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December 2008

December 23, 2008

Virtual IntegrityThe internet is a minefield—there is no doubt about it. For every blessing it brings (and there are many) there seem to be innumerable dangers. For every relationship forged and strengthened, there is another damaged or destroyed. For every minute of time saved through some great technological advance, there are hours wasted in distraction and procrastination. For every good use, there are uncounted evil uses. Such is the fate of technology in the hands of sinful human beings.

December 22, 2008

On Saturday night, Aileen and I joined some friends to take in a performance of Handel’s Messiah. And what a performance it was. It featured the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir. It was, in a word, sublime. Conductor Noel Edison clearly understood the piece (I guess I should say “the oratorio”) and wonderfully separated gravitas from joy. As the piece moved from prophecy, to the life of Christ, to his death and to his impending return, the music rose and fell, swelled and crept back in all the right places. If the world has ever seen a more powerful piece of music than Messiah, I don’t know what it would be.

As much as I love the “Hallelujah” chorus, it is merely the beginning of Messiah’s most beautiful part. It is in the third part that the soprano declares “I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.” It is here that the chorus and the soloists combine to share the gospel message. “Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” It is here that we hear the promise of new life to those who are found in Christ. “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.” And it is here that Handel puts to music the words of the elders and the living creatures and the angels as they sing “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” It is here that we, those who have been redeemed by Jesus, look to the future with hope, waiting anxiously for the day when Christ returns.

The year 2008 is drawing to a close. Last week the Boston Globe’s feature “The Big Picture” told the story of the year 2008 in photos (Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. Warning: some of the more violent photos are quite graphic). With three galleries each containing 40 photos, they pointed back to the year’s most important moments. And what a year it was. As with every year since Adam and Eve disobeyed God, it was a year of both triumph and terror. Looking at the Globe’s photos, it seems that terror has prevailed. In one photo a boy and girl, a brother and sister hug one another at the funeral of their father, a police officer who was gunned down in the line of duty; in another, the foot of a suicide bomber lies close to the camera, with carnage in the background; in another still, a young Kenyan boy screams as a baton-wielding police officer approaches his ramshackle home, seeking his father. While some photos share moments of joy, far more share moments of pain and death.

It was not always this way. It will not always be this way. On Saturday night we partook in the strange cultural experience of hearing the gospel proclaimed far outside the walls of the church. We heard the message that assures us, even as we see such evidence of sin, that better times are coming. Indeed, better times must come. Death has been defeated. It will not be long now before the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. And, oh, don’t we look forward to that day.

December 21, 2008

Earlier this year John Naish, a British journalist, released a book titled Enough (which does not seem to be widely available in the United States). He subtitled the book, “Breaking free from the world of more.” He uses the book to encourage people to stop when they have enough—enough stuff, enough food, enough work, enough information. There were parts of the book I thought were much better than others; one part I thoroughly enjoyed was his discussion about information and the incredible volume of information we are exposed to today. In one part of this chapter he writes about his approach to tackling information overload. I thought I’d share that with you.

It involves fighting—and here’s my own new word—infobesity, by restricting one’s data diet. There are compelling reasons. The glut of information is not only causing stress and confusion; it also makes us do irrational things such as ignore crucial health information. The British Government’s latest survey on our food-buying patterns shows that while we are given more information than ever about healthy eating, our consumption of fresh food has fallen. This is partly because we are too busy getting and spending to enjoy the simple pleasures of cooking. But Catherine Collins, of the British Dietetic Association, says that info-overload is often to blame for this food-choice paradox: “We are so informed that we can’t be bothered.” That’s a fantastic slogan for the twenty-first century. We are so wired to gather information that often we no longer do anything useful with it. Instead of pausing to sift our intake for relevance and quality, the daily diet of prurient, profound, confusing and conflict information gets chucked on to a mental ash-heap of things vaguely comprehended. Then we rush to try to make sense of it all…by getting more.

As I read this, I thought of the Golden Labrador Retriever (i.e. Golden Lab), that ridiculous (but family-friendly) breed of dog that has a far bigger stomach than brain. The Lab, or at least the Labs I’ve known, cannot be trusted around found. They will eat until they are sick, throw up, and eat some more. Indefinitely. Some dogs have more common sense; they will eat for a while and save a portion of their food for another time. Not so the Lab. It will eat, and eat, and eat.

