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Santa Claus is coming to town!

13 August, 2007 (4:05am) | Blog | No comments

“Oh! You better watch out,
You better not cry,
You better not pout,
I’m telling you why:”

When you where a little kid, did you ever stay up late at night lying in bed completely terrified? Many kids have. It’s something about the unknown that bothers us.

“Santa Claus is coming to town!”

We have to know what is around us, and we have to know that, if we fall asleep, nothing bad will happen.

“He’s making a list,
He’s checking it twice,
He’s gonna find out
who’s naughty or nice.”

When I was little, It seemed to be worse during the times that I had done something wrong and was trying to hide it. Like if I had broken something and hidden it, I always wanted to have it in my sight. That way I could know if anyone was going near my little disaster hiding behind the couch or under a rug or someplace.

“Santa Claus is coming to town!”

So laying in bed at night, not only did I feel that I wouldn’t be able to survive the night, I also had no idea who was snooping around the evidence and what they were going to find out. Somehow that just magnified the terror of the night.

“He sees you when you’re sleeping,
He knows when you’re awake.
He knows when you’ve been bad or good,
So be good for goodness sake!”

If I was hiding something in my room that I would get in trouble for I was faced with the dilemma of having a nightlight. It was dark, and I couldn’t keep an eye on my room to make sure nobody sneaked in and found my wrongdoings, but I didn’t want to have a nightlight because I was a “big boy” and “big boys” aren’t afraid of the dark, but it wasn’t that I was afraid of the dark, I was just worried about all my little schemes I had going on, so I could get away with a nightlight, right? If I had one, I could keep an eye on things, but then, so could other people, and who knows how good of a job I did hiding it..

“So…You better watch out,
You better not cry
You better not pout,
I’m telling you why.”

Maybe, if I knew for sure that no one was paying attention to me and my room, and that I would instantly wake up if someone came into my room, then I could let my self fall asleep..

“Santa Claus is coming to town.”

Who wrote that song anyway?

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Andy McKee

28 July, 2007 (12:01pm) | Blog | No comments

In the mid-1800′s, Spanish guitarist and guitar maker Antonio Torres Jurado developed the first modern guitar. Before him, there were many variations of stringed instruments resembling the modern guitar, like the sitar and the lute, but most of them didn’t have all of the qualities of the modern guitar that make it so easy to learn, and so diverse.

A lute

The guitar quickly became very popular due to the many different things that could be done with it. Most other instruments were restricted to one style of music or other due to the nature of how they were made. However, because of the control the musician has over it, the guitar can be used to play almost any style you can imagine.

An acoustic guitar

When it first came about, the classical guitar was mostly used for mellow pieces by the musical masters of that time. By the nineteenth century (due partially to how easy the guitar was to play compared to, say, the violin) most non-”masters” of music were able to play well enough to write their own songs. Slowly, more and more people were able to release their music to the general public than were able in the 1500′s; and less and Less of the music floating around was as well written as in the classical era.

An Eddie Van Halen electric guitar

Enter the Electric Guitar. The electric guitar was first patented by George Beauchamp of Texas, but was made available to the general public first by Danelectro. The electric guitar and its signature distorted sound were made popular by bands like the Beatles and Buddy Holly. Guitarists like Eddie Van Halen were able to completely master the art, while other less talented musicians resorted to such “cheating” methods as power-chords, which did not require as much coordination to play. Many modern punk bands have completely destroyed the art of the guitar and even music in general by playing the same music as other bands in a last ditch effort to get famous. Music is no longer an art to be appreciated and respected, but has turned into merely a tool to become a celebrity.

A dumb punk band

But thanks to musicians like Andy McKee, the beauty and respect of music is being preserved. McKee was born in 1979, in Topeka, Kansas, and at the age of 13, was given an Aria nylon string guitar by his father. He didn’t settle for just learning how to play the popular songs of the day to impress his friends, but was continually seeking to master his instrument through inventing new ways to get sound out of the guitar.

Andy McKee

Andy McKee uses a mix of strumming, hammer-ons, harmonics, and even the wood of the guitar itself to get a full sound with many undertones. His style of presenting the music, which completely ignores the popular style of projecting oneself onto the listener, has won the hearts and ears of many snobbish music lovers who listen to music for the music itself.

