Thursday, February 26, 2009

Fireproof Review, Part 4

Continuing the riveting list of the good with respect to Fireproof...

9. Fireproof rightfully makes the point that men must lead. I don't need to explain to you that this idea is God's idea. So I was delighted to see this made plain on film. On the other hand, this was undermined a bit when they revealed that Caleb's mom was actually the one who did the love dare on his dad (and probably the reason they added it into the plot). Now it is abundantly clear that marriage is a partnership and that sometimes women are more to blame than men (see Gen. 3). But that does not make men any less responsible. And that idea seemed to come across in the movie.

10. It was so powerful to see a husband win back his wife. It wasn't some crappy tale of a woman finally leaving her awful husband and finding true love with some other guy. It was the display of the power of loving reconciliation. That is romantic. And it made the climax scene that much more touching.

11. I thought the writing and directing was much crisper in the second half the movie. Caleb's transformation was written extremely well.

12. For the most part the film was a balanced portrayal of real life. Some Christian films don't get the "world" at all and, rather than trying to understand it, make a mockery of it. Not so with Fireproof. Caleb was not surrounded by a bunch of Christians. He clearly worked in a non-Christian environment. Michael, it seems, was the one alone in his faith.

13. The scene with the destruction of the computer was especially poignant because it was an application of Matthew 5:30: "And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell." He was doing what was necessary to live life in accordance with the Spirit and, accordingly, to save his marriage. I cheered in my heart at this scene and half-expected Catherine to come back right then.

14. Divorce is so rampant and accepted today that most people, when they hit rough spots, immediately believe that divorce is the only answer. Fireproof rejects this idea out of hand and says that all marriages are not only worth saving, but are able to be saved.

15. If I haven't been clear yet, the overarching point of this movie is that the gospel must be central to our lives. To see that displayed so well in a movie was amazing. Sadly, this biblical notion is not just a contrast to the world; it is a contrast to some preaching we hear today.


16. Kirk Cameron is undeniably hot.

As I have been writing this review I thought of some other good "Christian" films: The Passion of the Christ, The Nativity Story, Chariots of Fire. These films, as well as the others mentioned, are great flicks. Fireproof, I would say, stands with those films, at least in its distinctive genre. I know of no other film that displays the gospel in contemporary life so well.

On the other hand, it wasn't perfect. But for that matter, what film is? And why do I get the feeling like some people chastise Christian films just because they are imperfect? Yes, the substance of Christian film has everything to do with what we are about here and in eternity, but, goodness, let's give them a break. When their goal is to make plain the gospel and produce good art, I say "here, here!" and hope they continue their work. May God bless them.

Check out a few other good reviews of this movie: here and here.

Cosmic Eye

The image below is not God's eye, but it helps me remember he is there, that he is active, that he is powerful and awesome, that he is watching.


Recession Wakes Us Up to Wolrd Poverty

In Piper's message on the recession, he gives five reasons why it is good, how he sees God using it. Here is reason number 2:
2. To Awaken Us to World Poverty

It’s astonishing how blind prosperity makes us to the miseries of the world. God has some remedies for that kind of indifference. For example, it says in Hebrews 13:3, “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.”

How does that work? He says that there are people that we should care about who are imprison and mistreated. We tend to forget them. So he says, “Remember!” And he says: “As though with them” and “since you have a body.” So how does it work? It works like this: You have a body and sometimes it hurts. When it hurts, remember that there are people right now who are being mistreated—who are hurting much more than you. Imagine yourself in their shoes, and treat them the way you would want to be treated.

Recession hurts us. It imprisons us. What is God’s aim? That we would wake up. Does this recession bother us? If it bothers us, we should be bothered by the fact that millions always live in recession. Only live in recession.

One billion people do not have safe water to drink. Sixteen thousand children die every day from hunger related illnesses. Almost eighteen million children are orphaned in sub-Saharan Africa....

It is good to know these things. And to pray about these things. And to cultivate a radical culture at Bethlehem in which hundreds of people dream of ways that their lives can count creatively and long-term for the relief of suffering. Recession has a way of making us wake up to the endless recession of millions. It has a way of changing our priorities and releasing effort and money for others.
Whole thing.

So Many Links (26 Feb 2009)

World's shortest escalator.

Don't save anyone's life lest you get a ticket.

Barak Obama and team take separation of church and state very seriously.

Take the class Classical Mechanics at MIT.

How to witness to your neighbors.

News flash: You will lose weight if you consume less calories.

Have you listed to or watched Piper's sermon yet? MUST.

The obligatory "Supernerds connect hamster to Roomba" video:



Kinkade, death-robot style (much preferred to normal Kinkade):

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Fireproof Review, Part Three

Not All Cheese

Most of the problems with Fireproof came in the form of over-acting, poorly constructed dialogue, or odd, rough editing (thus the cheesiness). There was, however, one plot problem, at least as far as I could tell. This is a minor quibble, but I didn't think that the reconciliation story-line with the mom was necessary. Of course they had to resolve it, considering the fact that Caleb was a jerk to her throughout the movie. I just didn't see the need to include that storyline at all. Reconciliation among family members is great and is a natural outcropping of conversion to Christ. But it seemed outside the scope of this work. The theme in Fireproof was not reconciliation, but martial reconciliation.

The Good

Despite my taking to task some of the elements of Fireproof, I still hold to my contention that it was a good film. O, how can I count the ways I love thee, Fireproof?

1. I thought the acting was (relatively) excellent. As we watched, my wife and I tried to determine who had been hired and who hadn't been. No, the actors were not A-listers, but at least a handful of them seemed professional (others had obviously come straight from choir practice). I was shocked to find out later that only Cameron was a pro.

2. Kirk Cameron was annoying in the Left Behind movies. Not so here. He showed some serious acting chops. And the dude can cry at the drop of a hat.

3. I'm sorry, but if you think those action sequences were anything less than brilliant, you are a snob. I was in suspense both times I watched the car and fire scenes. They might not have had the benefit of million dollar special effects, but it didn't matter. They made me appreciate firefighters even more than I already do.

4. As I said in the previous post, humor is hard to pull off. And Christian humor tends to be the cheesiest (usually for good reason). But Fireproof was different. I was only able to put on the too-cool-for-school act for a while before I burst out laughing a few times. For example, the scenes with Cameron destroying the garbage can with the audience of his neighbors were truly funny. Especially the "It takes one to know one" line. I also liked the scene interaction when Catherine and Caleb explained themselves to their friends. Lighthearted and well done.

