Favorite Albums of 2013

I am running a little behind on getting my “favorites” out there, but it’s still 2013, right? Anyway, I’m not sure if anyone cares what a theologian’s favorite albums are. But every year I enjoy looking back and trying to figure out which albums stood out the most.

Keep in mind that I’m not saying these are the “best,” just my personal favorites. And no comments about the genres in which I placed various groups. Some groups are a pain to pin down, and musical genres are notoriously ill-defined anyway.

And if you’re a music fan, let me know if there’s an album you loved that isn’t on the list. I’m always on the lookout for something new.

Favorite Overall Album

loud city songJulie Holter, Loud City Song

This was also one of my go-to albums for writing music this year. Lots of twists and turns to keep it interesting, but mellow enough to have in the background while I’m reading, taking notes, or banging away on the keyboard. I’ll be listening to this one for a while yet.

  • Runner Up: The National, Trouble Will Find Me
  • Honorable Mentions: Phosphorescent, Jason Isbell, Lucius, Alice Smith, Vampire Weekend, Neko Case

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Flotsam and jetsam (12/30)

but mom

Good Reads

  • When Demons Are Real: To be in Africa is to encounter a God different from that of a charismatic church in the United States. People say that the boundary between the supernatural and the natural is thinner there. (NYT)
  • 5 Ways You Can Bomb a Sermon to Young People: Finding your own voice, style, and rhythm as a communicator of God’s Word is a journey that takes a lifetime. However, you can get a head start by learning to avoid these common mistakes preachers make. (Resurgence)
  • Ten Most Amazing Archaeological Discoveries of 2013: This year has seen some incredible discoveries in the field of archaeology – from ancient myths proven true, to evidence of ancient technology, and findings that have solved enduring mysteries, such as the death of Tutankhamun. Here we present what we believe are the top ten archaeological discoveries of 2013, excluding those relating to human origins which will be announced tomorrow. (Before It’s News)
  • Seven Reasons Teachers Burn Out: When I began the teaching profession, I believed that there were things that might ruin me as a teacher. On the top of my list was “working too hard,” followed by “not taking care of myself,” and then “a really horrible year with a tough class.” In other words, I thought that if the job became too hard or I was having to give too much of myself, I’d lose all passion and give up. I was wrong. (Education ReThink)

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Flotsam and jetsam (12/27)

dead soon

Good Reads

  • The Most Incredible Historical Discoveries of 2013:  From 1.8-million-year-old hominid skulls to rewriting the Buddha’s birthday to sunken Nazi subs, 2013 was another incredible year for archaeologists and historians. Here’s the best the year had to offer. (io9)

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Gifts, Grace, and Christmas Morning

I love watching my daughters on Christmas morning. As the youngest members of the family, Leah and Sydney are usually tasked with the job of pulling the presents out from under the tree and distributing them to the rest of the family. It’s an important responsibility. And one year it offered an amazingly simple lesson in the beauty of grace.

This short post is a re-post of one of my favorite Christmas reflections. Enjoy.

presents (550x367)

I remember the first Christmas the girls did this together. They were busy grabbing presents and sorting them into different piles. After a few minutes, I realized what was happening. The girls were shoving the presents for the adults off to the side and pulling their own presents into two large piles right in front of the tree.

“Of course,” I thought, “they’re just trying to find presents for themselves. Greedy little urchins. Must take after their mother.”

I quickly realized how wrong I was.

They weren’t building their own little stash. They were trying to find the presents they had made for each other. One after another, they held out their little treasures, watching with delight as their sister received these gifts of grace.

In my brokenness, I had assumed that they must be greedily hoarding presents for themselves. Instead, they taught me about grace. There is nothing like a small child, eyes bright with excitement, wanting only to give. In that exchange, there was no merit, no earning, no shame—only the joy of giving…only grace.

Apparently they take after their mother after all.

I can easily imagine God being like that—eyes bright with excitement, unmoved by words like “ought” or “deserve,” interested only in reaching into his pile of presents under the tree, eager to share the things that he made specially for us.

Christmas morning.