I do wonder if we are this way with information today—we eat and eat and eat, never pausing to digest, rarely showing any sensible moderation.

December 20, 2008

It’s probably not a good idea for a drug addict to work as a pharmacist. Actually, I’d say it’s definitely not a good idea for a drug addict to work as a pharmacist. And yet, in 1996, when Jared Combs graduated from school and became a licensed pharmacist, he was heavily addicted to all kinds of drugs—any kind of drug, really.

As is so often the case, Combs had to be brought low—very low—before he could see any substantial change and healing. In his case, Combs had to spend time in prison for stealing and consuming drugs. He was twice arrested and twice fired from jobs he loved. And yet today he is a testimony to grace. He has been sober for several years and once more practices pharmacy, this time at the University of Kentucky Medical Center. He is the father of three young children and is a committed husband. The strangely-titled Incomprehensible Demoralization is Jared Combs’ story of addiction and recovery. It is a story of one man’s transformation from a hopeless alcoholic and drug addict on the fast-track to a lifetime behind bars to a sober, church-attending family man.

December 19, 2008

The name Ryan Ferguson may be familiar to some of the readers of this site. Ryan has appeared at a couple of conferences where he has recited long passages of Scripture. I first saw him at WorshipGod ‘06 where he dramatically recited all of Hebrews 9 and 10 (though he had memorized the entire book). I recently got ahold of Ryan and asked if he would answer a few questions about memorizing Scripture. I trust this brief interview will serve to encourage you either to begin memorizing passages from the Bible or to press on in your conviction that you ought to.

Why did you decide to memorize large passages of Scripture?
It began when I saw a man named Tom Key recite the book of Revelation. He is a professional actor out of Atlanta, Georgia. I was blown away. At about the same time my church had just studied Ecclesiastes so I started memorizing and asked our teaching pastor if I could recite it for the church.

What are some of the passages you’ve committed to memory?
I have memorized the books of Ecclesiastes and Hebrews. I have memorized various Psalms, Genesis 1, and various other smaller sections.

How do you decide which passages you will memorize?
It depends. When I did Hebrews that was a specific choice to serve the people at my church. I memorized it while our church studied for one year. Some of the Psalms I did specifically for the WorshipGod08 conference this summer that centered on the Psalms. Ecclesiastes was a work that God was doing in my heart. I memorized it in response to a time in my life when like Solomon I was asking a lot of questions.

You are known for reciting passages “dramatically.” Is there benefit in memorizing Scripture with dramatic recitation in mind?
Yes, but answering yes doesn’t mean you have to be an “actor.” In a sense we are all actors. Many people will tell a story to kids and do character voices; most of us have played make believe or pretend; any time we make a joke we are acting, that is, we are using text (or words) to make point or get a reaction. If we think of Scripture as more than just recorded words, but specific words written in a specific time to specific people to make a specific point we can understand more than just the denotative nature of the words. We can see the heart behind the words. Everyone does this in one way or another, for example, a wife reads a note from a husband on Valentine’s Day and experiences joy beyond the mere words on the page. She knows those words communicate so much more than just “I love you.” Whenever we receive emails, we don’t just read them we interpret them; we try to figure out what the person is saying, and that, in a sense, is acting. Actors take words on pages and interpret them. So when we approach the memorization of Scripture, it will help to think dramatically; it will help us to think of more than just the written words. Think like an actor; think about what you are trying to communicate with those words.

What are some of the blessings you’ve experienced in memorizing Scripture?
I have heard it said that joy comes through obedience. I would say that I have experienced joy in memorizing Scripture because God has asked me to hide his Word in my heart so I don’t forget him. There is a joy in knowing God’s Word. In a different way, I have been blessed to be able to use the Scripture that I have in my head in specific instances to encourage or exhort a brother or sister in Christ.

What benefit is there in memorizing entire books of the Bible?
If we value Scripture as God’s inspired Word, then I would suggest that the benefit of memorizing entire books is that we get to experience everything God wanted to say through that author at that particular point. For instance if you memorize Ephesians, you get to experience how the Spirit inspired Paul to write the first three chapters declaring truth after wonderful truth about God, and then you would experience the practical power of Scripture in chapters four through six as we have multiple commands given to us about our living. When we have whole books in our minds, we can experience the entire story of that book.

