Saturday, February 26, 2011

Ravenous wolves look pretty cool these days

Rob Bell is an incredibly gifted orator. His series of videos combine his great communication skills with creative, effective, artistry. He is considered a pastor, and indeed he is shepherding masses of people. I would be playing in to Rob Bell's hands to call him a heretic...he loves to depict people who make such accusations as narrow, judgmental, and nothing like the real Jesus.

So I won't call Rob Bell a heretic, although he is one. Heresy isn't Satanism outright. It looks and sounds like truth, but there's always a fundamental flaw that will condemn a person if they truly believe what it says. You's like what the serpent did with Eve in the garden. He asks her if God really said what he said about not eating from that silly old tree. Then he gets her to second guess herself about what God actually said and eventually leads her to twist His Word. Well then, on second thought, what Rob Bell does is in fact pretty satanic. Just saying.

Here's Bell's latest serpentish creation-

LOVE WINS. from Rob Bell on Vimeo.

Mr. Bell is right about one thing- what we believe about heaven and hell is incredibly important.

Reading Jesus' words in Matthew 7 we learn of the truth about hell (a wide road leads there) and heaven (a narrow way leads there). We also learn there are wolves who will deceive.

Matthew 7:13-20 Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

It's ironic that Bell would have us believe the opposite of God's Word- He says the road to heaven is infinitely wide. It's not ironic, but rather incredibly divine, what God says about being wary of wolves in the very same passage that gives us the truth about heaven and hell.

What Rob Bell says is actually loud and clear for anyone who will truly listen- a person doesn't need to believe in Jesus or take Him at His word to be right with God (like Gandhi). Ultimately everyone will be in heaven because "love" (defined as "determined to win over no matter what" by Bell) wins...somehow. Rob Bell thinks everyone eventually gains heaven no matter what they believe or do. God can only be good if he ignores the violence done to His character by man's sin. Even if a person scoffs at God and spits upon the name of Christ- according to Bell- that person will gain heaven, even if it takes some time after they die to decide. Yes, Bell thinks people will get more chances to choose Christ (or be wooed by His love) after the die. It's hard to imagine any reason for any person to be cast in to hell in Rob Bell's universe. But here's the thing- ultimately, Bell doesn't believe there is any such thing as hell. Really, when followed to Bell's logical conclusions- he believes only that which he feels should be good and just.

Rob Bell is God according to Rob Bell. Anyone who challenges him on his universalistic notions of salvation will be the subject of his next video and cast as a judgmental, hell-fire pushing, hypocritical, intolerant, bigot who isn't like the real Jesus (who can only rightly be identified by Rob Bell). But thankfully...even us intolerant slobs will get to heaven...according to Rob Bell.

Wait a minute Rob- if there's no hell, how does Rob Bell know there's a heaven? You know what? When pressed I'm guessing Rob Bell doesn't believe in a real heaven either. If he does, on what basis? Oh yeah..that's right...on the basis of Rob Bell. Again, in the end, Rob Bell is God, according to Rob Bell.

A person listening to Rob Bell is left to trust in Rob Bell's God and Jesus. Please, let's not listen to serpentish depictions any longer...we know where that landed humanity the first time.

Once more-

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves..."

Friday, February 25, 2011

Bono on karma, grace, and Christ

U2 frontman and humanitarian, Bono, was recently interviewed by Michka Assayas . Check out this portion of the interview. (read the whole interview here on The Poached Egg)

Assayas: I think I am beginning to understand religion because I have started acting and thinking like a father. What do you make of that?

Bono: Yes, I think that's normal. It's a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Grace and Karma.

Assayas: I haven't heard you talk about that.

Bono: I really believe we've moved out of the realm of Karma into one of Grace.

Assayas: Well, that doesn't make it clearer for me.

Bono: You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics; in physical laws every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It's clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe. I'm absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that "as you reap, so you will sow" stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I've done a lot of stupid stuff.

Assayas: I'd be interested to hear that.