5. Yes, the conversion scene was slightly stilted. But they did about as good of a job as is possible. The theology was solid and the buildup in music, camera movement and acting all seemed to make it work pretty well.

6. But more than that, it was placed in the plot expertly. Christianity Today's review of this movie, on the other hand, argued that the conversion scene felt "tacked on." I disagree wholeheartedly. In fact, I don't think the movie works without it. Peter Chattaway wrote, "What if someone were to follow the steps outlined in The Love Dare without being a Christian?" The answer to that seemed obvious in the film. Caleb could not have made the book, or his marriage for that matter, work on his own. The whole point of her coming back to him was not that he cleaned up the house, got rid of the computer, or bought her parents the medical equipment they needed. The reason she came back was because Caleb was a changed man. "I want what has happened to you to happen to me" she says near the end of the film. So his trusting in Christ was the true impetus to love his wife, not the book.

7. The theme of the movie was that marriages don't break, people do. This was all right-on and edifying. Husbands and wives need to learn how to make their marriage work. And that takes hard work. Caleb, and even Catherine to a degree, were highly selfish, working only for themselves. Christ changes people in such a way that they are able to make marriages work despite extended periods of difficulty. This movie was a slap in the face to the modern, western conception of love and marriage. Thank you.

8. CT also disregarded the blow-up scene between Caleb and Catherine. Chattaway writes:
Then there are the arguments that Caleb and Catherine have at home. These scenes are necessary, of course, because without them, we don't understand why their marriage is on the verge of collapse, or what hurdles Caleb will have to overcome in order to win his wife's love back. But when Caleb finally blows up at Catherine—his explosive anger being the thing that finally pushes her to seek a divorce—the outburst is completely out of proportion to what has come before. Yes, arguments have a way of escalating, but nothing we see of Caleb before or after that scene seems to suggest he has that sort of rage coiled up inside him. Instead of seeing a character, we see an actor playing one scene differently from all the others.
I am only picking on CT to make a point. Personally, I don't know if I have ever been so uncomfortable watching a movie in my life. No, I don't blow up like that. But I have said cutting things before, things I wish I could take back. It all felt too real, especially sitting next to my wife. The writers/director know exactly what strained marriages look like.

Per the comments from Chattaway, I totally disagree. (1) Married life means that normal social barriers no longer exist, and that is both a good thing and a bad thing. It is a good thing because you should have great intimacy with your spouse. It is a bad thing because comfortableness will allow you to say things to each other you would say to no one else. Volatile marriages don't need much to set off extreme anger. (2) And it is obvious why Caleb was set off. Catherine was poking at his most secret, most embarrassing flaw: lust. Whenever anyone uncovers our deepest sin, we either recoil, or we lash out. That's what happened here. All in all, I thought it set up the rest of the movie beautifully.

More numbers and a conclusion in a final installment later.

The 1950's Were Worldy, Too

Recession is Good

John Piper's message on the recession is a must, must, must, MUST, must must, Must, must listen to. Listen to it or watch it, preferably in a tiny room with the lights out. Must.

So Many Links (25 Feb 2009)

Mark Driscoll family devotions.

Of course Facebook causes brain damage.

The Bible's view of material possessions.

10 things economists agree on.

An interview with Louie Giglio.

12 food phrases explained.

No one cares about you:

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Fireproof Kiss

If you have seen Fireproof, you know about the very beautiful, tastefully done kissing scene near the end of the movie. I had wondered if the actors were comfortable doing that. I found the answer on the website:
What’s the deal with the kiss between Caleb and Catherine in FIREPROOF?

In a romantic scene in FIREPROOF, lead actor Kirk Cameron is actually kissing his wife Chelsea rather than Erin Bethea, who plays Catherine. Chelsea was flown in from Los Angeles just for that shot. The scene was filmed in silhouette and works incredibly well, with Chelsea wearing the same outfit and a wig to mirror Erin. Sherwood Pictures has upheld this standard in all their movies: actors and actresses should guard their own marriages while on screen the same way they would do in real life. That’s why you don’t see Coach Taylor (Facing the Giants) or Jay Austin (Flywheel) kissing the women playing the on-screen wives. Kirk also has long held to a principle that he would kiss no woman other than Chelsea. He was able to honor his marriage while making a movie that inspires others to do the same.

Fireproof Review, Part Two

Fireproof is the Citizen Kane of Christian films (notwithstanding the semi-Christian films like Bella and Amazing Grace). And I wish that were saying a lot. But, as we have already discussed, the bar has not been set very high. Nevertheless, I think it is probably true that Fireproof is a good film and should be heralded as such, especially considering the production limitations the film makers were under. And that might be what is most remarkable about the film: It was produced entirely by a mid-size church in Georgia. The writers and director are pastors on staff; the female lead is the daughter of the senior pastor; all the actors, except for one (Kirk Cameron), are members at the church; every on-screen extra and off-screen worker came from within the church. It is doubtful they had much money to make it. After you watch the film, make sure you check out the behind-the-scenes documentary. It all makes the film that much more remarkable.

But of course, it wasn't perfect.

I Don't Like Cheese

Fireproof suffers from those things that most low budget, amateur movies suffer from. There were instances of poor writing, awkward direction, harsh editing, neophyte acting. It definitely has a Lifetime Movie quality, at least in parts.

One of the hallmarks of good art is subtlety. And, unfortunately, there were times in Fireproof when subtlety did not reign. You know what I am talking about. When you are watching something, anything, and your brain promptly says to you "Well, that didn't seem to fit." There were several such instances in Fireproof. One scene, near the beginning, allowed us a glimpse into the burgeoning relationship between Catherine and Gavin, the doctor. As the two are flirting, the nurses close by not so subtly show their recognition through some non-verbal communication. And if it wasn't obvious enough, their gossipy disapproval, they had to then, redundantly, verbalize it.

One of the strong points in the film was that it was funny. Yes, funny. And funny is hard to pull off. Nevertheless, there were parts when the humor just felt out of place. While the scene with one of the firefighters grooming himself in the mirror and dancing was independently funny (kind of), it seemed out of place. Why are we watching this right now? It felt tacked on.

