Speaking of divine music. . .

Mashup: a musical composition created by blending two or more pre-recorded songs, by overlaying vocal and/or instrumental tracks.

Our pastor’s message Sunday was “Never a Down Day…Reasons to Always Praise God.” He ended with a clip from Louie Giglio’s mashup of the unedited syncopation of pulsars with the songs of whales. WOW! You can watch the 4-minute clip above.

Then watch one of the fuller versions of Giglio’s message which includes the clip here:

Pastor Jerry’s sermon using the clip, is at http://cclb.org/pages/page.asp?page_id=32374. The video wasn’t available yet when I posted this.



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Who was this maestro in the metropolis?

083Who was that dark, curly-haired young violinist we heard playing in Amsterdam–in the Rijksmuseum tunnel on July 20 and near the queue for the Anne Frank house July 21? He was wearing in a loose T-shirt, shorts, and tennis shoes, but he played the most technically demanding and most elegant classical violin concerti, one after another–Tschaikovsky, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Bach–as well as I have ever heard them played and all from memory. He may have looked like an emaciated college student but the beauty of his violin and the tender cradle of its case suggested otherwise.

Most people were walking on by but when the four in our group stopped to listen, a small crowd gathered with us. After enjoying some of the sweetest compositions ever written, I ventured out of the crowd to ask him in English who he was. He said, “Benjamin.”

“Do you play at the Met?”

“I’m not that good.”

“What kind of violin is that?”

“Nothing special.”

I dropped a few Euros in his violin case and backed off to continue appreciating this private concert, thinking, “Yeah, right! You are somebody. I’ve read about you! You’re that famous musician who does subways and street gigs anonymously, delighting the ears of common people with music it would cost them dearly to hear otherwise!”

When we came home I Googled “Benjamin violinist Amsterdam” and when that produced nothing helpful, I tried “famous violinist street performances.” I got sites for Joshua Bell but the pictures of Joshua don’t look like “Benjamin.”

He looks more like a young Gil Shaham–who plays a Stradivarius, by the way–or Hagai Shaham (any relation?) but both are now in their 40s. Gil does concerts with his sister, a virtuoso pianist, and she is on Facebook. Shall I send her this young man’s picture and ask if he’s a member of their family?

Who IS this modest man?


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PRAY NOW against ISIS genocide of Christians in Iraq

The email below was sent at 0h42 this morning from Jericho Walls.
Dear Friends,
Just a few minutes ago I received the following text message on my phone from Sean Malone who leads Crisis Relief International (CRI). We then spoke briefly on the phone and I assured him that we would share this urgent prayer need with all of our contacts.
“We lost the city of Queragosh (Qaraqosh). It fell to ISIS and they are beheading children systematically. This is the city we have been smuggling food too. ISIS has pushed back Peshmerga (Kurdish forces) and is within 10 minutes of where our CRI team is working. Thousands more fled into the city of Erbil last night. The UN evacuated it’s staff in Erbil. Our team is unmoved and will stay. Prayer cover needed!”
For more information on the tr is happening in Northern Iraq:
1.) ISIS Fighters Overrun Iraq’s Largest Christian Town Qaraqosh, Residents Flee: http://www.inquisitr.com/1397185/isis-captures-christian-town-qaraqosh/
2.) Email Prayer Bulletin from International Prayer Council (John Robb): http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?ca=16adacb3-7f2c-4e13-9050-7f41c5cc359f&c=6aee6fd0-541e-11e3-ac86-d4ae529a824a&ch=6bb20df0-541e-11e3-ac9c-d4ae529a824a
3.) Iraqi MP Breaks Down in Tears Pleading Parliament to Save Yazidis from Genocide: http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/4406.htm
Please pray sincerely for the deliverance of the people of Northern Iraq from the terrible advancement of ISIS and its extreme Islamic goals for mass conversion or death for Christians across this region.
May I plead with you not to ignore this email. Do not forward it before you have prayed through it. Then send it to as many people as possible.
Send it to friends and Christians you may know. Send it to your prayer group. Send it to your pastor and phone him/her to pray on Sunday during the service – making a special time of prayer for this. We need to stand in the gap for our fellow Christians.

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JESUS IS COMING (6): Is America in the Bible?


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I’ve been thinking about joy. It’s one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, which means He produces it. It is something we can have only by relaxing and receiving it, not something we can (or have to) cobble up on our own. That’s a relief.

Jesus wants us to have these manifestations of His Spirit. He gave those who “saw him with their eyes, looked at Him and touched Him with their hands”–and by extension us–peace: “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you–”

He promised us love, the experience of which is conditional on letting Him live in and flow through us: “Just as the Father has loved me, I have also loved you. Live in my love, just as I live in my Father’s love.” He wants us to pass this love on.

He said His reason for telling us all this about peace and love and everything else, the purpose, the pay-off, is so that “My joy may be in you.” He told us these things so we will have joy, the same joy He has. Not only have it but”–that your joy may be made full.”

When we eavesdrop on His conversation with his Father just before they would be together again, when He still had one foot on earth and one foot already in heaven (“I am no longer in the world. . . now I come to You”), He says it again. He could have promised us anything in public and then told his Father privately, “I’ve had it with these putzes. They’ll never get it. I can’t wait to get out of here and come home.”

Instead, we hear Him expressing the same heart’s desire for us: “[T]hese things I speak in the world so that they (that’s us) may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.” Not only feel and contain it but be filled up and spilling over.

My joy.” He wants me to have His joy. His very own personal joy. His.

I want it. I want to be more aware of it, better at receiving it. I not only want to feel flashes of it when I see little biscuit tin gardens. I not only want to have it somewhere inside of me. I want it filling me to overflowing. I want others to catch it from me. I want to be all about joy.

New Testament: Galatians 5:16 on; St. John chapters 14-17 (specifically 14:27; 15:9-11; and 17:11, 13); I John chapter 1, beginning with verse 1.

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JESUS IS COMING (5): How Israel Fits into God’s Plan


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My biscuit tin bonsai

If I were to design my own perfect biscuit tin bonsai, it would have moss and ferns in it. Big flat stones or interesting pebbles. A few fallen maple leaves. The bark of a big tree.

If my bonsai were part of a display in a Japanese tokonoma, there would be a hanging scroll displaying a favorite haiku in calligraphy and an unusually-shaped black lacquer vase holding a spray of some seasonal flower.

It would feature photographs of people I love. Photographs of eye-easy scenes (with the driveway, walls, sprinkler heads, security sign, and gargoyle gone–and the fountain upright).

In fact my ideal bonsai would have the people I love there in person in the beautiful scenes.

Is that too much to ask?


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