Now That’s Interesting! Anti-Gravity Shoes, Jesus Knows I Robbed A Bank, Hilarious Trust Falls, More…

The shoes that made Michael Jackson’s anti-gravity lean possible – Ever wonder how Michael Jackson did that crazy anti-gravity lean during his concerts? Here’s how he did it.

Water Cafe Sells New York City Tap Water – “Not just any tap water, insist the owners of Molecule. They say the water streams through a $25,000 filtering machine that uses ultraviolet rays, ozone treatments and reverse osmosis in a seven-stage processing treatment to create what they call pure H20.”

Jesus Knows I Robbed a Bank – “Jesus knows I robbed a bank—five of them, to be exact. Jesus knows I am selfish and stubborn. Jesus knows I served almost 11 years in federal prison. In the 10th year, Jesus knows how I sat in a cell, alone, crying after the prison guard enjoyed telling me that my 50-year-old dad died from cancer.”

JK Rowling’s Hogwarts Treehouse – “The Hogwarts-style towers – estimated to cost around £150,000 – are so big that they need planning permission. Each wooden tree house is to be built on stilts and boasts balconies, carvings and turrets that wouldn’t look out of place in a Potter adventure. The towers are linked by a rope bridge and can be approached by a secret tunnel hidden underneath a raised wooden walkway.”

Real Actors Reading Yelp Reviews – This is brilliant. Pure, unadulterated brilliance.

Sneak Attack Trust Falls – I absolutely refuse to do trust falls. Unless they’re like this.

A Dastardly Tale of Blood, Needles, and Humiliating Apparel

For the past three weeks I’ve been having what you might call stomach “issues”. To put it simply, the inside of my stomach has been trying to get on the outside of my stomach. Anytime I would eat anything of substance I would feel nauseated.

The doctor gave me a few medications which didn’t help a whole lot. This past weekend the nausea started tag-teaming with stomach pain. They make a really good team, and I decided that I should probably make a pit stop at the ER, just to make sure I wasn’t dying or about to have an alien burst out of my chest.

For some reason, being in the hospital puts me in a reflective mood. As I lay back on my ER gurney, here are some of the random reflections that flickered through my mind.

  • I’m so grateful that I live in a country where I can get immediate medical attention. This is the wonderful common grace of God. Millions of people around the world walk miles and wait days to get proper medical attention. Some can’t get it at all. I was admitted into the ER within 15 minutes of my arrival. Thank you Lord for your kindness to me and this nation. Plus, our hospital in particular is wonderful. The staff and doctors are fantastic.
  • When a nurse says “big pinch” what she really means is, “I’m about to stick you with a needle that also gets used to tranquilize bison, so try not to scream like a girl.” Sometimes I wish the nurses would just say straight up, “Look, this is going to hurt like the dickens, so don’t embarrass yourself.”
  • The guy who invented the hospital gown should be forced to wear one every single day for the rest of his life. The hospital gown is, hands down, the most degrading piece of clothing ever invented. Just trying to get the thing on is like a circus act. I never can get the right straps tied together, and, inevitably, part of my backside is left exposed. It’s embarrassing, that’s what it is.
  • The time space continuum works differently in the hospital. A minute takes an hour, and an hour takes three hours. I was at the ER for either six hours or six weeks. I’m not sure. I think it has something to do with The Matrix.

After a battery of tests, including drinking an awful liquid that tasted like sweetened dish water, having a CT scan, and giving up precious pints of my own blood, the doctor concluded that I probably have a stomach ulcer. This is both good news and bad news. It’s good news because, praise God, it’s not worse. God is kind to me! It’s bad news because it means I can’t drink coffee for weeks (I told myself I wasn’t going to cry…).

Now it’s a waiting game. Lord willing, the ulcer will heal on it’s own and I’ll be back to my coffee guzzling ways. But until then…tea. But I will suffer boldly!

Win Some Great Stuff From The Band Wayfarer!

Lately I’ve really been enjoy the music on “Wayfarer’s” newest EP The River. I normally don’t like hymns being redone, but these guys have done a fantastic job and have a fantastic sound. You download a digital copy of their EP for free on their Bandcamp site.

Today I want to give away an awesome package prize to one lucky (sorry, providentially selected) winner. That prize includes:

  1. A vinyl copy of the EP. This is for all of you want to experience the music in its finest form.
  2. A band t-shirt.
  3. A silk screened poster.

Just use the entry form below to enter. I would also ask that you would download their free EP. These guys put a lot of work into it and you need to hear the finished result.

It Wasn’t Supposed To Be This Way

They hadn’t been to church for a while so I gave the husband a call.

“Hey Chuck, (not his name) how are you doing? Haven’t seen you guys for a while. Is everything okay?”

