Sunday, December 30, 2012

It Is Christ Alone That Saves

Remember, sinner, it is not thy hold of Christ that saves thee–it is Christ; it is not thy joy in Christ that saves thee–it is Christ; it is not even faith in Christ, though that is the instrument–it is Christ’s blood and merits; therefore, look not to thy hope, but to Christ, the source of thy hope; look not to thy faith, but to Christ, the author and finisher of thy faith; and if thou doest that, ten thousand devils cannot throw thee down…There is one thing which we all of us too much becloud in our preaching, though I believe we do it very unintentionally–namely, the great truth that it is not prayer, it is not faith, it is not our doings, it is not our feelings upon which we must rest, but upon Christ, and on Christ alone. We are apt to think that we are not in a right state, that we do not feel enough, instead of remembering that our business is not with self, but Christ. Let me beseech thee, look only to Christ; never expect delieverance from self, from ministers, or from any means of any kind apart from Christ; keep thine eye simply on Him; let his death, His agonies, His groans, His sufferings, His merits, His glories, His intercession, be fresh upon thy mind; when thou wakest in the morning look for Him; when thou liest down at night look for Him. (The Forgotten Spugeon, Iain Murray, 42.)

Eric Clapton - Have You Ever Loved A Woman Live From Crossroads Guitar Festival 2004

Stevie Ray Vaughan - Texas Flood - I Never Get Tired Of This

John Hiatt - I Just Don't Know What To Say

John Hiatt - We're Alright Now (2012)

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Why Tremble? Sayings In Which Luther Found Comfort

Luther, 1530:

Christ himself says, John 16, 'Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.'

This cannot be wrong--I'm sure of it--that Christ, the Son of God, has overcome the world. Why do we tremble before the world as before a triumphant conqueror? It is worth going to Rome or Jerusalem on one's knees to obtain those words of Christ. 
--'Sayings in Which Luther Found Comfort,' in Luther's Works, Volume 43, Devotional Writings II, 172

Dane Ortlund


Oscar Peterson Trio - Sweet Georgia Brown [1985]

John Mayer & John Scofield "I Don't Need No Doctor" (Ray Charles Cover)

Friday, December 28, 2012

What if Death Were Optional?

C. S. Lewis, to Warfield Firor, an American surgeon, 1949:

Have you ever thought what it would be like if (all other things remaining as they are) old age and death had been made optional? All other things remaining: i.e. it would still be true that our real destiny was elsewhere, that we have no abiding city here and no true happiness, but the un-hitching from this life was left to be accomplished by our own will as an act of obedience and faith. I suppose the percentage of di-ers would be about the same as the percentage of Trappists is now.

I am therefore (with some help from the weather and rheumatism!) trying to profit by this new realisation of my mortality. To begin to die, to loosen a few of the tentacles which the octopus-world has fastened on one. But of course it is continuings, not beginnings, that are the point. A good night's sleep, a sunny morning, a success with my next book--any of these will, I know, alter the whole thing. Which alteration, by the bye, being in reality a relapse from partial waking into the old stupor, would nevertheless be regarded by most people as a return to health from a 'morbid' mood!

Well, it's certainly not that. But it is a very partial waking. One ought not to need the gloomy moments of life for beginning detachment, nor be re-entangled by the bright ones. One ought to be able to enjoy the bright ones to the full and at that very same moment have the perfect readiness to leave them, confident that what calls one away is better.
--The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume 2 (HarperCollins, 2004), 986-87; emphases original

Dane Ortlund

Luther Dickinson (North Mississippi Allstars) "Jellyrollin' All Over Heaven" Live at KDHX

NORTH MISSISSIPPI ALLSTARS Hear My Train A Coming 2007 Live @ Gilford

Rollin' n Tumblin' - The North Mississippi Allstars

Buddy Miller - When it Comes to You

Thursday, December 27, 2012

From This Valley // The Civil Wars // Live from New Orleans

Carolina Chocolate Drops :: Lights in the Valley

Shelter Me - Buddy Miller

Mercyland: Give God The Blues - Shawn Mullins

Simul Justus et Peccator

Perhaps the formula that Luther used that is most famous and most telling at this point is his formula simul justus et peccator. And if any formula summarizes and captures the essence of the Reformation view, it is this little formula. Simul is the word from which we get the English word simultaneously. Or, it means ‘at the same time.’ Justus is the Latin word for just or righteous. And you all know whatet is. Et the past tense of the verb ‘to eat.’ Have you et your dinner? No, you know that’s not what that means. You remember in the death scene of Caesar after he’s been stabbed by Brutus he says, “Et tu, Brute?” Then fall Caesar. And you too Brutus? It simply means and. Peccator means sinner.
And so with this formula Luther was saying, in our justification we are one and the same time righteous or just, and sinners. Now if he would say that we are at the same time and in the same relationship just and sinners that would be a contradiction in terms. But that’s not what he was saying. He was saying from one perspective, in one sense, we are just. In another sense, from a different perspective, we are sinners; and how he defines that is simple. In and of ourselves, under the analysis of God’s scrutiny, we still have sin; we’re still sinners. But, by imputation and by faith in Jesus Christ, whose righteousness is now transferred to our account, then we are considered just or righteous. This is the very heart of the gospel.
Will I be judged in order to get into heaven by my righteousness or by the righteousness of Christ? If I had to trust in my righteousness to get into heaven, I would completely and utterly despair of any possibility of ever being redeemed. But when we see that the righteousness that is ours by faith is the perfect righteousness of Christ, then we see how glorious is the good news of the gospel. The good news is simply this, I can be reconciled to God, I can be justified by God not on the basis of what I did, but on the basis of what’s been accomplished for me by Christ.
But at the heart of the gospel is a double-imputation. My sin is imputed to Jesus. His righteousness is imputed to me. And in this two-fold transaction we see that God, Who does not negotiate sin, Who doesn’t compromise His own integrity with our salvation, but rather punishes sin fully and really after it has been imputed to Jesus, retains His own righteousness, and so He is both just and the justifier, as the apostle tells us here. So my sin goes to Jesus, His righteousness comes to me in the sight of God.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Babyhood of God

