Blog Archive


Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Another year in the bag, another opportunity to highlight the best (and worst) movies of the year. 2011 ended up being a pretty solid year as far as quality films go (a summer of almost entirely comic book movies and sequels notwithstanding). Here are the ones I enjoyed from the past year or so (some of these may in fact be several years old). As always, several of these may have crude language, violence, and/or sexual situations. If you want to know the content of any of these films, go to or

Best Drama

~The King's Speech

This film started slowly but gained a lot of buzz, primarily from Oscar talk, and ended up setting many records for box office longevity (it was still in the box office top 10 four months in).  And all of that popularity was well-founded.  This movie is a highly enjoyable re-telling of the circumstances surrounding the rise to power of King George VI just prior to World War II, focusing particularly on the speech impediment of George (or Bertie, if you will).  This video gives a better understanding of King George's real-life speaking difficulty.  The one thing the movie lacks is a glimpse into the courage of King George and Queen Elizabeth in leading the British through the war against the Nazis.  If you haven't seen this film, you've missed a gem.

Honorable Mention: Solitary Man, Buried, Get Low, Harry Potter: Deathly Hallows II, Midnight in Paris, The Help, The Tree of Life, Moneyball, Harry Brown, The Way Back

Best Comedy

~ Crazy, Stupid, Love.

Steve Carell reigns a second straight year atop the Best Comedy category.  Plenty of high profile comedies were released in 2011, but not many particularly funny ones.  And those that were funny were also usually excessively crude.  Crazy, Stupid, Love. is one of the exceptions, and has a reasonably good message to boot.  The film focuses on 40-something Cal Weaver, who is blindsided by his wife's revelation that she's been cheating on him and wants a divorce.  What follows is his attempt to fill the void in his life with non-committal one-night stands (with the help of Ryan Gosling) and a bachelor lifestyle.  Throw in a hilarious twist and the movie is an all-around gem compared to its 2011 competition.

Honorable Mention:  Bridesmaids, Our Idiot Brother, 50/50, the Snake Kings scene in Courageous

Best Action

~ True Grit
The wicked flee when none pursueth. Proverbs 28:1
Thus begins the best overall movie of the entire year. I have not seen the original with John Wayne, but I find it hard to believe that it could dare approach the grandeur that is the remake. Jeff Bridges is fantastic as old Rooster Cogburn, but the real star of the show is Hailee Steinfeld as Maddie Ross, the sharp-tongued teenager bent on avenging her father's murder. The movie is first and foremost an action-filled Western, but it also contains some very humorous dialogue. Maddie's banter with a horse trader is particularly enjoyable. After watching this film, I read the book and found it to be fantastic and the film very faithful to it. Once again, the Coen brothers nailed it.

Honorable Mention: The Fighter, Voyage of the Dawn Treader, X-Men: First Class, Source Code, Drive, 13 Assassins

Best Family/Kids

~ The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Oh, what a difference a new director makes.  After nearly running the entire Chronicles of Narnia franchise into the ground with the terrible Prince Caspian movie, Michael Apted (director of Amazing Grace) took over and made what was largely a successful return to the series, though it still had some rough edges.  Particularly pleasing to me was that the most critical portions of the book were handled well in the film.  I look forward to the next Narnia installment, though reports indicate that could be many years away.

Honorable Mention: Tangled, Kung Fu Panda 2, Rio, Courageous

Best Chick Flick

~ Midnight in Paris

No, that's not (necessarily) an oxymoron of a title. But the competition is usually thin, that's for sure. Midnight in Paris is a delightful little film starring Owen Wilson as a daydreaming writer who spends his nights in Paris with the who's who of great 19th and 20th century authors, only to find that his nostalgia for better days is sorely misplaced. A good lesson for us all.

Honorable Mention: Water for Elephants, all but the last ten minutes of Jane Eyre

Best Foreign

~ 13 Assassins

This Japanese film is a great piece involving samurais and honor, superb sword fights and witty banter. Unlike some other recent Asian action films (think Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), 13 Assassins doesn't involve the same unrealistic stylized martial arts where gravity comes optional to every fight. Instead, it's the story of twelve honorable samurais who take on a vicious and cruel leader at no thought to their own lives.

Honorable Mention:  White Ribbon, Sophie Scholl: The Final Days, John Rabe, Intacto, Downfall

Best Indie

~ The Tree of Life

I've already reviewed this film here, so suffice it to say that this great work is well-worth watching for the patient film lover.

Honorable Mention: Solitary Man, Get Low, Kill the Irishman, The Way Back, Harry Brown, Midnight in Paris

Best Documentary

~ Waiting for Superman

This doc gives a maddening inside look at some of the reasons why the public school system in this country is in the terrible state it is.  It follows the story of several students (mostly lower class, but does include an upper class child as well) as their parents attempt to find the best education possible for them, and the struggles they encounter along the way.  Every American should watch this film.

Honorable Mention: Kimjoniglia

Best Movie You've Never Heard Of

~ Get Low

This delightful little drama stars Robert Duvall as a southern hermit who has cut himself off from everyone because of guilt over past sins and mistakes.  He eventually decides to host his own funeral while he is still alive.  Check it out.

Honorable Mention: Buried, Harry Brown, The Way Back

Worst Movie of the Year

~ Easy A

While there was some competition for this award (Jason Bateman nearly took it home for a second straight year with The Switch), ultimately I had to go with this Christian-bashing, unfunny modernized telling of The Scarlet Letter.

Honorable Mention: The Switch, Due Date, I am Number Four, the last 10 minutes of Jane Eyre
Saturday, November 05, 2011
The Paul Harvey of the TV world passed away today.
Tuesday, November 01, 2011
So I had my first direct run-in with (I believe) the effects of Obamacare today, and it left me with mixed feelings. The company where I work sent out the annual email update regarding the costs of health insurance premiums. Usually, we see a bit of an uptick in costs, but this year, I saw a pretty significant dip in what it will cost me to cover my family with health insurance. Pretty sweet, huh? But then I read the details a bit further and discovered that the insurance company is going to an age-based premium grid. In other words, it depends on your age for how much you pay for your insurance. And, as one would expect, the costs increase with age. So I, as a 32-year-old, pay significantly less for my insurance than I would if I were 52. And this applies to the spouses of employees as well. So while I am seeing a decent decrease in the cost of premiums this year, my fellow employees over the age of 50 are getting hit by a huge increase.

Here is my theory for what is behind these drastic changes. Obamacare has a number of policy measures which could affect the state of health insurance, but two of the most egregious are the ban of pre-existing conditions exclusions and increasing the age that dependents can remain covered to 26. Obviously, both of these have significant costs involved. And since the costs of insurance have already been skyrocketing in recent years, insurance companies have to be a little creative in how they pass along the costs to their customers (you and me).

One way, and an unintentional-yet-positive effect of Obamacare, is by pushing some free-market capitalism into the system via the age-based factor. Rather than every health insurance customer bearing the financial risk of those more likely to need health care and have 20-something "dependents" (the 50+ crowd), now those who are more likely to need health care have to pay for the increased risk inherent in their age. Meanwhile, those who are less likely to need medical care (the under-40 crowd) pay for the less-risky insurance. Overall, the insurance companies stay in business and turn a profit while distributing the new costs to the customer as required by basic laws of free market enterprise. Any time some semblance of capitalism can be injected into an anything-but-free market system like health insurance, it's a good thing. So I like that.

