Saturday, February 24, 2007

Amazing Grace (Not A Movie Review)

There is a new movie that came out yesterday called Amazing Grace. It is not about how the song came to be penned, but instead it is about a Briton named William Wilberforce. But what is so special about him that someone would write a movie about his life? It is because he helped lead Britain's Parliament to have a historic vote in 1807 to abolish the slave trade throughout the British Empire.

The connection with the song Amazing Grace is that the man who penned that song, John Newton, was the mentor of William Wilberforce. John Newton wrote this song while on board a slave ship on May 10th, 1748 returning home during a storm when he experienced a "great deliverance". And so that is the connection with the song and the movie.

I am really looking forward to seeing this movie. Here is the movie trailer for Amazing Grace.

I read an interesting article in the USA Today on Thursday. It was entitled Evangelicals rally around — and disagree on — 'Grace'. It made me so angry! I sometimes just do not get Christians. Why do we have to be so flippin' stupid and shoot ourselves in the foot.

Christians are complaining that Wilberforce's spirituality is toned down, which is what they did intentionally. According to the article....

"The spiritual side (of Wilberforce) has been extremely toned down," says associate producer Bob Beltz, one of several evangelicals involved in the project. "The purpose of the film is to introduce him to a new generation" by appealing to a broad audience that is not necessarily religious.

I can see their point and besides that I am sure that there will be a lot more people who would go and see the movie because there is no religious bent to the film. I can understand the view that by not emphasizing Wilberforce's spirituality you are in many ways taking away a part of who he is, but I honestly do not have a problem with this. I think that Christian's mainly complain about this because they do not want to have to get up off of their lazy butts and witness to people. They would rather just have the movie do it.

So instead of them talking with their friends about their faith after watching the movie and giving them that important connection, they would rather have the movie witness to them so that way they don't have to do the work. It is a lot like how many Christians complained about The Passion of the Christ and how they didn't show more of the resurrection. They wanted it all to be done for them, so they wouldn't have to do more work. We would rather just see people who are not Christians come begging us to tell them about our faith cause they saw a movie or whatever. But it is not that simple and it shouldn't be.

I like movies like this that help give an open door and make it a little easier for us to share our faith. So instead of seeing the problems, we need to see these things as opportunities. So I encourage you to go see this movie and look for a way that you can maybe use it as an opportunity to share your faith with another person. After all William Wilberforce used his faith to change a nation and set captives free, maybe you can use it to set a captive or two free.



Friday, February 23, 2007

My Vote For Our Next President....

NOTE: I edited this post on 24 February 2007 @ 12:40p.

will be someone with the following qualifications and in no particular order.

Someone who....
Read more here



Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Almost To 10,000 Visitors!!!

If you happen to notice that you are the 10,000th visitor, please leave a comment. I never thought that I would get that many people visiting my blog. WOW!!! That is cool. Only 6 more to go.


And I have now surpassed 10,000 visitors.



Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Sex God

I finished reading Rob Bell's book Sex God: Exploring the Endless Connections Between Sexuality And Spirituality yesterday. I continue to be amazed at how much Rob continues to rock my world. But before I get into that, I want to first off all calm everyones fear and help them understand the purpose behind his book. This section is from the introduction of his book.

It's always about something else.

Something deeper. Something behind it all. You can't talk about sexuality without talking about how we were made. And that will inevitably lead you to who made us. At some point you have to talk about God.

Sex. God. They're connected. And they can't be separated. Where the one is, you will always find the other. This is a book about how sexuality is the "this" and spirituality is the "that." To make sense of the one, we have to explore the other.

And that is what this book is about.

You may remember that I had gone to the Q+A Session with Rob Bell, which was a part of the book tour for this book. And because I had gone to that, I was able to acquire this book before it's official release. This book is just as easy a read as his first book Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith was. Rob has a way to word things that just draws you in and you learn so much in the process. And I love how Rob connects things back with the Old Testament and how things were done back in the ancient times. And that shows you just how everything is connected, much like how sexuality and spirituality are connected.

When I first heard about the name of this book, I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical, but I wanted to give it a chance anyway and see what he had to say. As I scanned through the table of contents a couple of chapter titles caught my attention: God Wears Lipstick; Leather, Whips, and Fruit; and Under The Chuppah. And those happen to be the three chapters that I did find the most intriguing. The other chapter that ended up really intrigued me was, Worth Dying For.

