Top 25 Songs for the Week of August 25, 2014

Every weekday at 11am (ct) I post a “Song of the Day” on my twitter feed (@mattclen2). Each “Song of the Day” is a recently released or currently played song which I think has some unique or interesting quality. Not all of them are great songs (though many are), but each of them is worth a listen.

Below is my compilation of the “Top 25 Songs of the Day”. Each Song of the Day is rotated onto the list for at least one week. The twenty other songs are carry-overs from previous weeks. This ranking is my opinion of the best music currently out there.

1. Am I Wrong by Nico & Vinz
Last Week: 1
Tweeted: June 24, 2014
Album: Am I Wrong
Released: February 18, 2014
Genre: Pop

2. A Long Day by Mally
Last Week: 2
Tweeted: July 4, 2014
Album: The Colors of Black
Released: April 8, 2014
Genre: Hip Hop

3. Riptide by Vance Joy
Last Week: 4
Tweeted: February 5, 2014
Album: God Loves You When You’re Dancing
Released: September 3, 2013
Genre: Alternative

4. Boy by John Mark Nelson
Last Week: 13
Tweeted: August 21, 2014
Album: Sings the Moon
Released: June 24, 2014
Genre: Alternative

5. Carousel Ride by Rubblebucket
Last Week: 6
Tweeted: August 4, 2014
Album: Carousel Ride
Released: July 22, 2014
Genre: Rock

6. Rather Be by Clean Bandit ft Jess Glynne
Last Week: 16
Tweeted: August 11, 2014
Album: New Eyes
Released: June 17, 2014
Genre: Dance

7. Dirt by Florida Georgia Line
Last Week: 9
Tweeted: August 5, 2014
Album: Dirt
Released: July 8, 2014
Genre: Country

8. Bitter by Atmosphere
Last Week: 7
Tweeted: August 1, 2014
Album: Southsiders
Released: May 6, 2014
Genre: Rap

9. All About the Bass by Meghan Trainor
Last Week: 3
Tweeted: August 15, 2014
Album: All About the Bass
Released: June 30, 2014
Genre: Pop

10. American Kids by Kenny Chesney
Last Week: 17
Tweeted: August 18, 2014
Album: American Kids
Released: June 20, 2014
Genre: Country

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Sermon: The Expert, the Leader, & the Assistant

I truly appreciate every opportunity to preach that I am given. It is always an honor and a blessing to me. Below is the outline of a sermon I gave last week.

***

Scripture: Exodus 31:1-11

Big Idea: At different times in life we will all take on the roles of expert craftsman, leader, and skilled assistant. At any given time, know which role you are called to, and within that role use your skills to share the love of Jesus with your community.

 

I.                   Introduction

a.       Setting – between the exodus and the exile

                                                              i.      Practically the last of God’s instructions on Mt Sinai

                                                            ii.      Exodus 32 tells of the Golden Calf

b.      Purpose – to create a throne room for God

c.       Scripture: Now the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “See, I have called by name Bezalel, the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship, to make artistic designs for work in gold, in silver, and in bronze, and in the cutting of stones for settings, and in the carving of wood, that he may work in all kinds of craftsmanship. And behold, I Myself have appointed with him Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan; and in the hearts of all who are skillful I have put skill, that they may make all that I have commanded you: the tent of meeting, and the ark of testimony, and the mercy seat upon it, and all the furniture of the tent, the table also and its utensils, and the pure gold lampstand with all its utensils, and the altar of incense, the altar of burnt offering also with all its utensils, and the laver and its stand, 10 the woven garments as well, and the holy garments for Aaron the priest, and the garments of his sons, with which to carry on their priesthood; 11 the anointing oil also, and the fragrant incense for the holy place, they are to make them according to all that I have commanded you.”

d.      In this passage are three different roles:

                                                              i.      Bezalel

1.      the expert craftsman

2.      filled by God with the spirit of God

                                                            ii.      Moses

1.      the leader

2.      Listens to God

3.      Points others in the direction God is going

                                                          iii.      Oholiab

1.      the skilled assistant

2.      Appointed by God & given skill by God

3.      But the expert responsible for completing the work

4.      A helper

5.      Just as responsible for accomplishing God’s will; but not in charge

e.       These three characters are excellent examples for us because: At different times in life we will all take on the roles of expert craftsman, leader, and skilled assistant. At any given time, know which role you are called to, and within that role use your skills to share the love of Jesus with your community.