Conversions Never Work (on Film)

I am convinced that it is impossible to make a conversion scene that is not cringe-worthy. I have no idea why. I want to chalk it up to somehow being ashamed of the Gospel, but it doesn't seem to be that profound. Maybe the event itself is too profound to record on film. Maybe, hopefully, trying to show an event like repenting and turning to Christ is just not possible. Perhaps. At least with the conversion scene in Fireproof, Caleb seemed to come to faith too quickly. Even if it all finally clicked for him, how his relationship with his wife mirrored his relationship with God and Christ, it should have taken longer. But movies don't have weeks to draw out plots. So I am still holding to my original claim. Conversion scenes on film will always be cheesy.

Please, No

Finally, the worst moment. After Caleb's turn to Christ, he goes and speaks with his friend, Michael, another believer. He tells him, "I'm in." Bear hugs and yelling ensue. And then Michael, for no other reason than to make me really uncomfortable, says "You're my brotha from anotha motha!"

I'll post the final installment later. I am sure you will incessantly click "refresh" in your reader until it arrives.

Brooks and Burke

Must read column today by David Brooks. He writes:
When I was a freshman in college, I was assigned “Reflections on the Revolution in France” by Edmund Burke. I loathed the book. Burke argued that each individual’s private stock of reason is small and that political decisions should be guided by the accumulated wisdom of the ages. Change is necessary, Burke continued, but it should be gradual, not disruptive. For a young democratic socialist, hoping to help begin the world anew, this seemed like a reactionary retreat into passivity.

Over the years, I have come to see that Burke had a point. The political history of the 20th century is the history of social-engineering projects executed by well-intentioned people that began well and ended badly. There were big errors like communism, but also lesser ones, like a Vietnam War designed by the best and the brightest, urban renewal efforts that decimated neighborhoods, welfare policies that had the unintended effect of weakening families and development programs that left a string of white elephant projects across the world.
This is similar, it seems, to economist Thomas Sowell's idea of constrained vs. unconstrained visions. Those who hold to the the former understand the limitation of man and lean on the built up wisdom of ages past. But those who are of the latter persuasion scoff at the idea of constrainment and, out of hubris, believe that they can change the world on their own.

Brooks continues:
President Obama has concentrated enormous power on a few aides in the West Wing of the White House. These aides are unrolling a rapid string of plans: to create three million jobs, to redesign the health care system, to save the auto industry, to revive the housing industry, to reinvent the energy sector, to revitalize the banks, to reform the schools — and to do it all while cutting the deficit in half.

If ever this kind of domestic revolution were possible, this is the time and these are the people to do it. The crisis demands a large response. The people around Obama are smart and sober. Their plans are bold but seem supple and chastened by a realistic sensibility.

Yet they set off my Burkean alarm bells. I fear that in trying to do everything at once, they will do nothing well. I fear that we have a group of people who haven’t even learned to use their new phone system trying to redesign half the U.S. economy. I fear they are going to try to undertake the biggest administrative challenge in American history while refusing to hire the people who can help the most: agency veterans who are registered lobbyists.
Brooks concludes:
All in all, I can see why the markets are nervous and dropping. And it’s also clear that we’re on the cusp of the biggest political experiment of our lifetimes. If Obama is mostly successful, then the epistemological skepticism natural to conservatives will have been discredited. We will know that highly trained government experts are capable of quickly designing and executing top-down transformational change. If they mostly fail, then liberalism will suffer a grievous blow, and conservatives will be called upon to restore order and sanity.

It’ll be interesting to see who’s right. But I can’t even root for my own vindication. The costs are too high. I have to go to the keyboard each morning hoping Barack Obama is going to prove me wrong.
I have argued in the past that Christians must not be known for the Republican credentials. And that is very true. The Bible, along with our faith, dictates our beliefs, not conservative principles. I often highlighted economic philosophy as an example of this. "There is nothing in the scriptures that lead me to believe that capitalism is more biblical." But at least on this point, I am slowly changing my mind, especially as I watch the government shift responsibility away from individuals. Entitlement just doesn't seem befitting to the Christian faith.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Fireproof Review, Part One

After I rented Fireproof from Netflix, it sat on our entertainment center for three weeks. Now usually when I do this, it's because I've had no time to watch whatever we have rented. Not Fireproof. In truth, it scared me. Why? Because it was getting universal praise from Christians. That is a dubious honor in the world of artistic expression. For whatever reason, Christians, generally, are not very artistic. We try our hardest to be cutting edge and brilliant. But it never seems to work out that way. Now part of the reason is because our numbers are small compared to the rest of the world. The world generates the greatest art partly because it has a bigger pool of talent to draw from.

Too Literal

The other reason, I think, is because modern Christians are too literal. Stemming primarily from a backlash to modernism and liberalism in the last century, we explicate our beliefs in very simple, boxed-in ways. That is, we tend to be literalists. Someone once asked me why I can't stand country music. As I thought about it, I finally explained to him, "It's because country music is too literal." That is true of modern Christian art as well. Because we were so concerned to make plain the "fundamentals" of the faith, it seems that our art has followed suit. When we write music, the lyrics have got to explain the gospel, shot-gun style. When we paint paintings, they must be pictures of Bible stories, of Jesus with flowing hair and pretty smile, or of picturesque, unrealistic, unbelievable scenes of the home. When we write poems, they must explain all of biblical theology and it all must rhyme (with no allegory please).

Now contrast this with good modern art. Modern art is meant to evoke deep thought, guiding the viewer or hearer to see things in new ways, profound ways. It is meant to help the world look more deeply into those things which might have seemed prosaic before. And this sort of art is does necessarily buck truth. Many times good modern art is so good because it is so true. And, of course, good modern art tends to be good. (I am speaking generally here. So much modern art, it seems, has taken itself far too seriously and gone into a realm I would still consider art, but not art I would consider good.)

Christian Movies Tend to be Bad

All that to say, Fireproof scared me. It scared me because Christians have badly mangled the art of movie making, perhaps more than any other medium. And beyond the banality of their literalness, Christian movies just tend to be bad. I honestly don't know why this is. They are burdened, partly, by the desire to want to highlight the gospel. That is understandable and, in some sense, right. But it is hard to relate the gospel over and over in new and interesting ways. Writers and directors are hamstrung, in a way, and aren't able to spread their proverbial wings. Unfortunately, however, Christian movies have not progressed as much as they should have. While their cousin, Christian music, is making leaps and bounds in artistry, Christian films have remained boring, one-sided, and cheesy.