On the other hand, it's merely hiding the costs with those who are least likely to do much about it and most likely to just die. Old people now bear even more of the brunt of the rising costs of health care, while young people think that everything is getting cheaper. In the big picture, the costs have gone up, and the State is forcing insurance companies to decide who is worthy of their services. At least, until the State steps in again to "save the day" for old people and requires insurance companies to charge everyone equally, at which point no one will be able to afford health insurance.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
I mentioned this before, but here is a great clip from the movie, A Solitary Man.

Thursday, October 06, 2011
"Take a people who are able and strong. Place them in the wealthiest land on earth. Surround them with unparalleled opportunity. Then pay them not to work, not to strive, not to achieve. Pay them to accept nonproductivity as a way of life. Agree to subsidize their families with food, shelter, health care, and money if the fathers will leave.

Do this for two or three generations and see what you produce. You will have a people who are unmotivated and dependent, whose hopes and dreams rise no higher than their subsidies - a people who have lost the work ethic, who have learned that others will take responsibility for them and who therefore assert little discipline or control over their own lives. You will have emasculated their men, making them expendable and unnecessary to their families' existence. You will have created a generation of prideless, fatherless youth who believe that receiving and taking is better than working and investing. And when you have seen the hope disappear from the eyes of the young, you can be sure you have developed an effective formula for the destruction of a people. We call it welfare." - Robert Lupton
Monday, September 12, 2011
This is a really good column by the son of Nate Saint, who was killed by the Waodani along with Jim Elliot and other missionaries in 1956. For more good reading on this subject, check out When Helping Hurts.
Often charity to help the poor attracts more people into poverty. One example I have noticed takes place when North Americans try to care for the needs of orphans in cultures different from our own. If you build really nice orphanages and provide good food and a great education, lots more children in those places become orphans. I see this happen all over. When we attempt to eradicate poverty through charity, we often attract more people into “needing” charity. It is possible to create need where it did not exist by projecting our standards, values and perception of need onto others.

So what is poverty? We in the “Wealthy West” have little understanding of “poverty.” As our standard of living has risen in developed countries, our perception of poverty has changed.

Consider how our definition of an orphan is different from most other cultures. In the U.S., you are an orphan if your mother and father have died. In South America (where I grew up), as in other contexts where extended family structures are intact, you are not really considered an orphan as long as you have a living grandparent, uncle, aunt or older brother or sister who is capable of helping take care of you. So when North Americans build an orphanage in South America, we “create” orphans by tempting family members to take advantage of our well-intentioned largess. This is seldom in the best interest of those children who are “orphaned” by our desire to meet what we perceive as their need.
Friday, August 19, 2011
"There are two ways through life. The way of nature and the way of grace. You have to choose which one you will follow."
I went with a bunch of buddies to see The Tree of Life last night and while I knew that it was going to be a unique experience, I still wasn't quite prepared for how artsy yet amazing it would be. A movie with incredible cinematography but little dialogue (I don't know that we hear the main actors speak in front of the camera until 45 minutes into the film), it centers around one main question: Why is there suffering?

Without spoiling it at all, I will say that it will make you think like few movies, and you need to be patient. The film demands an approach to it as a piece of art and to be appreciated as such. And Terrence Malick, the director, hits a couple points a little too long. But don't let that scare you off... it is an astoundingly profound movie. Don't just sit down expecting entertainment; it deserves so much more than that and will disappoint you if you don't put in the intentional effort to engage it emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually. Watch it with friends, and then talk about it. It's not a film that you're likely to grasp well without discussing it with others.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
This is so, so good.
For every gallon of gas that is sold in the United States, on average, the local, state and federal taxes come out to 48 cents. The average profit taken away from every gallon of gas by Exxon is --brace yourselves for unsavory news about the oil buccaneers -- 2 cents. If you don't like oil profiteering, then you really have to learn how to see our public servants as the equivalent of 24 Exxons, stacked on top of your travel plans like they were so many leeches.

Exxon feels free to take that 2 cents because they explored, researched, drilled, transported, refined, transported, and sold the gas that you were interested in buying. The government is entitled to it . . . why?

God says not to steal, and not even to think about stealing by means of coveting. We have to learn that our bad attitude toward free enterprise is caused by the larceny in our hearts. We think the way we do about oil companies because we want a piece of the action, for nothing. We don't think that way about predatory taxation for the same reason that one thief doesn't see the larceny in the heart of his fellow thieves. We are looking for the kickback.

As a wise man posted somewhere, "It's not theft if you have to fill out a form." So the devotional thought for the morning is that Jesus wants you to feel sorry for Exxon. And when we hear this call to radical discipleship, our faith staggers. Who can do these things? And the reply comes, comforting our hearts, that with God all things are possible.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
This report came out this week which shows that children are at significant risk when not living with both of their biological parents.

I was just thinking that very thing recently when I kept seeing stories in the news of deaths and abuse of children. Almost without exception, there is consistently only one parent in the picture. Example A: this gruesome story. Example B: this sad news in Missouri. Example C: the well-known Caylee Anthony death.

So sad. Hollywood doesn't show this very often ("Gone Baby Gone" is probably one of the few recent films that did). Usually, what our society (of which Hollywood is merely a mirror) tells us is that parents aren't that important. They don't have to be married, they don't have to live together. Hell, they don't even have to be different genders. No, as long as they are in love and happy, that's what matters. Meanwhile, their progeny suffers the consequences.
My man Jim Thome went deep for the 600th time of his career last night. For your viewing pleasure, I give you his 596th, hit on July 17th this summer, a game I was at with my parents and my daughter for her birthday. It flew an estimated 490 feet (longest ever hit in Target Field). 52 seconds into this clip, check out Delmon Young's reaction.

Monday, August 15, 2011
This a helpful column by Dalrymple in showing what America has to look forward to if we continue to follow the leftist policies of Obama and his ilk.
The rioters in the news last week had a thwarted sense of entitlement that has been assiduously cultivated by an alliance of intellectuals, governments and bureaucrats. "We're fed up with being broke," one rioter was reported as having said, as if having enough money to satisfy one's desires were a human right rather than something to be earned.

"There are people here with nothing," this rioter continued: nothing, that is, except an education that has cost $80,000, a roof over their head, clothes on their back and shoes on their feet, food in their stomachs, a cellphone, a flat-screen TV, a refrigerator, an electric stove, heating and lighting, hot and cold running water, a guaranteed income, free medical care, and all of the same for any of the children that they might care to propagate.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Doug Wilson makes an astute observation.
We are told that the problem with the residents of Sodom is that they were seething with hatred and were willing to engage in violent sexual acts. And we are told this by people who are seething with hatred...
Friday, June 24, 2011
This is sad news. Columbo is one of my favorite shows of all-time and I just recently began to watch a few of the old ones on Netflix. Columbo always got his man but not before convincing everyone that he was an absent-minded bumbling fool. He would always figure out the crime but due to the lack of any corroborating evidence, he'd set the suspect up in such a way as to show his guilt. Peter Falk played him perfectly, and actually some of his work as Columbo was complete improv on his part.

"Just one more thing."