A son, a sacrifice, a savior. A gift joyfully given. The good news of the grace of God (Acts 20:24).

My 10 Favorite Posts of 2013

thumbs up (250x250)Every year there are a few posts that stand out just because I enjoyed them. Either I had a great time writing it, or I thought the content was particularly valuable. Two of these also made the Top 10 Posts of 2013 list, but the rest are just my personal favorites for the year. So here they are in no particular order. Enjoy!

 

My Top 10 Posts for 2013

2013 (250x372)The last year was an interesting one for us with the move to Wheaton College, where we are now enjoying our first midwest winter. (Technically, it’s not winter yet, which is probably why we’re still enjoying it.) And we’ve also had some good fun on the blog. To recap, here are the ten most viewed posts from the last year. Enjoy!

  1. 3 Mistakes We Make When Talking about the Sovereignty of God

  2. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly in John MacArthur’s Opening Address

  3. I’m Just Not Wired That Way

  4. When You Just Can’t Pray

  5. When Is My Child Old Enough to Get Baptized?

  6. How Movies Teach Our Kids about Gender

  7. Saturday morning fun…Why Are Things Cute?

  8. Saturday Morning Fun…A Year of Parenting

  9. I’m Not Wired That Way Either: The Extrovert’s Excuse

  10. If You Can’t Explain Something Simply, Maybe It’s Not Simple

Flotsam and jetsam (12/23)

grumpy reindeer

Good Reads

  • Christmas Is for Worship: It’s time to worry a lot less about getting Christ back into Christmas (he can’t be blasted out of Christmas, no matter how hard anyone tries). What needs to get back into Christmas is worship(HuffPo)
  • Angels We Ignore on High: My ambivalence about angels was not due to reason; it was a failure of my imagination. (Hermeneutics)
  • Ideas from a Manger:  Pause for a moment, in the last leg of your holiday shopping, to glance at one of the manger scenes you pass along the way. Cast your eyes across the shepherds and animals, the infant and the kings. Then try to see the scene this way: not just as a pious set-piece, but as a complete world picture — intimate, miniature and comprehensive.(NYT)
  • Fourteen Things You Shouldn’t Say to Your Pastor: The list is meant to be both humorous and serious. And I bet almost every pastor has heard all of these in the course of a ministry. Enjoy. But do not repeat (at least to your pastor). (Thom Rainer)

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A Prayer for Sunday (Martyn Lloyd-Jones)

lloyd-jones_martyn The famous welsh preacher Martyn Lloyd Jones was an influential British pastor through most of the twentieth century. One of the leading evangelical voices of his day, Jones was famous for his expository sermons and his resistance to liberal aspects of the British church. Although Jones ministered mostly in England, Jones’ influence has been felt through the English-speaking world.

Martyn Lloyd Jones died on March 1, 1981. In honor of his amazing life and ministry, this Sunday’s prayer comes from him.

“Oh Lord our God we thank thee more than ever that thou has been pleased to give us thy Holy Word. We realise what frail, fallible creatures we are, and how prone we are to go off on tangents and to trust to our own understanding only. We thank thee that thou has given us thy Spirit and thou has given us thy Word.

Oh God we cry out to thee, as a company of thy people, to have mercy upon us. God of our fathers, let it be known that thou art still God in Israel. Let it be known in this arrogant 20th Century, that thou art the same God who has acted and operated throughout the running centuries.

Honour thine own Word, oh Lord. Honour thine own dear Son. Exalt his precious name, and bring many to a knowledge of him as their only Saviour and their Lord.

Lord have pity upon us. In the midst of wrath remember mercy. Revive thy work, oh Lord, thy mighty arm made bare. Speak with a voice that wakes the dead, and make the people hear.”

Saturday Morning Fun…The Most Hyped Celebrity Events of 2013

The Most Significant Events of 2013…Google Style

Every year Google puts out a video highlighting the most “significant” (i.e. most searched for) events of the year. Here is this year’s video, looking back on a year filled with Batkid, the Pope, Nelson Mandela, and more. Enjoy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lv-sY_z8MNs#t=24