Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Showing What's Inside

I said "ouch" when I read this Jame Ryles post at rylisms: Your True Colors It is worth quoting in full, with thanks to James.

"You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.” (James 1:3, The Message).

During a pregame talk with the Colorado Buffaloes some years ago I asked the question, “What do you get when you squeeze a lemon?” Of course the standard answer fired back from coaches and players alike, “Lemon juice!”

But what nobody knew that morning was that I had filled the lemon with ketchup. When I squeezed it tight and the red liquid oozed over my hand, they were all taken back.

“You’re wrong,” I then said. “The actual answer is that you get whatever is inside it.”

At that point I had them right where I wanted them, and then asked, “So, what’s inside you? What are we going to see when pressure puts the squeeze on you?” The answer is the same to the lemon question; we will see whatever is in you.

The great C. S. Lewis said, “A sudden provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man. It shows what an ill-tempered man I am.” James tells us in his letter that “under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.” Maybe this is why the Lord provides so many wonderful opportunities for us to be squeezed.

The origin of the phrase “true colors” comes from naval parlance back in the days when pirates sailed the high seas. Vessels would always fly on their topmast the flag of their country of origin. But pirates were notorious for hoisting the flags of different nations so as to gain an advantage against unsuspecting vessels. However, under no circumstance would any honorable Captain ever fly false colors. Thus, the phrase “true colors” indicates authenticity in both motive and manner.

The Lord wants to make us truly authentic men and women, but to get us there He has to squeeze out the other stuff – and He will do so with unrelenting pressure until there is nothing left to ooze.

So, you been feeling squeezed lately?"

Scripting Your Life

Donald Miller's Book Blue Like Jazz is being turned into a movie! He talks about the process of having his life turned into a movie script at Be. Do. Write in Christianity Today,

Miller's newest book - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years - covers this in more detail.

You see, this book is (ostensibly) about the process of turning Jazz into a movie. Two filmmakers come calling, Miller agrees to have his life scripted for the screen, and the three men collaborate on a screenplay. It's a chance for Miller to "edit his life," to make it more structured, compelling, and, well, movie-like. Does his life, like Casablanca, have purpose in every scene and every line of dialogue? Will his life leave observers with a beautiful feeling as the credits roll?

These questions stand at the heart of A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, which is essentially a stream-of-consciousness meditation on story, how our lives are like stories, the theory of narrative, God as a writer, and so on. It's a movie-like book about a book becoming a movie. The prose alternates between episodic, cinematic "scenes" and philosophical ruminations about story. It's all very meta and postmodern and layered in an Adaptation sort of way.

Pardon me while I break off to go edit my life.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Action Steps For The Anxious

Found these wise words at Peter Cockrell's blog, "Already Not Yet" (love the title!) quoting Paul Tripp's six Action Steps For Anxiety

Paul Tripp’s six action steps for anxiety:

Remind Yourself That God Is In Control: When you convince yourself that your world is out of control, you are on the verge of paralysis. Watch your self-talk. Are you saying to yourself: “God is in control of this circumstance, He is my Father, and He is ruling this for my benefit”?

Accept Confusion: Believing in God’s sovereignty doesn’t mean life will make sense. Believing in God’s sovereignty is needed because life doesn’t make sense. Your rest is not in figuring out your circumstances–your rest is in the God behind the circumstances.

Don’t Allow Emotions To Rule: As much as the emotions you experience will be right, good, and appropriate, don’t let them set the agenda. There is a temptation to do that, but allowing yourself to be pulled away by the emotions of the moment could cause you to regret your decisions later.

Distinguish Needs From Wants: Be very careful what you put in your catalog of “need.” The minute you tell yourself something is a need, you’re saying it is essential for life. Then you are going to determine that you can’t live without it. It’s easy to attach yourself and your sense of security to the gift rather than to the Giver.

Know Your Job Description: God promises to provide. Your job is to live the way God has called you to live. Instead of giving way to discouragement, look for ways you can contribute to God’s people at the moment.

Run To God, Not Away From Him: God’s promise to us is not first the relief of the suffering–His promise is to give us Himself. He will never turn a deaf ear to the natural cries of a person of faith when life doesn’t make sense. God hears and answers and works and comforts.

(HT: Tullian Tchividjian)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Yom Kippur

Today is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. TheResurgence has a good description and explanation of the meaning of the day under both the old covenant and the new.

Thankful today that Jesus is my (our) full atonement!

Disturbing Request

"'Since they didn't bother to acknowledge God, God quit bothering them and let them run loose' (Romans 1:28, The Message).