Bono: That's between me and God. But I'd be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. I'd be in deep s---. It doesn't excuse my mistakes, but I'm holding out for Grace. I'm holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don't have to depend on my own religiosity.

Assayas: The Son of God who takes away the sins of the world. I wish I could believe in that.

Bono: But I love the idea of the Sacrificial Lamb. I love the idea that God says: Look, you cretins, there are certain results to the way we are, to selfishness, and there's a mortality as part of your very sinful nature, and, let's face it, you're not living a very good life, are you? There are consequences to actions. The point of the death of Christ is that Christ took on the sins of the world, so that what we put out did not come back to us, and that our sinful nature does not reap the obvious death. That's the point. It should keep us humbled . It's not our own good works that get us through the gates of heaven.

Assayas: That's a great idea, no denying it. Such great hope is wonderful, even though it's close to lunacy, in my view. Christ has his rank among the world's great thinkers. But Son of God, isn't that farfetched?

Bono: No, it's not farfetched to me. Look, the secular response to the Christ story always goes like this: he was a great prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, had a lot to say along the lines of other great prophets, be they Elijah, Muhammad, Buddha, or Confucius. But actually Christ doesn't allow you that. He doesn't let you off that hook. Christ says: No. I'm not saying I'm a teacher, don't call me teacher. I'm not saying I'm a prophet. I'm saying: "I'm the Messiah." I'm saying: "I am God incarnate." And people say: No, no, please, just be a prophet. A prophet, we can take. You're a bit eccentric. We've had John the Baptist eating locusts and wild honey, we can handle that. But don't mention the "M" word! Because, you know, we're gonna have to crucify you. And he goes: No, no. I know you're expecting me to come back with an army, and set you free from these creeps, but actually I am the Messiah. At this point, everyone starts staring at their shoes, and says: Oh, my God, he's gonna keep saying this. So what you're left with is: either Christ was who He said He was the Messiah or a complete nutcase. I mean, we're talking nutcase on the level of Charles Manson. This man was like some of the people we've been talking about earlier. This man was strapping himself to a bomb, and had "King of the Jews" on his head, and, as they were putting him up on the Cross, was going: OK, martyrdom, here we go. Bring on the pain! I can take it. I'm not joking here. The idea that the entire course of civilization for over half of the globe could have its fate changed and turned upside-down by a nutcase, for me, that's farfetched

Donald English on Jesus Hanging with "Sinners" (and a few of my own thoughts related to training our children)

Donald English makes a good observation about Jesus' practice of having a purposeful amount of fellowship with "tax collectors and sinners":

"The example of Jesus is again our model. He was sustained by his prayers to the Father, and in his fellowship with his disciples (despite their inadequacy). From these, and his deep knowledge of the Scriptures, he drew sustenance to go into the most unlikely company and not only survive in it but actually win others to faith within it. We are called neither recklessly to risk ourselves nor timidly to secure ourselves, but to find the point of life-giving tension between the two. In that way our worship and fellowship have more point and our witness more depth."

A well-grounded follower of Christ is a person who knows the gospel, the Scriptures as a whole, is part of a strong, supportive community of believers, and has a growing relationship with God through Christ (and the ongoing ministry of the Holy Spirit). Such a person is well-equipped and ready to befriend people who are not believers- those who are lost in sin- in order to share Christ with them. Problems occur, however, when the follower of Christ is not well-grounded before engaging in such fellowship. We (Christians) must hang with unbelieving sinners (not just believing sinners!) in order to share Christ, but not lose sight of Jesus' well-grounded example as English identifies so well.

I always cringe when I hear well meaning parents say they send their kids to this or that school or club or organization "to be a witness". Really? I suppose if their child is a well-grounded follower of Christ (as described above) such engagements might be a worthy mission, however, most young people are in the process of getting well-grounded, not actually well-grounded yet. Heck, how many well-grounded Christian adults to you know these days in evangelicalism? Surely some engagements with unbelievers should be part of training our children, but I fear statements about wanting them to be salt and light before they really know what salt and light are supposed to do is either naive or an excuse.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Happy Birthday Nico!