Friday, June 17, 2011
This is a great opinion piece on the need for fathers to be engaged with their families. I know plenty of dads who basically check out when they are at home. And when their wives leave the house, they are completely lost. Take the kids out to eat or to a movie or park? Are you kidding? Have you heard them in public? If that's you, don't just be ashamed of yourself. Change. Get freakin' involved with your kids. I know it's not easy. But this guy's advice is a good place to start.
I offer these 10 commandments of righteous fatherhood. Pay close attention, because, behind your back, people are pitying your wife:

1. No golf on weekends: Seriously, it's ludicrous. Your spouse is home with the kids all the time, and you think it's OK to take five hours on a weekend day to pursue your own pastime? Selfishness, thy name is Father.

2. Wake up: Literally, wake up. With your kids. On at least one of the two weekend days -- and perhaps both. I know: you wake up early for work. Not even remotely the same thing. Rising alongside the kiddies is hard. And crazy. And (gasp!) sorta fun, if you'd just stop moping.

3. Change diapers: If you have little kids, and you don't know how to change diapers (or, even worse, refuse to change diapers), you're pathetic. That's no exaggeration -- p-a-t-h-e-t-i-c. It's not all that hard, and though the poop sometimes winds up on the fingers, well, uh, yeah. It just does. Wash your hands.

4. Play with dolls and paint your toenails: How many fathers do I know who refuse to get girlish with their girls? Dozens. Dude, put aside the machismo, break out Barbie and slather on some pink polish. You'll make a friend for life -- and nobody else is watching.

5. Do things you don't want to do: It's easy to take the kids to the driving range -- because you want to be there. Now try spending the day having a tea party at American Girl. Or crawling through one of those wormholes at the nearby kiddie gym. Fun? Often, no. But this isn't about you.

6. Order the wife to bug off: I recently met a mother who told me her husband hadn't been alone with their 9-year-old daughter for more than two hours ... ever. Inexcusable. Let your wife do her own thing: relax, take a run, whatever. Entertain your children solo. They don't bite (Note: is not liable if your children do, in fact, bite).

7. Surprise! Just once, on a random day without meaning or purpose, show up early at your kid's school/camp/wherever, say "Get in the car!" and take him/her somewhere special. Just the two of you, alone. A movie. A park. A hike. The memory lasts -- I promise.

8. Dishes Don't Clean Themselves (Nor Do Toys): It's amazing how this one works. You pick up a dish, run it under hot water with some soap, rub it down with a towel and place it back on the shelf. Then repeat.

9. Wake up your kid: Not often. But if you want to score big points and create a killer memory moment, walk in Junior's room at, oh, midnight, wake him/her up and go outside for 10 minutes to watch the stars.

10. [T]ell your kids you love them: They never see you, and they'd probably like to know.

Bud, as you read this your wife is expecting little -- and your kids are expecting even less. Pull one out of the blue. Make Father's Day less about you, and all about them.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
For your viewing pleasure this morning...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Zach Nielsen has a great post on the reason behind why we don't see many Down's Syndrome people anymore.
Because today 90% of women who are given the news that their baby in the womb has Down's, elect to have that child terminated through abortion murdered. I know that language sounds quite harsh and potentially inflammatory. But shouldn't we call it what it is? If we can agree that it is a human person in the womb, (we don't need a Bible to prove this, just a 10th grade science class) shouldn't we call it what it is? If it is a human person in the womb, should we be shocked when we hear the word "murder"? Shouldn't that shock lead us to stop the practice of it instead of softening language so that people's feelings don't get hurt by the word "murder"?
Thursday, June 09, 2011
Owen Strachan has a great post on the current kerfuffle about Rep. Weiner.
We don’t look at Anthony Weiner and the state of marriage today and scoff. We grieve. We know that outside of the grace of Jesus Christ we could well be wreaking that kind of havoc. We feel just anger at what is transpiring, anger that inspires us to break awkward silences and share the gospel with those we encounter. In our churches, through the fellowship of brothers and much prayer to a great God, we show the world a better way, a new breed of men, redeemed, not boys, not unfaithful, not dogs.
Sunday, June 05, 2011
Walter Williams had some good points to make about how the welfare state has helped destroy the black American family.
“[T]he welfare state has done to black Americans what slavery could not have done, the harshest Jim Crow laws and racism could not have done, namely break up the black family."
Thursday, June 02, 2011
Yesterday was the 113th birthday of the late great RG LeTourneau, the founder of my alma mater, LeTourneau University. In honor of the man, Donald Miller wrote a short post on his blog. I thought I would add some other interesting information about RG. For one, he holds more U.S. patents (mostly in heavy construction and earthmoving technology) than anyone except Thomas Edison. His equipment served as 70% of the U.S. Army's road-making equipment during WWII. He also took his technology over to Africa and made hundreds of roads into central Africa. He worked closely with several presidents, including George H.W. Bush. He also is credited with revolutionizing heavy equipment, including the invention of mobile offshore drilling platforms (a model of which can be seen in the museum on the LeTourneau campus). But probably the most astounding fact about the man is that he lived on only 10% of his income and gave the rest away to missions around the world. An amazing man!
Thursday, May 26, 2011
In memory of just a few of the many who lost their lives from tornadoes here in the Midwest this past week...

A father and his two little ones shopping at Home Depot...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011
“The paternal state not only feeds its children, but nurtures, educates, comforts, and disciplines them, providing all they need for their security. This appears to be a mildly insulting way to treat adults, but it is really a great crime because it transforms the state from being a gift of God, given to protect against violence, into an idol. It supplies us with all blessings, and we look to it for all our needs. Once we sink to that level, as Lewis says, there is no point in telling state officials to mind their own business. “Our whole lives are their business.” The paternalism of the state is that of the bad parent who wants his children dependent on him forever. That is an evil impulse. The good parent prepares his children for independence, trains them to make responsible decisions, knows that he harms them by not helping them to break loose. The paternal state thrives on dependency. When the dependents free themselves, it loses power. It is, therefore, parasitic on the very persons whom it turns into parasites. Thus, the state and its dependents march symbiotically to destruction.

When the provision of paternal security replace the provision of justice as the function of the state, the state stops providing justice. The ersatz parent ceases executing judgment against those who violate the law, and the nation begins losing the benefits of justice. Those who are concerned about the chaos into which the criminal justice system has fallen should consider what the state’s function has become. Because the state can only be a bad imitation of a father, as a dancing bear act is of a ballerina, the protection of this Leviathan of a father turns out to be a bear hug.” (Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction, p. 184).
Doug Wilson wrote an excellent post on the recent flap surrounding Ron Paul's comments in a recent Republican debate in favor of legalizing drug use and prostitution.
While many Christians are unsettled by Paul's idea of legalizing drugs, for example, I am far more concerned about the millions that have gotten themselves addicted to the crack cocaine of other people's money, and who need a daily fix of their power and privilege, paid for by beyond ridiculous economic policies.
Adultery was a crime in ancient Israel, and a great deal of that activity is committed with prostitutes, and so, there you go. But smoking dope was not a crime under biblical law, and so there you go. And lest you think this would create a vast population of lotus eaters, the Bible does not give us warrant to create a great network of welfare payments that enable people to live like irresponsible potheads, getting dope from friends and their dinner of Cheetos from their food stamps. If we didn't fund it, we probably wouldn't have quite so much of it. Just a thought.
Many of our modern statist do-gooders and bedwetters think they do not fit the description of the abusive rulers in the Lord's parable because their intentions (viewed under the magnifying glass of their very own wisdom) are so clearly good and full of the waft of sunny uplift. But they are the ones who created the wastelands of the modern American inner city, filled our American penitentiaries with millions of men, who live out their lives in the greatest dog pound ever, and who choked the economy that could feed the world by harassing hard-working men and women all day every day with niggling restrictions, regulations, and rules. Morever, they are impervious to any evidence that would actually demonstrate to them the desolations caused by their pride and officiousness.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
U2's Bono conducted an interview a few years ago (that I just came across today) and in it he clearly and repeatedly presented the Gospel. Salvation by grace through faith alone is the drum he beat, and he beat it well.
There's nothing hippie about my picture of Christ. The Gospels paint a picture of a very demanding, sometimes divisive love, but love it is. I accept the Old Testament as more of an action movie: blood, car chases, evacuations, a lot of special effects, seas dividing, mass murder, adultery. The children of God are running amok, wayward. Maybe that's why they're so relatable. But the way we would see it, those of us who are trying to figure out our Christian conundrum, is that the God of the Old Testament is like the journey from stern father to friend. When you're a child, you need clear directions and some strict rules. But with Christ, we have access in a one-to-one relationship, for, as in the Old Testament, it was more one of worship and awe, a vertical relationship. The New Testament, on the other hand, we look across at a Jesus who looks familiar, horizontal. The combination is what makes the Cross.
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.
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.
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.
Friday, May 20, 2011
This video by Francis Chan is really powerful. He speaks to the arrogance behind certain ways of approaching Scripture... so true.
Do you ever even consider the possibility that maybe the Creator's sense of justice is actually more developed than yours?... See, when we make statements like "Well, God wouldn't do this, would he?", do you understand at that moment you're actually putting God's actions in submission to your reasoning?"