I have also thought that the benefit of having entire books memorized will be revealed if we ever have to endure persecution. If the printed Scriptures are removed from our lives how much will we be able to recreate from the passages we have diligently put into our minds.

Do you have any warnings or exhortations you’d want to extend to people who are seeking to memorize Scripture?
Yes, and I believe this is key to memorizing. Don’t memorize data!! Our minds while often compared to computers are not computers. We need more than just letters, words, and sentences to be able to connect our minds and hearts to the text. We need to know what it says, why it was written, and what the text is trying communicate. It is very difficult to just sit down and memorize a sequence of words that has no connection or story. For instance, it would be much more difficult to memorize the genealogies in Chronicles than it would be to memorize a narrative section in the book of Genesis. Why? Because we communicate ideas with our words; we don’t communicate words with our words. Many of us could tell a fairy tale to a child that we have not memorized because we know the story; we know the idea. The same is true with Scripture. Memorization is knowing the story and then choosing to use the specific words of any piece of text to tell that story. I hope this makes sense…

What are some longer passages you would suggest for beginners?
Prior to giving specifics, let me first suggest that whatever longer passage you choose, make it a passage of Scripture that God has used in your life and heart. This connection will assist you in your memory work, because it will be connecting God’s powerful Word to your thinking and living. I would suggest the following: Psalm 1, 46, 139, 150, Genesis 1, John 1, I John 1, any chapter in Ephesians, James 1. I would also suggest (and would like to do this) II and III John and Jude because they are short books, but you would still be encouraged by having memorized an entire book.

Describe the methodology you’ve used to file away large passages of Scripture.
I have been asked this in almost every church to which I have traveled. I work in a very specific way, and it may not work for everyone. When I memorize a book, I first put it into a Word document and remove all the verse numbers but leave the chapter numbers. I then break up the book into paragraph form so that it looks and reads more like what I am used to reading. I then memorize one paragraph at a time. When I have one memorized, I add the next paragraph and do them together. I do this process until I have memorized the desired section.

This particular way of memorizing has some inherent problems that people have raised that are valid. I do not have verse recall. I can’t just jump in and tell you Hebrews 7:6. For some people they would rather have the chapter and verse reference, especially those who are counselors. I understand this, but for me it is the way it works. I also believe that sometimes communicating the Word of God to people doesn’t have to be referenced…this is purely my opinion. I believe that God through his Spirit can quicken our mind and bring particular Scripture to mind when needed. It is interesting that in the book of Hebrews the author quotes this way, he uses the phrase “as it says also in another place…” when referencing the Old Testament. He doesn’t even say who wrote it or in what book.

Can you share any final tips and tricks that may be useful?
I am not sure if this is a tip or trick, perhaps it is more of an encouragement. I often hear people say, “I just can’t memorize.” In some instances that statement may be true, but I have started asking people questions to show them how well they do memorize. I will ask questions like the this, “How many lines from movies can you quote?” or “Tell me every phone number you know” or “Tell me the names of every sports team you know” This list of questions could go on and on. We all can memorize. Much of memorizing depends on where you put your attention. I love mountain biking; I study it; I read about it; I look online at blogs about it. I could tell you a lot about mountain biking other than my experience. I have memorized a lot about the topic I love. Developing our memories takes work, time, and discipline. Don’t be disappointed if it takes you a while to memorize Scripture. God has not set up a Bible quiz to determine if you have all your verses memorized this week. God desires that you love his Word. Psalm 19 uses very specific language, language of desire when referring to God’s Word. Love God’s Word, spend the time with God’s Word to hide it in your heart.


Here is Ryan reciting Psalm 22:

And here he is reciting Hebrews 9 and 10:

December 18, 2008

Today we arrive at our third week of reading through Mere Christianity. The first week we read the Introductory bits while last week we read the first book, “Right and Wrong as a Clue to the Meaning of the Universe.” This week we read the second book, “What Christians Believe.”

Discussion

In Mere Christianity Lewis attempts only to teach only the very foundations of the faith. Hence his look at “what Christians believe” touches only on the most basic but foundational beliefs. In this section we see, I think, Lewis at his best and his worst; we see his amazing brilliance at times but also see where some of his beliefs seem borderline unbiblical.