After a couple uncomfortable seconds, Chuck said, “we probably won’t be coming back to church.”

“Are you serious? Really? Why? Have I done something to offend you?”

“No. You see, Mark, it wasn’t supposed to be this way. We did everything we were supposed to do. We taught our children the Bible. We took them to church. We told them about Jesus. We prayed for them. And then my son winds up getting a girl pregnant and having to get married. It just wasn’t supposed to be this way.”

I felt really sad for Chuck and his family. And I felt really sad that Chuck had the expectations of God he did and that he’d obeyed God for the reasons he did.

God doesn’t promise us trial-free lives if we obey him.

God doesn’t promise that if we keep his commands he’ll reward us with cruises and country club memberships. Tim Keller, in Prodigal God, talks about how the prodigal son’s elder brother had expectations of his father which tripped him up:

We see that the elder brother “became angry.” All of his words are dripping with resentment. The first sign you have an elder-brother spirit is that when your life doesn’t go as you want, you aren’t just sorrowful but deeply angry and bitter. Elder brothers believe that if they live a good life they should get a good life, that God owes them a smooth road if they try very hard to live up to standards.

Not only does God not owe us easy lives, but he promises we’ll suffer:

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. Psalm 34:19

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials… 1 Peter 1:6

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.  James 1:2

We should not be amazed that suffer; we should be amazed we don’t suffer more than we do.

It helps me to remember that not only do I deserve any thing bad that happens to me, I deserve far worse – I deserve to burn in hell for eternity for my sins. Of course I’d never tell anyone in their sadness or suffering you deserve to be in hell so buck up, but it helps me keep things in perspective for myself when I’m tempted to complain.

So when is it appropriate to say “It wasn’t supposed to be this way?” Whenever something good happens to us! Whenever we are blessed! It wasn’t supposed to be this way – I sinned and rebelled against God – yet look how he has blessed me!

So don’t obey God thinking he’ll owe you, for God owes no one a thing. Serve him out of gratitude for all he’s done for you and because you love him. Serve him for his glory.

No, it wasn’t supposed to be this way. And aren’t you glad?

If A 2 Year Old Can Memorize Scripture, So Can You

I recently received this encouraging email from a woman who used our “Hide the Word” Scripture Memory Songs in Vacation Bible School:

Hi Mark,

I wanted to let you know that using 2 of the songs from your cds for our VBS this year was a huge success.  Around 200 children learned I Peter 3:18 and I Peter 1:18-19.  They sang along with the CD and performed each song with sign language.  During the instrumental bridge of each song, we had the children recite the verses.  Your songs proved to be great tools for them to use in memorizing their verses for the week.  Also, we made CDs for each family at VBS so they could listen to the songs at home.

Here is one comment I received from a mother of 6 children:

My 2 year old can now quote 1 Peter 2:18-19. “You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”.   Thank you VBS music cd!

We’re so grateful for this encouragement!

So here’s what we want to do.  We’d like to give any VBS or Sunday School or Christian School or Home School or Church a Hide the Word CD of your choice.

Just go to our website: forevergratefulmusic.com and pick out the CD you’d like, email your address and your choice of CD to us at mvaltrogge@gmail.com and we’ll send you a complimentary CD.

Or, if you simply have a hard time memorizing Scripture and would like to try Hide the Word, we’ll send you one free as well.  Just follow the instructions above.

You aren’t going to be outdone by a 2-year old are you?

Now That’s Interesting! Star Wars Recruiting, Free Book, Free Music, and More!

Star Wars Recruiting Posters – I love these. What would it be like if the Rebel Alliance was trying to recruit? Probably like this.

Free Missionary E-Book On Adoniram Judson – Desiring God has released a FREE e-book on the life of Adoniram Judson.

Free Music From Wayfarer – I really like this new, TOTALLY FREE album from Wayfarer. You really should go get it.

The Bug-A-Salt Gun – Wow, I really want one of these.

How To Turn Away Wrath (Which Is Especially Important When It’s The Wrath Of A Biker)

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1

Someone unloads their anger on us. Our boss, our teen, a cashier, the guy who lays on his horn in the car behind us when the light turns green and we’re daydreaming and just sitting there.

We feel a sense of injustice when someone rails at us. We feel that our anger in response is righteous.  We didn’t deserve this.

Our natural inclination is to fight fire with fire. Yell at me, I’m going to yell back at you. Accuse me, I’m gonna blast you. Spray me with pepper, I’ll melt you with a flamethrower.

Jesus was accused, mocked, spit on, slandered. Yet he never fought fire with fire. Never got his hackles up or mocked in return.