In God Wears Lipstick Rob talks about how in 1945 at one of the German concentration camps that were liberated there was people who were dying everywhere from the after effects of being so mistreated. The things that went on in those camps were anti-human and that as bearers of God's divine image we should not be treated that way and we should especially not treat one another that way. But the sad reality is that humans have done some of the most vile and despicable things to one another. When the reality is that we are really all equal, there is essentially not much difference from worst of sinners to the best Christian, we are all equal, we are all human. But instead we have reduced the human-ness in others by the way that we treat one another and one of the biggest examples of this is the holocaust. As Rob goes on in this chapter he continues this story and it mentions that for some reason the British Red Cross has sent over large quantities of red lipstick. What use does red lipstick have for people who are dying? Well, for many of the women it meant a whole bunch, because it meant that they were no longer just a number that was tattooed on their arm, but they were now individuals.

In Leather, Whips, and Fruit Rob talks about lust and original sin and how they are really connected and in essence the same thing. The Bible says that Eve "saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it" (Genesis 3:6 - TNIV), which when you really break it down is the essence of lust. When we lust we are finding something that pleases us and we take it. But somehow we are misguided and we feel that this gives us control and power, when the reality is that it enslaves us. And Rob talks about that in this chapter. The problem that started in the garden with Adam and Eve isn't just what lust did to us, but where it led us. God created us to appreciate things like taste, touch, smells, etc., but we have taken these things and twisted them. Those things are good, but when you couple it with lust then they become damaging to yourself and to others. Instead we need to discover how it is that God wants us to use those things for His benefit and the benefit of others.

In Worth Dying For, Rob talks about marriage and how the picture of marriage is really a picture of heaven. And I could not agree more. I am so glad that Rob devoted a chapter of his book talking about on of my favorite subjects. People close to me know that I love marriage and I love talking with people about it and helping them out in theirs. In this chapter he brings up one of the most famous verses regarding marriage and talks about how it has been abused. Men love to bring up how the Bible says that wives are supposed to submit to their husbands. But men love to avoid the passage where it talks about how husbands are supposed to love their wives as Christ loved the Church, whom He died for. Rob pointed out an interesting thing about that part. The word love in that passage is the word "agape", which in short means "to give". And that is the kind of love that a man should have for his wife, a love that gives. Which is the opposite of lust, which just gets. The ultimate question that I ask grooms when I do weddings is if they are ready to die for their wife. She should be worth dying for.

In Under The Chuppah (HOO-pah) Rob talks about the traditional Jewish wedding ceremony, which takes place under a chuppah. Which is essentially a canopy of sheet held up by four poles. This is symbolic of how God covered Israel in the wilderness for 40 years with the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. But what it really cool about all of this is how in the beginning of the Exodus story, Moses makes four promises to the slaves.

"I will take you out."

"I will rescue you."

"I will redeem you."

"I will take you with me."

And those are the exact four promises that a Jewish groom makes to his Jewish bride under the chuppah. Rob points out how this is wedding language. Marriage and wedding language is seen throughout the Bible as God relates with His people. That is why I believe that marriage is so important and fundamental to the health of the Church. But that is not to the exclusion of people that God calls to be single, because their relationship with Christ and connection with Him is just as important.

But there is something significant to marriage and weddings that God wants us to get here. What I also found interesting is that after the wedding ceremony a couple was not considered married until after they had sex, so the bride and groom would be ushered by the wedding party to the bridal chamber and the chuppah would be attached above their bed. Then the party would leave them, so the couple could consummate their marriage. While everyone waited outside. Now I know my wife would not be cool with this idea if I had suggested it to her, but there is something unique and special about that union that God wants us to get.

And that goes back to Rob's original statement about how sexuality and spirituality are connected. The Bible is rich with this kind of imagery and I never got it until Rob pointed it out in his book. I recommend this book very highly like I do Rob's other book. But as Rob says, "Test it. Probe it. Do that to this book. Don't swallow it uncritically. Think about it. Wrestle with it. Just because I'm a Christian and I'm trying to articulate a Christian worldview doesn't mean I've got it nailed." And I encourage you to do that. Don't dismiss it because it is Rob Bell and he is "emergent", but check it out for yourself and see if maybe God will speak to you. Even if you only get a few things out of it and nothing from the rest.



Tuesday, February 13, 2007


I just got done watching the following video from Todd Friel (host of The Way of the Master Radio), which he put up in response to Rob Bell's Nooma video titled "Bullhorn". I am really amazed at how a guy can sit back and judge someone based on a 12 minute video that they saw of someone else. And I know that you are thinking, "But aren't you doing the same thing with Todd Friel's video?"