Thursday, May 19, 2011
Mark Steyn has a good piece on the problem this country faces with entitlements... particularly a "sense of entitlement."
I like to think that upon arrival in this great republic I assimilated pretty quickly. Within four or five months, I was saying “zee” and driving on the right more often than not. But it took me longer to get the hang of the word “entitlement.” You don’t hear it in political discussions in most of the rest of the West, even in Canada. There’s talk of “social programs” and “benefits” and “welfare,” but not of “entitlements.” I knew the term only in its psychological use — “sense of entitlement” — in discussions of narcissistic personality disorder and whatnot.

Once I’d been apprised of its political definition, I liked it even less. “Entitlements” are unrepublican: They are contemptuous of the most basic principle of responsible government — that a parliament cannot bind its successor. Which is what entitlements do, to catastrophic effect.
“Entitlement commitments are not debts,” wrote John Hinderaker of the blog Powerline. “Congress can wipe them out simply by repealing Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid.”

That’s technically true in the same sense that it’s technically true Congress can wipe out a lot of our debts — or at any rate our debtors — by nuking Beijing. But is either likely to happen under any scenario this side of total societal meltdown? Indeed, I find it easier to imagine economic collapse, secession, civil war, Mad Max on I-95, cannibal gangs of the undocumented preying on gated communities of upscale gays, etc., than any combination of House, Senate, and president “repealing Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid.”

Which is where we came in. Whether or not government “entitlements” are debts, they very quickly become a psychological disorder — and a “sense of entitlement” is harder to dislodge than almost anything else. Government entitlement breeds psychological entitlement breeds a utopia of myopia. I don’t mean merely in the sense that polls show an overwhelming majority of Americans still feel entitled to their entitlements, but in a more profound way.
John Hinderaker is right. We can, in theory, repeal the entitlements. Repealing the sense of entitlement is the tricky part.
I see a lot of charities doing many good things in our inner cities, from urban housing development to cheap groceries. But until this country tackles the sense of entitlement that has crept into our hearts and eliminates the destructive entitlement policies that have helped that mentality to take root while also destroying our economy, those charities will continue to merely spoon water out of the Titanic's hold. Unless those moral and political leaks are repaired, we will continue to sink. It starts with repentance... unfortunately, our socio-political landscape is lacking prophets.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
"I really think that in our days it is the "undogmatic" and "liberal" people who call themselves Christians that are the most arrogant and intolerant. I expect justice and even courtesy from many atheists and, much more, from [conservative Christians]: from [postmodernists] I have to take bitterness and rancour as a matter of course." - C.S. Lewis
Monday, May 16, 2011
I don't drink coffee, but I know plenty who do. As many people are aware, there is a big push in the coffee industry to promote "fair trade" coffee which supposedly gives higher wages to the poor workers who produce it in Third World countries. The problem is, that's not really the case. Furthermore, as Jay Richards pointed out in his great book Money, Greed, and God, fair trade tends to prop up industries beyond their natural free market equilibrium, which will eventually result in too many people in those coffee-growing countries investing in the coffee market. Fair trade coffee is just one more example of a "progressive" idea that is meant to make people feel good about themselves while actually doing little good or even doing harm to those it purports to help. If you have previously supported fair trade coffee, please reconsider!
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
This is a great list of manners that every child should learn.
Wednesday, May 04, 2011
In unrelated news, Chuck Norris just returned from his vacation in Pakistan.
Friday, April 29, 2011
Ron Paul gives a lengthy reasoning for his position on abortion. It's very good.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
This is a very helpful interview of Rob Bell from the UK (with Adrian Warnock as an opposing viewpoint). I've posted the video of the full interview below, but you can go to the link to find short clips as well. The "Hell" one is particularly eye-opening. It's pretty clear that Bell is in no way an Evangelical, at least if we use the classical meaning of the term. Most of these issues and questions would be rather easily solved if people had a robust and Biblical understanding of election and salvation by grace.

This looks like a promising book.
Thursday, April 21, 2011

Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl Movie Trailer from Gorilla Poet Productions on Vimeo.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011
This is an excellent article (by a gay sports writer, to boot!) on the need for parents to raise kids properly, particularly in what they wear.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Here are some great suggestions for helping your kids understand and personalize Easter this Holy Week.
Monday, April 18, 2011
"Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?"

Imagine if Christians actually acted like they believed Paul was serious when he wrote that in 1 Corinthians 6...
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
I've had something slowly forming in my mind in regards to the current discussion by Rob Bell and others around the idea of God eventually overwhelming almost everyone with His love and bringing them all into eternal life with Him. Besides the fact that it makes it sound like God is a bit of a creepy wimp ("I'll eventually get you to love me, I'll just outlast you like a stalking ex-wife"), I wonder if it also implies a form of salvation by works (or earned grace, if you will). Aren't ALL people enemies of God in their natural state and equally bankrupt in spirit? Then why would some resist God for eons and others for just hours? If I come to Christ early in life, according to Bell's logic, doesn't that mean I have a better heart and am less an enemy of God than some atheist who takes nearly forever to bend his knee to God? But that's not Biblical. In my fallen state, I am just as much a worm as Christopher Hitchens and other God-hating atheists. It is only through Christ that I stand righteous before God. The only reason I came to God at all was due to nothing in myself but God's work within my hard heart. It seems like Bell's theology and doctrine actually do more to set up a hierarchy of sin and evil than a traditional Reformed theology and ultimately undermines the concept of salvation by grace alone. God chooses some for mercy, He chooses others as "vessels of wrath." AND IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH SOME BEING MORE WORTHY OR OPEN TO GOD THAN OTHERS. Paul tried his best to make that clear in Romans, even by anticipating objections to it, yet still people deny it.
I had the opportunity to go hear Rob Bell speak in person last night to a packed (2000 or so people) house. It was an interesting evening. While Bell continued his general taste for obfuscation and avoiding the issue, he did answer a couple questions quite honestly and forthrightly. One, which was similar to one that I had hoped to ask, came from a young man in front of me. In short, the man asked Bell that since he is a "big tent" Christian who claims that there are many good and helpful views and we shouldn't exclude anyone, is his theology big enough to allow for the possibility that one form God's love may take is in sending some "reprobate vessels of wrath" (to use the questioner's term) to hell, as shown clearly in Romans 9 (Romans 9:22 in particular). Bell said no, he won't accept that view. It was a stunning admission. His tolerance of other viewpoints is only for those who accept his doctrinal beliefs (and they are doctrine). And if someone dares to actually read Romans 9 for what it says, that is unacceptable. It was a great question, and an illuminating answer. The spiritual darkness in the place (a Church of Christ sanctuary) was palpable. When the aforementioned person posed his question, I saw smirks and sneers in the faces of the so-called Christian leadership in the front rows, people like Greg Boyd and Tony Jones. "But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise..."