 

II.                When we are Bezalel, the expert craftsman…

a.       Who was Bezalel

                                                              i.      Name

1.      “In the shadow of God”

2.      As if to say even the most skilled craftsman is a step behind God

                                                            ii.      Beginnings as a slave & training in Egypt

1.      Imagine humble beginnings first stone carvings

2.      Developing his skills making idols in Egypt

3.      Years in slavery and finally able to use his talents

                                                          iii.      Calling by Moses

1.      Spent his early life getting ready

2.      Only after being called by God through Moses was he unleashed (ch35-40)

                                                          iv.      Legendary candlesticks – particularly blessed

1.      Legend: The candlestick of the sanctuary was of so complicated a nature that Moses could not comprehend it, although God twice showed him a heavenly model; but when he described it to Bezalel, the latter understood immediately, and made it at once

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Top 25 Songs for the Week of August 18, 2014

Every weekday at 11am (ct) I post a “Song of the Day” on my twitter feed (@mattclen2). Each “Song of the Day” is a recently released or currently played song which I think has some unique or interesting quality. Not all of them are great songs (though many are), but each of them is worth a listen.

Below is my compilation of the “Top 25 Songs of the Day”. Each Song of the Day is rotated onto the list for at least one week. The twenty other songs are carry-overs from previous weeks. This ranking is my opinion of the best music currently out there.

1. Am I Wrong by Nico & Vinz
Last Week: 1
Tweeted: June 24, 2014
Album: Am I Wrong
Released: February 18, 2014
Genre: Pop

2. A Long Day by Mally
Last Week: 5
Tweeted: July 4, 2014
Album: The Colors of Black
Released: April 8, 2014
Genre: Hip Hop

3. All About the Bass by Meghan Trainor
Last Week: 6
Tweeted: August 15, 2014
Album: All About the Bass
Released: June 30, 2014
Genre: Pop

4. Riptide by Vance Joy
Last Week: 4
Tweeted: February 5, 2014
Album: God Loves You When You’re Dancing
Released: September 3, 2013
Genre: Alternative

5. Rude by Magic!
Last Week: 3
Tweeted: July 29, 2014
Album: Don’t Kill the Magic
Released: June 3, 2014
Genre: Pop

6. Carousel Ride by Rubblebucket
Last Week: 8
Tweeted: August 4, 2014
Album: Carousel Ride
Released: July 22, 2014
Genre: Rock

7. Bitter by Atmosphere
Last Week: 2
Tweeted: August 1, 2014
Album: Southsiders
Released: May 6, 2014
Genre: Rap

8. Girls Chase Boys by Ingrid Michaelson
Last Week: 7
Tweeted: June 9, 2014
Album: Lights Out
Released: April 15, 2014
Genre: Pop

9. Dirt by Florida Georgia Line
Last Week: 10
Tweeted: August 5, 2014
Album: Dirt
Released: July 8, 2014
Genre: Country

10. Gunpowder on the Letter by Cody Chesnutt ft. Gary Clark Jr.
Last Week: 9
Tweeted: July 11, 2014
Album: Landing on A Hundred: B Sides and Remixes
Released: March 11, 2014
Genre: Alternative

11. Where I’m From by Eels
Last Week: 15
Tweeted: June 11, 2014
Album: The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett
Released: April 22, 2014
Genre: Alternative

12. Turtles All the Way Down by Sturgill Simpson
Last Week: 17
Tweeted: June 10, 2014
Album: Turtles All the Way Down
Released: April 8, 2014
Genre: Country

13. Boy by John Mark Nelson
Last Week: -
Tweeted: August 21, 2014
Album: Sings the Moon
Released: June 24, 2014
Genre: Alternative

14. Wish I Was Here by Cat Power and Coldplay
Last Week: -
Tweeted: August 22, 2014
Album: Wish I Was Here
Released: July 8, 2014
Genre: Alternative

15. Cruel City by Augustines
Last Week: 13
Tweeted: March 5, 2014
Album: Cruel City
Released: September 10, 2013
Genre: Alternative

16. Rather Be by Clean Bandit ft Jess Glynne
Last Week: 19
Tweeted: August 11, 2014
Album: New Eyes
Released: June 17, 2014
Genre: Dance

17. American Kids by Kenny Chesney
Last Week: -
Tweeted: August 18, 2014
Album: American Kids
Released: June 20, 2014
Genre: Country

18. A House is a Home by Ben Harper
Last Week: 18
Tweeted: July 22, 2014
Album: Childhood Home
Released: April 15, 2014
Genre: Folk

19. Let’s Be Still by The Head and the Heart
Last Week: 20
Tweeted: March 6, 2014
Album: Let’s Be Still
Released: October 15, 2013
Genre: Alternative

20. Hope You Get Lonely Tonight y Cole Swindell
Last Week: -
Tweeted: August 19, 2014
Album: Hope You Get Lonely Tonight
Released: January 21, 2014
Genre: Country

21. Come With Me Now by Kongos
Last Week: 16
Tweeted: June 2, 2014
Album: Lunatic
Released: January 27, 2014
Genre: Alternative

22. You & I (Nobody in the World) by John Legend
Last Week: 21
Tweeted: August 14, 2014
Album: Love in the Future
Released: September 3, 2013
Genre: R&B

23. Sunshine & Whiskey by Frankie Ballard
Last Week: -
Tweeted: August 20, 2014
Album: Sunshine & Whiskey
Released: February 11, 2014
Genre: Country