The main issue with Christian films, it seems, is that they fail to capture real life. Most Christian movies are conversion stories. Their only message, usually, is that bad people need to turn to Jesus. And always in these movies--always--the bad person turns to Jesus. And that is great. But when every story, every plot is the same, it leaves you feeling like Christianity is only about one thing. Now immediately we must recognize that Christianity is about one thing: Jesus Christ and him crucified. But Christian films seem to reflect the idea that Christianity is only about getting saved when, in truth, Christianity is about much more than that. It is about real life and real people and a real Jesus. He speaks into every aspect of life, not just into a one time event.

Some Good Ones

Recently, some movies have realized this and done a significant job relating Christianity to real life. They have also made some good art in the process. The End of the Spear, Amazing Grace, and Bella come to mind. And, thankfully, I can add Fireproof to that list. I am so glad I didn't chicken out and send Fireproof back unopened. I have since watched it twice (twice!) and just might watch it again. At least comparatively, it is great.

I'll post a full review later this week.

Best Oscar Speech Evah



(If that flew over your head):

So Many Links (23 Feb 2008)

Will Google still be cool when it rules the world?

Maybe Bono isn't right.

What do you mean, God is sovereign?

One more saint.

Adoption, in doctrine, in reality.

Converting your analog TV:



Get famous by singing spontaneously on TV call-in show:

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Spinal Tap, Meet Jesus



CT story here.

Fireproof Bandwagon

I am on it.

So Many Links (21 Feb 2009)

David Brooks offers advice to evangelicals.

Jesus is not the number one hero in America. Guess who is.

Churches need to be both missional and attractional.

Thomas Stowell on upside down economics.

Inside baseball (literally): Griffey is back.

Find extinct bird, eat it.

Go on a missions trip:

Friday, February 20, 2009

Good Monkey on Tiny Motorbike

With all the horrific news on the CT chimpanzee incident floating about, I needed a video on a monkey that would cleanse my palate and make me love monkeys again. Behold:

So Many Links (20 Feb 2009)

The stimulus package weighs 86, 759 tons.

Man tries to convince courts he is free to choose hell.

Stop squirrel nudity.

Two opinions on the stimulus (here and here).

The White House almost burned down (this guy did it).

Renting is underrated.

A beautiful adoption story.

How to blog kindly.

It's all about Jesus:

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Ledgend of the Speedo Guy

I guess you should be warned about the content of this. I mean, you'll see a dude in a speedo. But the ending is awesome and unexpected and I think you'll want to brave it.

On Exhausting the Mysteries of God

John Piper, in response to J.I. Packer:
I might just say in response to much silly talk about the dangers of exhausting the mysteries of God, that my conception of God makes such a thought ludicrous. If we may compare God's wisdom to a ragged mountain and our growing understanding of it to a slow assent, I do not have the slightest fear that during some midnight meditation I may (by the grace of God) attain some new ridge and all of a sudden find I am on the peak of the mountain with no more cliffs to climb. On the contrary, for every newly attained height of insight there stretches out an ever more glorious panorama of manifold wisdom. And one can only pity the poor souls who, for fear of finding out too much, never approach the sacred mountains but stand off and chirp ironically about how one should preserve and appreciate mystery.

Kids Say No to Socialized Healthcare



HT: KD

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Weightlessness of God

David Wells, cited in John Piper's Don't Waste Your Life:
It is one of the defining marks of Our Time that God is now weightless. I do not mean by this that he is ethereal but rather that he has become unimportant. He rests upon the world so inconsequentially as not to be noticeable. He has lost his saliency for human life. Those who assure the pollsters of their belief in God’s existence may nonetheless consider him less interesting than television, his commands less authoritative than their appetites for affluence and influence, his judgment no more awe-inspiring than the evening news, and his truth less compelling than the advertisers’ sweet fog of flattery and lies. That is weightlessness. It is a condition we have assigned him after having nudged him out to the periphery of our secularized life. . . . Weightlessness tells us nothing about God but everything about ourselves, about our condition, about our psychological disposition to exclude God from our reality.

North Dakota: Finally Cool

I am moving here.

Hot Dog on Dog

The Meaning of Reformed

Kevin DeYoung has an insightful, helpful post today on what it means to be a Reformed Christian. He writes:
I don't view the Reformed faith as simply one branch on the Christian tree. I believe the Reformed understanding of the Bible is Christianity in full bloom.
Here is what he means by "Reformed":
I marvel at God's holiness, that he is independent, pure, good, and utterly beyond me.

I glory in God's goodness, that he should save a wretch like me, totally undeserving, bent toward evil in all my faculties.

I rejoice in God's sovereignty, that he chose to save me for the praise of his glory, not owing to anything I did or would do or any potential in me.

I find my hope in the second Adam who gives me life and imputed blessing triumphing over the first Adam's imputed death and curse.

I am grateful for God's power by which he caused me, without my cooperation, to be born again and enabled me to believe his promises.

I take comfort in God's all-encompassing providence, that nothing happens to me by chance, but all things--prosperity or poverty, health or sickness, giving or taking away--are sent to me by my loving heavenly Father.

I praise God for his mercy, shown to me chiefly on the cross where his Son died, not just to make a way for me to come to him, but died effectually in my place such that my sins, my guilt, and my punishment all died in the death of Christ.

I find assurance in God's preserving grace believing with all my might that nothing--not even myself--can separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord which he began in me and will see through to completion.

I rest secure in God's covenant love, depicted in both the Old and the New Testament, showing me the incomparable blessings of knowing that the Lord is my God and I am his beloved son, that God is a God to me and my children after me.

I stand amazed in the justifying grace of God whereby I am acquitted of all my sins and clothed with new garments in the presence of my King and Judge, not because of anything I have done but only because of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus in which I trust.

I delight in the glory of God and in God's delight for his own glory which brings me, on my best days, unspeakable joy, and on all my other days, still gives purpose and order to an otherwise confusing and seemingly random world.

I cherish the word of God because it is all true, because I Christ in it, and because its rules and precepts are for my good,

I rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to illumine my mind, convict me of sin, and make me holy as God is holy.

When I say I am Reformed I mean that God is the center of the universe and I am not. I mean that I am a worse sinner than I imagine and God is a greater Savior than I ever thought possible. I mean that Lord is my righteousness and the Lord alone is my boast. By Reformed I mean all this and most of all that my only comfort in life and in death is that I am not my own but belong, in body and in soul, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever, amen.

So Many Links (18 Feb 2009)

Learning is painful (and that is a good thing).

Women may pass up men in workforce.

Bad apologetics, 14 examples.

Facebook privacy settings you should know.

Fast facts on beer (e.g. "Utshwala" means beer in Zulu).