Pray that Bell and those who have swallowed his lies would come to see the truth and know that God is love but also holy. That He is both just and the justifier of all who believe. Flattening God out to a one-note god is making a god that resembles little of what we find in the Bible.
Monday, April 11, 2011
My men's pastor has written a very helpful post on the topic of Christians getting tattoos. You can read it here. I would add a couple small things.

1) I would go beyond point 11 and ask if getting at tattoo would honor their parents, even if obeying them is no longer an issue. Even if you're 39 and haven't lived with your parents for two decades, if they have a low view of tattoos and have verbalized this to you previously, would getting a tattoo dishonor them or have the potential for appearing to be in rebellion toward their wishes? If so, then you must have a really really good reason to ignore their wishes or you should abstain (even if you can answer the rest of the points well and Biblically).

2) Anyone thinking about getting a tattoo should not only consider the 16 points given above, but should also ponder long and hard the question of "why am I truly wanting a tattoo?" The heart is deceitful, after all. Is it merely a coincidence that tons of your friends are getting them because it is the cool thing to do and because the culture says that it is cool, or have you unwittingly become conformed to culture and peer pressure? It doesn't necessarily make it wrong that convicts, hip hop artists, and sports stars (oops, that's kinda redundant, isn't it?) are the primary people to be covering their bodies in tattoos, but it should make every faithful Christian pause. In 1 Peter 3, Christian women were warned to avoid the cultural trappings of fine jewelry and clothing and elaborate hairstyles and instead base their beauty and "coolness" on their inner Spirit-filled self. I believe Peter's words could well apply to the topic of tattoos.
Thursday, April 07, 2011
Tuesday, April 05, 2011
These are two great articles on what makes a truly Biblical doctrine of Hell.
It has become common for Christians to describe hell as our freely chosen identity apart from God. Hell, it is said, is not so much where God sends the wicked, as much as it is what the wicked choose or create for themselves. This is the view famously espoused by C.S. Lewis in The Great Divorce. Lewis argues that hell is our own self-absorption and idolatry let loose for all eternity. Hell is God’s way of saying “Thy will be done” to us when we refuse to say “Thy will be done” to God. Hell is what we get when we choose human freedom instead of divine salvation. The gates of hell may be locked for eternity, but they are locked from the inside. We refuse to give up the hell within us, so hell is what we get around us.

There is an element of truth in all this. As one way to look at hell, the Lewis version can be helpful. It emphasizes that no one in hell is truly penitent. God doesn’t punish people for a few sins in this life and then keep them locked up forever as they pour out their hearts in genuine faith and repentance. No, the damned never turn from their rebellion. They may regret their choices like the rich man in Luke 16, but they never genuinely repent.
But if that’s all we say about hell we are giving people a massively distorted view of divine punishment. Lewis’ depiction of God’s justice has an element of truth to it, but by itself it is monumentally misleading. Divine punishment–hell, in its eternal form–is not simply what we get because we make poor decisions or decide to live a selfish life. Hell is what we get because God is offended by our sin and punishes it. We see everywhere in Scripture that divine wrath is a curse on the ungodly, not a mere consequence for self-centered decisions. Hell is much more than God simply allowing us to have our own way and to experience all the bad effects of our choices. Hell is God’s active, just, holy wrath poured out on the disobedient.
They will not be judged for their rejection of Jesus, of whom they have heard nothing... People will be held accountable and judged on the basis of the revelation that God has made of himself to them. And this revelation is unmistakable, unavoidable, and sufficiently pervasive and clear that the failure to respond as well as the turn to idolatry renders them “without excuse.” They will be righteously judged for rejecting the Father, not for rejecting the Son.
Monday, April 04, 2011

Robbed Hell - C.A.S.T. Pearls Presents from Canon Wired on Vimeo.

Friday, April 01, 2011
"There is no doubt that the traditional concept of hell has been under siege, particularly among intellectuals, so let me be clear: without hell, the whole of the Great Commission is undermined and the Gospel turned on its head. Without a Scripturally-robust understanding of hell and the afterlife, our faith is in vain. If all be saved in time, then none need be saved now." - C.S. Lewis
Wednesday, March 30, 2011

(HT: 22 Words)
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Another good post by Pastor Wilson, this time on giving thanks for everything good that God has given us via technology and wealth.
The birth of the modern age, measured in terms of conveniences, technology, wealth, medical advances, and so on was largely a legacy of the Reformation. But the Bible teaches that whenever a gift is given, there will immediately be a temptation arising in our hearts to steal the glory and gratitude that should go to God alone. That temptation will say, fundamentally, that we owe none of this to God, and that we did it all ourselves. That attitude is what we call the Enlightenment. That is modernist hubris, technocratic arrogance, and purblind puffery.
This is the sinful pattern. God gives wealth, man takes credit for himself. If someone else later on comes along and blames man for creating all this wealth, and demands that we have ourselves a little "social justice" around here -- and what a wretched little phrase social justice is -- he is just creating an extra layer of sedimentary silliness. And by this point, we don't need any extra layers.

The Enlightenment is not to be credited with Harvey's discovery of the circulation of the blood, Smith's discovery that no one man is capable of manufacturing a pin, Newton's discovery of what objects in motion tend to do, or Watts' admirable divvying up of energy into units of horsepower. God gave us all those things. We must thank God for them.