24. Turn Down For What by DJ Snake & Lil Jon
Last Week: 11
Tweeted: August 7, 2014
Album: Turn Down For What
Released: December 18, 2013
Genre: Trap

25. Lekka Freakout by Beaty Heart
Last Week: 14
Tweeted: July 25, 2014
Album: Mixed Blessings
Released: June 3, 2014
Genre: Pop

 

Dropping off (Last Week’s Rank, Song, Date Tweeted):
• 24. Boom Clap by Charli XCX (August 6, 2014)
• 23. Song My Love Can Sing by Doug Paisley (April 4, 2014)
• 22. A Sky Full of Stars by Coldplay (August 12, 2014)
• 12. Wild by Royal Teeth (May 22, 2014)
• 25. Habits (Stay High) y Tove Lo (August 13, 2014)

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Top 25 Songs for the Week of August 11, 2014

Every weekday at 11am (ct) I post a “Song of the Day” on my twitter feed (@mattclen2). Each “Song of the Day” is a recently released or currently played song which I think has some unique or interesting quality. Not all of them are great songs (though many are), but each of them is worth a listen.

Below is my compilation of the “Top 25 Songs of the Day”. Each Song of the Day is rotated onto the list for at least one week. The twenty other songs are carry-overs from previous weeks. This ranking is my opinion of the best music currently out there.

1. Am I Wrong by Nico & Vinz
Last Week: 2
Tweeted: June 24, 2014
Album: Am I Wrong
Released: February 18, 2014
Genre: Pop

2. Bitter by Atmosphere
Last Week: 3
Tweeted: August 1, 2014
Album: Southsiders
Released: May 6, 2014
Genre: Rap

3. Rude by Magic!
Last Week: 1
Tweeted: July 29, 2014
Album: Don’t Kill the Magic
Released: June 3, 2014
Genre: Pop

4. Riptide by Vance Joy
Last Week: 5
Tweeted: February 5, 2014
Album: God Loves You When You’re Dancing
Released: September 3, 2013
Genre: Alternative

5. A Long Day by Mally
Last Week: 11
Tweeted: July 4, 2014
Album: The Colors of Black
Released: April 8, 2014
Genre: Hip Hop

6. All About the Bass by Meghan Trainor
Last Week: -
Tweeted: August 15, 2014
Album: All About the Bass
Released: June 30, 2014
Genre: Pop

7. Girls Chase Boys by Ingrid Michaelson
Last Week: 6
Tweeted: June 9, 2014
Album: Lights Out
Released: April 15, 2014
Genre: Pop

8. Carousel Ride by Rubblebucket
Last Week: 12
Tweeted: August 4, 2014
Album: Carousel Ride
Released: July 22, 2014
Genre: Rock

9. Gunpowder on the Letter by Cody Chesnutt ft. Gary Clark Jr.
Last Week: 13
Tweeted: July 11, 2014
Album: Landing on A Hundred: B Sides and Remixes
Released: March 11, 2014
Genre: Alternative

10. Dirt by Florida Georgia Line
Last Week: 17
Tweeted: August 5, 2014
Album: Dirt
Released: July 8, 2014
Genre: Country

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This Week on the Ashram – 1st Week of August 2014

It’s been a busy week down on the Ashram.

We cleaned out the first of the sweet corn beds and harvested part of the next bed. In total we harvested seven dozen ears of corn; eating a dozen and freezing the other six. The raccoon and opossums have not been as much of a problem as I was expecting. It may be that we have had a mild summer which has left plenty of food in the more secluded woods across the street.

I tried making pickle relish for the first time. It turned out perfectly fine. I don’t know that I am a fan of the flavor and I’m not quite sure how to fix it. I’ll give it another try or two before I give up. It seems to be a wonderful use for all of the cucumbers which I leave on the vine too long.

Muskmelon

I harvested the first of our cantaloupe this last week. They were both the size volleyballs and tasted fantastic. In general this is shaping up to be a great year for the melon crop. We may have more watermelon and muskmelon than we know what to do with before we’re done.

I can’t say the same for the pumpkins. It appears that our early pumpkins were attacked by vine borers. The vines are almost dead. We will get about six small (almost gourd-sized) pumpkins, but I was hoping those vines would be producing for another month or two. Meanwhile our jack-o-lantern and giant pumpkins seem to have been spared the borer, but are yet to set any fruit whatsoever.

Jalapeno

Finally, the pepper crop is just beginning to come on line. I have a nice mix of colors and flavors this year varying from red and yellow sweet lunchbox peppers to jalafuego jalapenos and red habaneros. I pickled the first batch of jalapenos and also made eight half pints of jalapeno jelly (which is delicious). My mother was always a big jelly maker, and I have only just started making my own jelly. The problem with jelly, and canning in general, is that you actually have to follow the recipe, and I would much prefer to make it up as I go along. I find jelly making to be a wonderful way to help me develop and maintain personal discipline.

