Tag Archives: Movies

Monday Picks ~ 10-16-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

How to Develop Authority as a Worship Leader
David Santistevan
Most would prefer to sing, close their eyes, and worship their hearts out…in front of people. The problem with that is it’s not leadership. There needs to be a heart to love, lead, and connect with people in the room. That is why you are a leader. That is why you are on stage…

Many people mistake an authoritative, anointed worship leader as one who just knows how to work a room. Authority is different…


I was helping lead a prayer meeting at my church yesterday evening and one of our elders received this text from Don Tingle, a missionary we know and support:

Please ask the church to be praying for my wife’s family. In the bomb blast in Somalia seven family members were killed, and 11 were injured. One of the injured is a young mother expecting a baby. Thank you.

Bombing In Somalia Kills Hundreds; Death Toll Expected To RiseVanessa Romo
“In our 10 year experience as the first responder in #Mogadishu, we haven’t seen anything like this,” Aamin Ambulance workers tweeted…

“Today’s horrific attack proves our enemy will stop at nothing,” Farmaajo said, adding a plea to come together. “Let’s unite against terror,” he urged.

“Terror won’t win,” he exclaimed in a separate tweet.

No one has taken responsibility for the attack. But Yarisow told NPR he blames the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab extremist group for the attack. He believes this is the “terrorists” striking back against the government because of its renewed offensive against Al-shabab.


Noteworthy…

Willow Creek Chooses Co-Ed Pastors to Succeed Bill HybelsKate Shellnutt
Willow Creek Chooses Co-Ed Pastors to Succeed Bill HybelsThe historic transition will make Willow Creek one of the largest churches in America with a woman in the lead pastor position, as well as the only major evangelical megachurch with male-female lead pastors who aren’t married.


I’m looking forward to seeing this film…

‘Goodbye Christopher Robin’ Offers a Cautionary Tale for the Instagram AgeSeth Tower Hurd
On the surface, it may not seem like post WWI England has much to say about life in 2017 America. But there are two narratives running side by side in Goodbye Christopher Robin. The first is a more or less straightforward account of how one of the most beloved children’s authors created a timeless world of imagination.

But underneath that is a narrative that pushes the audience to question the price of fame. In a world where dance moms demanding flawless performances dominate reality TV, and “backpack kid” can go from anonymity to starring in a Katy Perry video and appearing on Saturday Night Live in a matter of weeks, it’s good to see a movie that forces you to ask about your contribution to a world where children are pushed into elite sports and extracurricular activities at earlier and earlier ages, often crowding out time for unstructured play.


Epic Backfire…
https://safr.kingfeatures.com/idn/ck3/content.php?file=aHR0cDovL3NhZnIua2luZ2ZlYXR1cmVzLmNvbS9aaXRzLzIwMTcvMTAvWml0cy4yMDE3MTAxNF8xNDQwLmdpZg==
Zits – Click image for a larger view.

Weekend Picks ~ 6-2-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well..

The Professionalization of the HomeCourtney Reissig
We live in a modern society, where the work of the home is increasingly outsourced and professionalized. This is a large part of why we have a hard time as seeing it as valuable when we are doing the work only for the home—and not some other enterprise…

The value our work brings to the world that God has made is not measured in perfection, professionalization, or our ability to recreate that pin we saved yesterday. It’s all an illusion attempting to veil the reality that we aren’t living in the perfection of Eden any longer, and sometimes you burn dinner. God has always been concerned with our heart, not perfection. God has always been concerned with faithfulness.

While outsourcing and professionalization of the work began as an attempt to free women up in their increasingly busy lives, it’s become a full-blown industry that makes the rest of us wonder if the ordinary work we are doing is really good enough. If it’s not five-star quality, can it really be of value?


Get in the MiddleDrake De Long-Farmer
PictureIf we wait for when we feel like worshipping, following Jesus or growing it may never happen. But if we choose GET IN THE MIDDLE of the storm of what God’s presence and what He is doing, it is in this place that the work of softening that dry and tired soil can happen and the work of His Spirit can transform our lives, our circumstances and our faith.