“The tremendous revelation of Christianity is not the Fatherhood of God, but the Babyhood of God – God became the weakest thing in His own creation, and in flesh and blood He levered it back to where it was intended to be. No one helped Him; it was done absolutely by God manifest in human flesh. God has undertaken not only to repair the damage, but in Jesus Christ the human race is put in a better condition than when it was originally designed.”
“Beware of posing as a profound person; God became a Baby.”
- Oswald Chambers

Bob Dylan I'll Be Home For Christmas

Bob Dylan - The Christmas Blues

Canned Heat - Future Blues - 13 - Christmas Blues

"Please Come Home for Christmas" - Charles Brown

Friday, December 21, 2012

Oxygen For The Soul

The justification of a sinner is instantaneous and complete. . . . It is an all-comprehending act of God. All the sins of a believer, past, present, and future, are pardoned when he is justified. The sum-total of his sin, all of which is before the Divine eye at the instant when God pronounces him a justified person, is blotted out or covered over by one act of God. Consequently, there is no repetition in the Divine mind of the act of justification; as there is no repetition of the atoning death of Christ, upon which it rests.
--William G. T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, Volume 2 (New York: Scribner's, 1891), 545

Dane Ortlund

Ramsey Lewis Trio - Christmas Blues (1961)

Sonny Boy Williamson / Sonny Boy's Christmas Blues

The 'In' Crowd - Ramsey Lewis

Canned heat - Christmas Blues (alternate take with Dr. John)

Muddy Waters - Mean Red Spider (1949)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


The doctrine of the Incarnation means that two distinct natures (divine and human) are united in one person: Jesus. Jesus is not two people (God and man). He is one person: the God-man. Jesus is not schizophrenic.
When the Word became flesh he did not cease to be the Word. The Word veiled, hid, and voluntarily restricted the use of certain divine powers and prerogatives. But God cannot cease to be God. In other words, when the Word became flesh he did not commit divine suicide.
When the Word once became flesh he became flesh forever. After his earthly life, death, and resurrection, Jesus did not divest himself of the flesh or cease to be a man. He is a man even now at the right hand of God the Father. He is also God. He will always be the God-man. See 1 Cor. 15:28; Col. 2:9; 1 John 2:7 (note use of present tense).
Thus, we might envision Jesus saying: "I am now what I always was: God (or Word). I am now what I once was not: man (or flesh). I am now and forever will be both: the God-man."
Sam Storms

Tedeschi Trucks Band - Bound for Glory - Live from Atlanta

Little Walter - Mellow Down Easy

Little Walter - Don't Need No Horse

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

God Help Us - By Ben Stein

 A massacre that has turned the world upside down.
I learned about the massacre at Sandy Hook elementary school while we were setting up at Fox News to tape Cavuto on Business. The news was so horrible that we all felt as if we had lost our legs and could no longer stand. It was such horrible news that it simply turned the world upside down.
It still is that kind of news, and it’s incredibly depressing about the nature of humanity. And my wife and I pray all day for the souls of those dear children and for the peace, if there ever will be peace, of their families… and for the souls of the adults and the peace of those who knew and loved them.
As usual, the smartest comment about the whole subject came from John R. Coyne, Jr. “There is evil in the world. It’s beyond mental illness, beyond gun control. It is evil.”
The killer got his weapons from his mother, who apparently had bought them legally and registered them. That tells us something about what anti-gun laws would do, although maybe the mother should not have had them either. In this world, a killer devil can kill his mother and steal her guns to kill six year olds. That’s what some humans are and I am not sure what laws will stop them.
Second, I read that the killer was socially awkward (putting it mildly) and “reserved.” I know what that often means. He spent much of his miserable life playing shoot ’em up video games on line or on machines. I see a troubled young man doing that often.
Up close and personal.
In these games, the “player” just spends his whole day attempting to exercise and exorcize his loneliness and low self-esteem by shooting imaginary creatures and creating damage all day long.
At a certain point, just “killing” on the console blurs into doing it in real life. “Killing” is just what the kid does all his life. How much of a stretch is it for him to shoot into a movie theater or a political gathering or a kindergarten in “real life” if his life is so pitiful that he does not know what’s real and what is not? If you are looking for a villain, try shoot ’em up games.
Third, what motivates “great” deeds? So that a man’s name will not be forgotten and he will be sung about even after his death, goes the ancient saying. That’s what you get if you slaughter 26 totally innocent people at a grade school. If you want another villain, try the media itself, which has now given Adam Lanza fame beyond what he could have dreamt of. It is impossible to blame the media, but evil men like Adam Lanza have gamed the system to perfection.
Fifth, why are these killers always men? What is it that we teach our young men in this world that makes them think it’s a mark of manliness to kill the unarmed and innocent? Whatever it is, it’s disgusting. It’s not manly to kill any unarmed human. It’s miserable, crawling cowardice.
Finally, a comment that will enrage the beautiful people. The whole world is rightly overwrought and crazed with grief over the murder of twenty totally innocent and blameless souls last Friday in Newtown. It was and is a catastrophe for the ages.
But Mahmoud Ahmadinejad promises to kill every Jew in Israel and then in the whole world, including babies… and he had his defenders, even at the Democratic National Convention. And it was daily life in Nazi-occupied Europe from 1939 to 1941 to kill thousands of Jewish children every day. But powerful, intelligent men and women in this country defended Hitler, spoke up for him and for keeping America from even sending arms to Britain when England stood alone. What are we to make of that? No one even mentions, no one even knows about the horrendous Armenian genocide by the Turks in 1915, when well over a million of the most talented people on the planet were wantonly murdered — and the world has still not officially called it genocide — and Hitler explicitly said it was a model for him. Who today even talks of the purposeful mass starvation of millions of beautiful Ukrainian children by Stalin? The U.S. did not say one word about it as a government. The U.S. still will not confront Turkey seriously about the Armenian children.
Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge killed roughly one third of all of its people, including children, from 1974 to about 1977 — and it was U.S. policy to avoid doing anything to stop them — because they were opposed to the North Vietnamese Communists and Communist Vietnam, which had just taken over South Vietnam — our ally. What can we say to that? We cheered the deposing of the President — Richard Nixon — who would have stopped the Khmer Rouge from taking power. There is plenty of Cambodian blood on our hands. There is plenty of blood of all kinds on our hands, especially of the most innocent and blameless among us… real babies, truly innocent.
God help us. Man is made of such crooked stuff that it is impossible to set him straight, said a famous philosopher. God help us.