Looking forward, nothing is going to get done this weekend as I will be spending my time in Chicago at my employer’s annual conference. I’m looking forward to reconnecting with a whole bunch of wonderful people. There are a number of things we need to get done next week:

  • Mow and weed the yard and gardens.
  • Plant the fall leek and broccoli starts.
  • Plant the fall flower starts.
  • Continue harvesting and processing tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, and peppers.
  • Finish threshing the winter wheat.
  • Install grape support wires on the trellis.
  • Clean the front and back porches.
  • Catchup on laundry & dishes and clean the house.

Southern Leopard Frog

On a final note, one of my goals for this year was establish habitats to attract native frogs. In particular I was hoping to attract leopard frogs. I like how leopard frogs sound and I think they are beautiful. There are three varieties of leopard frog that inhabit southeast Iowa: the plains leopard frog (most common), the northern leopard frog (common), and the southern leopard frog (rare). This last week I have seen a number of leopard frogs in our melon beds, in the cranberries, and near the lotus pond. I have yet to see the rare southern leopard frog, but I’m going to keep trying to attract them.

 

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Judges 15 – Sometimes God uses obnoxious people

on the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal in Amsterdam

When he came to Lehi, the Philistines shouted as they met him. And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him mightily so that the ropes that were on his arms were as flax that is burned with fire, and his bonds dropped from his hands. 15 He found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, so he reached out and took it and killed a thousand men with it. 16 Then Samson said, “With the jawbone of a donkey, Heaps upon heaps, With the jawbone of a donkey I have killed a thousand men.” 17 When he had finished speaking, he threw the jawbone from his hand; and he named that place Ramath-lehi. 18 Then he became very thirsty, and he called to the LORD and said, “You have given this great deliverance by the hand of Your servant, and now shall I die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?” 19 But God split the hollow place that is in Lehi so that water came out of it. When he drank, his strength returned and he revived. Therefore he named it En-hakkore, which is in Lehi to this day. – Judges 15:14-19

***

As a kid I remember the story of Sampson. As it was told to me, Sampson was a man of God who defended Israel from the Philistines who wanted to destroy Israel. His wicked wife tricked him into giving away the secret of his power, his long hair, and his enemies cut his hair and robbed him of his power. Samson then trusted in God one last time and sacrificed himself in order to destroy Israel’s enemies.

The only problem with this version of the story is that it is totally wrong. Samson was a petty, deceptive, manipulative, capricious, violent, intransigent, vindictive, foolish, womanizer.

From before he was born, Samson was set aside to be someone special. The faith of his mother caused him to be blessed by God, and set him in place to be a Judge for Israel. Over and over again God gave Samson opportunities which he squandered. Even when Samson appears to have been faithful to God’s calling he acts like a child. In the above passage Samson becomes angry with God, because after he has slaughtered “a thousand men” he is thirsty and God has not immediately provided a beverage.

No complaining! by Jean Browman

Have you met people like that in your life? People who continuously gripe and complain to God about not having something, and then it seems that God goes ahead and gives it to them anyway.

Based upon the scripture as a whole, I would say that Samson’s attitude in this passage is not to be normative; in general we should not act like Samson. However, sometimes God uses obnoxious people.

I encourage you to live a life of peace, simplicity, integrity, and humility; because, maybe then your last act won’t be to pull a house down on you and your enemies. Of course, there are no guarantees.

Application:

  • Go out of your way to bless an obnoxious person this week.
  • Write down the last time you childishly complained to God about not meeting your needs.
  • Set the goal for the next week of having a fantastic attitude; no matter what happens.

Queries:

  • Do others perceive you as obnoxious?
  • Who are the obnoxious people in your life that God seems to use and bless?
  • Why might it be better to live a life of peace, simplicity, integrity, and humility rather than living as a petty, deceptive, manipulative, capricious, violent, intransigent, vindictive, foolish, womanizer?
Posted in Bible Study, Integrity, Judges, Peace, Simplicity | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Judges 14 – Samson was a bad, bad man

Samson’s Fight with the Lion – Lucas Cranach the Elder (16th c.)

Then Samson went down to Timnah with his father and mother, and came as far as the vineyards of Timnah; and behold, a young lion came roaring toward him. 6 The Spirit of the LORD came upon him mightily, so that he tore him as one tears a young goat though he had nothing in his hand; but he did not tell his father or mother what he had done. 7 So he went down and talked to the woman; and she looked good to Samson. 8 When he returned later to take her, he turned aside to look at the carcass of the lion; and behold, a swarm of bees and honey were in the body of the lion. 9 So he scraped the honey into his hands and went on, eating as he went. When he came to his father and mother, he gave some to them and they ate it; but he did not tell them that he had scraped the honey out of the body of the lion.