Of course the wedgie is the best weapon against attackers.

Presidential rankings.

More facts, this time on the movie The Sixth Sense.

What Josh Harris has learned since writing I Kissed Dating Goodbye.

The Obligatory insane Mexican wrestling clip of the day:

I am Getting Weary of Facebook: UPDATE

Not for the relationships, status updates or pictures. For the terms of service. The CEO and founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, wrote a lengthy post explaining the change to the terms of service (which, as of February 4th, binds your shared information, forever, to Facebook). He writes:
In reality, we wouldn't share your information in a way you wouldn't want. The trust you place in us as a safe place to share information is the most important part of what makes Facebook work. Our goal is to build great products and to communicate clearly to help people share more information in this trusted environment.
"In reality"? That isn't very reassuring. In reality, they will always do what is best for Facebook, not the consumer.

Sigh. Time to abandon ship?

UPDATE:

I guess FB has changed their minds:
Over the past few days, we have received a lot of feedback about the new terms we posted two weeks ago. Because of this response, we have decided to return to our previous Terms of Use while we resolve the issues that people have raised.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

So Many Links (17 Feb 2009)

NRO's 25 best conservative movies.

The fighter pilot is a dying breed.

Why God spared flight 1549 but not 3407.

Of course Protestants are less loyal to denomination than they are to toilet paper.

Finally, a run that will make me fatter.

The enigmatic faith of Abraham Lincoln.

How Christians should view grief.

C. Michael Patton is not charismatic.

John Piper spanks (as does Jesus, apparently).

Mr. Ramsay shows us how to make the perfect scrambled egg:

Monday, February 16, 2009

Driscoll Talks Love (and Masturbation) on CNN

Be sure to watch all the way to the end. The gospel makes an appearance.

Friday, February 13, 2009

So Many Links (13 Feb 2009)

Your Bible is in the wrong order.

Even though consumerism is down, it's not dead.

Time-waster of the day.

At least one industry is doing well in the recession.

Why reducing the number of abortions is not necessarily pro-life.

A short (Baptist) rejoinder to Baptist Press' hit piece on Mark Driscoll.

The obligatory supernerd electrocutes Jell-O video clip:

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Happy Birthday Song is Evil

At least according to this dog:



I don't even want to know how he would react to one of the lame chain restaurant versions.

So Many Links (12 Feb 2009): UPDATED

The Doctor on Abraham Lincoln and Jesus.

Hit piece on Mark Driscoll by...the Baptist Press?

A different redeemed ex-porn star makes a different kind of movie.

Deadliest roads in America.

Gary Haugen of International Justice Mission interviewed.

Why haven't you use Google Earth to find buried treasure yet?

I think you'll dig The Welcome Wagon's music. They are also church planters and love Jesus.

Not again: Fake Foreigner Drummer Allegedly Steals Corvette.

Quit Facebook with this guy.

Two Korn members find Jesus. Three to go.

800 billion reasons to be worried about the "stimulus."

Finally: Guitar store shaped like giant guitar amp.

If you're Pentecostal, you don't have to wear pants.

A twelve-year-old more articulate on issues of life and abortion than me.

Gets a bit testy at the end, but comedy gold throughout. Dave, you've still got it:

One Core Belief

I linked to an interview below with church planters and indy band The Welcome Wagon. They are closely associated with Tim Keller and his church planting network. This is especially apparent when the interviewer asks them about their "core beliefs":
STEREOGUM: With the rise of the Religious Right, etc., people often assume a number of negative things straight off the bat about religious people. Do you run into this sort of thing with the band or the church? It'd be interesting to hear some of your thoughts on contemporary issues. What are some of your Church's core beliefs?

THOMAS VITO AIUTO: I haven't gotten much negative reaction with our band in that regard, or with the church really. In terms of our church's core beliefs, they are best summed up in the Apostle's Creed. No doubt we believe that the death and resurrection of Jesus has all kinds of social and economic and political and spiritual implications. But it all begins with Jesus Christ. It begins and ends with believing that in an act of free grace, the death of Jesus on the cross, and the fact that God raised this man from the dead, is a gift to humanity that puts to death everything that separates us from the love of God, and gives us life, here and now, as well as eternally. Everything else flows out from that.

On Why Some Unbelievers Have It Better than Us

Wayne Grudem, in his Systematic Theology, defines common grace as the "grace of God by which he gives people innumerable blessings that are not part of salvation." This also helps us understand why, even though believers have Christ, they may not have it as good (in a worldy sense) as those don't believe:
Finally, we should recognize that unbelievers often receive more common grace than believers--they may be more skillful, harder working, more intelligent, more creative, or have more of the material benefits of this life to enjoy. This in no way indicates that they are more favored by God in an absolute sense or that they will gain any share in eternal salvation, but only that God distributes the blessings of common grace in various ways, often granting very significant blessings tgo unbelievers. In all of this, they should, of course, acknowledge God's goodness (Acts 14:17), and should recognize that God's revealed will is that "God's kindness" should eventually lead them "to repentance" (Rom. 2:4). (p. 663)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

On Passive Regeneration

John Murray, in Redemption: Accomplished and Applied (Eerdman's. 1955, 99-100):
It has often been said that we are passive in regeneration. This is a true and proper statement. For it is simply the precipitate of what our Lord has taught us here. We may not like it. We may recoil against it. It may not fit into our way of thinking and it may not accord with the time-worn expressions which are the coin of our evangelism. But if we recoil against it, we do well to remember that this recoil is recoil against Christ. And what shall we answer when we appear before him whose truth we rejected and with whose gospel we tampered? But blessed be God that the gospel of Christ is one of sovereign, efficacious, irresistible regeneration. If it were not the case that in regeneration we are passive, the subjects of an action which God alone is the agent, there would be no gospel at all. For unless God by sovereign, operative grace had turned out enmity to love and our disbelief to faith we would never yield the response of faith and love.

Penn on Christianity v. 2

A few moths back I posted a video from Penn Jillette and his ruminations on an encounter he had with a "proselytizer." See that video here. Here is his follow up to that (warning: he uses some strong language):



Man, I love this guy's honesty. True tolerance, I say.

HT: Z

44%

Rasmussen:
Forty-four percent (44%) of voters also think a group of people selected at random from the phone book would do a better job addressing the nation’s problems than the current Congress.
Agreed.

So Many Links, So Little Time

Too many things to post, too little time. Here are some tidbits that deserve your attention:

The Roman Catholic Church has brought back indulgences. Yea!