One of the few innovative musicians of our times, McKee has succeeded in proving that there is more to the guitar than just learning what others have already discovered. You can always find more innovative and creative ways to play music. We should never settle for the easy way out. Always strive to learn more and to better yourself.

“Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 3:13-14

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Hallelujah

16 July, 2007 (3:41pm) | Blog | 13 comments

n 1984, Canadian songwriter Leonard Cohen released an album called Various Positions. On that album was the first recorded version of a song that is considered by some to be the most beautiful song ever written, called Hallelujah.

The song contains many religions references to people like David and Bathsheba, and Samson and Delilah, and talks a lot about the shallow love between humans. Then the chorus comes in with the refrain “Hallelujah”. Is there really any way to compare the selfish love of one human for another to the righteous, holy, and pure love of God?

But, the beautiful lyrics of the song would be nothing without music that compliments them. Cohen succeeds masterfully. He captures the entire tone of the song with a hauntingly pure progression of masterfully written chords. The verses telling of the futile struggles of man are played in a slightly dark tone that leads into the pure major chord chorus, that contains feelings of triumph and beauty.

Even the mathmatics of the song are coupled perfectly with the lyrics:

“Now I’ve heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don’t really care for music, do you?
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah”

He’s describing the chord progression of the song itself.

Here are the chords he is playing for one line:
“It goes like this (C major), the fourth (F major), the fifth (G major), the minor fall (A minor) and the major lift (F major)“.

C is the key the song is played in. This is the key of C:

1- C
2- D
3- E
4- F
5- G
6- A
7- B
8- C

This is the progression of that line:

(C major)(F major)(G major)(A minor)(F major)

(1) C major is the beginning of the progression, it explains how the song goes.
(2) F major is the fourth.
(3) G major is the fifth.
(4) A minor is the relative minor of C, you are making the C note drop (or “fall”) to A.
(5) The last F major is the creme da la creme of his genious:
-A minor, is made up of the notes A, C, and E.
-F major is made up of the notes, F, A, and C.
-To change chords from A minor to F major, you move the E up one note, (or “lift” it, if you will)

Therefore,

“It goes like this” (C major, the base chord of the song)
“the fourth” (F major is the fourth)
“the fifth” (G major is the fifth)
“the minor fall” (A minor – the C major is “falling” into A minor)
“and the major lift” (A minor is “lifting” into F major)

As for the rest of the line “The baffled king composing Hallelujah”, and the concept of a “secret chord”:

The kinnor, or lyre, was the instrument that David played the most, and was associated with joyful music only. Furthermore, because of the pentatonical tuning of the strings, David wouldn’t have been able to play the minor chords on it even if he’d wanted to. And even then, he wouldn’t because the tonal system that makes it possible didn’t exist for another 18 centuries at least. So, the whole concept of that chord progression was a “secret” to everyone.

It is a beautiful marriage of music and poetry, describing David himself composing “hallelujah”. A peice of music that he can’t even understand. For who can really understand Gods love? And who can truely say “hallelujah” to the Almighty without the Spirit enabled them to do so?

It truly is baffling.

“Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;
his greatness no one can fathom.”
– Psalm 145:3

“Can you fathom the mysteries of God?
Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?”
– Job 11:7

Note: The quintessential version of the song is Jeff Buckley’s cover from his 1994 album Grace. Listen to it.

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In America the Beautiful, Hollywood is the Whorehouse

5 June, 2007 (2:10pm) | Blog | No comments

“Woe is us that Edward George Ruddy died.” –Howard Beale

As humans, we have an innate desire to feel good. It’s part of who we are, it’s even what keeps us going sometimes, the desire to be content or happy. Movies have the ability to satisfy that need to a certain extent. That has been the downfall of the art of film.

Let me explain. The producers in Hollywood learned early on that if they made movies that forced people to think about tough issues and challenge our perceptions, a lot of people wouldn’t want to see that kind of movie. But, if they made movies that made us feel good, a lot of people would like it. A movie like Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007) has everything the American public wants. It has some funny characters, witty dialog, cool special effects, and a happy ending. However, what is the purpose of that movie? Is it trying to make a point about something? Is it trying to challenge us? No. It is trying to make money.