May it never be said of anyone of us that God quit bothering us! Left to ourselves we will always settle for the least, not the best. Like a river unattended, we will take the path of least resistance, and suppose it had been the best route all along." '

James Ryles at rylisms: Disturb Us, Lord:

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Dual Fidelity

“Christians are called to a dual fidelity — fidelity to the core content of the gospel accompanied by fidelity to the primary context of the believing community.”

- Tim Chester and Steve Timmis, Total Church (Wheaton, Ill.; Crossway Books, 2008), 54.

Hat Tip: The Christian’s Dual Fidelity « Of First Importance

A Moving Hymn

I'm all in favor of singing good old hymns, with either the original tunes or updated ones. However, I do not think this Isaac Watts classic will work in the contemporary church setting!
Blest is the man whose bowels move,
And melt with pity to the poor;
Whose soul, by sympathizing love,
Feels what his fellow saints endure.

Blest is the Man Whose Bowels Move- Isaac Watts, 1674-1748
Better skip that one.

Hat Tip: Vitamin Z

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Seeker Sensitive Evangelism


Jesus the Goal

“Jesus Christ is not merely the means of our rescue from damnation; he is the goal of our salvation. If he is not satisfying to be with, there is no salvation.

He is not merely the rope that pulls us from the threatening waves; he is the solid beach under our feet, the air in our lungs, and the beat of our heart, and the warm sun on our skin, and the song in our ears, and the arms of our beloved.”

- John Piper, Taste and See, 406

Hat Tip: Rope, Beach, Air, Sun, Song « Of First Importance

Friday, September 25, 2009

Is Jesus Your Homeboy?

Hat Tip: Parchment and Pen

Learning From Your Critics

Billy Graham's grandson, Rev. Tullian Tchividjian, is the pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Florida. This is the church founded and pastored for 50 years by the late Dr. D. James Kennedy.

That church has just gone through a leadership struggle. When discussing that situation, Tullian shared with Christianity Today Magazine a lesson his grandfather taught him about handling conflict and controversy. - Allow Your Critics to Teach You .
"I have talked to him about it on numerous occasions. His encouragement to me is, 'Simply, by God's grace, I've weathered many storms just like this, and if you submit to what God is trying to teach you, he will make you wise and humble and useful.'

In other words, don't become proud and self-righteous. Be teachable. And God will make you useful.

Don't become bitter, in other words. Allow even your most vocal critics, who may criticize you unjustifiably, to become tools in God's hands to teach you something. Emerge from this more of a gospel man, more of a God-centered man."
Wise words from the good Dr. Billy.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Things You Can Stake Your Life On

Here's a great post from The Gospel-Driven Church: What You Can Stake Your Life On:

1. God's words are true.

For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.
-- Psalm 33:4

2. Even if you let him down, he will never return the favor.

If we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.
-- 2 Timothy 2:13

3. He is never late.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.
-- Romans 5:6

4. He is not slow.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.
-- 2 Peter 3:9a

5. He loves you.

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
-- 1 John 4:16a"

Thanks, I needed to hear this today!

Gone Fishing

"Philip Melancthon once said to his friend Martin Luther, 'Today, Martin, you and I will discuss God's governance of the universe,' to which Luther replied, 'No, Philip. Today you and I are going fishing, and we'll leave the governance of the universe to God.'"
Wise words. Think I'll go fishing also; God's got it all under control!

Hat tip: The Gospel-Driven Church: Mind Your Own Business

Four Most Important Things About the Gospel

This post by J D Greear on The Four Most Important Things I Believe About the Gospel is really good!
Gospel is spelled "d-o-n-e," not "d-o". The word "Gospel" implies an event that has already been done, not something we must go and do. The Gospel is not, then, primarily about what we are to go and do for God, but about what God has done for us. The Gospel is good news, not good advice.

The core message of that good news is that God saves sinners. From start to finish, it is all God's work, not ours.

Christ saved us by substituting for us. He lived the life we were supposed to have lived, and died the death we were condemned to die. Whatever "metaphor" you choose for salvation--justification, redemption, cleansing, defeat of the evil powers--substitution is the core of it. For example, Christ's blood cleanses us... but how? Because He substituted for us and absorbed the curse, corruption and condemnation for sin.

The Gospel is only good news if it gets there in time
Amen to the above!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Facing Fear

I'm meditating on this article by John Paul Jackson on the need to Get Rid of Your Fear . I suspect that the end result will be life changing, if I fully follow through.
"Over time, I have discovered that God takes our fears very seriously. We often do not. Most of us have been afraid of the same things for so many years that we almost don't notice how they're affecting us anymore—or worse, we choose to ignore them.