Lewis begins this book by looking to rival conceptions of God and does a fantastic job of showing the intellectual dishonesty of atheism. When he was an atheist, he says, “my argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line.” Atheism turns out to be too simple, too dishonest. “If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be a word without meaning.”

In the second chapter, “The Invasion,” he deals with the entrance of evil into the world. He says here that one of the reasons he believe Christianity is that it is a religion you could not have guessed. There is an “otherness” about Christianity; this proves that it could not be the invention of men. As he introduces evil he says “wickedness, when you examine it, turns out to be the pursuit of some good in the wrong way. … Goodness is, so to speak, itself: badness is only spoiled goodness. And there must be something good first before it can be spoiled.” This is a theme that we see in The Chronicles of Narnia as well. Badness and goodness are not equal forces; badness is simply goodness gone wrong.

In “The Shocking Alternative” he discusses free will and man’s response to God. He says “free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having.” Though I understand why people hold to this (it is, after all, a very common belief), I am not convinced that we can easily prove it from Scripture. I am not convinced that God gave us free will because the alternative would be robotic, automated worship. This may be the case, but I don’t think Scripture tells us as much. Lewis also treads on dangerous ground by introducing “risk” in connection to free will, saying that God “thought it was worth the risk” to give people free will. The niwhole idea of risk seems to contradict God’s omniscience and omnipotence. It may be that Lewis sees risk as mere anthropomorphism. If so, I can see some validity in such a statement. However, I do think we are on potentially dangerous ground here. Much of the rest of this chapter is fantastic. Lewis says, for example, that “God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.” He begins to introduce Jesus, asking the reader to deal properly with Jesus’ claims and not allowing the reader to see Jesus as merely a good or kind man. He concludes with his well-known “liar, lunatic or Lord” grid.

“The Perfect Penitent” deals with the atonement. Here we see a vague outline of Lewis’ thoughts on the atonement; and what we see is not necessarily orthodox (think: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe). He warns, rightly I think, that theories of the atonement are not themselves the thing you are asked to accept. But this must not let us off as we attempt to understand it and to understand it rightly. While Lewis has the basics right (“We are told that Christ was killed for us, that His death has washed out our sins, and that by dying He disabled death itself. That is the formula. That is Christianity.”) from what I can see, he gets the details wrong.

He concludes this book with “The Practical Conclusion.” Here he admits just how strange this whole thing is—how strange the Christian claims are. He draws an analogy to sex saying, “He [God] did not consult us when He invented sex: He has not consulted us either when He invented this.” As odd as the Christian claims may be, we are not asked by God to do anything less than accept them and to trust in him. This final chapter is a call for the reader to simply believe and obey. Unfortunately, while Lewis affirms “that no man can be saved expect through Christ” he leaves a door wide open, saying “we do not know that only those who know Him can be saved through Him.”

As I said, in these few pages we have seen Lewis at his brilliant best. But we have also seen how some of his beliefs were simply not biblical. I suspect we will see more of this as we continue through the book.

Next Week

Next Thursday is Christmas. The Thursday after that is New Years Day. These are about the lowest-traffic days of the year for the Internet and I know not too many of us will be thinking about C.S. Lewis. So why don’t we reconvene on January 8. We’ll read the first six chapters of Book III. That’s about 35 or 40 pages in three weeks; shouldn’t be too hard!

Your Turn

The purpose of this program is to read these classics together. So if there is something you’d like to share about what you read, please feel free to do so. You can leave a comment or a link to your blog and we’ll make this a collaborative effort.

December 17, 2008

You’ll have to excuse me for re-posting today. It was a tough night dealing with a sick kid and then this morning I had to take the kids to school and then shovel out after a pretty good snowfall. As I was shoveling this morning I thought of a post from last winter and thought I’d post it again. I hope you don’t mind.