10 Then his father went down to the woman; and Samson made a feast there, for the young men customarily did this. 11 When they saw him, they brought thirty companions to be with him. 12 Then Samson said to them, “Let me now propound a riddle to you; if you will indeed tell it to me within the seven days of the feast, and find it out, then I will give you thirty linen wraps and thirty changes of clothes. 13 “But if you are unable to tell me, then you shall give me thirty linen wraps and thirty changes of clothes.” And they said to him, “Propound your riddle, that we may hear it.” 14 So he said to them, “Out of the eater came something to eat, And out of the strong came something sweet.” But they could not tell the riddle in three days.

15 Then it came about on the fourth day that they said to Samson’s wife, “Entice your husband, so that he will tell us the riddle, or we will burn you and your father’s house with fire. Have you invited us to impoverish us? Is this not so?” 16 Samson’s wife wept before him and said, “You only hate me, and you do not love me; you have propounded a riddle to the sons of my people, and have not told it to me.” And he said to her, “Behold, I have not told it to my father or mother; so should I tell you?” 17 However she wept before him seven days while their feast lasted. And on the seventh day he told her because she pressed him so hard. She then told the riddle to the sons of her people. 18 So the men of the city said to him on the seventh day before the sun went down, “What is sweeter than honey? And what is stronger than a lion?” And he said to them, “If you had not plowed with my heifer, You would not have found out my riddle.” 19 Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon him mightily, and he went down to Ashkelon and killed thirty of them and took their spoil and gave the changes of clothes to those who told the riddle. And his anger burned, and he went up to his father’s house. – Judges 14:5-19

***

Samson Slaying a Philistine – Giambologna (1562)

The book of Judges is the story of the downward spiral in the quality, morality, and ability of the leaders of Israel. The institute of Judge was established as an ad hoc chieftain who could lead God’s people when they face times of conflict or difficulty. A Judge would be called up by God to lead the people into war, into reformation, into repentance, and into reconstruction.

Samson was the final Judge. Before he was born he was set apart and dedicated to God. In turn, God blessed Samson with incredible strength and ability. Unfortunately, Samson was lacking in other leadership qualities.

There are two repeated phrases in this passage which bear mentioning. The first is “the Spirit of the Lord came upon him mightily”, and the second is “he did not tell”.

“The Spirit of the Lord came upon him mightily” is first used when Samson is attached by the lion. My reading of this passage is not that Samson was suddenly energized by God, but rather that Samson used his strength and power (which he had received as a blessing from God based upon his mother’s faith) to defend himself. The phrase is used again at the end of the passage when Samson goes to Ashkelon to kill thirty people and fulfill his wager. In this case Samson is using God’s gifts to act out petty vengeance to fulfill a childish wager.

The phrase “he did not tell” is first after killing the lion. The author makes a specific point that Samson did not tell his father or mother what he had done. My reading would be that Samson was too engrossed in pursuing the Philistine woman as his bride. The second time Samson “did not tell” is when he revisits the lion carcass and eats honey found in it, sharing this honey with his parents. It may not need to be said, but eating honey from a lion’s corpse would be considered unclean (both literally and theologically). This is Samson’s second act of uncleanliness in just this passage. The first is marrying a Philistine woman, as God has instructed the Israelites not to intermarry with the neighboring clans.

by Heath Brandon

In summary, Samson pursues the sin of marrying a Philistine. He then sins by eating unclean honey and compounds his sin by sharing it with his unknowing parents causing them to sin. Finally, Samson makes fun of his sin with his riddle-wager and uses his God-given powers to cover his foolish sin.

It is far too easy to follow the example of Samson. When we see something we want, it is easier to begin pursuing that thing, rather than evaluating if it is what God wants. When we feel a need, such as hunger, it is easier to grab the nearest snack, rather than considering if this is what God wants us to put into our bodies. When we are with our friends and families we often try to push them toward the sins we are committing; it is easier to sin when we are all sinning together. When we are caught in sin it is easier to mock or flaunt the sin rather than deal with the true consequences. Finally, when we are called to pay for our sin, it is easier to make someone else suffer the consequences. Do not follow the example of Samson.

All of us have God given talents, abilities, and characteristics which we can use to either build up the kingdom of God or to pursue our own selfish (sometimes foolish) pursuits. We are called by God to make the areas in which we are blessed a blessing to others. You have some exceptional talent, ability, or characteristic; please do not follow the example of Samson; rather, use your blessings to bless others and honor God.

Application:

  • Write down your top three talents, abilities or characteristics (e.g. intelligence, beauty, charisma, needlepoint).
  • Make a plan of how you can use one of your talents, abilities, or characteristics to honor God.
  • Think of the last time you “did not tell”. Go fix that.

Queries:

  • How can I use my talents, abilities, and characteristics to bring honor to God?
  • What sin am I regularly pursuing? How can I stop?
  • How has my sin caused harm to others? How do I need to seek forgiveness from?
  • When caught in sin, do I make jokes or flaunt my behavior?
Posted in Bible Study, Integrity, Judges, Leadership | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Top 25 Songs for the Week of August 4, 2014

Every weekday at 11am (ct) I post a “Song of the Day” on my twitter feed (@mattclen2). Each “Song of the Day” is a recently released or currently played song which I think has some unique or interesting quality. Not all of them are great songs (though many are), but each of them is worth a listen.