Eric Clapton - Worried Life Blues - Royal Albert Hall 1990/91

CAROLINA IN MY MIND by Allison Krauss & Jerry Douglas

Don Rickles Rips on Clint Eastwood and others

Carol of the Bells - University of Mobile Christmas Spectacular 2012

This is Outstanding!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Tim Conway - Elephant Story - Carol Burnett Show outtakes

Why Do So Few Atheists Take Their Faith Seriously?

A few night's ago at the Iron Works Church there was a moderated debate between Augustine and Bertrand Russell—more more accurately, Carl Trueman representing Augustine’s worldview of Christian orthodoxy vs.  Chad Trainer (chairman of the board of the Bertrand Russell Society) representing Russell’s agnostic/atheistic worldview. This is a brilliant idea, and I’ll link to the video of the event when it’s available.
During the audience Q&A, a homeschooling mom asked how she could find satisfaction though she struggles with depression.
Trainer/Russell responded that the lady was doing valuable work, and that in 20 years she might well be satisfied with what she has accomplished.
But on the Reformation21 blog today, Trueman asks, “what basis had the man who said the following to claim that this mother was doing anything worthwhile at all?”
That man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins — all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.
Trueman writes:
On Russell’s account, this mother is just one random bunch of atoms caring for some other random bunches of atoms.   If so, any meaning is purely subjective.   Why is satisfaction even an issue?  To says she does something worthwhile is to assume some kind of fairy story that gives dignity to the whole and . . . simply makes life more bearable.
This is one reason why I find atheism so implausible.  If Russell could dismiss Christianity in part because he had met so few Christians who seemed to take the faith seriously, I consider atheists to be much the same. Do not tell me that we are a random bunch of atoms and then try to impose your myths on me. Do not create a morality in your own image and then try to give it some objective, transcendent status.  A random world does not give privileged status to the moral myths of an upper class English proto-hippy. Do not tell me that serial killers are morally worse than aid workers. At best, you might say that you find them personally more distasteful. If you are an atheist, have the courage to take heed of the words of Nietzsche’s Madman:
Have you ever heard of the madman who on a bright morning lighted a lantern and ran to the market-place calling out unceasingly: ‘I seek God! I seek God!’ As there were many people standing about who did not believe in God, he caused a great deal of amusement. Why! is he lost? said one. Has he strayed away like a child? said another. Or does he keep himself hidden? Is he afraid of us? Has he taken a sea-voyage? Has he emigrated? the people cried out laughingly, all in a hubbub. The insane man jumped into their midst and transfixed them with his glances. ‘Where is God gone?’ he called out. ‘I mean to tell you! We have killed him, you and I! We are all his murderers! But how have we done it? How were we able to drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the whole horizon? What did we do when we loosened this earth from its sun? Whither does it now move? Whither do we move? Away from all suns? Do we not dash on unceasingly? Backwards, sideways, forwards, in all directions? Is there still an above and below? Do we not stray, as through infinite nothingness? Does not empty space breathe upon us? Has it not become colder? Does not night come on continually, darker and darker? Shall we not have to light lanterns in the morning? Do we not hear the noise of the grave-diggers who are burying God? Do we not smell the divine putrefaction? –for even Gods putrefy! God is dead! God remains dead! And we have killed him! How shall we console ourselves, the most murderous of all murderers? The holiest and the mightiest that the world has hitherto possessed, has bled to death under our knife–who will wipe away the blood from us? With what water could we cleanse ourselves? What lustrums, what sacred games shall we have to devise? Is not the magnitude of this deed too great for us? Shall we not ourselves have to become Gods, merely to seem worthy of it? There never was a greater event–and on account of it, all who are born after us belong to a higher history than any history hitherto!’–Here the madman was silent and looked again at his hearers; they also were silent and looked at him in surprise. At last he threw his lantern on the ground, so that it broke in pieces and was extinguished. ‘I come too early,’ he then said, ‘I am not yet at the right time. This prodigious event is still on its way, and is traveling–it has not yet reached men’s ears. Lightning and thunder need time, the light of the stars needs time, deeds need time, even after they are done, to be seen and heard. This deed is as yet further from them than the furthest star–and yet they have done it!’
Justin Taylor

Stevie Ray Vaughan - Voodoo Chile - Tokyo 1985

Johnny Winter - Hideaway - Germany 1979

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Thinking About The Connecticut Shooting

"Not only do we only know God through Jesus Christ, but we only know ourselves through Jesus Christ; we only know life and death through Jesus Christ. Apart from Jesus Christ we cannot know the meaning of our life or our death, of God or of ourselves." (Pascal)
Everyone is trying to make sense out of what happened today. Such evil exists in the heart of man and in this world. Only Jesus Christ c
an give us meaning in this life. He reveals the depth of man's lost condition by dying the death of the cross.
Tragedy presents unusual opportunities—for both good and ill. The potential for good arises from the fact that people are awakened to realities that they would otherwise ignore. C. S. Lewis famously made this point in his observation that “God whispers to us in pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” This is profoundly true. Once the world is awakened by tragedy and attention is drawn away from those trivialities that blind people to God a pivotal opportunity emerges. But there is no guarantee that it will automatically be redeemed. Someone must rise to speak God’s truth into the pain and suffering.