Wonder Woman and the Gender WarsRussell Moore
The Apostle Paul…knew about Wonder Woman.

Or, at least the apostle knew of the goddess on whom Wonder Woman was based—Diana or, in her Greek name, Artemis. The Pauline teaching on men and women in the letter to the Ephesians wasn’t written in a void but in the shadow of the temple of Diana, a temple that was one of the wonders of the ancient world. The gospel erupted the city into controversy (Acts 19:21-42) because the news of Christ threatened the silversmiths’ industry of Artemis idols (Wonder Woman action figures, I guess you could say)

Like our time, the ancient world had a complicated view of women’s empowerment. On the one hand, goddess temples filled the empire. On the other hand, so did temple prostitution and misogyny. Some important rights for women have been gained, of course, but we haven’t completely overcome all of that. Wonder Woman does indeed represent power, but she also is, in every iteration, designed to be sexually attractive to men. The 1970s-era television series noted in its theme song, “Fighting for your rights, in your satin tights, and the old red, white, and blue.” The rights and the tights were both part of the package—and, from the looks of things, still are.

The apostolic witness broke through all of that, even in the hometown of Diana. The biblical revelation teaches some very real, creational distinctions between men and women. That revelation also tells us that women are, from the beginning, created to be co-heirs with men, and joint-heirs with Christ, of the reign that is to come. Mars and Venus end their warring when both come into submission to Jesus.


How Mr. Rogers Became Chuck NorrisAaron Earls
Mr. Rogers hero Chuck NorrisObviously, no one was capable of the fictional feats credited to Chuck Norris, but we wished it could have been otherwise. Today, the unshakable kindness of Fred Rogers seems almost as impossible.

Everything is filtered through political labels, resulting in more and more name-calling and dehumanization language and behavior. We don’t want someone who is unstoppable in his strength; we need someone who is undeniable in his goodness.

In 2005, we wanted Chuck Norris to inspire courage and keep fighting. In 2017, we need Mr. Rogers to bring comfort and challenge misconceptions.

We still need heroes, but as Mr. Rogers said, not all heroes wear capes. Not all heroes can execute roundhouse kicks either. Some simply do all they can to reflect goodness and light into the world around them.


Casual Fridays…
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Bizarro

Monday Picks ~ 5-15-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

The Impact of a Leader’s ApologyDan Reiland
Leadership elevates the importance of an apology…

It’s not my desire to overthink the idea of saying ‘I’m sorry’. We don’t need a strategy for this! But I’m motivated to write about it because the truth is that it’s not easy, and not done enough. When a sincere apology is offered, the redemptive impact is potentially life changing.

When we make a mistake, and certain virtues are practiced, an apology comes much easier.

So here are 3 pathways to help us all do the right thing at the right time…


What Rob Bell Gets Right and Wrong About the Bible
Collin Huber
https://tgc-cache.s3.amazonaws.com/images/remote/http_s3.amazonaws.com/tgc-ee2/articles/rob-bell.jpgBell urges readers to let the Bible be what it claims to be, but his interpretation of the Bible falls short of his own standards…

In What Is the Bible?, Bell comes to the Bible having already decided who God is and how he interacts with the world. It’s neither the text nor tradition that gives the Bible authority, but the interpretations of its readers (272). Rather than allowing Scripture to govern his views, Bell’s prior conclusions reign supreme. As a result, his book substitutes revelation and tradition with a “natural” reading of the Bible meant to translate to a contemporary setting. After all, if Scripture is merely an evolving human story contributing to a more enlightened life, then it requires constant reinterpretation, which Bell is more than willing to encourage.


How Pixar Lost Its WayChristopher Orr
…the erosion of Pixar’s uncompromising creative independence can’t be reduced to a case of inadequate oversight. The Disney merger seems to have brought with it new imperatives. Pixar has always been very good at making money, but historically it did so largely on its own terms… But Lasseter, among his other obligations, now oversees Disneytoon Studios as well. In that capacity he served as the executive producer of 2013’s Planes and its 2014 sequel, Planes: Fire & Rescue. The two movies are—like virtually all Disneytoon films—shameless, derivative cash grabs. What makes them unique is that they are also explicit spin-offs of Pixar’s Cars franchise, a development that would have been almost unimaginable before the merger.