Below is my compilation of the “Top 25 Songs of the Day”. Each Song of the Day is rotated onto the list for at least one week. The twenty other songs are carry-overs from previous weeks. This ranking is my opinion of the best music currently out there.

1. Rude by Magic!
Last Week: 5
Tweeted: July 29, 2014
Album: Don’t Kill the Magic
Released: June 3, 2014
Genre: Pop

2. Am I Wrong by Nico & Vinz
Last Week: 1
Tweeted: June 24, 2014
Album: Am I Wrong
Released: February 18, 2014
Genre: Pop

3. Bitter by Atmosphere
Last Week: 17
Tweeted: August 1, 2014
Album: Southsiders
Released: May 6, 2014
Genre: Rap

4. Turn Down For What by DJ Snake & Lil Jon
Last Week: -
Tweeted: August 7, 2014
Album: Turn Down For What
Released: December 18, 2013
Genre: Trap

5. Riptide by Vance Joy
Last Week: 3
Tweeted: February 5, 2014
Album: God Loves You When You’re Dancing
Released: September 3, 2013
Genre: Alternative

6. Girls Chase Boys by Ingrid Michaelson
Last Week: 6
Tweeted: June 9, 2014
Album: Lights Out
Released: April 15, 2014
Genre: Pop

7. Wild by Royal Teeth
Last Week: 15
Tweeted: May 22, 2014
Album: Act Naturally
Released: May 8, 2012
Genre: Pop

8. Boom Clap by Charli XCX
Last Week: -
Tweeted: August 6, 2014
Album: Boom Clap
Released: April 13, 2014
Genre: Country

9. Cruel City by Augustines
Last Week: 4
Tweeted: March 5, 2014
Album: Cruel City
Released: September 10, 2013
Genre: Alternative

10. Lekka Freakout by Beaty Heart
Last Week: 8
Tweeted: July 25, 2014
Album: Mixed Blessings
Released: June 3, 2014
Genre: Pop

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This Week on the Ashram – 4th Week of July 2014

It’s been a busy week down on the Ashram.

The tomatoes are in full bloom. So far I am doing a fairly good job of keeping them harvested and processed. This was the first year where I tried a wide variety of heirloom tomatoes in the garden. I planted Brandywine, Moskvich, Pruden’s Purple, Cherokee Purple, and Japanese Black Trifele.

Brandywine

Moskvich

Japanese Black Trifele

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love the Moskvich. They are smaller round red tomatoes. They have all had an excellent flavor. The only downside to them this year is that they seem to have been the most susceptible to the septoria fungus which invaded our garden.

The Brandywine’s are solid (as usual). It’s always nice to have such a large meaty tomato in the garden. The Pruden’s Purple are similar to the Brandywine; however, I have found them to be less flavorful. A perfectly fine tomato, but I’m not sure I will be growing them again.

Cherokee Purple

Pruden’s Purple

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cherokee Purple have been awful. Even at an early stage the plants were stunted and sickly. At this point the plants have almost completely succumbed to the septoria (despite the organic fungicides) and the flavor of the fruit has been middling at best. The coloration of the tomatoes has also been less than I had hoped for. It is possible I got a batch of bad seeds; however, I will not be growing the Cherokee Purple again.

Finally, the Japanese Black Trifele have been very good. They have been almost as disease resistant as the Brandywine and have produced an abundance of medium sized pear shaped fruit with a very dark coloration. The Japanese Black Trifele grow in clumps of five or six which make for excellent picking and ripening. Their flavor has been excellent and mixed with the Brandywine or Moskvich, the darken up tomato sauce and salsa to a very pleasant color.

This is the first year I have planted cherry tomatoes and they have been largely disappointing. I tried Black Cherry, Indigo Rose, and Yellow Pear varieties. The Indigo Rose have failed spectacularly. They have a week flavor and fail to ripen. I have enjoyed the Yellow Pear in the past, but this year’s crop does not seem to have good flavor. The Yellow Pear was also the first of my tomatoes to be infected with Septoria. The Black Cherry have been very good with an excellent flavor. They are a little slow to ripen, but are definitely worth it.

Looking forward, there are a number of things we need to get done in the next week:

  • Pick and process the first two plantings of sweet corn.
  • Make pickle relish and jelly with the cucumbers I have neglected.
  • Weed the barley field.
  • Clean out the spring leak and broccoli beds.
  • Finish threshing the winter wheat.
  • Continue harvesting and processing the tomatoes.
  • Install grape support wires on the trellis.
  • Weed and mound potatoes.
  • Clean the front and back porches.
  • Catchup on laundry and clean the corners of the house.