I'm not afraid to say how much I love my Nicobatzi! I love all my children, but today is Nico's birthday. He's 10 years old. Each of my boys are very different from the others. Nico is our quiet, contemplative child. He's perceptive about people, which translates to sneaky at times.

Like most parents I suppose, I think and pray often about what God will do with my children. My main prayer for Nico is that he sense God's personal love for him in a daily way. He professes faith in Christ and shows real fruit, at the same time, growing up a pastor's kid is tough on authenticity-gauging. Since he's less verbal than my other boys, our discussions aren't as lengthy, but nevertheless pretty deep when they happen. Nico has a personality something like my wife, yet not dead on. I'm always wondering what's going on in his head and heart.

On his birthday, I give particular praise to God for having us be his parents.

Dear Nico,

May the Lord bless you and protect you.
May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A new day has dawned...

The sun has finally begun to rise in my beloved Buffalo.

Terry Pegula has purchased the Buffalo Sabres and officially took over operations today. I predict the Sabres will hoist the Stanley Cup within 5 years. Take that to the bank.

His press conference was magical. A few awesome quotes from the man who will deliver Buffalo from the age of darkness-

"Starting today, the Buffalo Sabres reason for existence will be to win Stanley Cups."

"Winning is not a goal, it is a belief."

"There are no salary caps on scouting departments."

"I want to run the team [the Sabres] to win the Stanley Cup."

"If I wanted to make some money I would go drill a gas well, not run a hockey team."

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Sword: invented by God

Tonight as Pastor Nathan was teaching about God expelling Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, something struck me that I have never thought of before. Notice this passage from Genesis-

Genesis 3:23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.

From this passage I will assume that God created and introduced the first weapon of war, the sword, not man.

How is this significant? I am not completely sure because it doesn't seem that an angel would need a weapon to keep man from re-entering the garden. I have no doubt an actual angel carried a real fiery sword, I am just not all together sure why. It most certainly declares the seriousness of God against sin entering His paradise, so I am content to leave it there, nevertheless I find it interesting that God introduces the first recorded weapon of war in the bible, not man.

I'll have to check the various wise men and women of the faith to learn their take. What do you think?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Sickness and Sin: William Lane weighs in

Jesus is teaching in a house when four guys tear open the roof and lower down their paralyzed friend. Clearly they believe Jesus can heal the immobilized man. After shaking the dirt off his robe, how does Jesus respond? Check it out:

And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven. (Mark 2:4-5)

What? Who said anything about sin? The guy needed to be healed. It had to be a shocking statement to hear Jesus utter. Maybe sickness and sin are related in a way our modern, enlightened, minds fear to consider? Of course, Jesus was purposely speaking and acting to make a statement to the scribes and pharisees witnessing the events as part of an investigative committee spying on His ministry. As you probably know, Jesus then proceeds to heal the man's paralysis showing He has authority to forgive sins and heal bodies. He is Lord of all.

William Lane offers valuable perspective on this miracle of Christ-

“Healing is a gracious movement of God into the sphere of withering and decay which are the tokens of death at work in a man’s life. It was not God’s intention that man should live with the pressure of death upon him. Sickness, disease and death are the consequence of the sinful condition of all men. Consequently every healing is a driving back of death and an invasion of the province of sin. That is why it is appropriate for Jesus to proclaim the remission of sins. It is unnecessary to think of a corresponding sin for each instance of sickness; there is no suggestion in the narrative that the paralytic’s physical suffering was related to a specific sin or was due to hysteria induced by guilt. Jesus pronouncement of pardon is the recognition that man can be genuinely whole only when the breach occasioned by sin has been healed through God’s forgiveness of sins.”

Jesus in Every Book of the Bible

Friday, February 18, 2011

Scientists teach Gorilla it will die someday (humor)

There is no rhyme or reason for my posting this other than it struck me funny this morning when a friend sent it to me. I'm not endorsing "The Onion Network", but this clip is funny-

Scientists Successfully Teach Gorilla It Will Die Someday

That squandering old city of Capernaum

This is very likely the ruins of the synagogue where Jesus preached extensively, healed the sick, and cast out many demons.

