Friday, May 29, 2015

Advertising Snowbird Absence

This is an interesting attempt to entice first-time attendants.

But, in my experience, congregants almost never sit in the front row anyway.

HT: Ed Stetzer

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Celebrity Christianity Must Die

HT: John Mark N. Reynolds

The Greeks had a wise saying: “Call no man happy until he is dead.” Celebrity culture calls a man happy as soon as he has enough followers on Facebook. We do not know enough about celebrities to call them “happy” as the biographies that come out after their deaths often demonstrate. We trivialize our goal of happiness when we take the appearance of happiness for the reality. Happiness is not a “feeling,” but human flourishing. Human flourishing is having harmony between reason, emotions, and desire in a community of happy people. As Aristotle understood and Jesus demonstrated, happiness is hard to gain this side of Paradise, but priceless when acquired.
Celebrity is particularly dangerous for Christians because we should know better and because the worship of celebrity is antithetical to the Gospel. The Scriptures and church history teach us that what seems to be true often is not. Satan himself can appear as “an angel of light” or a network television program.
You can read the rest.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Contentment is a Work of Grace

HT: Erik Raymond

We are staying on track if we stick with our definition of contentment: Contentment is the inward, quiet spirit that joyfully submits to God’s providence.
It is the key for us to understand that contentment is spiritual. Through the gospel, God is working a change in his people. Part of this change that he is working is a change in how we value things.
You can read the rest.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Batkid Begins

It was more than just the likes of the Make-A-Wish foundation that attempted to make this boy's dream come true. This looks like an interesting story and we'll see how the film plays out. It may not get theological, but it shows a glimpse of what it looks like when humanity selflessly unites against evil.

Thoughts?

HT: Movie Trailers 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Purple Heart: Memorial Day Tribute

HT: Skit Guys

Those serving in our armed forces deserve honor and recognition. The Purple Heart is given to those who are injured in the line of duty and also, those who pay the ultimate price – their lives. This video is a great way to honor the service men and women who have died while serving our country.
Proceeds from this mini-movie will be donated to Warriors For Freedom. More info at www.warriorsforfreedom.org.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

When Hope and History Rhyme

HT: Tim Keller

The ancients saw history as repetitious and endless. Their image of time was a wheel, in that the ages of the world repeated themselves in great cycles. The Hindu Vedas, for example, taught that the universe goes through great arcs of creation, rise, decline, destruction, and then rebirth, each of which last millions of years, and which go on forever without any resolution. Christianity, however, understands history to be under the control of God, who is moving it purposefully toward a great and irreversible climax.
Late-modern, secular culture has rejected religion and even belief in God yet held on tightly to the Christian-inspired idea that history is making progress. The people once called “liberals” now call themselves “progressives,” which shows how deeply the Christian idea has embedded itself in our thinking. Secular Westerners do not simply believe that we can make things better in this or that area, but that “the times” are inevitably moving the world to a better condition. We often denounce actions or positions as “having no business in the 21st century,” or as “archaic thinking out of step with the times.”
You can read the rest.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

In Praise of the Dying Art of Civil Disagreement

HT: Carl Trueman

I spent the first half of last week at a seminar at an Ivy League divinity school, where a friend and I gave a presentation on ministry and media. I had resolved before speaking that I would refer early on in my presentation to the fact that I belong to a denomination which does not ordain women. My discussion of ministry would be incomplete if I didn't mention this subject, though I knew my comment would draw fire at a seminar with ordained women present.
Sure enough, one of the women ministers present challenged me with some vigor on my position. For a few minutes we exchanged trenchant but civil remarks on the subject.We each spoke our minds, neither persuaded the other, and then we moved on to the larger matter in hand: The use of modern media in the church. The matter of my opposition to women’s ordination never came up again in the remaining two days of the seminar.
Later that evening, a young research student commented to me that it was amazing to see such a trenchant but respectful disagreement on an issue that typically arouses visceral passions. He added that he and those of his generation had “no idea” (his phrase, if I recall) how such things should be done. Later in the week, my youngest son confirmed that he too had never seen civil disagreement on a matter of importance in the university classroom. This is an ominous, if fascinating, indictment, for I had simply done what I had seen modeled when I was an undergraduate: Vigorous disagreement in the classroom followed by friendly conversation in the pub. If we no longer have a university system which models ways of civil engagement on such matters, then the kind of civic virtues upon which a healthy democracy depends are truly a thing of the past.
You can read the rest.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Praying Through the Beatitudes

HT: Scotty Smith

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons[a] of God.
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
-Matthew 5:3-10
You can read the prayer.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Recycled Disney Animation Sequences

Some animation between some classic Disney movies looks a bit similar. But hey, as a composer, I've always figured recycling is good for the environment.