Seeing the inevitable abuses of wealth that follow after a humanistic grabbing of credit for it, and reacting away from the whole thing entirely, is simply foolish. If it is a good thing, as my smart phone is a good thing, then God is to be thanked. If it is a sinful thing, like thinking that man does things he can't do, then we should abandon our folly, repent of our sins, and return to the gospel of grace that undergirds all God's statutes and laws. And if you don't know where those passages are, you can look them up on your phone.
If you know who Andrew Peterson is, then you know how blessed my church is to be hosting him in concert this April 15th (sadly, I won't be able to be there). If you don't know who he is, you need to remedy that.
Monday, March 28, 2011
Doug Wilson has a good post on how Christianity is necessarily political and thinking it isn't leads to a Kingdom of God that isn't of this world or intended to change our lives in the least.
You see, if the gospel says that repentance and belief actually mean something in this world -- like canceling that sex change operation, or forgoing the nuptials with someone whose genitalia are uncannily similar to yours, or letting your kid stay alive, or even worse, having a repentant king say that such goings-on ought not to be going on -- such particulars might create a stumbling block. No stumbling blocks! We must preach an unfettered message of repentance, by which we mean that we must thunder a message that every man must repent of "stuff." Like what? You know, stuff.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Well, I don't think I've ever seen this before: a bracket contest with no potential points left to be had and the Final Four still left to be played. That's right, with the exception of the prize to the person who guesses closest to the championship game total score, Book Bracketology 2011 is done. Colin Elliott wins with 105 points (and 40 correct picks). Derrick Grow takes second with 98 points. Congrats to them both!
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Well, that hurt. If VCU keeps up their hot shooting tomorrow, we'll see a Final Four without a top seed... and a lot of destroyed brackets in the process. Colin currently leads the pack, but his pick to win it all is gone, so he needs some help. UConn needs to win, for one. And Kansas needs to lose soon. If that happens, Colin likely wins. Other people still in the running are Chris Chaffee, Steve Brown, or Jacob Teichroew. Chris is in good shape if Kansas wins it all, Steve wants Florida to beat Butler and someone other than Kansas to win the championship, while Jacob is looking for a Kansas title victory over North Carolina. Good luck!
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
"May God's grace give you the necessary humility. Try not to think - much less, speak - of their sins. One's own are a much more profitable theme! And if on consideration, one can find no faults on one's own side, then cry for mercy: for this must be a most dangerous delusion." - C.S. Lewis
Monday, March 21, 2011
From Morehead State's opening round rejection of Louisville's attempt at a long tourney run to Butler's continuation of last year's magic (including the craziest 1.4 seconds in college basketball history) to VCU's domination of their heavily-favored opponents, it was a glorious beginning to the 2011 edition of March Madness. I can't wait to see what next weekend has in store. The Book Bracketology contest is pretty much over for some brackets, particularly those that picked Pitt, Purdue, or Notre Dame to win it all. Meanwhile, the front-runners of Kristyn and Colin have put themselves in good position with their picks, but the field is still wide open. By this time next week, we'll probably be down to a handful of brackets still in the running... good luck!

Friday, March 18, 2011
MSNBC's Martin Bashir did quite the little interview of Rob Bell this week. Bashir himself was interviewed on the Paul Edwards radio program yesterday, and it makes for a really good listen.

Thursday, March 17, 2011
It's awesome, baby!
Monday, March 14, 2011
This post by Doug Wilson on Rob Bell is really really good.
[T]here is a particular kind of soft teaching that creates hard hearts, and there is a particular kind of hard teaching that creates tender hearts. The unconverted human heart is a slab of concrete, and what is needed there is the jackhammer of grace, and not the feather duster of indulgence. [Theological] Liberals have a reputation for being soft because feather dusters are soft. But feather dusters leave the hearts hard. Conservatives have a reputation for being hard because jackhammers are hard. But conservatives are tenderhearted. Jackhammers break up the slab, and the big trucks of grace haul the chunks away. Then we can break up the fallow ground beneath the slab, seek the Lord, plant a crop and pray for rain (Hos. 10:12)

Grace for sinners is deliverance from wrath. Indulgence for sinners is the realization that boys will be boys and that we are just one or two doctrinal developments away from Grand Rapids being a great place for theologically informed homosex, not to mention those who are straight but not narrow. Keep your eye on the ball, folks. This is about the lake of fire, but more immediately it is about something that rhymes with fire, as countless rock songs would have it -- desire. Why are we talking about wrath all of a sudden? Because the doctrine of God's wrath gets in the way of certain things that are deeply desired.
Kevin DeYoung has written the ultimate review of Rob Bell's new book. Case closed.
At the very heart of this controversy, and one of the reasons the blogosphere exploded over this book, is that we really do have two different Gods. The stakes are that high. If Bell is right, then historic orthodoxy is toxic and terrible. But if the traditional view of heaven and hell are right, Bell is blaspheming. I do not use the word lightly, just like Bell probably chose “toxic” quite deliberately. Both sides cannot be right. As much as some voices in evangelicalism will suggest that we should all get along and learn from each other and listen for the Spirit speaking in our midst, the fact is we have two irreconcilable views of God.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Wednesday, March 09, 2011
As I mentioned earlier this week, we are only a few days from the announcement of the 2011 NCAA Men's Basketball tournament bracket, and that also means we have come to my second annual Book Bracketology contest where you all can compete to win books, gift certificates, and the like. I have the rules posted above, but in short, you can enter up to 3 brackets at a cost of $5 a bracket. The overall winner takes home the main prize of a few books as well as some gift certificates. There will also be prizes for a couple other categories, such as closest guess to the total score of the championship game. Last year, the champ took home a nice load of books as well as a gift card to Amazon. That was from a group of 15 contestants (and 18 total brackets). If we can double that number this year, imagine the good books that could be gracing your bookshelf by the end of April. Join now!
Here we go, a review of Rob Bell's book by the chief Christian book reviewer of our day, Tim Challies.
Bell begins the book with surprising forthrightness: Jesus’ story has been hijacked by a number of different stories that Jesus has no interest in telling. “The plot has been lost, and it’s time to reclaim it.” (Preface, vi)
A staggering number of people have been taught that a select few Christians will spend forever in a peaceful, joyous place called heaven, while the rest of humanity spends forever in torment and punishment in hell with no chance for anything better…. This is misguided and toxic and ultimately subverts the contagious spread of Jesus’ message of love, peace, forgiveness, and joy that our world desperately needs to hear. (ibid)
You may want to read that again.

It really says that. And it really means what you think it means. Though it takes time for that to become clear.
A God who would allow people to go to hell is not a great God, according to Bell, and the traditional belief that He would is “devastating … psychologically crushing … terrifying and traumatizing and unbearable” (pp. 136-7).

God is at best sort of great, a little great—great for saving some, but evil for allowing others to perish. Dangerous words, those. It is a fearful thing to ascribe evil to God.

So what of the gospel? Where is the gospel and what is the gospel? Ultimately, what Bell offers in this book is a gospel with no purpose. In his understanding of the Bible, people are essentially good, although we certainly do sin, and are completely free to choose or not choose to love God on our own terms. Even then he seems to believe that most people, given enough time and opportunity, will turn to God.
Christians do not need more confusion. They need clarity. They need teachers who are willing to deal honestly with what the Bible says, no matter how hard that truth is. And let’s be honest—many truths are very, very hard to swallow.

Love does win, but not the kind of love that Bell talks about in this book. The love he describes is one that is founded solely on the idea that the primary object of God’s love is man; indeed, the whole story, he writes, can be summed up in these words: “For God so loved the world.” But this doesn’t hold a candle to altogether amazing love of God as actually shown in the Bible. The God who “shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8), who acts on our behalf not so much because His love for us is great, but because He is great (Isaiah 48:9, Ezekiel 20:9,14,22,44, 36:22; John 17:1-5).

That’s the kind of love that wins. That’s the kind of love that motivates us to love our neighbors enough to compel them to flee from the wrath to come. And our love for people means nothing if we do not first and foremost love God enough to be honest about Him.
Unfortunately, this is not unexpected. But it is still heart-breaking... not so much because of Rob Bell's soul (which is important) but because of the millions of souls he is leading astray to a very real Hell. May his words perish and wither so they may yet live.
Doug Wilson has some very helpful thoughts on the topic of Rob Bell and particularly universalism and a doctrine of hell.
I have taught for many years that if the Lake of Fire is literal, then it is unspeakably bad. If it is symbolic -- because realities are always greater than the symbols that represent them -- it is far, far worse than the symbol.

In short, any theology that neglects telling a wicked and adulterous generation that they need to flee from the wrath to come is a theology that is participating in the general iniquity.