Casey Luskin editorializes the 200th anniversary of Darwin Day.

Is my repentance genuine? Pastor John answers.

Boy breaks into zoo, feeds animals to crocs.

John Piper likes football.

UK teens like porn a bit too much.

Watch out for the car washes in Easthampton, MA.

The worst song. Ever.

It doesn't matter if you don't like a particular doctrine.

A racist repents.

So does an ex-porn star. Praise the Lord:

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

You Are What You Eat

Centuries ago when we had cable, my wife and I occasionally watched a show on BBC America called You Are What You Eat. The premise was simple. A mean, little British woman (a nutritionist) would, at the behest of a friend or spouse, go try and fix a fat person. Her way is to mock and chide them for weeks, trying to get them to change their eating behavior (or, in the UK, behaviour). (Oddly, and awesomely, she talks a lot about the quality of their poo.)

Her philosophy: Unless you stop eating crap, your body will continue to want to eat crap. That is, despite the risk and consequences, your body will enjoy those things you eat regularly and dislike (violently) the things that will actually make you healthy. So this nutritionist makes them do a 180. They are allowed only to eat healthy things like tofu, salad and mung beans. And what is really cool is that the people eventually begin to like the food they originally abhorred. By eating good things and avoiding bad things, their tastes change.

Christians are What They Eat

I like this idea, especially when it comes to the Christian life. The more we consume crap the less we will like what is good. Though this could apply to a lot of things, I am thinking mainly of criticism. Our culture feeds off of it. We rate, review and critique everything. Everything. And Christians, for no good reason, aren't a lot different from the world. Out of profound insecurity and sinfulness, we criticize everything. The music, preaching and people at church, our work, friends and family, etc. Nothing is out of bounds. We do it behind people's backs, in front of them, in our hearts (mostly in our hearts). Of course this is sinful. But why do it? Why do we continue to gossip and criticise when we know that it is harmful to our health?

We must admit that there is momentary happiness when cutting people down. When you believe that you are better than someone else, you feed your ego. And that feels good. Good. Like eating cheese fries at Outback Steakhouse, or a 1lb hamburger at Fudrucker's, you go away feeling extremely satisfied. And so you keep on eating the same types of foods. You eat so much crap that everything else tastes like garbage in comparison. Christian virtues like love, grace, extreme sacrifice, and humility don't sound appealing anymore. And this only gets worse the more you binge.

Eating Crap Only Feels Good for a While

Interestingly, eating crap only makes us happy for a while. In fact, there are times when the satisfaction lasts only a few minutes. You usually leave a junk food meal feeling nasty and bloated. The same thing happens when you criticize and gossip. The euphoria of ego building lasts only for a while. Then you feel nasty and bloated. Well that, my friends, is the Holy Spirit trying to get you to change. You are fat and you need to purge yourself from those things that you have lived on for so long. Grace, love and humility probably won't taste as good for a while. But I promise you, they will eventually taste much better and, in the end, you won't die as a result of eating them. Paul says in 2 Timothy, "Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart," (2:22). May you eat what is good.

On, the Gospel is Always New

C.H. Spurgeon (HT: Pyro):
We greatly need readers for the Bible. I grieve that even to some who bear the Christian name, Holy Scripture is the least read book in their library. One said of a preacher, the other day, "How does he keep up the congregation? Does he always give the people something new?"

"Yes," said the other, "he gives them the gospel; and in these days, that is the newest thing out."

It is truly so; the old, old gospel is always new. The modern doctrine is only new in name; it is, after all, nothing but a hash of stale heresies and mouldy speculations.
Or, Peter (1 Peter 1:12, italics mine):
It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Chinese Underground Church Principles

Posted by Doug Groothuis from a sermon by Brother Yun:
1. Always pray.
2. Always be ready to witness for Jesus.
3. Always be ready to suffer for Jesus.
4. Always be ready to die for Jesus.
5. Always be ready to escape from prison for Jesus.
Granted, we Americans are not under immediate threat of losing our lives. But perhaps we should all think that way. Christians in persecuted countries tend not to worry about details or get bogged down in issues us Americans tend to get bogged down in. They have laser like focus. Simply, it is all about Jesus.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Facebook is Five

Facebook is a relatively new online communication tool. It was only launched five years ago. But, goodness, how it has grown. It boasts 150 million active users. Al Mohler and Mark Galli reflect on the anniversary.

Having been an active member for about a half a year now, I am still unsure of the whole thing. Is it good or bad? Beyond the matters of privacy and Big Brother looking into my business, is it a good way to communicate? Is it healthy, edifying, and helpful? Saying things with any sort of equivocation is annoying, but necessary here. Facebook is good and bad.

Three things I like about Facebook:

1. I consider it an "Active Rolodex." I am able to keep in touch with people I never would communicate with otherwise. This is especially important with those who don't yet know Jesus.
2. I do like to see what is going on, day-to-day, in the lives of my friends.
3. It is a great way to get word out about events and personal updates (I am, right now, getting periodic updates from a friend whose wife is about ready to give birth).

Three things that are annoying about Facebook:

1. Facebook friendship is shallow friendship and not true community.
2. Micro-blogging (status updates) tends to be narcissistic.
3. Big Brother could be watching. And Big Brother, I have discovered, includes Facebook itself. They can use most anything you post (comments, pictures, etc.) for their own use.

What do you like/dislike about Facebook? In what ways is it good/bad?

Friday, February 6, 2009

Jesus Camp Isn't All That Bad: 20 reflections

Finally watched Jesus Camp last night, the "documentary" on a mid-western Pentecostal camp for kids. No review (see some here), but some reflections (they won't mean anything to you unless you have seen the movie):