Ever since the very first moving picture made the very first profit, people have been trying to squeeze every last copper out of the film industry. Although in the beginning it wasn’t so bad, because the film industry wasn’t so big. Now, everyone goes to see movies, and the big shots in Hollywood are giving us what we want: Surfacy feel-good movies that don’t mean a thing.

“For some reason, [we] avoid the controversial movies and prefer the simple art that tells us what we already know.” –Evan Burchfield

I have a problem with the way the American public and Hollywood work together. Hollywood makes a crappy movie, and the American public loves it because it makes them feel good and the special effects look cool. Then Hollywood makes sequels to that movie so that they can make more money. Movies like that are not going to be important movies in American history, and they do not do anything but support Americas “feel good now. don’t challenge me to change and definitely don’t make me use my brain” mentality. Of course no one wants to use their brains, that’s hard! That’s why we don’t like going to school! But if we don’t discipline ourselves and take the time to think about what we are doing, we won’t progress further as individuals or as a nation.

“All human beings are becoming humanoids. All over the world, not just in America. We’re just getting there faster since we’re the most advanced country.” –Howard Beale

Movies are an art, and the purpose of art is (partially) “to intensify, even, if necessary, to exacerbate, the moral consciousness of people.” (Norman Mailer) Basically art should make us realize something, and change our ways. Or just become aware of something, regardless of what it is.

For instance, 28 Days Later (2002)

28 Days Later is a zombie film. Most zombie movies are just thrillers that are trying to scare you because that’s what you would expect from a zombie film. However this movie does so much more than that. It is a movie about humanity. As one character says:

“This is what I’ve seen in the four weeks since infection. People killing people. Which is much what I saw in the four weeks before infection, and the four weeks before that, and before that, and as far back as I care to remember. People killing people. Which to my mind, puts us in a state of normality right now. “ –Major Henry West

When you see this movie, especially the end sequence that sums it all up perfectly, it makes you realize something about humans. We are inherently sinful. We can’t blame our sins on our circumstances, our sin might become more apparent, but it was still there in the first place.

But we don’t like it when people point out the truth. We can’t handle the truth. So what do we do? We go to see movies that don’t challenge us. We see films that tell us what we want to hear, and Hollywood is there to give it to us. Hollywood doesn’t care about you! Hollywood just wants to rape you for your money!

“We’re not a respectable network. We’re a whorehouse network, and we have to take whatever we can get.” –Frank Hackett

Hollywood saw 28 Days Later and realized there was some stuff in that movie that people wouldn’t really want to swallow. So they decided to make a sequel, 28 Weeks Later (2002), that hid the hard things and played up the fun things. It gave us everything the first one did, but without any of the truth or purpose.

“I want you to go to the window, open it, stick your head out and yell: ‘I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!’” –Howard Beale

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The advent of coffee

8 May, 2007 (2:20pm) | Blog | No comments

Thanks to the recent market in laptops, (recent being the last ten or so years) and the ability to bring you entire computer wherever you go, coffeehouses have been becoming more, and more, of an internet gateway for people. Gone are the days where you would go to a coffeeshop and see people reading books. Now we see them reading books online (thanks to the free internet “provided for our customers”). Pretty soon free wireless internet will be available worldwide. Hopefully soon. Meanwhile, I am going to go get a cup of coffee.

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iPhone vs gPhone

17 April, 2007 (8:42pm) | Blog | No comments

Rumors have been circulating for quite some time now that Google is going to be designing a mobile phone. Everyone seems to take it for granted that these speculations are true probably because of the similarities to the iPhone rumors that were going on for several years ago, which also turned out to be true.

If you take a look at the differences between the two rumors, you might notice a couple of things. Mainly, Apple has been making techno gadgets from the beginning. Google has yet to release one. If Google does release a phone, I’m betting they will only be designing the software for it.

The iPhone is definitely impressive, but there is only one model, and one option. If Google creates a phone, you will probably be able to use the software in all kinds of mobile phones, making it more accessible to the normal human being.