This isn't fear, we may think. I just don't do that sort of thing. I'm not outgoing enough. It's not because I'm afraid of failing. I've just decided not to see this through.

I know God doesn't want me to be afraid of this (person, event, situation), but I am.

Our fears may seem small and insignificant to us, but they aren't to God. He will often go to great lengths to see that we are delivered from them."
Click on the link above to read the rest of his article.

Feeding on the Word

Interesting discussion by Dr. Ben Witherington on the sacremental (grace imparting) role of Bible reading.
If a sacrament is a means of grace, by which is meant a means of divine influence and change in a person's life, then surely the Word of God and its proclamation, reading, hearing learning, memorizing is a sacrament. We just don't tend to call it that. Consider however what is said about the Word of God in the NT at various junctures. The Word of God is seen as something living which dwells richly in the believer once received, probing and changing the person inwardly.
I grew up in the Baptist tradition where we denied the existence of sacraments, and called communion and baptism "ordinances." However, we frequently talked of Bible reading and study as feeding our souls. Is that not a sacramental function?

Read the rest of the discussion at Feed on the Word - Ben Witherington on the Bible and Culture

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Dangerous, Laborious and Profitable

St. Augustine commenting on the Trinity that “in no other subject is error more dangerous, or inquiry more laborious, or the discovery of truth more profitable.”

Hat Tip: DeYoung, Restless, and Reformed: The Most Important Doctrine Many Never Think About

BTW the whole article at the above link is very good.

Honesty & Humility

Found this very good discussion on the nature of humility by Michael Kelley at Forward Progress. I like the fact that he puts God at the center and I agree with what he says.

Humility is a tricky subject, to say the least. It’s tricky because I might write a post that tells you what I have learned about being humble. But then I wouldn’t be humble any more because I’d be proud of my humility. Or I might write a post about what an idiot I am. But the truth is I don’t really think I’m that much of an idiot, so I’d be feigning humility in order to get you to like me. Once again, you have pride masquarading as humility.

I think the best solution to this quandry is also the simplest one: let’s adopt the philosophy of just being honest.

When you’re honest, you can admit that you’re good at certain things. True, you’re ot the best at them, but you’re good at them nontheless. But let’s take that honesty even further. Though you admit you are good at certain things, you really can’t take credit for them.

Because if you’re honest, you have to admit that it’s God who has given you certain talents and abilities, God who fills your lungs, God who makes your heart beat one more time.

Or from the other perspective: If you’re honest, you have to admit that there are many things you’re not good at. But if you carry that honesty out even further, you understand that just because you can’t sing like Michael Bolten or dance like Paula Abdul, you still have worth as a human being. You have worth because you were made in the image of God. And because He has worth, so do you.

In either case, if you follow honesty back to its source, you find God. At the center. Again and again.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

An Arminian Appreciation of John Calvin

A lot of stuff is being written (good and bad) about reformer John Calvin this year on the 500th anniversary of his birth. Some interesting tidbits in Ben Witherington's article at Christianity Today on John Calvin as Man of the Bible:
"John Calvin was one of the truly great Christian exegetes and, indeed, systematic theologians of all time—never mind that I disagree with a great deal of what he has to say about God, his sovereignty, the nature of his grace, and election, predestination, and human freedom.

...he is to be respected for understanding that biblical theology can only be done on the basis of a detailed and comprehensive exegesis of all the relevant material. This is precisely what I have tried to do in my career. I needed to follow Calvin's lead and begin by researching and writing commentaries on the entire New Testament corpus. Exegesis is the basis for all good biblical theology, and the latter should not be attempted without first doing the former."
This is a nice appreciation coming from a respected theologian who is not a Calvinist. Dr. Witherington is the Amos Professor of New Testament for Doctoral Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary- a Wesleyan school - and a self proclaimed Arminian in his theology.
"I have fond memories of working carefully through Calvin's Institutes for the first time, and being especially surprised by and taken with his profound theology of the Holy Spirit. I remember reading in Gordon-Conwell's newspaper a rather interesting historical curio from a letter of Calvin about how one morning he woke up and found himself speaking in lingua barbaria. The article went on to speculate that Calvin may have spoken in tongues!"
Okay, that's a new one on me. Who'd a thunk it!
"All in all, Calvin lived out Bengel's maxim: Apply the whole of the text (of the Bible) to yourself. And apply the whole of yourself to the text. It's a motto by which any Christian should be proud to live."
Agreed: that's a good motto for any believer. Think I'll adopt it as mine.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Gospel Confronts Road Rage