Big Bill Broonzy-Key to the Highway

JAMES BROWN There Was A Time (Letterman 1982)

Big Joe Turner - Shake Rattle And Roll

Thursday, December 13, 2012

What Can and Cannot Change in Our Relationship with God

I found this helpful, from Bryan Chapell's Holiness by Grace

In a chart entitled 'Our Relationship with God,' Dr. Chapell lists what can change and what cannot change. Clarifying.

What Can Change
  • our fellowship
  • our experience of his blessing
  • our assurance of his love
  • his delight in our actions
  • his discipline
  • our sense of guilt

What Cannot Change
  • our sonship
  • his desire for our welfare
  • his actual affection for us
  • his love for us
  • our destiny
  • our security

--Bryan Chapell, Holiness by Grace: Delighting in the Joy That Is Our Strength (Crossway, 2001), 196

Rollin' and Tumblin' - Bob Dylan - Modern Times

Little Walter - Rollin' and Tumblin' - With Muddy Waters

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Land Defiled Beyond All Healing

Frodo, Sam, and Gollum approach Mordor.

The remainder of that journey was a shadow of growing fear in which memory could find nothing to rest upon. For two more nights they struggled on through the weary pathless land. The air, as it seemed to them, grew harsh, and filled with a bitter reek that caught their breath and parched their mouths.

At last, on the fifth morning since they took the road with Gollum, they halted once more. Before them dark in the dawn the great mountains reached up to roofs of smoke and cloud. Out from their feet were flung huge buttresses and broken hills that were now at the nearest scarce a dozen miles away. Frodo looked round in horror. Dreadful as the Dead Marshes had been, and the arid moors of the Noman-lands, more loathsome far was the country that the crawling day now slowly unveiled to his shrinking eyes. Even to the Mere of Dead Faces some haggard phantom of green spring would come; but here neither spring nor summer would ever come again. Here nothing lived, not even the leprous growths that feed on rottenness. The gasping pools were choked with ash and crawling muds, sickly white and grey, as if the mountains had vomited the filth of their entrails upon the lands about. High mounds of crushed and powdered rock, great cones of earth fire-blasted and poison-stained, stood like an obscene graveyard in endless rows, slowly revealed in the reluctant light.

They had come to the desolation that lay before Mordor: the lasting monument to the dark labor of its slaves that should endure when all their purposes were made void; a land defiled, diseased beyond all healing--unless the Great Sea should enter in and wash it with oblivion. 'I feel sick,' said Sam. Frodo did not speak. 
--J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, 'The Passage of the Marshes'
Dane Ortlund

Muddy Waters - Jealous Hearted Man

Forty days and Forty nights (Muddy Waters)

Muddy Waters - Forty Days And Forty Nights

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Dave Brubeck - Take Five 1920-2012

"Take Five" written by Paul Desmond and performed by The Dave Brubeck Quartet on their 1959 album Time Out. Recorded at Columbia's 30th Street Studios in New York City on June 25, July 1, and August 18, 1959, this piece became one of the group's best-known records. It is famous for its distinctive catchy saxophone melody; imaginative, jolting drum solo; and use of the unusual quintuple (5/4) time, from which its name is derived.[2] The song was first played to a live audience by The Dave Brubeck Quartet at the Village Gate nightclub in New York City in 1959.

Johnny Cash - "Ain't No Grave"

Johnny Cash's last public performance -- Understand Your Man (Hiltons, VA, 2003)

Charlie McCoy - Orange Blossom Special

Monday, December 3, 2012

Colleges have free speech on the run - By George F. Will

In 2007, Keith John Sampson, a middle-aged student working his way through Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis as a janitor, was declared guilty of racial harassment. Without granting Sampson a hearing, the university administration — acting as prosecutor, judge and jury — convicted him of “openly reading [a] book related to a historically and racially abhorrent subject.”
“Openly.” “Related to.” Good grief.
The book, “Notre Dame vs. the Klan,” celebrated the 1924 defeat of the Ku Klux Klan in a fight with Notre Dame students. But some of Sampson’s co-workers disliked the book’s cover, which featured a black-and-white photograph of a Klan rally. Someone was offended, therefore someone else must be guilty of harassment.
This non sequitur reflects the right never to be annoyed, a new campus entitlement. Legions of administrators, who now outnumber full-time faculty, are kept busy making students mind their manners, with good manners understood as conformity to liberal politics.
Liberals are most concentrated and untrammeled on campuses, so look there for evidence of what, given the opportunity, they would do to America. Ample evidence is in “Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate” by Greg Lukianoff, 38, a graduate of Stanford Law School who describes himself as a liberal, pro-choice, pro-gay rights, lifelong Democrat who belongs to “the notoriously politically correct Park Slope Food Co-Op in Brooklyn” and has never voted for a Republican “nor do I plan to.” But as president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), he knows that the most common justifications for liberal censorship are “sensitivity” about “diversity” and “multiculturalism,” as academic liberals understand those things.
In recent years, a University of Oklahoma vice president has declared that no university resources, including e-mail, could be used for “the forwarding of political humor/commentary.” The College at Brockport in New York banned using the Internet to “annoy or otherwise inconvenience” anyone. Rhode Island College prohibited, among many other things, certain “attitudes.” Texas Southern University’s comprehensive proscriptions included “verbal harm” from damaging “assumptions” or “implications.” Texas A&M promised “freedom from indignity of any type.” Davidson banned “patronizing remarks.” Drexel University forbade “inappropriately directed laughter.” Western Michigan University banned “sexism,” including “the perception” of a person “not as an individual, but as a member of a category based on sex.” Banning “perceptions” must provide full employment for the burgeoning ranks of academic administrators.
Many campuses congratulate themselves on their broad-mindedness when they establish small “free-speech zones” where political advocacy can be scheduled. At one point Texas Tech’s 28,000 students had a “free-speech gazebo” that was 20 feet wide. And you thought the First Amendment made America a free-speech zone.
Washington Post Opinions

