Friday, November 28, 2014

New VeggieTales on Netflix

A new series of VeggieTales joins the list of shows only viewable on Netflix, and it debuts today. It's called VeggieTales in the House. The voice cast looks to remain the same, but the scriptwriting and music composition crew seems to have changed, along with the appearance of the characters.

You can read about the new series here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What I Bought From the Store for Thanksgiving Dinner

I am no cook, and my wife and my mother are taking care of the primary elements of the Thanksgiving meal. However, I wanted to make this Thanksgiving meal a creative and Wisconsin-based experience. Thus, I took my son to some stores and meat markets, and I purchased:

  • Gibbsville Cheese Curds
  • Sprecher Cream Soda
  • Miesfeld's Summer Sausage
  • and finally, lobster (it was part of the original Thanksgiving meal, after all!)
However, I wasn't able to find any venison. Oh, deer.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Perspectives on Ferguson

In anticipation of the grand jury's decision, protestors got ready to march in cities all across the country (e.g. Chicago, New York, Washington, Oakland, Seattle) and schools and offices in the St. Louis metro (including where some of my family and friends go) had already planned not to open. 

Here are some links I found to be good reads regarding the situation in Ferguson:

A Decision in Ferguson: How Should Evangelicals Respond? - Ed Stetzer

Monday, November 24, 2014

“Before (____) was, I AM.”

I read through a good piece on idolatry this morning.

Idols take many forms. I don’t find too many people in my circles fixated with Abraham and the nation of Israel. For example, I struggle with the idol of professionalism and career. I can easily try and commodify Jesus to leverage him for my career, whereas I should pray that God would leverage me and my career for him. What do you struggle with? American nationalism? Career? Family? Money? Fame? Reason? Power? Health? Comfort? Experience and Benefits? Know this: Jesus will not allow us to leverage him for our various idols, including our experience and benefits of him. 

HT: Paul Louis Metzger

Friday, November 21, 2014

Thursday, November 20, 2014

One Perspective on Religion in the Public Square

I found this to be a very-informed and balanced perspective on religion in the public square of our country, written by a Jewish law professor at Northwestern University near Chicago.

In an essay in 1997, I predicted the demise of conventional, innocuous Christian public observances as the obvious consequence of what I called the “Menorah Principle” – the notion that religious minorities must share equal, not pro rata, space with the majority religion makes public (i.e., governmental) religious symbolism effectively unworkable. In a nation with a multitude of religions followed by less than one percent of the population, giving everyone a turn will in the long run render public religious displays or any kind either meaningless, incoherent, or excessive. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Worldwide Christmas for Kids

I might be interested in trying out this Wycliffe project.

12 Days of Christmas with Kate and Mack

Christmas is almost here, and Mack and I have been traveling all around the world to learn about all the different ways Christmas is celebrated! It’s been such a fun trip, and we want to share all that we’ve learned with you. Over the first two weeks of December, you will:

1. Learn how 12 different countries celebrate Christmas.
2. Make delicious Christmas treats or fun crafts from around the world.
3. Remember the true reason for the season — Jesus Christ!

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Doubly Offensive Jesus

A very important paradox pointed out by Trevin Wax:

Jesus said He came to call sinners to repentance. The church is offended that Jesus’ call is for sinners. The world is offended that He calls for repentance.
That’s why the world minimizes His exclusive claims until Jesus is reduced to a social justice warrior who affirms people as they are. And that’s why the church minimizes His inclusive call until Jesus is reduced to a badge of honor for church folks who think their obedience makes them right with God.
You can read the rest here.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Friday Fun: Parody Tribute to Aaron Sorkin

The cast and crew of Late Night with Seth Meyers give a well-written parody tribute to the work of Aaron Sorkin. Fans of his work, especially The West Wing, will enjoy this. (Excuse one PG-rated word).

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

"Saving Christmas" Info and Reviews

And here we have yet another entry into the new years of of "Christian film," which seem to be also growing in their variance of format and content. Kirk Cameron's "Saving Christmas" is no exception. While the movie could be best described as a comedic drama, it seems to also be part-documentary, part-soapbox.

PluggedIn, the Christian parents-guide reviewer, provides us the most detailed synopsis. It barely reviews the content, but argues that the film is mostly meant for Christians (sometimes vehemently) reluctant to celebrate the extrabiblical Christmas traditions of the U.S.