I have been struck anew with how much ministry Jesus did in his home region that included Capernaum. The gospel of Mark records throngs of people coming to him for healing and exorcism. In particular the synoptics record Jesus healing the Centurion's servant in Capernaum, Peter's mother in law, and the nobleman's son (albeit, while he was in Cana). Capernaum probably witnessed more of Jesus' ministry of miracles and preaching than any other city in Israel during His time on earth.

What became of Capernaum's exposure to Christ? Matthew records haunting words from Jesus:

Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you. - Matthew 11:20-24

These are part of the so-called "woes" of Jesus. Do you see how Capernaum squandered her time of witnessing Jesus' mighty works in her city limits? This is very convicting, especially for places with so much exposure to God's Word on a regular basis.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

What was Christ's burden like?

Ten years ago there was a film by M. Night Shyamalan called Unbreakable. The main hero of the film was a man named David Dunn played by Bruce Willis. Over the course of the movie David discovers he has superhero powers and was basically unable to be harmed by normal means. He survived a huge train crash, escaping unscratched and the only survivor. He was indeed unbreakable. He also was gifted with extra-scensory perception that allowed him to sense immoral acts committed by people he touched or rubbed up against. If he could sense a violent crime in someone before they did it, he might be able to stop the act. There is a powerful scene in a train station (pictured above) where he is in a crowd and every time he brushes up against someone he catches a glimpse of some terrible deed or crime they had committed or will commit. It’s an overwhelming scene showing a man who can sense the deep, dark, and evil secrets of humanity. You feel the horrible burden he felt as he came to grips with the rampant evil in the crowd of people. He could only take it for minutes and he had to leave the crowd- it was too much to bear.

I wonder what life on earth for Christ was like? Was it anything like David Dunn's experience? Did Jesus feel the crimes and sins committed by those he rubbed up against? Further, did he feel the crimes and sins committed against the people he brushed past? What person doesn't have great pain and a certain amount of misery associated with their life because of sin? Sin is so pervasive and touches everyone. We often think about the burden Jesus bore during the week of H]his passion, just before going to the Cross. I think His burden for sinful humanity was present every day of His life. He was a Man of Sorrows and not just because of his final awful week, but for all his days on earth, truly understanding and sensing the ravages of sin and the miserable state of humanity.

When Scripture speaks of Jesus rising early to pray in desolate places, I have to believe He was asking for the Father's strength to endure the heavy weight that grew upon him each day He moved among ruined sinners like me.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

February Knee Update

Here's a brief knee update: This week I was cleared to start riding my bike on the road and lightly jog for 15 minutes on the treadmill. Too much snow to ride outside, so I road stationary and did my daily elliptical training instead. I hope to get outside this coming week.

The light jogging is going well. I hope to be cleared for jogging outside in two weeks.

My right knee is still swollen, but that's normal at this point. It will swell up for another couple of months or more, according to the physical therapists. It feels good internally. My range of motion is 130 degrees out of 140. My last function test had my right knee at about 85% (compared to my left knee). At 90% I will get released to jog longer distances. I may be cleared to return to sports in two months.

I am grateful to God for my progress. It's kind of amazing to me considering what my knee looked like on October 14 when I dislocated it and November 17 when the surgeon reconstructed it.

Will I return to playing with RPC United this summer? I assure you the answer to that question has more to do with the Mrs. than the Dr.

Rooney Wonder Goal

I'm not a fan of Wayne Rooney, but there is no denying this to be one of the greatest goals in Manchester Derby history.

Friday, February 11, 2011

First impressions about the 2012 presidential elections

I was doing my elliptical training workout earlier today admittedly longing for the snow to disappear so I can get on my new bike. I took in 45 minutes of a CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) recap.
I watched clips of Romney, Paul, Gingrich, Pawlenty, Santorum, and even Donald Trump. Ron Paul got the biggest ovation in the clips I watched. Some notable "conservatives" didn't show, like Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee.