I've enjoyed the material at the website called "Mount Jesus," featuring discussion on the Sermon on the Mount. But this one hit a personal nerve: Open Heart Surgery, with a spoon.
"A spiritual mentor once told me that a good way to gauge my comprehension and embrace of the Fathers agape love is by observing my thoughts and reactions when driving. He said: “do you want an indication as to whether or not you believe the father loves you? Observe your reaction to slow and incompetent drivers while rushing to get somewhere”. As I began thinking about this concept I quickly admitted my frustration with bad drivers and incompetent behavior. Honestly, the term frustration is a far cry from my real feelings; the truth is I absolutely hate incompetence, both in myself and in others. It makes me furious....

....Forgetfulness, non-efficient methods, irrational behaviors and bad directions drive me mad. It’s like my emotions become a pressure cooker building up, and although I often feel like placing my hands around the neck of countless numskulls who cross my path daily, I have mastered the craft of “Christian behavior modification”. Unfortunately I am usually oblivious to this deep-rooted hatred and when/if I do become aware of it I often succeed at convincing myself that my thoughts are justified. I mean really, is it my fault that I work with a bunch of lazy, good for nothing slackers who cant seem to accomplish the most trivial of tasks?

This type of thought pattern, which is pervasive throughout our society makes perfect sense according to rational logic, however is in direct opposition of the Gospel of Grace. Just as Christ called the Scribes and Pharisees hypocrites and whitewashed tombs, he says to me: façade, façade, façade. It’s all a masquerade, controlled by deep breaths, hypocritical prep-talks and pharisaical veneers. My disease-infected heart is filled with bitter rage and hidden by a thick layer of camouflage. The outside of my cup is clean but my inside is often more wretched than a mountain mans spittoon. Judgmental condemnation and curses fill my heart as I look upon failures, slackers and those who just can’t get it right.

Now comes the how and why questions. How can a person who claims to embrace a message of grace and peace, so powerful that it transformed a ruthless assassin into a faithful disciple who gave his life away, become filled with anger and hate? Why is it so easy for me to become pissed off because grandpa took a tad bit too much of his medicine before driving to the bingo lodge?"
Ouch! Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The God Who Knows Pain

“I could never myself believe in God, if it were not for the cross… In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it? I have entered many Buddhist temples in different Asian countries and stood respectfully before the statue of Buddha, his legs crossed, arms folded, eyes closed, the ghost of a smile playing round his mouth, a remote look on his face, detached from the agonies of the world. But each time after a while I have to turn away. And in imagination I have turned instead to that lonely, twisted, tortured figure on the cross, nails through hands and feet, back lacerated, limbs wrenched, brow bleeding from thorn-pricks, mouth dry and intolerably thirsty, plunged in Godforsaken darkness. That is the God for me! He laid aside his immunity to pain. He entered our world of flesh and blood, tears and death. He suffered for us. Our sufferings become more manageable in light of his.”
—John Stott, The Cross of Christ (IVP, 1986), pp. 335—336
From Peter Cockrell at Already Not Yet

Thanks Peter, for bringing attention to such a great quote. Hallelujah! What a Savior!

What Does It Mean To Be Gospel-Centred ?

There was a very good meditation last Friday at Peter Cockrell's blog ("Already Not Yet") on what it means for a person or group to be Gospel Centred. This is a current big buzz word in the Christian blogosphere, and it is worth taking time to define what it means.

...Therefore, to be gospel-centered means that that the gospel – and Jesus himself – is our greatest hope and boast, our deepest longing and joy, and our most passionate song and message. It means that the gospel is what defines us as Christians, unites us as brothers and sisters, changes us as sinner/saints and sends us as God’s people on mission. When we are gospel-centered the gospel is exalted above every other good thing in our lives and triumphs over every bad thing set against it....

...More specifically, the gospel-centered life is a life where a Christian experiences a growing personal reliance on the gospel that protects him from depending on his own religious performance and being seduced and overwhelmed by idols.
I highly recommend reading the whole thing. Good stuff!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Fraud and Waste?

In his speech before Congress last week, President Obama said the following:
"[W]e’ve estimated that most of this plan can be paid for by finding savings within the existing health care system, a system that is currently full of waste and abuse. . . . The only thing this plan would eliminate is the hundreds of billions of dollars in waste and fraud . . . . Reducing the waste and inefficiency in Medicare and Medicaid will pay for most of this plan."
I have a couple of questions, Mr. President.