The Internet is Not a LibraryKevin DeYoung
libraryThe internet is only like a library if anyone can come to your library and put their term papers wherever they want, scatter their files on the floor, and line the walls with pornography…

At best, the internet is like a wild forest. No one controls it. No one manicures it. It just grows and grows. And in the forest you’ll find plenty of beauty. But be careful, eat the wrong mushrooms and you could die.

At worst, the internet is like a wide open garbage dump. Every day people dump more and more onto the pile. Sure you may be able to find something valuable, but you’ll have to wade through a lot of trash first.

So, by all means, enjoy a meal from time to time at the internet buffet. Explore the overgrown trees and breathtaking vistas. Bend over and pick up that love poem surrounded by rotten banana peals. The Christian blogosphere has plenty that is good and true and beautiful, and plenty that is nasty, brutish, and rarely short. Expect to find truth. Expect to find error. Just don’t expect it to be a library.


How summer blockbusters are created…
https://wronghands1.files.wordpress.com/2017/05/blockbuster-movie-plot-generator1.jpg
Wrong Hands – Click image for a larger view.

Tuesday Picks ~ 5-9-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

The Future of Christianity May Be Different Than You Think
Trevin Wax
LightstockIt’s easy to think that the best way for Christianity to grow is to emphasize the palatable parts for a culture and avoid the offensive. But surely the last century shows us that the very claims that were most embarrassing to a scientific age became the most attractive elements of Christianity…

Strategically, it would make sense to shift the Christian vision of sexuality and marriage, wouldn’t it? Why focus on these embarrassing aspects of our faith? Why not deny the historic Christian teaching (as many revisionist theologies do, to align with the ideology of the Sexual Revolution), or at least downplay these teachings (as many pragmatic ministries do, to keep people from turning away)? Wouldn’t that remove obstacles that hinder Christianity’s flourishing?

No.

If the lesson from the last century is any indication, ground zero for explosive gospel witness is the place where we are most likely to run afoul of the cultural authorities.


Gospel of the Galaxy: What the Guardians Say About Modern FaithAaron Earls
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2While it is a lesser (though still extraordinarily fun) film than the original, Vol. 2 is both funnier and more emotional. It also addresses significant and deep topics (with it’s trademark wit and sarcasm).

The Guardians are forced to deal with their pasts, including the mistakes they’ve made and the relationships that are still damaged. In the midst of this depth, there are threads that connect to how modern culture views faith and salvation…

So if the film draws from the biblical message, what does the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 want to say about the gospel? …


I found this fascinating…

The Long, Hard, Unprecedented Fall of Sears
Kim Bhasin & Lance Lambert
http://www.joesdaily.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/shop-your-way-sears.jpgIn 1989, Sears Roebuck & Co. ruled America as its biggest retailer. It loomed over rivals from a perch high above Chicago, inside what was once the world’s tallest building—one bearing the company’s name.

The fall from that height may finally be nearing an end.

Over the course of almost three decades, the company experienced what industry observers described as one of the most monumental collapses in business history…

“The Sears catalog had an even bigger impact in 1900 than Amazon has had today,” said Robert Gordon, a professor at Northwestern University and author of The Rise and Fall of American Growth. Like today’s e-commerce powerhouse, the Sears catalog provided shoppers more choice than ever before, and at lower prices…

Searching for parallels of Sears’s fall through business history, Gordon could find none.