1. This film is not nearly as disconcerting as I was led to believe. In fact, there were even some heartening moments and good practices.
2. It is clear that this was not a documentary, or at least in the normal sense of the word. This was an opinion piece, designed to make you fear the "evangelicals." This was obvious by (1) the way they cut the film, removing context, and (2) the periodic focus on a radio talk show host who condemned evangelicals and their supposed bent on making USA a Christian nation.
3. Despite the lopsided filmaking approach, you couldn't deny that a lot of the content was odd, and even disturbing.
4. I, of course, disagree with their view and practice of charismatic gifts. It was especially hard to see them teaching this emotional practice to kids.
5. My despair at this site (kids forced to speak in tongues and roll in the floor) was ameliorated slightly by the thought that Paul probably dealt with something similar in the Corinthian church (kids, however, are not mentioned in his epistle). This has been a problem for thousands of years and won't stop until Christ comes.
6. Much of the film, I thought, portrayed parents and kids as very serious about their faith. I think that is a good thing.
7. Nevertheless, it all felt too weighty. Yes, we should teach our kids to love Jesus and that there is a battle going on between heaven and hell. But, for goodness sakes, let's not freak them out. There are some things that we should wait to teach our kids. And beyond the content, there are some ways we should avoid teaching our kids. The fervor from the preachers was reflected in the kids in an unhealthy way. They were responding in ways that they could not have understood.
8. However, the film failed to argue persuasively that we should not "indoctrinate" our kids. That is a specious argument. Every parent will teach their kids according to their own values (religious, conservative, liberal, etc). The film just doesn't like the values promoted here, so they condemn them. The intolerance of tolerance.
9. There is one particular scene that has now become infamous. A women brings a life-size cut out of then president George W. Bush in front of a throng of eagerly awaiting kids. The film catalogues the kids yelling to him, praying for him. Though a bit odd, I wasn't troubled by this, moslty because the editing job was so terrible. They made it seem as though the kids were unhinged worshippers of the president. That is doubtful. I am sure they cut sections where they prayed for him, for wisdom, for strength. When did it become a bad thing to pray for our leaders? And who cares if they used the life-size image? Kids like visuals. The camp director even said as much.
10. They spent a lot of time focused on abortion. The kids prayed that God would stop it, screamed out loud for the world to change, put red tape on their mouths with the word "LIFE" written on it in bold letters. You're not going to get much criticism from me. It could have been a bit heavy for some of the younger ones, that is true. But getting them passionate about stopping the killing babies doesn't seem misguided.
11. Rat tails don't help the evangelical cause.
12. Ted Haggard (sigh).
13. I want a life-size cut out of GW. Who is gonna get me one?
14. If only the world could be exposed to a little more evangelical rap.
15. Nutty Evangelicals, please listen: Global Warming has nothing to do with Christianity.
16. Stop--pelase stop--talking about "taking God out of the public schools." It is remarkable how free we are to worship in this country. Get over it, be grateful.
17. I loved the ardency of the kids. They are a bit misguided, but they love Jesus, and I am ok with that. I would honestly prefer my kid be slightly nuts for Jesus than "too cool for school."
18. Lest you forget, we are in a battle. And we shall win the battle in the strength that God supplies, armed with grace and love.
19. Anthony, I can see why now you are going to refer to yourself from now on as a "Protestant."
20. Christianity will always seem odd from those who do not yet have the Spirit. That is the design of Christ and we can't be afraid to stand up for what we believe, living out our faith authentically.

Next film to see: Hell House. Stoked.

Burk on the Aforementioned

Denny Burk responds to the story that came out yesterday (see previous post):
The report also says that this story has “shocked people on both sides of the abortion debate.” Of course, pro-life people are scandalized by stories like this one, but it is disingenuous for pro-choice people to behave as if they are shocked that this kind of thing happens with botched abortions. Abortion rights supporters lobby against laws that protect babies who survive abortions. That is why so many of us were sounding the alarm about President Obama during the 2008 election. As an Illinois legislator, Obama opposed a law that would protect little girls like this one from being treated like refuse. And he said at the time that he opposed legal protection for survivors of abortion because it might imply that abortion itself is taking the life of a human person. Abortion-rights proponents praised him for this stand, and none of them should be acting surprised by this latest story.

Finally, a word to those of you who either support abortion rights or who are indifferent to this whole issue. If you are shocked and appalled at how this little girl was killed, then why not be shocked and appalled at the fact that if the doctor had arrived on time the same outrage would have occurred? The only difference would have been that the killing would have taken place in a different location.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

It Never Fails

It never fails to amaze me, the things that still go on in "civilized, modern" society. Post-millennialism, please.

May You See that it is True

President Obama today at the National Prayer Breakfast:
But no matter what we choose to believe, let us remember that there is no religion whose central tenet is hate. There is no God who condones taking the life of an innocent human being. This much we know.

We know too that whatever our differences, there is one law that binds all great religions together. Jesus told us to "love thy neighbor as thyself." The Torah commands, "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow." In Islam, there is a hadith that reads "None of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself." And the same is true for Buddhists and Hindus; for followers of Confucius and for humanists. It is, of course, the Golden Rule – the call to love one another; to understand one another; to treat with dignity and respect those with whom we share a brief moment on this Earth.
Mr. President, unless you rescind reversals like "Mexico City," and refuse to allow federal dollars for embryonic stem-cell research, and shut down things like the "Freedom of Choice Act," you will make life for much of the unborn not brief, but non-existent. May God change your heart and allow you to finally to see that your promulgated truism, that the taking of any life is wrong, is actually true.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Don't Freeze Anything

Time's cover story last week was on the resurgence of stem-cell research now that Barack Obama is president (he will most likely expand the federal use of money to study embryonic stem-cells). It's a blatantly banal, immoral take on what steps we should take to save and improve life. That step, of course, is to harvest and kill embryos (i.e. humans) in order to extract their stem cells. Read it if you're looking for a good slap across the face.

Well, they focus the article on Dr. Douglas Melton, who has been one of the main researchers and proponents of embryonic stem-cell use. Most of his story is uninteresting. But one section stood out to me. It reads:
"When (Melton's) class discussed the morality of embryonic-stem-cell research, Melton invited Richard Doerflinger of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to present arguments against the field. Melton asked Doerflinger if he considered a day-old embryo and a 6-year-old to be moral equivalents; when Doerflinger responded yes, Melton countered by asking why society accepts the freezing of embryos but not the freezing of 6-year-olds."
I had never heard that argument before. And it poses a serious, logical problem to the pro-life position. The pragmatic retort should be, "Freezing a six-year-old would kill the six-year-old" (thanks J). However, the rebuttal to that would be that we are not discussing what the case is now, but what the case could hypothetically be. That is, what if someone were to develop technology that allowed you to freeze six-year-olds and not kill them? Two different questions we must deal with:

1. Is there ever a good (i.e. moral/ethical) reason to freeze a six-year-old? Part of the problem with this question is not knowing how this ability could affect the practice of medicine. That is, could disease or injury be ameliorated by the ability to freeze a human? There is no way to know. But, thankfully, that is the wrong question. Our question must parallel the original problem: the freezing of embryos. The reason you freeze an embryo is to keep it alive until you are ready to use it. So our question then becomes, is it ever right to freeze a six-year-old because you do not need him/her at the moment but will unfreeze him/her when he/she is needed? That is patently ludicrous. Accordingly, I see no good reason for freezing a six-year-old.