1. If Medicare and Medicaid are filled with that much fraud and waste, why don't you fix that now, fix that first, before starting a new government health care program?

If Medicare and Medicaid are filled with that much fraud and waste, why should we believe that your new "public option" would not also be filled with fraud, waste and abuse?

Awaiting answers (as the crickets chirp).

Are You A Heretic?

Are you a Heretic? Michael Patton want to help you answer that question. See his blog post entitled Crossing the Heretical Line.

By his definition, I think I am safe. But one never knows!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Legalism Illustrated

Hat Tip: Miscellanies.

Gospel Definitions

Check out this great collection of Gospel Definitions put together by Trevin Wax at the "Kingdom People" Blog.
For almost two years now, I have been steadily gathering a number of definitions of “the gospel” in an ongoing series entitled “Gospel Definitions.” As far as I know, this is the largest grouping of gospel definitions on the internet today.
He has links to definitions as stated by a large variety of authors and Christian leaders.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Punishment for Osama

When we finally catch Osama Bin Laden, I hope that they fly him to his execution site via commercial airliner.

I hope that he has to take of his shoes, get patted down by rude TSA inspectors, and have his personal toiletries pawed over in public. Make him eat stale peanuts and sit in a seat that crams his knees up to his chest. And put a 6 year old behind him kicking the back of his seat the entire flight.
Oh, and add an eight hour overlay stuck in a hot airplane in Atlanta.

Only seems fair.

911- Eight Years Later

We Remember September 11, 2001.
On that morning a co-worker ran down the hall of our office shouting that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. We gathered in front of a TV normally used for training videos to watch as the disaster continued to unfold. I called my wife to tell her to get to a television. Not much work got done that day.
The plane that hit the Pentagon destroyed the section of the building where my father had worked almost 30 years earlier. My in-laws were in DC stuck in some of the traffic caused by the Pentagon hit.
May the Lord be with those who still mourn the loved ones lost that day, and may His grace be with those brave men and women who fight for our freedom and the freedom of other peoples and nations, and may God bless America.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Comfortable Churches

What do you think about this quote?
"It is quite common for people to say they are looking for a church they are comfortable with. I think that is a scandalous statement. When were churches supposed to be comfortable places? There is too much need in the world for Christians to be comfortable."--

Ajith Fernando, The Call to Joy and Pain: Embracing Suffering in Your Ministry (Crossway, 2007)
Hat Tip: Pure Church, Vitamin Z

There's an old saying about a preacher's job being to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. Sound right to me.

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Gospel Definition

“The ‘gospel’ is the good news that through Jesus, the Messiah, the power of God’s kingdom has entered history to renew the whole world. Through the Savior God has established his reign. When we believe and rely on Jesus’ work and record (rather than ours) for our relatinoship to God, that kingdom power comes upon us and begins to work through us. We witness this radical new way of living by our renewed lives, beautiful community, social justice, and cultural transformation. The good news brings new life. The gospel motivates, guides, and empowers every aspect of our living and worship.”

- Jim Belcher, Deep Church: A Third Way Beyond Emerging and Traditional

Hat Tip: Kingdom People

Moralism Is Not the Gospel

Here's Albert Mohler at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary on Why Moralism Is Not the Gospel -- And Why So Many Christians Think It Is

"Sadly, this false gospel is particularly attractive to those who believe themselves to be evangelicals motivated by a biblical impulse. Far too many believers and their churches succumb to the logic of moralism and reduce the Gospel to a message of moral improvement. In other words, we communicate to lost persons the message that what God desires for them and demands of them is to get their lives straight.

In one sense, we are born to be moralists. Created in God's image, we have been given the moral capacity of conscience. From our earliest days our conscience cries out to us the knowledge of our guilt, shortcomings, and misbehaviors. In other words, our conscience communicates our sinfulness.

Add to this the fact that the process of parenting and child rearing tends to inculcate moralism from our earliest years. Very quickly we learn that our parents are concerned with our behavior. Well behaved children are rewarded with parental approval, while misbehavior brings parental sanction. This message is reinforced by other authorities in young lives and pervades the culture at large.

....The seduction of moralism is the essence of its power. We are so easily seduced into believing that we actually can gain all the approval we need by our behavior. Of course, in order to participate in this seduction, we must negotiate a moral code that defines acceptable behavior with innumerable loopholes. Most moralists would not claim to be without sin, but merely beyond scandal. That is considered sufficient.