I just learned about fidget spinners a couple days ago from my grandson, so this time line of how it came to be caught my eye…

How Fidget Spinners Became a Hula Hoop for Generation Z
Alex Williams
One “horrible” summer in 1993 Unable to play with her daughter Sara, then 7, because of her myasthenia gravis, an autoimmune disorder that causes muscle weakness, a Florida inventor named Catherine Hettinger invents a prototype of a fidget spinner as way to bond with her daughter…

March 31 [2017] Lest you be confused, the fidget spinner is not just a child’s toy for grown-ups. Children love them too, according to The Boston Globe, as fidget spinners have apparently supplanted recent fads like bottle-flipping and homemade slime as a teacher nuisance. “When we got back from Christmas break, a couple of kids had them, then a couple more kids had them, and then they were definitely en vogue,” one New Hampshire schoolteacher said…

May 5 [2017] Ms. Hettinger still has not seen a dime from any of this…


Sign of the Times…
Non Sequitur – Click image for a larger view.

Thursday Picks ~ 4-13-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

Frances FitzGerald on how evangelicals lost their way
David Gushee
When religious folk get entangled with secular politicians in the political arena, the politicians always win. They have home field advantage. The earnest religious types get played. And the people in the pews start heading for the exits.

Faithful Christian discipleship does involve bearing witness to Christian convictions in public. But drawing the line between this dimension of Christian proclamation, on the one hand, and getting used by politicians, on the other, has proved very difficult for evangelical Christians since at least Billy Graham. It’s a sordid story, and it has shaped American religion and public life for more than a generation.


Pastor, Don’t Waste Your Exclamation Points
Jared C. Wilson
exclamation
Pastor, our people don’t usually get excited about what we tell them to be excited about. Have you figured that out yet? Instead, they get excited about what they see actually excites us.

This means we ought to steward our exclamation points wisely. If you’re one of those rah-rah guys firing on all emotional cylinders for everything from bake sales and the book table to baptisms and baby dedications, you create an equality between minutiae and missional milestones that can be disorienting, and ultimately dulling. But more directly, just remember that if everything is exciting, nothing is.


If you haven’t seen The Planet Earth it is simply amazing. It’s way beyond any documentary I’ve ever seen. It’s true that God is not present in the film, but it still leads me to worship…

Planet Earth II: Missing the Maker in the Majesty
John Stonestreet
There’s almost religious reverence and wonder spilling from every scene, as if the producers themselves know that a greater purpose lies behind the beauty of the things they see—as if they know that all of this living magnificence is more than the result of time, chance, and natural selection, but have no One else to credit…

As a feast for the senses, I can’t recommend “Planet Earth II” highly enough. But as an articulation of a worldview, it’s strikingly dissonant. In the face of so much majesty and order that cries out in testament to a Designer, modern man offers only empty personification, as if creation created itself.


 

Who Would Jesus Abort? Confessions of a “Christian” Abortion DoctorRussell Moore
BABY
Willie Parker is an abortion doctor. He says he’s not ashamed of that. Willie Parker also says he is a born-again follower of Jesus Christ. That one’s more complicated…

Parker is a kind of circuit-riding abortionist, spending time at various abortion clinics all over the South. The book, Life’s Work: A Moral Argument for Choice is one part an autobiography, and one-part a political manifesto for the legality—and even the goodness—of abortion. Even as one who has to wade through all sorts of material assaulting human dignity, I found that I would gasp at the lackadaisical nature of Parker’s reflections…

To dehumanize the unborn child, to reduce the child’s mother to her ability to make “choices” about the life and death of others, is to dehumanize Jesus. In Christ, after all, God has “anthropomorphized” himself. And we are introduced to Jesus in the biblical story, just as John the Baptist was, as an unborn child (Luke 1:44). To keep doing his job, Parker must depersonalize the women and children he encounters. He must depersonalize God into an unblinking, non-judging cosmic abstraction.


Preparing to Preach on EasterDarryl Dash
170413
Preachers face temptations in preaching. I find that these temptations escalate around Easter. We face the temptation to impress, to rely on gimmicks, and to overcomplicate the message. It’s easy to focus on all the wrong things.

We should desire to communicate as effectively as possible. It’s not wrong to try to be clear and to improve our communication skills. It is wrong, though, to rely on our skills as the source of power, or to switch the focus to us from Christ…

Get out of the way this Easter. Don’t give into the temptation to impress. Keep the focus on Jesus.


