jaws, a few tons of weight, and surprising speed is a dangerous mix.
In any case, this video will overwhelm you with cuteness. Enjoy.
I’ve been a fan of James Tealy since the first time I met him in Denver, CO in the summer of 2004 (back when he was James Thiele!). I spent a summer learning from him as he taught about the mission of God to students at an M-Fuge camp. We hiked around Rocky Mountain National park and talked about life and faith. He is a talented communicator and a more talented musician.
Over the years I’ve followed his music career with great joy. His newest album, “Only Love” (featuring The Citizens Oath) is of particular interest to me. It is no secret that CCM lost its appeal to me back in college. However, there are a growing number of musicians and bands that write quality music that embraces all aspects of life. As such, the songs touch on themes of love, faith, adventure, and more. I place a much higher value on creativity and authenticity than polish contents that fit in a pre-packaged genre.
Only Love is definitely the kind of album that you’ll put on repeat. You’ll feel the tug toward adventure in songs such as “Before This Moment Dies.” A track like “In Jesus” provides a somber moment to reflect on your faith and “The Language of Our Heart” has the overtones of eternity woven throughout. The entire album has the tone of honesty and sincerity that I’ve come to love about James’ music. The folksy pop sound makes it easy to listen to and you’ll be surprised by the musical twists and turns.
I first heard about “All Sons and Daughters” in a Relevant Magazine spotlight. I see this band as falling into an emerging category of Christian worship that emphasizes creativity, artistry, authenticity, and honesty. In the vain of John Mark McMillan, Gungor, and others, their songs lend themselves toward careful reflection rather than a peppy sing-a-long.
The style and tone of their music is simple without being simplistic. It is lyrically rich without unnecessary ambiguity. Because of the lyrical content and the careful musical craftsmanship the songs have a sense of movement that bring the listener along. There is a feeling of life when the snare drum, guitars, and vocals mix on the track “Alive”:
We are soaked in all the grace that we’ve been given
Unchained from all that we have done
Your mercy’s rising like the sun on the horizon
We’re coming home
Below is a music video for another great track: “All the Poor and Powerless”
I’m beginning a new series on common myths about culture, Christianity, history, and more. I’ve dabbled in this concept from time to time. In addition, I’ve always had a soft spot for the popular Mythbusters television show (FYI, my favorite episode is “Phonebook Friction“).
We’ll start off this simple series by busting the old “myth of talent.”
First off, I’m not trying to argue that talent is not real or that some people are not more naturally talented at some things than others. I’m mainly voicing frustration with those who say they can’t do something purely because they aren’t talented enough.
For example, I know some people that are phenomenally talented musicians. That is, they have a natural ear for pitch and tone. That being said, even the one’s that don’t read music have spent countless hours honing their ability to play their instrument of choice (e.g., guitar, piano, voice, etc.). Ultimately, anyone can learn to sing or play an instrument if they are willing to work.
I find sports to be the same way. The best athletes will (most likely) possess a good deal of raw talent but they will never rise to an elite level (e.g., NFL, etc.) without combining that talent with skills that can only be acquired by years of practice. Talent is not the same thing as technique. This gives hope to those of us who have certain height and speed deficiencies. While my natural abilities are often lacking I can still gain proficiency in a sport through practice.
A similar phenomenon has crept into Christian circles. I notice a lot of Christians avoiding things that they are not naturally good at. Some people don’t share their faith because they think they are not smart or good at meeting people. Others avoid teaching because they are not extroverted and outgoing. Some don’t serve others because they don’t have the gift of compassion or mercy. The examples could go on and on.
The main problem with these objections is that the Scriptures command all of us to do all of these things. Sure, some people are more naturally inclined toward these activities but, as I’ve heard it said, “God doesn’t call the equipped He equips the called.” God will never command you to do something that He won’t also empower you to do. I think it is short sighted and faithless to think that God can and will only use those of natural ability.
Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standard; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the way things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things — and the things that are not — to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God — that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption. (1 Corinthians 1:26–30)
Whitney and I are big fans of shows like The Office and Parks and Rec. I was happy to see that Kyle Hilton has made paper dolls for a number of popular shows (including Parks and Rec).
My favorite is clearly the Ron Swanson doll, complete with turkey leg, desk shotgun, gunshot bandage, and “Woman of the Year” award.
Here are a few enjoyable Ron Swanson moments for all to enjoy.
This past year has been quite an adjustment in many ways. I’ve been adjusting to the demands of being back in school. This is the first time I’ve gone to school while working “full-time.” I always thought I worked a lot in college and seminary but the increased level of responsibilities at the church in combination with the higher academic expectations of PhD courses has been daunting at times.
I’ve enjoyed teaching more regularly at Nansemond River Baptist Church. In fact, I just uploaded a recent series on “Discipleship” under the resources tab. I’ve been very happy to watch our church embrace a vision of shared leadership. I must say that I pastor alongside some of the most talented and godly men on the planet. In addition, the church has been very receptive to the Scriptures. I believe NRBC has a bright future as a church that embraces the Great Commission in every area of life.
This summer has been busy as we took the teenagers at NRBC to camp. Also, we’ve been using Dare2Share’s “Gospel Journey Maui” curriculum on Wednesdays. The thoughtfulness and openness of the discussion among our students has been an encouragement. I sense a desire among them to embrace a radical vision of obedience to the call of Christ.
On a personal note, Whitney and I have also been adjusting to a lot of things. Whitney will be starting classes at William and Mary this fall to pursue a Master’s of Higher Education. In addition, she starts a new job at W&M on August 18. She is very excited about all of these changes but they are changes nonetheless. In addition, God has been teaching Whitney and I a lot about risk, obedience, faith, and contentment. We are wrestling with what it means to leverage our marriage for the cause of Christ. It is scary to ask such questions but we are convinced that whatever we must sacrifice is well worth the reward.
I hope this fall will allow me time to post my musings on life, culture, mission, and miscellany. I know I have some music and book recommendations and I am rarely want for an over-the-top rant.
Thanks for reading.