Elizabeth is a public nuisance. Her status is not official yet, but it will be soon. The local police have encouraged the families in this neighborhood to fill out the paperwork that will fulfill the legal requirements. It’s probably the best thing to do. When that paperwork is complete the police will no longer be forced to respond to her every call. And she calls a lot. When a car parks a little too far into the road, she calls the police. When she believes someone has trespassed on her property, she calls the police. When the children are playing outdoors and a ball rolls into her yard, she calls the police. She has the reputation of a person who must sit by the window with phone in hand. Nine and one are already pushed and she’s just waiting for a reason to hit the one again. She was one of the first people we were told about when we moved to this neighborhood. “You’re going to have to watch out for Elizabeth…”

Everyone in the neighborhood knows who she is. Her yard is easy to spot as it’s the one that is completely overgrown. In most cases people who do not care for their yards have it cut by city hall and receive a bill in the mail. In her case she’s managed to convince them that this chaos is a gardening style. Her house is over an aquifier she says, one of the few in the area, and that is why the trees grow so well and why they remain so dense. She’s the one who hands out apples or oranges on Halloween. She’s the one who has lived in the neighborhood since before many of the rest of us were even born and long before the other houses were built.

One morning last winter Aileen came into the house and told me that Elizabeth was out shoveling her own driveway. She is definitely too old to be doing this. So I put my coat on, grabbed my shovel, and walked up the street to her home. She had propped herself up with a crutch under her one arm and was holding a broom in the other, trying to sweep the snow away. We had seen a good ten centimeters fall and it was wet, heavy snow. A broom wasn’t going to cut it, and particularly so along the edge of the driveway where the plows had pushed it into hard piles at least a couple of feet high. I asked if I could help her and she hesitatingly agreed. She gave me a few pointers on how to best shovel and told me she’d be pleased if I’d just deal with the big piles close to the road. She asked if I would like to be paid and I said, “Absolutely not.”

I got to work while she headed indoors. I cleaned up the piles and then got to work on the rest of the drive. A few minutes later she emerged from the house to chat. She told me that the driveway had been widened many years before and they were able to fit at least eight cars in it. That explained why I was winded. She told me about her broken leg and then about her sons, both of whom live in the area, I believe, and both of whom seem quite well-to-do. She seemed perfectly pleasant, even for a public nuisance. She was grateful that she was going to be able to get out of her driveway that day, because she had a schedule with a physical therapist. When the job was done I told her to get in touch with me anytime and headed home.

Since that day we had several snowstorms and learned that we were in the midst of the snowiest winter in years. At that point we had seen 142 centimeters and that was three storms ago. We were in the midst of another one that day. The schools were canceled and it was as good a day as any to just stay off the roads.

Whenever the snow begins to accumulate, I cross the ditch and shovel her out. There was one time that I somehow forgot but she called a neighbor (she didn’t have my phone number) and asked him to come and knock on the door. He passed along the message and I hurried right over. By my count there are at least twelve or fifteen neighbors who are closer to her home than I am. They drive by while I’m shoveling or they use snow blowers to get the snow off their drives at the same time. But none of them help her. I don’t know if she has burned all of those bridges or if this is just a symptom of the times we live in. Even the neighbor who came to knock on my door didn’t offer to help.

March 5th of 2008 was my son’s eighth birthday. Eight years ago we had brought him home from the hospital and we were wearing shorts and t-shirts. But this day it was well below 0, we had already seen 15 centimeters of snow, and it continued to fall. “In like a lion, out like a lamb” is what they say about March. I was hoping that old adage proved true that month. The last thing I wanted to do was shovel out a long driveway covered in 15 centimeters of heavy snow. I grumbled to Aileen, saying “I picked quite the year to start helping Elizabeth, didn’t I?” She lovingly scolded me and I went on my way. Though it was his birthday, I told Nick to come along and to help me out. He did so quite willingly, despite having some new toys and games to play with and Super Mario Galaxy for the Wii demanding his attention. And off I went, perhaps a bit resigned to my fate.

We got to work, chipping away at the driveway. After a few minutes of hard work Nick piped up. “Daddy, this is what the Bible says, isn’t it? That anyone who has a need is our neighbor?” And he was right—that’s exactly what the Bible says. But Scripture also makes it clear that any good things I do are utterly worthless when I do them with a grumbling spirit. In that moment I saw that I had been going about this all wrong. My little boy (who really isn’t so little anymore) ministered to me that morning as we cleared the driveway of our neighborhood’s public nuisance. My boy is a blessing to me in more ways than he knows.