The Boston Typewriter Orchestra…


The oppression of Earl…
Non Sequitur – Click image for a larger view.

Weekend Picks ~ 3-10-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

Interesting and informative…

What Christianity in China Is Really LikeColin Clark
https://tgc-cache.s3.amazonaws.com/images/remote/http_s3.amazonaws.com/tgc-ee2/articles/ministry-in-china-2.jpgThe church in China is often lauded in the West as the pinnacle of modern Christian discipleship and church planting. And in some ways it’s a reputation well deserved. The church in China has been forged through the fires of persecution, and the Christians there are men and women of immense faith with great joy in the Lord.

But there’s also plenty of messiness. Statistics of churches planted are often inflated; conversion stories are sometimes contrived; missions agencies and sending churches are exporting poor theology; and many Chinese house churches are rife with bad doctrine and influence from destructive cults.

The harvest is still plentiful, and the workers are still few. In fact, the workers seem fewer than they did a decade ago. Pray for a new crop of workers—both missionaries and marketplace workers—to help resource, equip, teach, and train one of the largest church movements on the planet.


Warning: Sarcasm ahead…

How to Be a Good Christian With Minimal Effort
Tim Challies
First, find a church that really suits you and your family. Maybe you can sit down with your wife and the children and put together a list of things you’d like to have in your dream church: a dynamic preacher, an exciting youth program, a contemporary service style—maybe even a gym or coffee shop. That will help you narrow the search…

…don’t beat yourself up if you can’t attend church every week. I know how tough it is with work, family, children, and all the other things in life.


Yes, another article about millennials. Don’t roll your eyes, this is a good one…

7 Things Every Leader Should Know About Working With MillennialsCarey Nieuwhof
Are Millennials different? Well, of course. Every generation has its quirks. Mine does too.

But just know this, older leaders: It’s hard to mobilize a generation you roll your eyes at.

There are at least 7 distinct characteristics of Millennials I’ve come to appreciate as I’ve learned how to work with them, lead them and even befriend them. The characteristics are relevant whether you’re dealing with paid staff or volunteers (or maybe even your kids).

Once you understand them, things become a lot easier. In my view, working with Millennials (and hanging out with them) is one of the great rewards and pleasures of leadership…


The violence ISIS, ISIL, or IS is wreaking on humanity is devastating. So is its violence against priceless antiquities…

Rubble and ash in Mosul museum retaken from Islamic StateSusannah George (AP)
Inside the Mosul museum’s main exhibition hall, the floor was littered with the jagged remains of an ancient Assyrian bull statue and fragments from cuneiform tablets.

“These are the remains of a lamassu and the lions of Nimrud,” Layla Salih, an Iraqi archaeologist and former curator of the Mosul museum said as she examined AP photographs of the remains. Salih said when IS took over Mosul, the museum housed two massive lamassu statues — winged lions recovered from the ancient Assryrian city of Nimrud.

“They were priceless,” she said, “they were in perfect condition.”…

“Daesh came to Iraq to destroy our heritage because they don’t have their own,” said Federal Police Cpl. Abbas Muhammad, using the Arabic acronym for the group…


Another perspective on The Shack…

The Shack: A ReviewJohn Frye via Scot McKnight
http://www.theshack.movie/images/fb-share-img.jpgBurn It or Find God in It?…

My conclusion is this: Christian viewers will see what they want to see in the film. If you think the film promotes idolatry because the Persons of the Trinity are depicted as visible people and thus violates the second commandment, you’ll see that. You may freak out that the Spirit’s name in the film is a Hindu word for “wind” and conclude the film is promoting all religions as ways to God. When “Papa” (God) shows the nail print in her wrist and says, “Love always leaves a mark,” you’ll shout that the heresy of patripassianism is born again. The Godhead presented as three different ethnic groups will stick in the throats of some because we all know the Father and Spirit are invisible and Jesus was a blue-eyed, blond guy who spoke British English. I think the film artistry suggests the Source of all the beautiful ethnicities in this world.