I'm a conservative guy socially and fiscally- big surprise, I know. So far none of these people resonate with me. More significantly I can't see any of the current crowd defeating Obama in 2012. How do you like that?

I can see Pawlenty rising higher than he currently shows in polls, but I don't see him beating Obama. Obviously if the economy plummets in the next year, Lady Gaga could beat Obama. If things stay status quo and congressional republicans fail to reverse Obamacare and demonstrably slash spending, I'll bet you Obama gets re-elected.

Conservatives will have to do better than Romney, Huckabee, and even Pawlenty. Paul is the smartest of the bunch fiscally but too unrealistic on foreign policy and just doesn't garner enough widespread support.

Right now there's not a true conservative in the spotlight who can win in 2012.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

This post by Ed Welch ticks me off!

But seriously folks, check out this post by Ed Welch, it's convicting. Here's a teaser from the first line of his post:

The problem with anger is that those who don’t have the problem take it to heart; those who are angry are confident in their right-ness and over time can become massively, utterly, completely deluded, blind and (this is no exaggeration) can feel quite good about themselves after bludgeoning someone close them, as if they have set the world aright. Arrgghh. I hate anger.

Draw your own conclusions...

Don't shoot the poster...after all, this is a clip from FAMILY Feud:

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Chapell on the future of expository preaching

I am committed to expository preaching, mainly by way of working through books of the bible over time.

The person who solidified this thinking and was used of God to bolster my conviction about the necessity of expository preaching for the edification of the church is Dr. Bryan Chapell, the president of Covenant Seminary in St. Louis. He was my teacher and I am grateful for his ministry to me.

I like what he says about the future of expository preaching. The syncing is off, but you'll understand what he's saying:

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Thanks for nothing Superbowl advertisers...

If you choose to spend your Sundays watching football, that's up to you I suppose. I used to basically spend afternoons glued to games. I don't think that way any more. It's not because I'm holier than thou...I'm not. I've got many other issues. I have just come to think the Lord's Day has better benefits when spent in other ways.

Nevertheless, here we are on Superbowl Sunday (dang, I hate that designation). It seems like everyone is aware of the game with plans to watch it somewhere. My boys aren't too familiar with the NFL, but have enough friends telling them who's playing and what a huge game it is. My son says to me today at lunch, "Dad, can we watch the Superbowl tonight"? I responded that we're going to church and will probably be home in time to catch a good part of the second half. He said, "Cool, the Steelers are my favorite team since, like, last week." I had a good chuckle.

So, after church tonight we made it home for most of the second half. It was a slow moving game with long commercial breaks as you all know. I had all three of my sons on the couch being American, watching the Superbowl. We are all soccer players and fans so American football is hard to watch with all it's stops and starts and long commercial delays. Still, we appreciate a good hit, nice run, or leaping catch. We all think we could kick better than the punters and kickers, but otherwise appreciate the diverse athleticism of the players.

So there we are watching the game and the commercials come on. First a Pepsi commercial comes on with a guy having dinner with his girlfriend. The commercial depicts her silently wondering if he's the one for her. She is asking herself if he'd be a good husband, a good dad, how much money he makes? Then the commercial depicts him silently repeating- I wonder if she'll sleep with me, I wonder if she'll sleep with me, etc. My boys immediately ask- "What does that mean? Why does he keep saying that?" Thanks Pepsi. You stink. Shortly after there's a commercial with Kim Kardashian half naked more or less getting it on with a half naked dude. I quick move to flip the channel. GoDaddy's commercial was another winner that basically teased you with shots Danica Patrick and the Jillian chick from Biggest Loser partially naked telling you to go to the website to see "more". Nice. Thanks. Most of the commercials (minus the low-rent and out of place Menards one) had some kind of sexuality laced in or explicitly featured.