Freddie King " Sweet Home Chicago"

Robert Cray - Time Makes Two - Dallas, TX 2004

Tedeschi Trucks Band - Come See About Me - Live from Atlanta

Friday, November 30, 2012

Alison Krauss - Lay My Burden Down

Can't Find My Way Home - Bonnie Raitt & Lowell George & John Hammond Jr & Freebo

If There Is A Story There Is A Story Teller

"I had always vaguely felt facts to be miracles in the sense that they are wonderful: now I began to think them miracles in the stricter sense that they were wilful. I mean that they were, or might be, repeated exercises of some will.
In short, I had always believed that the world involved magic: now I thought that perhaps it involved a magician. And this pointed a profound emotion always present and sub-conscious; that this world of ours has some purpose; and if there is a purpose, there is a Person. I had always felt life first as a story: and if there is a story there is a Story-teller."
 From G.K. Chesterton's classic work of apologetics, Orthodoxy

DEXTER GORDON - Body and Soul

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Broken in Death One Way or Another

"Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him." --Jesus, Luke 20:17

Anglican OT scholar Gabriel Hebert, 1941:

This means that, one way or another, man must be broken and die: either in salvation or in judgment. To fall on that Stone, to die in union with Jesus, for His sake and the gospel's, is salvation; it is to drink of His cup and be baptizes with His baptism. But he who refuses to lose his selfhood will have it taken away from him. If he will not have the Coming of the Son of Man for salvation, he will have it for judgment. 
Indeed, this way of salvation through the losing of life is the royal road which the Messiah Himself takes. 
--A. G. Hebert, The Throne of David: A Study of the Fulfillment of the Old testament in Jesus Christ and His Church (London: Faber & Faber, 1941), 179; language slightly updated

Dane Ortlund

Tommy Emmanuel - One Christmas Night

Joe Bonamassa - Slow Train LIVE at Beacon Theatre


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sin's Deception

A strong place and wonderful was Isengard, and long it had been beautiful; and there great lords had dwelt, the wardens of Gondor upon the West, and wise men that watched the stars. But slowly Saruman had shaped it to his shifting purposes, and made it better, as he thought, being deceived--for all those arts and subtle devices, for which he forsook his former wisdom, and which fondly he imagined were his own, came but from Mordor; so that what he made was naught, only a little copy, a child's model or a slave's flattery, of that vast fortress, armoury, prison, furnace of great power, Barad-dur, the Dark Tower, which suffered no rival, and laughed at flattery, biding its time, secure in its pride and its immeasurable strength.
--J. R. R. Tolkien, The Two Towers (Houghton Mifflin), 542
Dane Ortlund

Salute to Bach - Oscar Peterson Trio.

Gov't Mule - Ventilator Blues - Mountain Jam - June 5 2010

Luther Allison - You Can't Always Get What You Want

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Worried About Worries (When You’re Not Supposed to Be)

A beautiful, honest, and incredibly sympathetic reflection on the relationship between anxiety, control, and circumstance appeared in The NY Times last week, as part of their (and now our!) ongoing series about Anxiety, the appropriately titled “The Snake in the Garden”. It’s hard to write a hopeful piece about what are essentially self-defeating internal processes, but that’s exactly what Pico Iyer has pulled off here. The final paragraph is one for the ages in fact, and he even uses Garden of Eden imagery to frame his dilemma (which, one might add, is highly reminiscent of the first chapter of Dorothy Martyn’s wonderful Beyond Deserving). More commentary from me would probably cheapen the piece, so here’s a sizable chunk to mull over, which begins with Iyer describing a retreat center that had proven to be particularly therapeutic for him, ht MS:

 The retreat house was the rare place where it seemed impossible to be fraught. All my worries of the previous day seemed about as real and urgent as the taillights of cars disappearing around headlands 12 miles to the south. I started to go to this place of silence more and more often, and one spring day, on my way to two weeks of carefree quiet, I told my old friend Steve about it. Much to my delight, he booked himself in for a three-day stay that would coincide with my final weekend in the sanctuary.
I stepped into my cabin on the slope above the sea, 12 days before our meeting — golden poppies and lupines everywhere — and instantly began to wonder how Steve would see it. What if the sky clouded over before his arrival, I thought, and he was greeted by rain and mist? Maybe the vegetarian food set out in the kitchen would fail to meet his exacting standards? What about the crosses on the walls? Might they trigger some unsuspected trauma from his Roman Catholic boyhood? Every day for the next 10 days I worried that the place might not live up to his expectations — or my billing.
On gorgeous days, I scanned the horizon for clouds; sometimes I walked into the bookshop to ask the monk on duty if he’d heard the weather forecast for next Friday. When, the day before Steve’s anticipated arrival, he (almost inevitably) called to cancel, I realized that the only thing I’d done was to exile myself from Paradise, anguishing over what never came to pass.

 Even if it had come to pass, my worries would have been pointless. The very place that was teaching me surrender — the beauty of its spaciousness was that I didn’t have to control a thing — had been undone by my recidivist mind. A trifling example, of course — usually worries are over something more substantial and not entirely self-induced — and yet it seemed to be smiling at me in my foolishness. The books on my desk in the cabin, as it happened, that spring were by Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus. It’s not circumstances that define us, the Stoics wrote again and again; it’s our response to circumstances. And insofar as anxiety is to a large extent in the eye of the beholder, it’s also in the power of the beholder to control.
I couldn’t register that, however, because I was worried through the days before Steve’s projected arrival that a noisy neighbor might disturb his stay. The problem with anxiety — as Marcus Aurelius would acknowledge — is that, by definition, it’s irrational; in that regard, it’s not so different from the almost irresistible impulse to jump that seizes me every time I find myself on a 50th-floor balcony, or the senseless revulsion I feel on seeing a rope that I take to be a snake. Its power comes in those moments when reason has no sway over it.
Besides, many kinds of anxiety are natural, almost healthy, especially if they’re concerned with others; a parent who didn’t worry about her child might seem almost inhuman. Yet still it’s uncanny how often we let ourselves out of the Garden by worrying about something that, if it did happen, would quicken us into a response much more practical than worry. All the real challenges of my, or any, life — the forest fire that did indeed destroy my home and everything in it; the car crash that suddenly robbed dozens of us of a cherished friend; my 13-year-old daughter’s diagnosis of cancer in its third stage — came out of the blue; they’re just what I had never thought to worry about (even as I was anguishing over whether they’d serve spinach when my friend visited the retreat house). And every time some kind of calamity has come into my life, I and everyone around me have responded with activity, unexpected strength, even an all but unnatural calm.