Because I knew that the sword rattling over the film would be intense, I watched the film with my will behind my eyes and ears. Here are a few observations as a “find-God-in-it” voice…


I’m glad my parents didn’t have this…
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Zits

Thursday Picks ~ 2-23-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

Yes. Yes, it is…

It’s a Wonderful Time to Be ChristianGarrett Kell
America is facing turbulent times. Political unrest is unceasing. The racial divide is deepening. Fear and frustration swirl frantically.

This leads to only one logical conclusion: It’s a wonderful time to be a Christian.

Christians are uniquely equipped to thrive in tumultuous times, not because we are great, but because our God is. As we consider the darkness of our days, I’d like to share five reasons I think it is a wonderful time to be a Christian in America…


Beautiful and vulnerable. Maybe you can relate…

I Am AfraidSamuel Sey
I do not know when or where I’ll take my last breath. But I do know where I’ll be after I draw that last breath. My last breath on earth will be my first breath in heaven.

This is why I am not afraid to die. When I die I will be safer than I’ve ever been, the most unafraid I’ve ever been. I’m not afraid to die. I’m afraid to live.


I’ve been wondering about this movie…

The Problems With ‘The Great Wall’ Are More Than Poor RatingsSeth Hurd
Unfortunately, there’s also a very grim side to the changes the trend could bring. 

Humankind has a bleak history of choosing comfort and novelty over the welfare of their fellow man. As far back as the battle to outlaw slavery in England in the early 1800s, some Brits felt an inner conflict between wanting to end human bondage and the desire to keep buying cheap imported sugar for their tea.

If that sounds absurd and horrifying, keep in mind that it’s possible that up to 75 percent of chocolate consumed in developed countries is harvested by child labor, many of whom are outright slaves. As a society, we want to care about global injustice, but clearly not enough to have a notable effect on our purchasing decisions.

Just because China is working with the the U.S. on film production does not mean it’s open to importing western tolerance…

Like the British who turned a blind eye to slavery in the name of consumerism, tens of millions of Americans seem content to tune out the human suffering tied to how we spend our money, as long as they get what they want.

I fear that depending on China for the entertainment that fills our screens, big and small, will only further harden our hearts to the suffering of our fellow believers trapped under tyrannical rule.


This is SO me…

Rules Without ReasonsMike Leake
I’d have chomped on that fruit because, unless you explain the full reason for the rule and I agree with it, I’m not going to just obey. But that really was the point of the tree in the Garden…

I’m confronted daily with the same choice as our first parents. Am I going to say, “Well, that’s a dumb rule” and go about pretending I’ve got the power to change reality? Or am I going to stop pretending like God’s Word is made of wax and simply obey, even if I don’t really understand why I’m obeying?…

I get this as a parent. There are times when I simply cannot explain everything to my children. And I don’t need to explain everything to them. At that moment I need their obedience and their trust. Maybe we can talk about it later—but at that moment we don’t need to deliberate or decide if daddy’s rule is a valid one.


Context matters…usually…
https://wronghands1.files.wordpress.com/2017/02/contextual.jpg
Wrong Hands – Click image for a larger view.

Thursday Picks ~ 2-16-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

I admit that I have the tendency to do this…

Stop Making Yourself the Hero of Bible StoriesAaron Earls
Hero Villain Storm Trooper BibleWe want to read the stories of the Bible and see ourselves as the heroes of the faith, the brave ones standing up in the face of persecution. But more often than not, we are the cowardly ones caving to temptation…

We are the failures, the rejects, the idolaters, the sinful, the prideful, the villains. But that’s the most wonderful part. God hasn’t called us to be the hero, only to follow the One who actually is….

The good news of the gospel is that you aren’t the hero of the story and you don’t have to be.


I haven’t decided if I agree with everything Tim says here, but he makes a compelling point…

Why I Won’t Be Seeing (or Reviewing) The Shack Movie
Tim Challies
God is not a human being. God is not like a human being in any way that can be explained by presenting him in an embodied form. God is so other that any visual representation harms instead of helps our understanding. Even as The Shack uses human beings in an attempt to lead people closer to God, it will actually lead them farther away. It must. J.I. Packer says, … “To make an image of God is to take one’s thoughts of him from a human source rather than from God himself; and this is precisely what is wrong with image-making.”