Doug Wilson responds to Rob Bell's Universalism from Canon Wired on Vimeo.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011
I just wanted to give a quick reminder that the second annual Echoes in Eternity Book Bracketology contest is nearly here. The March Madness brackets will be announced this coming Sunday, and I should have the details up later this week. Want to win some books? Stay tuned...
1000 global scientists, including many from the UN's own IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), recently spoke out against the UN's claims that global warming either poses a threat or even exists at all. It's refreshing to see such honesty.
“We're not scientifically there yet. Despite what you may have heard in the media, there is nothing like a consensus of scientific opinion that this is a problem. Because there is natural variability in the weather, you cannot statistically know for another 150 years.” -- UN IPCC's Tom Tripp, a member of the UN IPCC since 2004 and listed as one of the lead authors and serves as the Director of Technical Services & Development for U.S. Magnesium.

“Any reasonable scientific analysis must conclude the basic theory wrong!!” -- NASA Scientist Dr. Leonard Weinstein who worked 35 years at the NASA Langley Research Center and finished his career there as a Senior Research Scientist. Weinstein is presently a Senior Research Fellow at the National Institute of Aerospace.

“Please remain calm: The Earth will heal itself -- Climate is beyond our power to control...Earth doesn't care about governments or their legislation. You can't find much actual global warming in present-day weather observations. Climate change is a matter of geologic time, something that the earth routinely does on its own without asking anyone's permission or explaining itself.” -- Nobel Prize-Winning Stanford University Physicist Dr. Robert B. Laughlin, who won the Nobel Prize for physics in 1998, and was formerly a research scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
Apparently, the legal system in Europe is rather stupid.
Discrimination is the very essence of proper insurance: risk cannot be assessed without it. Of course this discrimination has itself to be discriminate, which is to say proper, but to say of an insurance company that it gives policies indiscriminately is about as damning an indictment of it as anyone could make. The court’s ruling is as intellectually fatuous as it is politically tyrannical.
Of course, on this side of the pond, Obama and our wise legislators proclaimed that insurance companies can't turn away anyone who applies for insurance. So idiotic tyranny runs rampant.
Monday, February 28, 2011
I watched the new documentary Waiting for "Superman" tonight. Wow. Directed and narrated by union-loving liberal Davis Guggenheim (who also directed An Inconvenient Truth), one would think that a documentary about the problems in America's public school system would end up centering on the topic of budget cuts and underpaid teachers. And Guggenheim admitted that he went in expecting to find those issues to be the source of the problem. But the script got flipped when he saw the facts, and to his credit, he was honest enough to still tell the story. And what a story it is. The film follows the lives of five young students from around the country, four of whom are from inner city neighborhoods, as their families attempt to find a good education for them. The most heart-rending child is Bianca, a Hispanic girl from Los Angeles. She wants to be a veterinarian, but when one considers that just a small percentage of the children in the middle school she is destined to attend next year will even graduate high school, much less attend college, one can see how dim Bianca's dream probably is.

By the end of the movie, you realize that the only way that the public school system (in the inner city, suburbs, and rural communities) will ever begin to improve is if the teachers' unions lose a significant amount of power, by eliminating collective bargaining and stripping them of many of their current contractual rights. I'd go one step further than Guggenheim and say that teacher unions don't need to just be weakened, they need to be destroyed. While we're at it, I'd love to see all schools privatized. But one step at a time.

Watch this brilliant film and tell your friends about it. This has the potential (along with The Cartel, a documentary specifically focused on teachers' unions) to be a film that will help cause a seismic shift in how education is done in this country.
As many people by now know, Rob Bell made a bit of a stir by releasing a video (see below) to promote his new book (which comes out in a month, I believe). In the video, Bell strongly implies that orthodox view of hell is not an accurate one and leans pretty close to the edge of universalism. Only time (and a thorough vetting of his book) will tell if he indeed steps into that theological wasteland. Plenty has already been said about it, some good, some a bit knee-jerkish for my tastes, but Kevin DeYoung's and Trevin Wax's are the best.
Rob Bell is right about one thing: what you believe about heaven and hell says a lot about what you believe about God. That’s why theological error of this magnitude cannot go unchecked. The God of the Vimeo clip is not a God of wrath, not a God of eternal recompense, not a God who showed us love in sending his Son to be a propitiation for our wretched sins, not a God whose will it was to crush the Suffering Servant in an exercise of divine justice and free grace. Indeed, says Bell—even if he says it with a question—such a God could not be good.

We don’t have to guess if Bell will say something dreadfully, horribly, disgracefully wrong.

He already has.

LOVE WINS. from Rob Bell on Vimeo.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011
I'm working my way through the Prophets right now in my Bible reading and while at times it is quite understandable that we hear so few sermons from them (particularly from ones not named Isaiah), there are some great things that I have found within their pages. Yesterday morning, I was reading Ezekiel 33-34.
The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, speak to your people and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword against a land, and the people of the land choose one of their men and make him their watchman, and he sees the sword coming against the land and blows the trumpet to warn the people, then if anyone hears the trumpet but does not heed the warning and the sword comes and takes their life, their blood will be on their own head. Since they heard the sound of the trumpet but did not heed the warning, their blood will be on their own head. If they had heeded the warning, they would have saved themselves. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes someone’s life, that person’s life will be taken because of their sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for their blood.’

“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to the wicked, ‘You wicked person, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade them from their ways, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the wicked person to turn from their ways and they do not do so, they will die for their sin, though you yourself will be saved. - Ezekiel 33:1-9
Now that is a scary text in light of the Great Commission. I wonder how many people I will be held accountable for because I didn't share the Gospel with them. Unless you're a hyper-Calvinist, that should concern you. And more than that, it should change how we live.

Later in chapter 33, we see one of the first clear pictures of salvation by faith and grace alone in the Old Testament.
‘If someone who is righteous disobeys, that person’s former righteousness will count for nothing. And if someone who is wicked repents, that person’s former wickedness will not bring condemnation. The righteous person who sins will not be allowed to live even though they were formerly righteous.’ If I tell a righteous person that they will surely live, but then they trust in their righteousness and do evil, none of the righteous things that person has done will be remembered; they will die for the evil they have done. And if I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ but they then turn away from their sin and do what is just and right— if they give back what they took in pledge for a loan, return what they have stolen, follow the decrees that give life, and do no evil—that person will surely live; they will not die. None of the sins that person has committed will be remembered against them. They have done what is just and right; they will surely live. - vs. 12-16
Do not trust in your own righteousness, God says. Instead, trust in He who blots out iniquity. It also speaks of the importance of finishing well. You can be a righteous person and fall into unrepentant sin and you're in much worse shape than the thief on the cross who repented at the end of his life.

Lastly, in chapter 34, God tells of His plan to fulfill the Great Commission and Abrahamic covenant.
‘For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign LORD. I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.
I will save my flock, and they will no longer be plundered. I will judge between one sheep and another. I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd. I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them. I the LORD have spoken.