Moralists can be categorized as both liberal and conservative. In each case, a specific set of moral concerns frames the moral expectation. As a generalization, it is often true that liberals focus on a set of moral expectations related to social ethics while conservatives tend to focus on personal ethics. The essence of moralism is apparent in both -- the belief that we can achieve righteousness by means of proper behavior."

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Laboring for Rest!

This Monday is Labor Day in the USA. I do not know why it is that we celebrate Labor Day by taking a day off to rest. However, I shall labor to enter into rest this weekend.

"Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience." (Hebrews 4:11 ESV)

Wishing a blessed holiday weekend to my readers and friends!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Good Film About Martin Luther

I tend to quote Martin Luther a lot on this blog because I find his central insights on the Gospel to be so profound. Several years ago (2003), my wife and I saw the movie Luther in a theatre. We liked it so much we bought a copy of the DVD for our home library. This week Carl Gobelman at New Creation Person wrote a review on the film - Martin Luther: Father of the Reformation « New Creation Person . I can agree with the following comments.

"... the cast is outstanding. Joseph Fiennes as Martin Luther is about as good as it gets. I loved him in Shakespeare in Love, and I love him in Luther. Fiennes does a superb job of capturing the emotional struggle in Luther between his strong stance of faith and the doubts that surged in his heart. Luther was a man who loved the church, but hated the abuses of its ministers. I firmly believe that Luther did not want to break ranks with the Catholic Church. Rather he wanted to bring it back to the true gospel. Fiennes brilliantly captures the sense of betrayal Luther must have felt when he realized that the Holy Father did not agree with his diagnosis.

The rest of the ensemble was brilliant too. Alfred Molina as John Tetzel, Jonathan Firth as Girolamo Aleander, Claire Cox as Katharina Von Bora, and Sir Peter Ustinov as Prince Frederick the Wise all play their roles with clarity and conviction.....

....As for the film’s shortcomings, they are few but should be noted. As previously mentioned, the film only touches on the high points in the life of Martin Luther. It does not go into depth concerning his spiritual and theological convictions — convictions that helped shape the landscape of Protestant theology. Second, the film has a few historical inaccuracies, but they are minor (e.g., referring to Bible passages by chapter and verse when chapter and verse divisions weren’t instituted yet; stating that Luther and Spalatin met on law school when they didn’t meet until later; etc.). Third, the movie tends to simplify the heros and villains a bit. Luther is clearly the good guy and Pope Leo X, Aleander and Tetzel are clearly the bad guys. We all know in real life, things just aren’t that simple. Lutherans and Protestants will probably shout a hearty “AMEN” to this while Romans Catholics will match that with a resounding chorus of “BOO.” That’s probably to be expected."

The other shortcoming I would add is that the major characters don't age much when the film covers over 30 years of time!

All in all, it is a very good flick, especially if you are interested in church history (as I am). I recommend it for an interesting evening's viewing.

More Thoughts on “The Shack”

By now most evangelical believers have read or at least heard of the book The Shack. I have posted some reviews of the book and some of my thoughts on it here, here, here and here.

Trevin Wax published Some Thoughts on “The Shack” at his blog Kingdom People. This is one of the better balanced reviews that I have seen. I think I can totally agree with what he says about the book, both positively and negatively.

"I have heard people rave about this book (in a good way), and I have heard others rave about this book (in a bad way). Some described it as the best book in the past 50 years. Others described it as the worst heresy to ever hit the Christian bookstore.

In the end, I found that The Shack wasn’t nearly as good as some had said, and it wasn’t nearly as bad as others had charged. It has everything positive about contemporary evangelicalism, and yet it has all the drawbacks of current evangelical expression too."

I commend this review for your consideration.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Immerse Your Mind in the Word of the Gospel

Love this quote from Dr. Sam Storms' book, The Hope of Glory, page 44:

If hearing the gospel produces hope and hope produces love, we must be diligent to immerse our minds in the gospel by reading of it in the inspired Word, by meditating on its promises, obeying its warnings, memorizing those texts that speak of its blessings, and trusting that it will do for our souls what nothing else can.
Always remember, even Christians need to hear the Gospel. Everything comes back to the Gospel, because everything comes back to Jesus!

Hat tip: Christians in Context: from orthodoxy to orthopraxy.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Journey In, Journey Out

"This quote from a sermon by Mike Bullmore is worth meditating upon:

'We need fellowship with others to be alone safely.We need solitude to be with others meaningfully. '"