Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Kite Runner

I'm enjoying reading The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini. It's about a boy (Amir) who grows up in Afghanistan, moves to the U.S. with his father, and is forced to face his guilt and brokenness and learn firsthand about friendship, manhood, and redemptive love. I'm about halfway through the book. I'm not a big novel-reader, but this one is hard to put down.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I can't help it...

I just HAVE to share these photos of my grandkids. The pictures were taken by my daughter-in-law Lindsay...the greatest photographer ANYWHERE!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

In every need

Phil Keaggy is my favorite Christian musician. I was listening to his Way Back Home CD the other day as I was driving someplace, and this song, "In Every Need," captured exactly how I was feeling at that moment. It encouraged me a lot, because I was feeling rather disheartened, "shamed by life's failures and its fears." The song reminded me to look to God "in every need," for He neither slumbers nor sleeps and His grace overcomes all my "sin and pain and sorrow." I hope you like the words. They are actually an adaptation of an old hymn by Samuel Longfellow (1819-1892):

I look to Thee in every need,
And never look in vain.
I feel thy strong and tender love
And all is well again.
The thought of thee is mightier far
Than sin and pain and sorrow are,
Than sin and pain and sorrow are, my Lord.

Discouraged in the work of life,
Disheartened by its load.
Shamed by its failures and its fears
I sink beside the road.
But let me only think of Thee
And then new heart springs up in me,
And then new heart springs up in me, my Lord.

There is an eye that never sleeps
Beneath the wing of night,
There is an ear that never shuts
When sink the beams of light.
There is an arm that never tires
When human strength gives way,
There is a love that never fails
When earthly loves decay.

There's a power which man can wield
When mortal aid is vain.
That eye, that arm that loves to reach,
The listening ear to gain.
That power is prayer which soars on high,
Through Jesus to the throne,
Which moves the Hand which moves the world
To bring salvation down, bring salvation down.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Jack is definitely BACK!

Watched the first 2 hours of the season premier of 24 last night...of course! How about that Mike Tyson neck biting move by Jack!! Oh my. I thought I'd seen it all!

Chloe's new boyfriend looks suspicious, as does President WAYNE Palmer's chief of staff or whatever he is. There's got to be a mole somewhere.

The amazing thing is, Jack is back, and despite all the times he's rescued the world, people STILL don't follow his advice.

Could Jack be...a Christ figure?!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Children of Men

What can I say...this is a movie experience!

Children of Men
is set in England twenty years in the future. Cynicism, pollution, fear, terrorism, and oppression of minorities have taken their toll on the human race. What's more, for some reason women everywhere are infertile so no babies have been born in quite some time; therefore the human race is threatened with eventual extinction. The main character, Theo Faron (played with excellence by Clive Owen), gets involved in a nail-biting story that I won't spoil for you here. Basically it has to do with...the rescue of humankind!

The movie is rated R for strong violence, bad language, some drug use and brief nudity. There were some violent scenes that I could not watch. So consider yourself advised.

For many people, however, this is one of those movies you'll want to see a second time, to catch everything that's happening on the screen. The scenes of conflict and battle are just sizzling.

One other thing: If you see this movie, notice all the animals in the film.

I felt a deep sadness for the empty lives of many people in the film and for the gut-wrenching way the movie depicts man's inhumanity to man. I'm glad I believe in the power of the gospel to transform the world -- I do not believe planet Earth will be this bad in 2027! Nevertheless, from a Biblical perspective, the movie reminds us that without the gospel all is bleak.

The conflict between the "offspring of the serpent" and the "offspring of the woman" (Genesis 3:15) is real. If there were no gospel, the world would indeed be hopeless in 20 years. But because "to us a child is born" (Isaiah 9:6), the light will overcome the darkness. Satan may indeed bruise the heel of Christ from time to time, but in the end Satan will be crushed. Our "Theo" is sovereign. God will preserve His covenant people, and "the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea" (Habakkuk 2:14).

Friday, January 12, 2007

I want one!

Where DOES Benny get those suits?!