On a final note, this was a rough week for the blog. The site had been having difficulty loading for a month or so. I finally got around to trying to clean up the database, and in the process destroyed it. This caused me to recreate the blog from scratch. That was entirely a bad thing, as the theme I was using was no longer being supported by WordPress (which may have been what was causing the problem). Saturday and Sunday was supposed to be my monthly writing retreat, instead it turned in to a blog reconstruction weekend (that task also spilled over into a good chunk of this week).

I think I finally have all of the important bits back up and running. Happily, the site does load more quickly now and is easier to update. Unfortunately, the time spent in the mechanics of the blog meant I neglected some of my writing for the week. I hope to be back to a nearly full blogging schedule next week, even as I clean up the last few details of the new blog’s format.

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Top 25 Songs for the Week of July 28, 2014

Every weekday at 11am (ct) I post a “Song of the Day” on my twitter feed (@mattclen2). Each “Song of the Day” is a recently released or currently played song which I think has some unique or interesting quality. Not all of them are great songs (though many are), but each of them is worth a listen.

Below is my compilation of the “Top 25 Songs of the Day”. Each Song of the Day is rotated onto the list for at least one week. The twenty other songs are carry-overs from previous weeks. This ranking is my opinion of the best music currently out there.

1. Am I Wrong by Nico & Vinz
Last Week: 3
Tweeted: June 24, 2014
Album: Am I Wrong
Released: February 18, 2014
Genre: Pop

2. Come With Me Now by Kongos
Last Week: 2
Tweeted: June 2, 2014
Album: Lunatic
Released: January 27, 2014
Genre: Alternative

3. Riptide by Vance Joy
Last Week: 6
Tweeted: February 5, 2014
Album: God Loves You When You’re Dancing
Released: September 3, 2013
Genre: Alternative

4. Cruel City by Augustines
Last Week: 8
Tweeted: March 5, 2014
Album: Cruel City
Released: September 10, 2013
Genre: Alternative

5. Rude by Magic!
Last Week: -
Tweeted: July 29, 2014
Album: Don’t Kill the Magic
Released: June 3, 2014
Genre: Pop

6. Girls Chase Boys by Ingrid Michaelson
Last Week: 1
Tweeted: June 9, 2014
Album: Lights Out
Released: April 15, 2014
Genre: Pop

7. Where I’m From by Eels
Last Week: 4
Tweeted: June 11, 2014
Album: The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett
Released: April 22, 2014
Genre: Alternative

8. Lekka Freakout by Beaty Heart
Last Week: 11
Tweeted: July 25, 2014
Album: Mixed Blessings
Released: June 3, 2014
Genre: Pop

9. Gunpowder on the Letter by Cody Chesnutt ft. Gary Clark Jr.
Last Week: 5
Tweeted: July 11, 2014
Album: Landing on A Hundred: B Sides and Remixes
Released: March 11, 2014
Genre: Alternative

10. Let’s Be Still by The Head and the Heart
Last Week: 10
Tweeted: March 6, 2014
Album: Let’s Be Still
Released: October 15, 2013
Genre: Alternative

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This Week on the Ashram – 3rd Week of July 2014

It’s been a busy week down on the Ashram.

Summer canning season is in full swing. I picked the first batch of cucumbers and pickled them with some fresh dill and (nearly) fresh garlic. Those jars are sitting happily in the pantry next to the remainder of last year’s pickles (we really need to use those up). Next weekend I will probably shoot for a batch of sweet pickles.

I also had a chance to can my first batch of salsa for the season. This first batch was small because the tomatoes are just coming on. By next weekend I should have a decent crop to can some tomato sauce. The other problem with making the salsa was that neither the pepper crop nor the onion crop is in full bloom yet. Fortunately, I was able to scrounge up some bell peppers, some jalapenos, and enough white, red, and green onions to make a very passable batch of salsa (perhaps the best batch I have ever made). Next time I am going to cook down my tomatoes before adding my other veggies to try to give the salsa more texture.

I picked my first batch of tomatillos this week and I am still not quite sure what to do with them. I have a small basket of them sitting in the kitchen and they may go out to the goats if I do not find a recipe shortly. I expect they would make an excellent mincemeat and once the hot peppers come on and color up, I should be able to mix those in to make a passable salsa verde. I’m sure there are other uses, I just need to spend some time researching. The tomatillo is a truly amazing plant. It has put up with some extreme weather and the septoria (which is ravaging the tomatoes) with hardly a whimper. The plants are tall and strong and bursting with fruit. Of course, the bounty will not be useful if I cannot find something to do with them.

The barley got planted last Saturday. We even had a good rain on Tuesday to help it want to germinate. Hopefully we will begin seeing shoots today or tomorrow. It’s a 90 day crop, so the barely harvest should be right about October 23. We need to get the winter wheat in right around October 15, so that might be cutting it a little close. If we run into trouble we can always cut the barely early and feed it to the goats.