The Shack presents God in human flesh. It makes the infinite finite, the invisible visible, the omnipotent impotent, the all-present local, the spiritual material. In its visual portrayal of God it diminishes, it obfuscates, it blasphemes, it lies.


I absolutely love this story! Take the time to watch the 5 and half minute video. This is one way that the concept of “missionary” is changing…

Redeemed to Go:
A Rescued Refugee Returns to Africa with the Gospel
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C4oLPbqWcAA7FSE.jpg
The world has watched in horror over the last several years as millions of people have been displaced from their homes in South Sudan as a result of civil war. It’s easy to wonder what good can come from children and families being forced from their homes, torn from any sense of safety and security.

But in God’s amazing grace, he is redeeming the stories of these lives, one by one,  calling refugees to himself, and sending them back out to share the gospel with the nations. Abuk, a disciple of Christ and an IMB missionary, is one of them…

Abuk has now embarked on a journey to obediently answer God’s call to return to Africa to make disciples. Through her obedient response to the call to the nations, Abuk is subtly redefining what many people believe missionaries to be. Her humble spirit and inspiring story shows how they are ordinary followers of Jesus, each with his or her own story of redemption. And each with his or her own part to play in God’s mission.


Turns out, the incarnation was a pretty smart idea…

I’m Surprised That I Think There Is No GodTim Fall
andromeda-spiralThe fact that Jesus lived never leaves me. I believe in his life and that he died a criminal’s death on a Roman cross. I believe in his resurrection from the dead too. I believe that Jesus is who he claimed to be: God.

Then why do I doubt God’s existence at times?

Why do I look around me and wonder if there really is a God? This isn’t a philosophical type of wondering. I’m not thinking on problems such as how evil can exist if God is good and loving.

I’m thinking at times that maybe God doesn’t exist at all.

Yet I never doubt Jesus’ existence: his life, death and resurrection. How do these two mindsets square with each other: assurance of Jesus’ existence and occasional doubt of God’s existence?

I have no idea.

This is where the wisdom of the Incarnation comes in…


Mating Dance…
http://picayune.uclick.com/comics/ch/2017/ch170213.gif
Calvin and Hobbes – Click image for a larger view.

Thursday Picks ~ 1-19-2016

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

Selling Birthrights Darryl Dash
170119Esau’s story isn’t a one-off. It’s repeated every day…

It only takes a few minutes to trade something of eternal value for what will only provide a moment’s pleasure. It’s like the man in Washington State who sold a rare coin collection, worth over $100,000, at face value. He paid for a pizza with a Liberty quarter that’s worth up to $18,500.

Stupid, but no more so than the man who trades in decades of marriage for a dalliance, or a fruitful ministry for a moment’s pleasure.


I read The Shack a few years ago and I have to admit, I was quite moved. As with most popular works like this, critics abound. Theology scholars can pick it apart (and they should, it’s their job and we should listen to them), but I believe there is value here anyway. On one level, it’s a cheesy work of Christian fiction. But on another level, it’s a metaphor that paints a picture of the Godhead, not in multisyllabic theological terms, but in a tangible human way. For me, the value was in helping to bring God near. I’m curious to see if the movie does the same.

Why ‘The Shack’ Is So ControversialRelevant Editors
You’ve probably seen the trailer for the upcoming film adaptation of William Paul Young’s wildly popular novel The Shack recently going around the internet. As is probably expected, the movie, which hits theaters in March, is reigniting the controversy surrounding the book.

If you’ve been around Christian circles long, you know this controversy isn’t new. But if you may not know—especially if the controversy is news to you—what exactly all the fuss is about.


Fear of the Working ClassGene Veith
616px-AlfredPalmerRamagosa…I see this problem as a pathological form of classism–bigotry against people of a lower social class than yourself.  Classism used to be a taboo like racism, with which it has lots of similarities, but no more.