No, I am not. I am merely responding to what he has said about Rob Bell and his viewpoints. Todd felt the need to post his response to Rob and I feel the need to respond to what he had to say. Todd doesn't like the fact that Rob feels that it is more important to emphasize the love of Christ and using that as the way to get people to respond to the message of Christ over the method of standing on a street corner with a bullhorn telling people that they are sinners going to hell. But the funny things is, is that Todd Friel really agrees with Rob and demonstrates it in the video below. Todd sits down with a couple of people and mockingly pokes at the abbreviated idea of showing people love and then he moves into his "reason" method of showing them Christ. And that is essentially the same way that Rob communicates on how it should be done.

Rob doesn't expect people to walk up to a complete stranger and ask them how they are feeling and have them share deep personal thoughts with him. He just believes that the most effective way in this day and age to reach out to the lost is by developing relationships with them. And I agree. I am finding that, at least in my area, that people have had the Bible preached at them enough and they want to be shown the Bible now. And besides that, the Bible does say that....

Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? Romans 2:4 (TNIV)

So I would guess that showing kindess to people would be a more effective way to lead people to Christ, since His Word does say that pretty directly.

The other problem that I have with Todd's video response to Rob is that I wonder how that mixes with the following verse....

"Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other." John 13:34-35 (The Message)

Is his response showing the world the love that we have for one another? I, personally, do not think so.

But feel free to watch his video response and let me know what you think. Hopefully, you have seen Rob's "Bullhorn" video, because it is very good. I can't post a link to it or show it here, because it is copyrighted.

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Off-Road Disciplines

I just finished Earl Creps' book, Off-Road Disciplines: Spiritual Adventures of Missional Leaders. I was able to obtain this book for free because Earl had a deal for bloggers that he would send them a copy for free if you were "willing to write a review of the book for your blog AND on". So I took him up on the offer. HT to Jonathan Herron for the heads up on that.

I really did not know what to expect when I started this book. I have heard Earl speak one time at my church, Rockpointe Community Church, so I am not too familiar with him. But I was pleasantly surprised. This is a book that I would recommend to anyone who is in church leadership.

The book description on says....

In Off-Road Disciplines, Earl Creps reveals that the on-road practices of prayer and Bible reading should be bolstered by the other kinds of encounters with God that occur unexpectedly—complete with the bumps and bruises that happen when you go “off-road.” Becoming an off-road leader requires the cultivation of certain spiritual disciplines that allow the presence of the Holy Spirit to arrange your interior life. Earl Creps explores twelve central spiritual disciplines—six personal and six organizational—that Christian leaders of all ages and denominations need if they are to change themselves and their churches to reach out to the culture around them.

Prayer and Bible reading are core things that will help every Christian be able to grow deeper in their relationship with God, but often times those two things seem to fall short. It feels like there needs to be more and Earl explores those things. But what I like about this book besides that, is that he explores what it is that the Church can do to make them more successful.

On the personal side Earl explores how we need to move ourselves out of the center of it all and put Christ into that position, honestly examining who we are and what our faith is saying to others, how we need to not think that just because we are older (though I am only 33) we have the answers but look to those younger than us for help as well, and how we as Christians need to invest more in the "sought" and develop relationships with them. I have found over the years that these are definitely things that are lacking in most Christians and especially with pastors and leaders in the Church.

On the organizational side Earl explores the fact that not everything in the church can be measured, sometimes things in ministry are just hard to measure. Then he looks at how it is that the three mindsets of pre-modern, modern and post-modern can and should learn to work together, which can be a daunting task, but one that we must strive to achieve. How churches need to create a "missional space" and that there are three things that go into it: a Spirit dimension, a venue dimension and a heart dimension. If you do not adequately work on those three things and bring them into your church and/or evaluate them, then you won't have that missional space in which you can reach more people effectively. And then looking for other whom we can pass the baton onto, because the reality is that we will not be here forever. Too often in our American culture and society we are so concerned with protecting our status and position that we are afraid to mentor or train anyone else to do our job. But that is effectively killing our society.

If you are a leader in your church I encourage you to buy a copy of this book for everyone on your team and read it together. You won't regret it.



Saturday, February 10, 2007

Rob Bell's Sex God Q+A

On Thursday I had the opportunity to go to a Q+A with Rob Bell at the University of Michigan for the release of his new book Sex God: Exploring the Endless Connections Between Sexuality And Spirituality. And before anyone freaks out let me give you a portion from the introduction of the book to help you understand where Rob is coming from.

Read more here

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Monday, February 05, 2007

Super Bowl Ramblings

Congratulations to Tony Dungy and the Indianapolis Colts on winning this year's Super Bowl. I did not watch the whole game, because I was playing Euchre and Risk but what I did see impressed me. The Colts played very good and simply outplayed the Chicago Bears.