So many thoughts went through my head as I looked at my young boys. I'm so worried for them. How can they escape the lures of lust? How can they walk in purity? How can they escape slavery to the wrong kind of sensuality living in this day an age? Sure, someone will say to not watch TV, don't go to movies, etc. etc. Listen, we don't watch TV except on some rare, specific occasions like this. Go watch a movie you think is "safe" and the previews will have sex in them. Walk through the check out line at Price Chopper and you'll get your latest gander at Lady Gaga or Lindsey Lohan. A quick glimpse of the news will tell you all you need to know about Charlie Sheen's sexcapades with a group of porn stars. Go online, even with a computer equipped with all sorts of safety features, and a pop up image will flash. This is such a tough time to raise boys. I know, it's tough to raise girls too, but the guys reading this know exactly what I mean. I hear it only takes a hit or two of meth to get addicted. I think the same may be true for porn and sexual sin.

Paul said to Timothy, "So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart" (2 Tim 2:22). I have always been struck by the use of the word "flee". He doesn't say "resist", he says RUN. You think Paul knows something important about the nature of youthful lust (passions)?

Fleeing youthful lusts is so difficult, especially when they run after you. They run very fast.

The Superbowl was a disappointment to me, but not for the reason I began this post. It disappointed me as I realized how far gone things are and I am terrified for my boys as they approach a minefield they yet do not understand.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Are you making the ash heap bigger?

"Every dollar spent is laying up treasures in heaven or being placed in the ash heap."
- Francis Schaeffer

The message of the bible in one sentence

Dane Ortlund is the senior editor of the bible division of Crossway books. He recently asked a host of pastor-scholars to describe the message of the bible in one sentence. Here are some of the responses he got:

Craig Blomberg:
God is in the process of recreating the universe which has been corrupted by sin and has made it possible for all those and only those who follow Jesus to be a part of the magnificent, eternal community that will result.

Darrell Bock:
The Bible tells how the loving Creator God restored a lost humanity and cosmos through reestablishing his rule through Jesus Christ and the provision of life to His honor.

Mark Dever:
God has made promises to bring His people to Himself and He is fulfilling them all through Christ.

Kevin DeYoung:
A holy God sends his righteous Son to die for unrighteous sinners so we can be holy and live happily with God forever.

Zack Eswine:
Apprenticing with Jesus to become human again.

John Frame:
God glorifies himself in the redemption of sinners.

David Helm:
Jesus is the promised Savior-King.

Paul House:
The movement in history from creation to new creation through the redemptive work of Father, Son, and Spirit who saves and changes corrupted people and places for his glory and their good.

Kent Hughes:
God is redeeming his creation by bringing it under the lordship of Jesus Christ.

Andreas Kostenberger:
'God so loved the world that the gave his one and only Son that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life' (John 3:16).

Phil Long:
God, who made us and everything else, loves us and gave himself for us that we might live forever with him as new creatures in a new creation—the news is good!

Sean Lucas:
The message of the Bible is the transforming grace of God displayed preeminently in Jesus Christ.

Grant Osborne:
God created mankind in order to love them, but we all rejected his love, so God sent His Son to bear our sins on the cross in order that by believing in His sacrificial atonement, we might have life.

George Robertson:
The Bible is the record of God's promise of and deliverance through Jesus Christ.

Leland Ryken:
The message of the Bible is twofold: to show how people can be saved from their sins through faith in Christ's atonement AND how to live all of life as a follower of God.

Tom Schreiner:
God reigns over all things for his glory, but we will only enjoy his saving reign in the new heavens and the new earth if we repent and believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ, who is the crucified and risen Lord and who gave himself on the cross for our salvation.

Jay Sklar:
The first sentence that comes to mind is that of my colleague Michael D. Williams, who describes the Bible's story about the world as follows: God made it, we broke it, Jesus fixes it!

Erik Thoennes:
The main message of the Bible is that the one true God is displaying his glory primarily in redeeming and restoring his fallen creation by fulfilling his covenant promises and commands through the glorious person and atoning work of Christ.