The working class used to be the base of the American left and the Democratic party.  Ironically, this phobia or classism of today’s liberals against the working class was arguably what elected Donald Trump, as Democrats wrote off industrial states like Wisconsin in order to pursue millennials, techies, and other cool people.

The left has come a long way from “workers of the world unite!” to the fear of plumbers.  At least there is little danger today of a Communist revolution.  Today’s left has become far too bourgeois.


A longish profile of a fascinating guy…

How Kirk Franklin Is Pushing the Boundaries of Gospel
Vinson Cunningham
Franklin (seated) blends secular sounds with an uplifting devotional message.
One of the problems, he said, is gospel’s dual role as artistic endeavor and as purveyor of religious experience. “They don’t come to gospel for the production or for the beats,” he said of his audience. “They come because they wanna be ministered to. So sometimes it’s, like, Well, if that’s all I’m good for, what do I do with all these ideas, and these creative dreams, and growth I want to do as an artist? I wanna give you Jesus, but I wanna give you Jesus with an 808. I wanna give you Jesus with some strings.”


Map of the modern brain…
https://wronghands1.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/associative-memory-function.jpg
Wrong Hands

Hacksaw Ridge

http://d.christianpost.com/full/98210/img.jpgI saw Hacksaw Ridge this evening with a few good friends. I felt like we needed to have a small group discussion afterward, but a movie theater is an awkward place for that sort of thing, plus everyone needed to get home to get ready for tomorrow’s Thanksgiving Day festivities. I decided to settle for trying to put a few of my thoughts into words.

If you’re not familiar with the story, it’s a movie based on the real life Private First Class Desmond Doss. Private Doss was a WWII Conscientious Objector (He termed himself a conscientious cooperator.) who nevertheless enlisted out his desire to serve his nation. He trained as an army medic. His religious faith, as well as a traumatic childhood, were the things that drove his moral resolve to never touch a weapon. In spite of ridicule and abuse for his faith, and his assumed cowardice, from his fellow soldiers and his commanders, he stuck it out. Eventually he saved the lives of many of those same fellow soldiers on the bloody battlefield of Hacksaw Ridge. Because of his tireless and courageous work over a few days, he was able to bring around 75 soldiers off the battlefield to safety. Because of this, those who originally thought of him as a coward now praised him as the bravest man they ever knew. Also, he became the only Conscientious Objector from WWII to receive the Medal of Honor, the military’s highest award.

First of all, the movie is very well done. It is directed by Mel Gibson. This story of a man doing his best to live out his faith in horrific circumstances, and with unimaginable opposition, is perfectly suited to his direction. I should say that if you get queasy at the sight of blood this movie may not be for you. However, I think the realistic depiction of war is what gives power to the difficult moral choice faced by PFC Doss.

Some have compared this movie to Saving Private Ryan, and certainly the scenes of wartime fighting are the most graphic I’ve seen since that great movie. This one might even take it a step further. But other than that, and the fact that they are both set in WWII, these movies are completely different.

Hacksaw Ridge does not leave you with the patriotic, heart-stirring feelings of Saving Private Ryan. It challenged me on a much deeper level. I came away asking questions about my own faith. What do I believe? To what degree will I be willing to live by those beliefs in the face of opposition? Am I willing to reach out in love, to those who have opposed me, regardless of whether they agree with me? Even if it could cost me my life?

To me, this movie speaks directly to 21st century Christians. Ok, maybe not directly, but we shouldn’t miss it. Those of us who believe the Bible, and do our best, however faltering that may be, to live out a biblical ethic in every area of our lives, are very much in the minority. Not only that, we are often viewed with suspicion. Our morality is increasingly seen as antiquated and silly, or at times, downright hateful and dangerous.

Can we change their minds about this? Maybe.

But it won’t be done with our words, our moral outrage, or even our flawless logic.

It will only be done when, like Desmond Doss, we pray, “Lord, help me get one more.”

Then we lay down our lives for them.

Interestingly, that’s exactly what Jesus told us to do, anyway.

I don’t know if this was the main point of the movie or not, but it’s what I came away thinking about.

Lloyd