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The Sovereignty of God

13 March, 2007 (5:45pm) | Blog | No comments

(Note: I did not actually write this article, I used several different sources and combined different parts of them to form a separate idea. Hopefully you find it interesting and helpful. If you notice anything that is theologically incorrect I would love to hear what you have to say.)

What does the term “Sovereignty of God” mean?
This simply refers to the fact that all things are under God’s rule and control, and that nothing happens in this Universe without His direction or permission. He is a God Who works, not just some things, but all things after the counsel of His own will.

“In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,”
Ephesians 1:11

God’s purpose is all-inclusive and is never thwarted.

“From the east I summon a bird of prey;
from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose.
What I have said, that will I bring about;
what I have planned, that will I do.”
Isaiah 46:11

Nothing Takes Him by Surprise

“It is not merely that God has the power and right to govern all things but that He does so always and without exception.” – John Piper

God can either bestow salvation on any of the children of men, or refuse it. God was not obliged to promise that he would save all who believe in Christ.

“But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me…”
Galations 1:15-16b

But I thought God gave us a free will, to choose Him or not.
Yes, Man has a will and that will has a certain freedom. Our Lord clearly teaches that man has a power of choice. Every man has the ability to choose his own words, to decide what his actions will be. We have a faculty of self-determination in the sense that we select our own thoughts, words, and deeds. Man is free to choose what he prefers, what he desires.

God never forces men to act against their wills. By workings of outward providence or of inward grace, the Lord may change men’s minds, but He will not coerce a human being into thoughts, words or actions.

However, because of man’s fall in Adam, given the choice, the will of man is constrained or in bondage to his sin nature. In other words, by his fallen nature he is willfully inclined to choose evil. So there really is no, either/or. Man is answerable for his acts and decisions because he was created in the image of God, and God’s sovereignty in no way negates that responsibility.

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”
Jeremiah 17:9

What hope have we, then, if it is impossible to choose good?
According to the Bible, human existence is fundamentally flawed. We have profoundly self-destructive tendencies. We are so incurably foolish that, left to ourselves, we would ultimately destroy ourselves and everything around us. That is the tragic consequence of human sinfulness. So what does the future hold? Will I ever escape my own self-destruction? Can I ever be rescued from myself? Is there any hope? Or is despair all that remains?

Yes, we have hope. Because of humanity’s total depravity, God of necessity, in eternity past, chose certain people to be saved. There was nothing inherently better or different about the chosen people which caused God to choose them. God was totally free in His decision to show grace and mercy to some sinners who deserved nothing but His wrath. This is, in essence, the doctrine of Unconditional Election.

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.”
John 15:16

When you realize that your salvation is all of God, your perspective begins to change. No longer will you chalk up your Christian faith to the fact that you had the sense to exercise your free will and believe in Christ when so many others around you went on persistently in their sins. You realize now, that if God had left you to your free will it would have taken you straight to hell. No, the fact that you are a Christian today has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with Him. God’s sovereign grace laid hold of you when you had no love for Him.

So how should we respond?
As the apostle Paul considered God’s sovereign grace in election it caused him to burst forth in praise,

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved”
Ephesians 1:3-6

And again at the conclusion of Paul’s discussion of God’s sovereign plan for Israel in Romans chapters nine, ten and eleven, he bursts out in spontaneous praise,

“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For ‘Who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again?’ For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen”
Romans 11:33-36

The truth of God’s sovereign grace should leave us overwhelmed. All we can do is bow in the dust and give all the glory to our awe-inspiring God.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ”
Romans 5:8

“Praise the LORD.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.

Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.

Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,

praise him with tambourine and dancing,
praise him with the strings and flute,

praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.

Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD.”
Psalm 150

This article was mostly edited, abridged, and otherwise copied and pasted together — with a few interjections of my own — from the following sources:
*The Bible
*http://www.monergism.com/directory/link_category/Reformed-Theology/Sovereignty-of-God/
*http://www.mountainretreatorg.net/faq/whyevangelize.shtml
*http://www.ccel.org/e/edwards/sermons/gssm.html
*http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/freewill_chantry.html
*http://www.solidr ock.net/library/anderson/books/overwhelmed/chapter_8.php
*http://www.gospeloutreach.net/unconditional_election.html

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