When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 1 Peter 2:23

Jesus could have crushed his opponents with a syllable. “You want to revile? I’ll show you revile.”  Not Jesus.

What was his secret?  It was this – he “continued entrusting himself to him judges justly.”  Jesus lifted his eyes above his enemies and focused on his Father, entrusting himself to him, knowing that he would judge justly.

If we entrust ourselves to the One who will bring about justice for us in the end instead of focusing on the injustice of someone’s anger toward us, it will go a long way to help us respond to them in a godly way.

When Jesus cried from the cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” he was extending mercy to those who tortured and crucified him unjustly.

We too should extend mercy to those who abuse us – we too  should pray, Father forgive them for they don’t know what they’re doing. They don’t know my heart. They don’t know how hard I’ve tried to work for them. Don’t know how hurtful their words are.  So Father have mercy on them.

Once I got a call from one of our leaders who was in charge of a free car wash our church held. He said some of the water had run onto the street in front of the church and a guy had driven his motorcycle through it. The guy was furious and yelled at them because now his motorcycle had a few flecks of dirty water on it. I got his number from the leader and gave the man a call. He lit into me, saying how irresponsible we were to let water from the car wash run into the street and how he’d just spent 2 hours cleaning his bike and now it had dirt splatters on it.

My initial thought was, “Man, you need to get a life.” But God gave me grace to be humble. I said, “I am so sorry that happened to you. We really should have been watching where the water went. I want to pay for you to get your bike completely cleaned, waxed, whatever you want so that it’s perfect.” He went on for another few minutes about how irresponsible we were and I said, “You’re right.  I am so sorry. We were trying to have a free car wash to show the love of Jesus to people and this happens.”

“The car wash was free?” he said, subdued.

“Yeah. But that’s no excuse for what happened to you.”

“Well, don’t worry about it,” he said, “it’s not that big of a deal.”

I wish I could tell you that later he came to our church. He never did.  But I was grateful God gave me the grace to diffuse his anger with gentleness. Who knows? Maybe someday he’ll go to a church, get saved, and become the leader of a motorcycle ministry.

Confessions of A Sort of Marathoner (No Short Shorts!)

photo by Hamed Samer

I’m pretty proud of my dad. As he mentioned earlier this week, he, along with others (including myself and Jen), are attempting to run a half-marathon in October. That’s pretty impressive for a guy who was born before the invention of the running shoe.

When I tell people that I’m going to run a half-marathon, I usually get one of two responses.

  • “Wow, that’s great!” in a, “Hey I wouldn’t do it myself but I’m actually kind of impressed,” sort of way.
  • “Wow, that’s great!” in a, “I find it odd that you’re not wearing a straight jacket and on high doses of anti-psychotic drugs,” sort of way. These folks are supportive of me in the same way they would be supportive of me if I said I was planning on drinking a half-liter of cow’s blood in October.

So why am I running a half-marathon? What person in his right mind deliberately sets out to run 13.1 miles? Maybe you should know a little history about me. I’ve always been the athlete in my biological family (I have two adopted brothers who are also athletes). My very creative brother David…he ended up playing a lot of right field in Little League, which is where they put the kids who are more interested in the post-game snack than in the actual game itself. My sister Beth has also always been more of the artsy type. She’s a photographer, and she puts running on par with waterboarding. But me, I’m the athlete. The warrior. The conqueror. I like physical challenges for their own sake.

So why am I running a half marathon? Because it’s there. (Side note: I think that’s what someone said about climbing Mt. Everest – so in reality it’s kind of like I’m climbing Mt. Everest.)

I’ve laid down a couple ground rules for myself concerning the half marathon:

First, I will not wear short shorts. I don’t care what the running experts say about chafing and wind resistance and optimal stride, I will not wear shorts that could double as underwear. This is a non-negotiable. No one needs to, nor wants to see me wearing short running shorts.

Second, I will not put a sticker on the back of my car that says “13.1″. If I put a sticker on the back of my car, it lets the whole world know that I’m very proud of the fact that I ran a half marathon. It also lets the world know that I didn’t have the guts to run a full marathon. To me it’s like advertising the fact that I graduated from homeschool high school. Good for you Stephen, but uh, did you do anything else after that? If I run a full marathon, then I’ll put a sticker on the back of my car.

Third, when training, I will not scream in terror when a dog comes bolting at me. Honestly, there are few things more terrifying than hearing the sudden explosion of a dog barking right next to you. It’s enough to make a warrior of a man lose control of certain bodily functions. So all you dog owners, please keep your dogs on leashes. That whole invisible fence thing…it’s bad news for runners.

Okay, that’s it for now. I’ll keep you updated on my progress, because I’m sure you’re all so interested.