2. Is there ever a good reason to freeze an embryo? Some who are pro-life blindly accept every aspect of in vitro fertilization (IVF). In truth, some practices in the process of IVF end the lives of babies. The IVF process involves fertilizing eggs and then implanting a specific number of those eggs. However, (1) much of the time there are a number of fertilized eggs (embryos) that are unused and are consequently discarded, and/or (2) the eggs not used are frozen. The problem with the first issue is obvious. Discarding embryos is immoral. However, the problem with the second issue is more complicated. It is true that embryos can survive freezing, but not indefinitely. So parents who have decided to go down the IVF road must have those frozen embryos implanted before they die. But even then, the survival rate when unfreezing embryos is only 50% percent. I don’t like those odds, even when faced with the prospect of not having my own children. What you are saying by freezing embryos is that your need for a child trumps the good possibility that you will inadvertently end the lives of some babies.

But let's not be hasty. I think that if you implant all the eggs up front—if you don’t discard or freeze any—that is morally acceptable. James Dobson writes:
I feel that in vitro fertilization is less problematic when the donors are husband and wife—IF all the fertilized eggs are inserted into the uterus (i.e., no ova are wasted or disposed of after fertilization and no selection process by doctors or parents occurs.) As the woman's body then accepts one (or more) eggs and rejects the others, the process is left in God's hands and seems to violate no moral principles.
So back to the challenge of Dr. Melton. I think that his supposition, that society accepts the freezing of embryos, should now also be considered immoral. Or, let’s just not freeze anything.

Groothuis on the Delayed Apocalypse

Classic Groothuis:
Given the tremors of fear and panic gripping the nation, Congress has passed a bill extending the deadline for the conversion of all television broadcasts from analogue to cable. I am so relieved.
First, the civil government should have no say in mandating something like this. Let markets decide the matter. That saves us from all the public service announcements, confusions, and so on.

Second, it is pathetic how deeply this affects some people. It is as if their lifeline is in danger. I hear adds by bureacrats warning that if one does not make the proper call and do the proper thing, the screen will go blank (just like the minds already watching the screens). Of course, there are no publically-funded advertisements warning you that television undermines reading and critical thinking, that it wastes time and habituates people to unreality.

My dream: On the dreaded day when the analogue dies, all of television mysterious dies with it. All screens go blank and black; the roar of white noise engulfs the planet...and then we move ahead.

What They Were Destined For

I have been reading and rereading 1 Peter for my devotionals. It is such an amazing book (perhaps my favorite?). Well, one sentence jumps out to me every time I go over it: 1 Peter 2:8:
They stumble because they disobey the message--which is also what they were destined for.
So Peter is talking about, generally, those who don't believe. They are the ones who stumble over the "stone" that is Christ. That's fine. Some people do not believe in Jesus. But why? Peter answers it for us. They were destined to stumble. The commentary on this phrase from Tom Schreiner is very helpful (1, 2 Peter, Jude. Broadman and Holman, 2003. 112-114):
Peter added a provocative comment to conclude his comments about the disobedient, "which is also what they were destined for." The verb tithemi often refers to what God has appointed to occur (Acts 1:7; 13:47; 20:28; 1 Cor 12:18,28; 1 Thess 5:9; 1 Tim 2:7). Some scholars argue that Peter merely meant that God has appointed that those who disobey the message of the gospel would stumble. Such an interpretation fits with the theme that human beings decide their fate. But the interpretation proposed is prosaic and obvious, and it is unlikely that this captures the meaning. Rather the pronoun "which" (ho) refers back to the entire thought that precedes. God has not only appointed that those who disobey the word would stumble and fall. He has also determined that they would disbelieve and stumble. The idea that calamity also comes from God is often taught in the Old Testament. I will cite three representative examples since to modern people the idea is quite shocking: "Is it not from the mouth of the Most high that both calamities and good things come?" (Lam 3:38). "When a Trumpet sounds in a city, do not the people tremble? When disaster comes to a city, has not the LORD caused it?" (Amos 3:6). "I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things" (Isa 45:7). The worldview of the Scriptures is that God is sovereignly in control of all things, from the decisions made by kings (Prov 21:1) to the throw of the dice (Prov 16:33; cf. Isa 46:9-11). Even the cruelest and most vicious act in history—the execution of Jesus of Nazareth, was predestined by God (Acts 2:23; 4:27-28).

It is imperative, however, that we add immediately another element of the biblical worldview. Biblical writers never exempt human beings from responsibility, even though they believe God ordains all things (cf. Rom 9:14-23). Peter indicted those who crucified Christ, even though the execution was predestined by God himself (Acts 2:23). It seems fair to conclude that Peter indicted them because in killing the Christ they carried out their own desires. They were not coerced into crucifying Jesus against their wills. No, in putting him to death they did just what they wanted to do. Similarly, Peter criticized those who stumble over Christ the cornerstone for their unbelief and disobedience. He did not argue that their unbelief is free from any guilt because it was predestined. He had already emphasized that they chose not to obey him and that they refused to believe in him. Peter articulated a common theme in the Scriptures that human beings are responsible for their sin and sin willingly, and yet God controls all events in history. The Scriptures do not resolve how these two themes fit together philosophically, though today we would call it a "compatibilist" worldview. We must admit, however, that how this fits together logically eludes us, and hence theologians have often fallen prey to the temptation to deny one or the other truth. Why did Peter emphasize the theme of God's sovereignty here? He did so to comfort his readers, assuring them that the evil in the world is not sundered from God's control. God still reigns, even over those who oppose him and the Petrine believers.

13 Ways to Ruin Your Life With Lust

Here.

Don't Waste Your Church Attendance

Josh Harris:

MH: 1 Peter

MH and Mark Driscoll started a new series on the book of 1 Peter a few weeks ago. Here is their unbelievable intro video:

CT's Critic's Choice Awards

This list is different from the "Most Redemptive" list:
Our Critics' Choice list, on the other hand, consists of the 10 films that our panel believes were the most excellent films of 2008, whether they carried a redeeming message or not—though seven of our top 10 choices also appeared on our Most Redeeming list. But all of the movies here are films of excellence, and many are up for various honors at the upcoming Academy Awards.
Here.

"Is This Going to be Forever?"

Vampire Weekend