Although I do have to add that in the Super Bowl pick 'em that I was in with some friends that I picked the Bears to win the opening coin toss and then that Hester would take the kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown. I was so shocked when it actually happened. The funny thing is that I thought right after that that in the BCS Championship Game that OSU did the same thing and lost.

We interrupt the Super Bowl ramblings to bring you a slap in the face for the American autoworkers, courtesy of General Motors.

I just love how GM thought it would be great to do a "cute" commercial that illustrated what has been going on with the Big 3 lately. I know that many of the autoworkers that have been let go of had to have just loved seeing that commercial.

Back to the Super Bowl ramblings....

Many of you know that I do not like Peyton Manning and it all stems back to 1997 when he and many others cried about the fact that Charles Woodson won the Heisman Trophy and Peyton didn't. And there is also the added fact that he played for the Tennessee Volunteers in college and I can't stand that team. I have never really been a big fan of the NFL, probably stems from the fact that I am a Lions fan (but I digress), and so I will like teams based on certain players and what college they attended.

But I have to say that I am happy for Peyton and the fact that he got that monkey off of his back. He has always struggled in big games and seemed to choke, but this past Sunday he changed all of that and played admirably. He deserved the Super Bowl MVP and I am genuinely happy for him. Congrats, Peyton!

And now for my favorite commercial of the entire Super Bowl. This commercial rocked!

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Saturday, February 03, 2007

Jesus Camp & The Illusionist

I have recently had the opportunity to watch the movie Jesus Camp. Having had grown up in a pentecostal/charismatic church all I can say is, "Wow, that is eerily familiar." Some things that I noticed.....

1) That whole part were the adults basically used fear and intimidation to get kids to commit to a relationship with Christ is very true. That is basically the way that they do it.

2) I loved how they went on about how evil Harry Potter is, like they have actually read it and know this for a fact. And then in one scene you could clearly see one of the families had a Lord of the Rings book. Funny! I thought that they used witches and warlocks in that book as well.

3) The part where the woman who runs the camp was talking with the guy on the radio and he pointed out how they are basically turning out recruits for the Republican party along with teaching them about God. And she denied it, even though they showed a scene of her and another woman with a cardboard cutout of President George W. Bush and had the kids lay hands on it to pray for him. Do you think they did or would have done that with President Bill Clinton or any President that is a democrat? I doubt it. And then there was several scenes where a pro-Republican agenda was clearly being endorsed.

4) I also couldn't believe the part where the mom was telling her home schooled son that global warming was completely false and made up. Granted that I question some of it, but is it possible that the science on this could be true? It is possible. And I see no problems with doing what we can to recycle, reduce our dependency on fossil fuels, etc. to help our environment and reduce the likely hood of global warming. And I believe that Christian's should be at the forefront of this mindset to recycle and do our best to save and preserve the earth. Aren't we commanded in the Bible to take care of the earth? But the American Christian mindset goes contrary to that.

5) I thought the part with Ted Haggard was especially ironic. Here is this man who a few months ago admitted to using drugs and engaging in homosexual sex, and in the talk that he was giving he mentioned that it was obvious in the Bible that homosexuality is a sin. I guess he should have listened to his own messages.

All in all, this movie is very scary because it is so true. The sad part about all of this is that many Christians will see this and see nothing wrong with it. But the problem is that Christians need to look at this and realize how ridiculous we look. This is a movie that I recommend to leaders in the Church to watch along with Saved! and The Village, so that we can see how we are looking to the world. I think it is important for leaders in the Church to look at these things with the thought of seeing how we need to improve our image in the world, which will hopefully also help us improve our image.

Last night Kimmy and I watched The Illusionist. This was a great movie! I love movies that have a twist and keep you guessing, that are not just all about action and no substance. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind watching the occasional action flick to just tune out and be entertained, but I prefer to be challenged and have something that is intellectually stimulating. And I think that The Illusionist did just that.

Ed Norton and Jessica Biel did an excellent job, and made their characters come alive. I liked how the style in which is was filmed was similar to how they did The Phantom of the Opera, so the movie had a neat feel to it. I encourage everyone to go and rent this movie. You will not be disappointed.



Friday, February 02, 2007

Phil Rocks!!!

Four out of five groundhogs agree: spring is going to come early this year.

Phil's official forecast as read 2/2/07 at 7:28 a.m. at Gobbler's Knob:

El Nino has caused high winds, heavy snow, ice and freezing temperatures in the west.
Here in the East with much mild winter weather we have been blessed.

Global warming has caused a great debate.
This mild winter makes it seem just great.

On this Groundhog Day we think of one thing.
Will we have winter or will we have spring?

On Gobbler's Knob I see no shadow today.
I predict that early spring is on the way.

With all of this cold weather that we are having, I am ready for an early spring!

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