Thursday, May 14, 2015

How Not to Respond When Another Christian Embrasses

Alex E. Proimos, Flickr, CC. 2.0
HT: Samuel James

It happens. It’s happened before, it’s probably happening right now somewhere, and it will happen again. People who take the name of Christ and identify with His church are going to say or do something so inexplicable, so ridiculous, and so embarrassing that the rest of us will either shake our heads in disbelief or groan in frustration. Sometimes it’s something silly. Sometimes it’s more serious, and even blasphemous. It happens. There’s no use or honesty in pretending it doesn’t.
Sometimes it won’t even be necessary to respond, but other times, people around us need to know that this particular person does not speak or act on behalf of the church. Discernment and common sense will usually illuminate when that kind of response is necessary. When it is, I’d like to offer a simple list of some “Do Nots.”
Read the list.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Gift of Laughter

HT: Isaac Adams

Jesus was the very embodiment of love. He was filled with God’s Spirit, who produces the fruit of joy (Galatians 5:22). I imagine that he and his disciples roared in some good times of belly-aching, room-rocking laughter in their collective joy.
The text I draw this from is John 15:12–15, in which Jesus emphasizes how he isfriends with those who truly follow him. He will share his joy, which he possessed first, with them (John 17:13). Of course, it’s true to say that this joy relates to the peace we have with God through Christ.
You can read the rest.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Applying the Golden Rule to My Islamic Neighbor

HT: John Mark N. Reynolds

Nobody should die for being offensive and the fact that people want to kill Americans for offending their religious beliefs is wrong. It is a greater wrong than drawing offensive cartoons.
Obviously.
Why would any Christian want to draw cartoons that would offend our neighbors?If Jihadis come to Texas to kill Texans over cartoons, they are making a miscalculation greater than an earlier decision to be nailed by Charles Martel. Do not mess with Texas. Bless your hearts, you will find Texans ready to defend other Texans’ right to be jerks.  Which brings us to an important question for the vast majority of Texans who are Christian:
Why would any Christian want to draw cartoons that would offend our neighbors?
You can read the rest.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Prayer in the Bible

Since my church is currently doing a sermon series on prayer, I found this article very informative.

Do you know how many prayer are mentioned in the Bible (and how many were answered)? Here's the answer to that question and other things you should know about the prayer in the Bible.

You can read the rest.

HT: Joe Carter

Friday, May 8, 2015

How to Speak Northern Irish, Part 4

Earlier, I've posted about the Irish worship team Rend Collective and how they playfully teach various ministry leaders in the States to speak Northern Irish.

Well, they've done it again! Enjoy Part 4!

HT: Rend Collective

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Things to Know About the National Day of Prayer

HT: Joe Carter

Today is the National Day of Prayer, an annual day of observance celebrated by Americans of various faiths. Here are nine things you should know about the day when people are asked “to turn to God in prayer and meditation.”

You can read the rest.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Chicago Most Residentially-Segregated City

HT: Nate Silver and Ed Stetzer

Chicago deserves its reputation as a segregated city. But it is also an extremely diverse city. And the difference between those terms — which are often misused and misunderstood — says a lot about how millions of American city dwellers live. It is all too common to live in a city with a wide variety of ethnic and racial groups — including Chicago, New York, and Baltimore — and yet remain isolated from those groups in a racially homogenous neighborhood.

To be clear, New York and Chicago are still more diverse than cities like Lincoln, even at the neighborhood level. But as the numbers show, they are segregated because they underachieve their potential to have racially diverse neighborhoods.

So while Chicago really is something of an extraordinary case, Baltimore isn’t an outlier, exactly. Most cities east of the Rocky Mountains with substantial black populations are quite segregated. There’s not a lot to distinguish Baltimore from Cleveland, Memphis, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Philadelphia or St. Louis.

You can read the rest, including graphs, links and stats.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

What Ultron Misunderstands About God and Man

I hope to see this movie soon. No spoilers in this article. Sounds like Ultron and the League of Shadows have a few things in common.

Humans are complicated, problematic creatures. We’re capable of occasionally performing amazing feats of goodness, yet we’re more likely to deal out harm and injustice. Considering all the wickedness humanity has brought to this planet, we should question whether we deserve life at all. These are some of the concepts raised, amid the humor and action and super-heroism, of the new film Avengers: Age of Ultron.

HT: Jairo NamnĂșn

Monday, May 4, 2015

Star Wars, Journeys and Redemption

Today is National Star Wars Day. In junior high school, I wasn't as much of a Star Wars fan as I was of Star Trek, but I did put build plastic models and treat myself to marathons.

But Star Wars isn't just a benchmark in the history of science fiction film. It saved Hollywood from bankruptcy, re-established the idea of spiritual journey (ending in redemption) in film, and arguably founded the modern culture of "go big or go home." Or, as Yoda said "Do, or do not. There is no try."

I was able to see this lecture in person a few years ago in Los Angeles. You can view the video here. Thoughts?