“‘I will make a covenant of peace with them and rid the land of savage beasts so that they may live in the wilderness and sleep in the forests in safety. I will make them and the places surrounding my hill a blessing. I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing. The trees will yield their fruit and the ground will yield its crops; the people will be secure in their land. They will know that I am the LORD, when I break the bars of their yoke and rescue them from the hands of those who enslaved them. They will no longer be plundered by the nations, nor will wild animals devour them. They will live in safety, and no one will make them afraid. I will provide for them a land renowned for its crops, and they will no longer be victims of famine in the land or bear the scorn of the nations. Then they will know that I, the LORD their God, am with them... - 34:11-16, 22-29
If you ever wondered where Jesus got the sheep/shepherd metaphor, Ezekiel 34 is the place it most clearly originated (among other Old Testament texts). It's pretty cool when the Bible fits together so well.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
This is a very good piece in the Wall Street Journal on the dearth of mature men in today's society.
What explains this puerile shallowness? I see it as an expression of our cultural uncertainty about the social role of men. It's been an almost universal rule of civilization that girls became women simply by reaching physical maturity, but boys had to pass a test. They needed to demonstrate courage, physical prowess or mastery of the necessary skills. The goal was to prove their competence as protectors and providers. Today, however, with women moving ahead in our advanced economy, husbands and fathers are now optional, and the qualities of character men once needed to play their roles—fortitude, stoicism, courage, fidelity—are obsolete, even a little embarrassing.
Relatively affluent, free of family responsibilities, and entertained by an array of media devoted to his every pleasure, the single young man can live in pig heaven—and often does. Women put up with him for a while, but then in fear and disgust either give up on any idea of a husband and kids or just go to a sperm bank and get the DNA without the troublesome man. But these rational choices on the part of women only serve to legitimize men's attachment to the sand box. Why should they grow up? No one needs them anyway. There's nothing they have to do.

They might as well just have another beer.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
This is a good post by Doug Wilson on a reasonable and Biblical approach to the subject of birth control. As always, he seems to hit just the right note between either extreme ditch.
Tuesday, February 08, 2011
"If you think of this world as a place intended simply for our happiness, you find it quite intolerable: think of it as a place for correction and it's not so bad.

Imagine a set of people all living in the same building. Half of them think it is a hotel, the other half think it is a prison. Those who think it a hotel might regard it as quite intolerable, and those who thought it was a prison might decide that it was really surprisingly comfortable. So that what seems the ugly doctrine is one that comforts and strengthens you in the end. The people who try to hold an optimistic view of this world would become pessimists: the people who hold a pretty stern view of it become optimistic." - C.S. Lewis
Monday, February 07, 2011
This is a great article in World Magazine about films and discernment. I wish more Christians practiced this kind of discernment when they watch movies.
[Dr.] Zhivago was a breakthrough movie. Made in 1965, the same year as The Sound of Music, it was the first film to make adultery beautiful.

I wrote a little post for the blogs confessing that Zhivago had done me more harm than any other film—and all without showing skin. One commenter wrote: "Funny thing about that movie. . . . My parents went to see it at the drive-in theater when it was first released. There, in the car, they decided to divorce."

As a woman now not only surpassing Lara (Komarovsky's betrayed lover) in age but even her mother and looking for holiness, I took pad and paper and started jotting all the elements of David Lean's direction that led to my seduction:

Do not develop the character of Tonya (the wife); make her two­dimensional and vaguely boring. Bring up the Zhivagos' little boy only enough to establish that Zhivago is a good father. This is tricky. Be careful not to overdo these snapshots. You would awaken common sense in the audience. It would dawn on them that Zhivago is no different after all from the deadbeat dads they disdain in the inner city. Then the jig is up.

The last thing you want to do is shift the point of view of the movie from Zhivago and Lara's relationship to the Zhivago family back in Moscow. The viewer must not be allowed to meditate for even a second on what it is like for the boy. No lingering shots of crying himself to sleep, first during the war separation, and later during his father's repeated absences as he goes to Yuriatin to see his illicit lover.

The goal is that the audience should fall in love with the doctor and the mistress, and not only forgive but root for their love affair. This is very difficult to pull off because of natural revulsion against adultery. Do not allow enough exposure of Tonya to create a heart-tie between her and the audience. We need 10 scenes of Lara for every one of Tonya.
Keep the action moving. Allow no time for viewer reflection. Above all, the forces that brought Zhivago and Lara together must be seen as inevitable. Encourage a particular anthropology—that the human heart is passive and not active, that its noblest intentions can be overthrown by a historical juggernaut against which it is hopeless to resist. Show Zhivago and Lara as good people doing their best (they volunteered in the army), struggling valiantly before succumbing to their inescapable fate.

By the time David Lean was done with me, God was a scowling moralist, a pinprick of light in a faraway galaxy. And you would think that all the best things on earth—fields of daffodils, snow-sculpted minarets, and Songs of Songs—were the gifts given under the sun.
Thursday, February 03, 2011
This is what the Emergent Church is now reduced to, calling Jesus' knowledge into question because the modern idol of science tells us that He couldn't be right. Next step: the resurrection as metaphor.

I, for one, am thrilled to see this new development, as it allows all to see what truly drives the Emergent Church (the idolatry of the Enlightenment over against the eternal truth of God's Word) and makes them easy to ignore and lump in with the rest of the dying mainline churches. It's a cult that has already long passed its half-life. Good riddance.
Wednesday, February 02, 2011
Doug Wilson has an excellent piece on the dangers of political loyalties.
[T]he issue is not whether you vote Republican or not. The issue is whether you trust Republican. If we do that, then we are a bigger fool than we look.

It is not as though God is making us choose between evils, with us trying to figure out which one is the lesser. Voting Republican is not a venial sin, with a vote for the Democrats being a steaming hot mortal one. The issue on all these things is why and how. Trusting the Democrats is certainly a mortal sin. Trusting the Republicans is a venial one . . . but a sin nonetheless. Christians really ought to knock it off. But trusting perfectionistic third party candidates is obviously the Pathway of Light, upon which, if you walk, no political temptations whatever can behall you. Right? Well, suit yourself, friend. If you never enroll in the class, then nobody ever gets to grade your papers.

At the same time, the coordinates of my convictions do place me a bit out of the mainstream. I do sympathize with the sentiment that says, "If God had wanted us to vote, He would have given us candidates." But just as we get the representatives we deserve, so also we get the candidates we deserve. We are not mis-represented. We are not under-represented. We are represented well.

My hope and prayer is that this representation will at some point in the near future signal a turn which can only be described as a political repentance. Repentance means a change of mind, a different direction entirely -- and not just the same old disobedience, only slower. A man in an adulterous relationship, who only sees his mistress once a week now, cannot call his tapering off repentance. A man getting drunk every other weekend cannot think of this as a repentant lifestyle because it is nothing like it used to be back in college. If sin were the city pool, it does not ultimately matter if you are only up to your ankles in the kiddie pool, or doing cannonballs off the high dive.

When it comes to spending, the Republicans are grannies who get into the sherry cabinet way more than they ought to, and Obama is Charlie Sheen. Such comparisons do not redound to anybody's glory, but they do affect what we might decide to do about it. The grannies have an admitted problem, but we do not need to take them off to rehab on a stretcher. Like we do with some people.

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Darius' book montage

The Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel The Main Thing
Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
Overcoming Sin and Temptation
According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible
Disciplines of a Godly Man
Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem
When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor. . .and Ourselves
The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
Respectable Sins
The Kite Runner
Life Laid Bare: The Survivors in Rwanda Speak
Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak
A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/calvinist, ... anabaptist/anglican, metho
Show Them No Mercy
The Lord of the Rings
Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass
The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception
Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming
The Chronicles of Narnia
Les Misérables

Darius Teichroew's favorite books »