December 16, 2008

Tuesdays are usually the day that I publish a book review. Today I am going to break form and will instead fulfill a request by listing my favorite albums of the year. Now I will say off the top that I am no authority on music. In fact, I may be among the least-qualified people to discern good albums from bad. So do understand that this is a list of personal favorites. I am in no way qualified to make judgments on which albums are objectively the best (if any such objective standard exists). In fact, whenever other people tell me an album is amazing, I usually think it’s just plain dumb (think Radiohead). In each case I am including a little snippet of a review from a site more qualified to make judgments. Also, while I do listen to plenty of music from outside the Christian box, I am going to head off controversy and list only Christian albums here. It’s easier this way.

So here, in no particular order, are my 2008 favorites:

Bethany Dillon & Matt Hammitt - In Christ Alone
Dillon and Hammitt team up here to sing a selection of modern hymns. They choose good songs and adapt them very well. Favorites are “On the Third Day” and “In the Cross Alone I Glory.” “No, these arrangements aren’t meant to be recreated in a church setting, and I imagine the radically different sound will fall outside of the average CCM fan’s comfort zone. That said, this can’t be classified as more of the same. It demonstrates the power of arrangement and lyricism in bringing fresh artistry to worship. As both a worship leader and a music lover, I find In Christ Alone fascinating.”

Leeland - Opposite Way
I’m a newcomer to this band, having skipped their first album (which was, apparently more highly-regarded than this one). There are a couple of really nice slower songs on this album with most of the more upbeat songs being in the “pretty good” kind of category. “Opposite Way is one strong album and proof that their debut wasn’t some kind of fluke. These guys are for real.”

Anberlin - New Surrender
This isn’t an album that is full of standout hits. Instead, it’s an album that is just very steadily good. It’s a good experience listening to it, even if there aren’t a lot of “five-star” tracks on it. “Whether new to the band or a fan of five years, there’s enough on the band’s latest that make it worthy of a listen. And though Cities will undoubtedly remain the favorite to many, these ears can’t help but appreciate New Surrender as Anberlin’s most varied and mature album to date.”

Flame - Our World Redeemed
I have found that some Christian rappers (for lack of a better way of saying it) try too hard. The genre lends itself to long songs with dense lyrics; some of the guys go just a little bit overboard. Not so with this one. The album shares a lot of very solid theology but does not do so at the expense of good music. Try “Go Buck” or “See More Him” if you want to sample it. “With music and vocals that are relevant to today’s culture, and a love for God and lyrics that can convict and encourage at the same time, it’s easy to strongly recommend Our World: Redeemed.”

The Classic Crime - The Silver Cord
I love albums that are an experience—that have some kind of internal cohesion to take the listener from the first song to the last. This is that kind of a record and it offers a lot of very strong, interesting tracks. “Silver Cord is an album that can be listened to in its entirety as it’s that good. This album ranks among the best so far this year.”

Capital Lights: This Is an Outrage
This album may not blaze a new trail musically and may not be the greatest example of musicianship, but it’s a lot of fun and sometimes that is just okay by me. It’s just good, fun, powerpop. “Overall, it is an extremely powerful debut and is consistently fun, energetic, and extremely pleasing to the ears. Capital Lights has made a name for themselves with This Is An Outrage, no doubt.”

Lecrae - Rebel
Two rap albums on the list? You bet! This is my favorite rap album of the year and maybe, just maybe, my favorite overall. I haven’t owned it long enough to make that determination. While I do not listen to a ton of rap music, I make exceptions when it is as good as this. Try “Don’t Waste Your Life” or “Live Free” to see what Lecrae is all about. “Musically, it’s easily as good as (if not better than) anything you will hear on mainstream rap stations. Lyrically, there’s no comparison. Lecrae’s message is better, and better for you.” Seriously, this is a really, really good record.

Which album will I probably listen to most in 2009? It’s hard to say, but if I had to go out on a limb, I’d probably guess this one:

House of Heroes - The End Is Not the End
This album is plain old rock music with some good, melodic tracks. If you’re looking for straight-up rock music, this is probably my choice. Good vocals, good music, good songs. “The End Is Not the End is a delicately conceived, intricately developed, masterfully executed hour of music that somehow still has mass appeal.”

I’m always on the lookout for good new music, so why don’t you list some of your favorites of 2008…