Amazing Grace

Last night I attended an advance screening of a new movie to be released February 23. It's called Amazing Grace, and it's the true story of William Wilberforce (1759-1833), the member of Parliament who successfully led the way to the abolition of slavery in Great Britain.

Wow, this is a wonderful movie. You need to see it when it comes out. The acting is incredible, especially by Ioan Gruffudd (Wilberforce) and Albert Finney (John Newton). The scenery, locations, costumes, and supporting actors are all very good too.

As a Christian, I appreciated the fact that it's not a cheesy movie. The characters come off as real people, not caricatures. Yet Biblical themes of social justice, redemption, and friendship permeate the movie and inspire courage and faith. The movie also made me want to read the history of the abolition movement in England.

A key moment in the film is when Wilberforce, recently converted to Christ, thinks he must choose between praising God and changing the world. His good friend William Pitt (later the Prime Minister of England) persuades Wilberforce that he can do both. This is true for all of us who follow Christ. The Christian life is not just lived on Sunday. The dichotomy we sometimes make between "sacred" and "secular" is false. We glorify God as we get involved in the world and bring light into the dark places around us. Work, play, social action, family life, study, and more are holy activities. Our creation mandate is to bring all of life under the Lordship of Christ. Wilberforce did that, and so should we.

The slave trade was one of the dark places that existed in the 18th and 19th centuries. But I learned last night that there are still an estimated 27 million slaves in the world today. So we, like William Wilberforce, can choose to do something about this slavery. Go here to learn how you can get informed and involved.

Amazing Grace, like Luther, Chariots of Fire, End of the Spear, and a few other films, proves that people in the faith community can make outstanding movies and communicate Christian truth in a realistic way. To make sure it succeeds, however, please see this movie and invite others to see it. It does not have the usual Hollywood machinery and money behind it. Go here to see the trailer and find out more about Wilberforce and the movie. It's a great website.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

One more week...

until my favorite TV show returns!

Friday, January 05, 2007

A good theology podcast

I've been enjoying listening to daily podcasts called "The Narrow Mind," delivered by a pastor in California by the name of Gene Cook. He's a Reformed Baptist and does a great job of interacting with Arminians, Calvinists, Pentecostals, people from other traditions and even atheists.

Every Thursday is "Covenant Theology Thursday." Every Wednesday is "Atheistic Wednesday." Cook is funny, bright, well-informed and quite gracious with guests on the show who differ with him. He's also unapologetically Reformed and is direct and gutsy with people who are Pharisees and legalists - like one guest he had on the show last week. He's not a fan of Rick Warren, emerging church types, hyper-Calvinists, Joel Osteen, and others that are often admired among evangelicals.

It's very educational, if you like theological discussion, always entertaining and often hilarious. The website is www.unchainedradio.com. There's a link to the podcast on it.

Monday, January 01, 2007

The Magic Kingdom

Suzy & I took our granddaughter Tyler to Disney World over the Christmas holidays. (It had been our promise to her after she turned five years old, and she wouldn't let us forget about it!)

Here are a few pictures.

Tyler is absolutely crazy about everything related to Disney, princesses, Mickey & Minnie, Little Mermaid, etc., etc. So you can imagine she was beside herself getting to see all these things for real.

The highlight of the day for me was the fireworks. They were amazing. I thought I'd seen all the fireworks I'd ever care to see, but these beat even the July 4 fireworks in St. Louis that we used to see when we lived there.

It was fun seeing Tyler have such a great time. I wonder if I experienced just a sliver of what God feels when we delight in Him and His blessings? I got joy from watching my granddaughter be enthralled with everything my generosity enabled her to see and do at Disney World. She didn't have to say "thank you" (although she did). She didn't have to carry my tray at lunch, or tell me what a great granddad I am, or serve me in some other way. Just her delight was service and gratitude enough.

Likewise, it brings God joy when we delight in His generosity with us. He doesn't need our "service." What brings Him glory is our delight in Him, our joy in His graciousness, our pleasure in His magical Kingdom. Like John Piper always says, "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him."