 t’s only when we’re living in the future, the realm of “what if,” that we brilliantly incapacitate ourselves. And it’s mostly when someone abruptly cries, “Watch out!” that we lose control of the car we’re driving. Yet all the Stoic arguments are hard to absorb in that part of ourselves that matters.
We try to distinguish between those things we can control and those we can’t — fruitless to worry about “status anxiety,” since that lies in the hands (the minds) of others, and senseless to worry about finances, since one can usually spend a little less or try to earn a little more — and then we start to worry about how much in fact that new relationship is within our control or not. I go up to my sunlit retreat house and read, in Milton, how the mind can “make a heav’n of hell, a hell of heav’n,” and then decide that’s barely relevant if you’re stuck in limbo.
Nowadays my one, obviously flimsy, response to all this is to try to bypass the mind if I can’t control it and at least not take my anxiety so seriously…
I’ve slowly learned, the hard way, that my best writing comes when I’m not thinking about writing and am far from desk or conscious intention. But then the clouds gather above the sea, and my idle mind conjures up bad possibilities the way one might dream of chocolate cake. We worry only about exactly those things we can never do anything about. And then that very fact becomes something else we worry about. The cycle goes on and on until we let the mind give over to something larger — wiser — than itself.
One tiny note: if you’re picking up a note of “prescription” in that final line, it’s worth noting that the example of the “something larger” to which Iyer refers takes the form of an intervention from a loving teacher, rather than a carefully-calibrated, self-engineered distraction.

Don't Worry Baby - The Beach Boys

Otis Spann and Peter Green - Ain't Nobody's Business

Mark Knopfler - Brothers in arms [Berlin 2007]

I just saw Mark Knopfler November 13th at the Fox Theater in Detroit. Mark opened for Bob Dylan and did an hour and a half set. Mark and his band were incredible. Mark also joined Dylan for the first part of his set. A great night of music, he did this song.

Mark Knopfler & Chet Atkins - Instrumental Medley -"I'll see you in my dreams" and Imagine

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Life You Save

"What God says, is 'The life you save is the life you lose.' In other words, the life you clutch, hoard, guard, and play safe with is in the end a life worth little to anybody, including yourself, and only a life given away for love's sake is a life worth living. To bring his point home, God shows us a man who gave his life away to the extent of dying a national disgrace without a penny in the bank or a friend to his name. In terms of human wisdom, he was a Perfect Fool. And if you think you can follow him without making something like the same kind of a fool of yourself, you are laboring under not a cross but a delusion." - 

Frederick Buechner

Little Walter - Little Girl

Oscar Peterson - On The Trail

Oscar Peterson - Boogie Blues Etude - AMAZING!

Ronnie Scott's Club in 1974 - Oscar Peterson-piano, Niels Pedersen-bass, Barney Kessel-guitar.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Magician's Twin: C.S. Lewis and the Case against Scientism

“More than a half century ago, famed writer C.S. Lewis warned about how science (a good thing) could be twisted in order to attack religion, undermine ethics, and limit human freedom. In this [half-hour] documentary “The Magician’s Twin: C.S. Lewis and the Case Against Scientism,” leading scholars explore Lewis’s prophetic warnings about the abuse of science and how Lewis’s concerns are increasingly relevant for us today.”

Charlie Musselwhite - Walking Alone

Junior Wells' Chicago Blues Band -- Help Me (A Tribute to Sonny Boy Williamson)

From the album: Chicago/The Blues/Today! Vol. 1. Buddy Guy on guitar, Jack Meyers bass, Fred Below drums. Junior Wells (December 9, 1934 -- January 15, 1998[1]), born Amos Wells Blakemore Jr. was a blues vocalist and harmonica player and recording artist based in Chicago, who was also famous for playing with Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Bonnie Raitt, The Rolling Stones and Van Morrison.

Eric Clapton - Change The World

Eric Clapton - I get lost (acoustic)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Allman Brothers, "The Sky Is Crying," 12/3/2011

An Atheist Philosopher Predicts Scientific Naturalism Will One Day Be Laughable

Alvin Plantinga reviews Thomas Nagel’s new book, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False (Oxford University Press, 2012) in The New Republic. Here’s how it begins:

According to a semi-established consensus among the intellectual elite in the West, there is no such person as God or any other supernatural being. Life on our planet arose by way of ill-understood but completely naturalistic processes involving only the working of natural law. Given life, natural selection has taken over, and produced all the enormous variety that we find in the living world. Human beings, like the rest of the world, are material objects through and through; they have no soul or ego or self of any immaterial sort. At bottom, what there is in our world are the elementary particles described in physics, together with things composed of these particles.
I say that this is a semi-established consensus, but of course there are some people, scientists and others, who disagree. There are also agnostics, who hold no opinion one way or the other on one or another of the above theses. And there are variations on the above themes, and also halfway houses of one sort or another. Still, by and large those are the views of academics and intellectuals in America now. Call this constellation of views scientific naturalism—or don’t call it that, since there is nothing particularly scientific about it, except that those who champion it tend to wrap themselves in science like a politician in the flag. By any name, however, we could call it the orthodoxy of the academy—or if not the orthodoxy, certainly the majority opinion.
The eminent philosopher Thomas Nagel would call it something else: an idol of the academic tribe, perhaps, or a sacred cow: “I find this view antecedently unbelievable—a heroic triumph of ideological theory over common sense. . . . I would be willing to bet that the present right-thinking consensus will come to seem laughable in a generation or two.” Nagel is an atheist; even so, however, he does not accept the above consensus, which he calls materialist naturalism; far from it. His important new book is a brief but powerful assault on materialist naturalism.
Plantinga goes on to summarize and interact with Nagel’s arguments and alternatives. Along the way he excerpts a quote from one of Nagel’s books written in 1997 which offers some insights into Nagel’s rejection of theism:
I am talking about something much deeper—namely, the fear of religion itself. I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear myself: I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. . . . It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.
You can read the whole thing here.
For those interested, Nagel reviewed Plantinga’s Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism (Oxford University Press, 2011) in The New York Review of Books.
Justin Taylor