The sweet corn is in peak form. I did five succession plantings of sweet corn, each about one week apart. So we should be able to pick fresh corn through almost the end of August. Hopefully we will be able to freeze some along the way to keep for this winter. There is nothing like grilling up some steaks and sweet corn on a sub-zero night in the middle of three foot drifts of snow.

Looking forward, there are a number of things we need to get done in the next week:

  • Dead head the winter wheat and prep it for threshing.
  • Spray the tomatoes with the organic copper fungicide.
  • Install grape support wires on the trellis.
  • Harvest the rest of the carrot crop.
  • Weed and mound potatoes.
  • Clean the front and back porches.
  • Catchup on dishes and laundry.

On a final note, our Australian Shepherd Jessie got out of our backyard sometime during the day on Tuesday. She was gone when we got home from work. I spent about three hours driving around our part of town looking for her. There were some very helpful people on Facebook who told us where they had seen her earlier in the day. Unfortunately, my search was fruitless. I went home when it got too dark to keep looking and stewed on the couch for about half an hour.

Jen told me she was going to bed and I asked her to check the front yard on her way. About two minutes later Jessie came bounding down the stairs, covered in weeds, but very happy to see me. We hung out for a few hours then went to bed. I tried to put her outside, but she refused and demanded to sleep in the bedroom that night. I gave in, because I’m a softie.

It was two days later that it suddenly occurred to me that Jessie is unaltered. The gestation period for a dog is about 63 days, so we should find out about September 24 if she engaged in any extracurricular activities while she was out.

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Judges 13 – We all faith differently

Maciejowski Bible, Leaf 14: Manoah and his wife give a sacrifice.

So Manoah took the young goat with the grain offering and offered it on the rock to the LORD, and He performed wonders while Manoah and his wife looked on. 20 For it came about when the flame went up from the altar toward heaven, that the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame of the altar. When Manoah and his wife saw this, they fell on their faces to the ground. 21 Now the angel of the LORD did not appear to Manoah or his wife again. Then Manoah knew that he was the angel of the LORD. 22 So Manoah said to his wife, “We will surely die, for we have seen God.” 23 But his wife said to him, “If the LORD had desired to kill us, He would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering from our hands, nor would He have shown us all these things, nor would He have let us hear things like this at this time.” 24 Then the woman gave birth to a son and named him Samson; and the child grew up and the LORD blessed him. – Judges 13:19-24 (NASB)

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I am a big fan of the Wesleyan Quadrilateral (WQ). In a nut shell, the WQ says that our faith is formed by a combination of four elements: scripture, tradition, reason, and experience (including experiences of the Holy Spirit). When I have introduced Christians to the concept of the WQ they tend to bristle at the thought of one of those elements being the foundation of their faith; but it is a different element for everyone. Some want to reject tradition, saying that instead we should abandon all tradition and go back to the first century church. Others want to reject experience, saying that our experience is fallible and should not be foundational to our faith. I, personally, have the least comfort with including reason as I have seen damaging theologies emerge from trying to “figure out” God. However, in the end, I believe all four elements are foundational to faith and I believe that our faith is formed be the interplay of all four elements.

In the sight of God by Leonardo

The story of Manoah and his wife is a wonderful example of the interplay between the different elements of the WQ. Manoah speaks from scripture a tradition. He knows that Exodus 33:20 taught that those who see God would die. He also knew of the cultural traditions around him that spoke of the dangers of interacting with a deity. The gods of the Ancient Near-East tended to be violent and capricious; a dangerous combination for anyone mortal who may encounter a deity.

Meanwhile, Manoah’s wife, unnamed in the Bible but traditionally known as Hazelelponi (“shade coming upon me”), speaks from reason and experience. He husbands yells, “we will surely die”, and she examines the situation and makes the reasonable deduction that if God had wanted to kill them, God would have done it already. Hazelelponi also has the advantage of past experience; the Angel of the Lord had first appeared to Hazelelponi alone (v3 ff). Hazelelponi had previous experience with the voice of God and so was more easily able to put this new experience into context.

Brittle Heart by Doran

Taking some time to evaluate our beliefs in the light of the Wesleyan Quadrilateral can help us to have a more fully formed faith. It can help us to overcome obstacles to our faith, and assist us as we struggle with doubts and concerns. An attitude of “The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it” can lead to a brittle faith. I believe that taking the time to understand faith within the context of reason, personal experiences, and the broader faith tradition is hard, but builds a more robust faith.

Application:

  • Write down the part of the quadrilateral that you struggle with the most (scripture, tradition, reason, or experience). Why is this part of the quadrilateral problematic for you?
  • Write out why others might struggle with the other three aspects of the quadrilateral.
  • This week, when you encounter someone with a different belief, consider what scriptures, traditions, experiences, or logical reasoning would cause that person to believe in that way.

Queries:

  • How has scripture influenced my faith?
  • How has my faith tradition influenced my faith?
  • How has reason influenced my faith?
  • How have my experiences influenced my faith?
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