The Huffington Post has yet to post a thorough review, but links to Kirk Cameron's interviews with The Christian Post and The Blaze, from which they predict this movie's message to be a historical-cultural apologetic (which Cameron has arguably done before with his documentary Monumental) for why Christmas (including all our country's traditions surrounding it) is Christian and, maybe, why it should be okay to put up nativity scenes in the public square.

Apolomedia, however, gives a review. Here's a portion:

Whether you fully embrace Christmas [including extrabiblical traditions], want to abandon it, or fall somewhere in between, the most important thing is to back it up with Scripture. Some of us will look at the world, and at history, and decide that Santa is appropriate for their household. Others, will look at how the culture has perverted the idea of Santa or how he is part of the distraction from the gospel and decide not to allow him into their home. Kirk seems to push that everyone should be in the first group and come up with a biblical reason to accept everything. However, not celebrating Santa doesn’t mean you’re a Christmas Grinch. In fact, regardless of what you do or don’t celebrate in your own home, you can use Christmas culture to tell friends about Jesus Christ. 

And here's the trailer:


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Christian Bloggers, Let Mark Driscoll Be

Here are some wise, convicting and gracious reasons from a pastor's-kid-turned blogger as to why we should no longer follow Mark Driscoll's movements.

1) It really serves no good purpose.
2) It obscures Christian forgiveness.
3) It empowers skepticism toward the local church.
4) It punishes Driscoll's family.

You can read the explanations here.


HT: Samuel James

Monday, November 10, 2014

Misconceptions of "Scripture Alone"

As citizens of the 21st century, we have the unprecedented opportunity to read the Bible with the hindsight of nearly two millennia of scholarly investigation and interpretation. Why do we disregard this opportunity? 
An interesting piece on how sola Scriptura does not mean license for individualistic interpretation and how Americans believe in heresies that were actually theologically answered almost two millennia ago.    
Personal piety and a desire for truth are not guarantees that we always read Scripture aright. Consequently, we must rely upon our brothers and sisters in the faith to correct and rebuke us when we err, demonstrating our errors by Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16). And this reliance on brothers and sisters refers not merely to those Christians who happen to be alive at the same time as us. Instead, it refers to the whole Christian Church, throughout time. We rely on those who have gone before us. They too get a say in the matter. As G. K. Chesterton has wonderfully put it, this sort of tradition is a “democracy of the dead.”
Of course, doctrine is not itself a matter of democracy per se; we don’t (or at least ought not) vote for dogma in the Church. Dogma is a matter of truth, not popular opinion. But Chesterton’s words remind us that it is arrogant to ignore the teachings of our forefathers in the faith. They faced many of the same theological questions we do today, and their answers have stood the test of time.
You can read the rest here.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Friday Fun: History and Theology of Christian Beards

In honor of No-Shave November, here's a fun article with a pictorial history of Christian beards and their attached theology.

You're more likely to see a beard in the pulpit today than at any time since the 1800s. But beards—especially among clergy—were once serious, symbolic matters. They separated East from West during the Great Schism, priests from laity during the Middle Ages, and Protestants from Catholics during the Reformation. Some church leaders required them; others banned them. To medieval theologians, they represented both holiness and sin. But historian Giles Constable says that rules on beards sound more forceful than they really were. Clergy (especially powerful ones) were likely to follow fashion in their day, too.

You can read the rest here.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

"O Holy Night" Then, Now and in the Future

Hymn lyrics and tunes have always been changing, and even the most popular hymns have had many more "versions" than people estimate. Hymns also have their own biographies, and "O Holy Night" has a particularly interesting one. Bob Kauflin posted a revisitation of "O Holy Night." Thoughts?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Future Billy Graham?

There's a book entitled Igniting the Fire: The Movements and Mentors that Helped Shape Billy Graham. It studies Billy Graham's formative ministry years and makes the surprising argument that a future era of mass evangelism is far from impossible, contrary to popular perception.

You can read an interview with the author here.

HT: Trevin Wax

Monday, November 3, 2014

Rend Collective Christmas Album

My wife shared the rumor with me, and I've only found one article to confirm it. Anybody else have any more details?

From an interview by a pastor in CA . . .

Pastor Skip: “What's the next project for Rend Collective?”

Gareth: “Even though we said we'd never do it again, we're doing a Christmas campfire album. Christmas is just such a wonderful time of year, so magical, and singing these songs in a group like that is a real bridge for young people to connect with Christmas.”

You can read the rest of the interview here.