Monday, November 19, 2012

Dancing Frog and Almost Dead Frog

                                                      Dancing Frog

                                                      Almost Dead Frog

A Good Wound

Spiritual pride is the main door by which the devil comes into the hearts of those who are zealous for the advancement of Christianity.  It is the chief inlet of smoke from the bottomless pit, to darken the mind and mislead the judgment.  It is the main source of all the mischief the devil introduces, to clog and hinder a work of God.
Spiritual pride tends to speak of other persons’ sins with bitterness or with laughter and levity and an air of contempt.  But pure Christian humility tends either to be silent about these problems or to speak of them with grief and pity.  Spiritual pride is very apt to suspect others, but a humble Christian is most guarded about himself.  He is as suspicious of nothing in the world as he is of his own heart.  The proud person is apt to find fault with other believers, that they are low in grace, and to be much in observing how cold and dead they are and to be quick to note their deficiencies.  But the humble Christian has so much to do at home and sees so much evil in his own heart and is so concerned about it that he is not apt to be very busy with other hearts.  He is apt to esteem others better than himself.
Some who have pride mixed in with a heightened awareness of God’s glory and intense experiences of spiritual joy are apt to rebuke other Christians around them for being so cold and lifeless.  But the humble, in their joys, are also wounded with a sense of their own vileness.  When they have high visions of God’s glory, they also see their own sinfulness.  And though they speak to others earnestly, it is in confession of their own sins.  And if they exhort other Christians, they do so in a charitable manner.  Pure Christian humility disposes a person to take notice of everything that is good in others and to make the best of it and to diminish their failings.
 Jonathan Edwards, Thoughts on the Revival (1742)

Baby Face Leroy Trio - Rollin' And Tumblin' Part 1 & 2 - unissued COMPLETE performance

Unissued complete performance of the legendary 1950 Parkway recording "Rollin' And Tumblin;" by the Baby Face Leroy Trio - Leroy Foster (vocals/drums), Little Walter Jacobs (harmonica/vocals) and Muddy Waters (guitar/vocals). Only recently discovered.

Little Walter Trio - Just Keep Lovin' Her - 1950 unissued alternate take

Unissued 1950 Parkway recording by the king of blues harmonica Little Walter Jacobs, with Muddy Waters (guitar) and Baby Face Leroy Foster (guitar/drums).

Friday, November 16, 2012

John Owen’s Final Words

On August 22, 1683, at his home in Ealing (a suburb west of London), the great theologian John Owen dictated his last surviving letter to his longtime friend, Charles Fleetwood:
I am going to him whom my soul hath loved, or rather hath love me with an everlasting love; which is the whole ground of all my consolation.
The passage is very irksome and wearisome through strong pain of various sorts which are all issued in an intermitting fever.
All things were provided to carry me to London today attending to the advice of my physician, but we were all disappointed by my utter disability to understand the journey.
I am leaving the ship of the church in a storm, but while the great Pilot is in it the loss of a poore under-rower will be inconsiderable.
Live and pray and hope and waite patiently and doe not despair; the promise stands invincible that he will never leave thee nor forsake thee.
Two days later William Payne, a friend who was overseeing the printing of his latest book, The Glory of Christ, paid him a visit. Payne assured Owen that plans were proceeding well for the publication.
Owen responded:
I am glad to hear it; but O brother Payne! The long wished-for day is come at last, in which I shall see the glory in another manner than I have ever done, or was capable of doing in the world.
These were Owen’s last recorded words. He died that day, August 24, 1683—St. Bartholomew’s Day—exactly twenty years after the Great Ejection of the Puritans. He was 67 years old.
Justin Taylor

Wes Montgomery - Work Song

Work Song - The Butterfield Blues Band

Eric Clapton ~ Tell The Truth - 2007 Crossroads Guitar Fest

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Bob Dylan - Most Of The Time - A Great Informal Commentary on Romans 7

Keep listening for the context of the refrain, "most of the time."

Jeff Beck Group - Going Down

From the 1972 album JEFF BECK GROUP. Written by Don Nix. Jeff Beck - Guitars Bob Tench - Vocals Cozy Powell - Drums Clive Chaman - Bass Max Middleton - Piano My Favorite version of this song

"Going Down" - Freddie King

From his 1971 record, "Getting Ready," which was largely written and produced by Leon Russell and features Duck Dunn on bass. Russell wrote "Going Down," as part of an attempt to introduce Freddie to more of a "rock audience" through this record. I have personally played this song many times and always loved rocking out to this tune.

Same Old Blues - Freddie King

Jimmy Reed - Baby, What You Want Me To Do

Monday, November 12, 2012

Eric Clapton - That's No Way To Get Along

The Central Passage in The Lord of the Rings

Louis Markos, in his new book On the Shoulders of Hobbits, which is hard to put down, though not nearly so hard as the books on which he is writing:

For me, the central passage in Tolkien’s long epic comes as Frodo and Sam are about to pass into Mordor, the dark and desolate land where Sauron and Mount Doom dwell. As they pause there on the threshold, Sam shares with Frodo a profound meditation on the nature of the Road and on the nature of stories. It is a speech to which we who live in an age that has lost both its sense of purpose and its sense of history—that knows neither where it came from nor where it is going—must carefully attend.