Bob Yarbrough:
He—God in Christ—shall reign forever and ever; so today if you hear his voice, do not harden your heart but believing the good news take up your cross and follow Jesus.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Brilliant acting in "True Grit" and "The Fighter"

I saw two movies at the theater recently, both were incredible displays of acting.

The first movie was "True Grit", a remake of a 1969 movie. It's the story of a 14-year old girl setting out to avenge her father's murder with the hired assistance of a drunken old U.S. Marshall named Rooster Cogburn. In the '69 rendition John Wayne plays Rooster. In the 2010 version, Jeff Bridges wears the eye patch. This is the performance of Jeff Bridges' life. Relative unknown Haille Steinfeld plays the girl seeking justice, Mattie Ross. There are some notable supporting actors, like Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, and Barry Pepper who give fine performances. Bridges and Steinfeld steal the show, particularly Bridges. If you like westerns, you'll likely enjoy this film. It makes you feel like you're on the trail with 1870's cowboys. Unlike the John Wayne version of Rooster Cogburn, Bridges' rendering is more complex and realistic. It's a film that raises questions about justice, vengeance, loyalty, and honor, among other things. Interesting to me was how the tune for "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms" was woven through the film. There's slight references to God and Christianity, but it comes off as a cultural thing, not a worldview that guides the characters. The language is mild, there are a few pretty violent scenes, but nothing is overdone. I recommend this film to teens and above. It's a great film to discuss after viewing. Here's the trailer:

The second movie was "The Fighter", the story of half brothers who were boxers, separated by 10 years in age. Dicky (played by Christian Bale), the older brother, had a short, mediocre career where the highlight was going 10 rounds with Sugar Ray Leonard in 1978. During that fight he seemed to knock Leonard down, but depending on who you ask- he tripped Leonard or legitimately scored a knockdown. Shortly after that fight Dicky got hooked on crack cocaine living a miserable life of addiction. Despite his life-sapping addiction, he managed to train his younger brother Micky (played by Mark Wahlberg) to be a decent boxer, while their mother Alice (played by Melissa Leo) managed scheduling fights. Eventually Dicky's addiction got in the way of Micky's progress and while doing a stint in prison, Micky got a new manager and trainer. Micky ascended to the point of getting a title shot against Shea Neary in 2000. A few weeks before the fight, Dicky got out of prison, stayed clean, and helped Micky win the title. It's more than a boxing film, it's a story about working class families in New England with focus on a particularly dysfunctional one, battling drug addiction and overcoming long odds. Christian Bale and Melissa Leo deliver masterful performances as Dicky and Alice. Anyone who has seen Christian Bale as Batman then sees him as Dicky Eklund will witness his undeniable brilliance as an actor. I am hard pressed to think of many performances better than Bale as Dicky. He's just brilliant in this role. Melissa Leo will blow you away also. I recommend this film to adults but warn of the constant dropping of "F-bombs". It's a rough film, but feels like a pretty realistic picture of life in that particular culture and events as they transpired. Here's the trailer:

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

There's a reason China is surpassing us...

It's no secret that China is catching up and surpassing the U.S. on multiple fronts. Here's one reason- see the picture? These are Chinese students in school. Us? We are having our third snow day in a row tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Check out Redeemer's New Website

Kudos to Brian Hough, Travis Shanahan, and Jon Meyers for overhauling our church website. Check it out here.

Great job guys!

Sage advice from former Buffalo mayor, the late Jimmy Griffin

As the Midwest is pounded by "Snowmaggeddon", I think back (while sipping coffee in my office after a leisurely commute...embarrassed for the science of meteorology) to my days growing up in Buffalo, New York. Long time mayor, Jimmy Griffin, gave sage advice to the citizens of Western New York that is certainly applicable to those who are currently home bound due to the "devastating blizzard" (local news station designation, not mine) gripping the Midwest right now.

During the Blizzard of 1985, Mayor Griffin (pictured above) recommended to Buffalo residents "go home, buy a six pack of Genny (beer), and watch a good football game." This earned him the nickname "Jimmy Six Pack."

Wisdom can be pretty simple. Be safe my Midwestern friends.