Sam and Frodo are living at the end of the Third Age. Behind them stretch ten millennia of mighty warriors, heroic battles, and timeless tales of adventure and self-sacrifice. But they are, of course, more than tales. They are the stage, the backdrop against which these two seemingly insignificant Hobbits act out their roles in the sacred narrative of Creation, Fall, and Redemption. Sam begins by reflecting back on those tales and those who lived through them:
“The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo: adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of sport, as you might say. But that’s not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually—their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn’t. And if they had, we shouldn’t know, because they’d have been forgotten. We hear about those as just went on—and not all to a good end, mind you, at least not to what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end. You know, coming home, and finding things all right, though not quite the same—like old Mr. Bilbo. But those aren’t always the best tales to hear, though they may be the best tales to get landed in! I wonder what sort of a tale we’ve fallen into?” (IV.viii.696)
As I hinted in the previous chapter, there is good reason to believe that Tolkien’s vision of the Road and of the call matured during the seventeen years that separate The Hobbit from The Lord of the Rings: a period that includes those dark and desperate years during which England faced annihilation by the Nazis. Though Bilbo’s journey had allowed Tolkien to recover for his age much of the old magic and many of the old virtues, it lacked the proper scope to encompass the full dimensions of choice and destiny that define Frodo’s journey. To accomplish that would take a greater tale, one that could live up to Sam’s high description.

In the greater tales, the ones that matter—the ones that change both us and our world—the heroes do not so much choose the Road, as the Road chooses them. For our part, we must be ready, prepared in season and out, to answer the call, whenever and however it comes. And we must be prepared to press on, trusting to an end that we often do not, perhaps cannot, see. It is easy to claim that we would have done what Abraham did, but that is only because we stand outside the story. We see the good end, the fulfillment that Abraham could not see from within the story.

Sam muses on these things, and then, in one of those flashes of pure clarification that come to all those who endure in a cause, he realizes that the tale he and Frodo have been landed in is not a thing isolated from the past, but marks the continuation and perhaps even culmination of a tale that began long ago in the First Age:
“Why, to think of it, we’re in the same tale still! It’s going on. Don’t the great tales never end?”
“No, they never end as tales,” said Frodo. “But the people in them come and go when their part’s ended. Our part will end later—or sooner.” (IV.viii.697)
I believe it was Pascal who said that only God can see the whole picture and every detail within the picture at the same time. In his moment of clarification, Sam sees that his individual call (and that of Frodo) is part of a larger tapestry in which each individual call works together to bring about the destined and hoped for end, what Tolkien liked to call the eucatastrophe: the good end that rises up, miraculously, out of what seemed, at first, to be defeat and death.

If we would be a part of that eucatastrophe, then we must be willing to trust the call, to enter the tale, to set our weary feet to the Road.
--Louis Markos, On the Shoulders of Hobbits: The Road to Virtue with Tolkien and Lewis (Moody, 2012), 34-36
Dane Ortlund

Eric Clapton - Can't Hold Out Much Longer - Little Walter Cover

Little Walter- Cant Hold Out Much Longer - His Best, Chess 50th Anniversary Collection

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

When Christians Sin

Let us say that I have been living in the light of what God has been giving us for the present life. As a born-again child of God, I have been practicing the reality of true spirituality, as Christ has purchased it for us.
And then sin reenters.
For some reason my moment-by-moment belief in God falters--a fondness for some specific sin has caused me at that point not to draw in faith upon the fact of a restored relationship with the Trinity. The reality of the practice of true spirituality suddenly slips from me. I look up some morning, some afternoon, some night--and something is gone, something I have known: my quietness and my peace are gone. It is not that I am lost again, because justification is once for all. But . . . there is no exhibition of the victory of Christ upon the cross. Looking at me at this point, men would see no demonstration that God's creation of moral rational creatures is not a complete failure, or even that God exists. . . .

At this point a question must arise: Is there a way back? Or is it like a fine Bavarian porcelain cup, dropped to a tile floor so that it is smashed beyond repair?

Thank God, the gospel includes this. The Bible is always realistic; it is not romantic, but deals with realism--with what I am. There is a way back, and the basis of the way back is nothing new to us. The basis is again the blood of Christ, the finished work of the Lamb of God: the once-for-all completed work of Christ upon the cross, in space, time, and history.
--Francis Schaeffer, True Spirituality (Tyndale House, 2011), 86-87; italics original

Dane Ortlund

Kenny Wayne Shepherd Feat. Pinetop Perkins - Grindin' Man

Walter Trout - Take Care Of Your Business - Germany 1993

Eric Clapton - Hoochie Coochie Man - "Live In Hyde Park" London 1996

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Tedeschi Trucks Band ~ Simple Things

Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi - Back Where I Started (live at KTBG)

George Whitefield on Election

We should not have so much disputing against the doctrine of election, or hear it condemned (even by good men) as a doctrine of devils. For my own part, I cannot see how true humbleness of mind can be attained without a knowledge of it.
And though I will not say, that everyone who denies election is a bad man, yet I will say . . . it is a very bad sign. Such a one, whoever he be, I think cannot truly know himself. For if we deny election we must, partly at least, glory in ourselves. But our redemption is so ordered that no flesh should glory in the Divine presence. And hence it is, that the pride of man opposes this doctrine because according to this doctrine and no other, 'he that glories, must glory only in the Lord.'
But what shall I say? Election is a mystery that shines with such resplendent brightness that, to make use of the words of one who has drunk deeply of his electing love, it dazzles the weak eyes even of some of God's dear children.
--George Whitefield, 'Christ the Believer's Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification, and Redemption,' in The Sermons of George Whitefield (Crossway, 2012), 2:214-25

Dane Ortlund