Thursday, May 24, 2007

Jonah

Our church is working through the Old Testament book of Jonah right now, both in sermons and small group studies. It's always been one of my favorite books of the Bible. Every time I read Jonah it nails me on my spiritual pride and my slowness to reach out to people in need of Christ. But the book also encourages me by revealing the gracious heart of God toward hardened sinners as well as reluctant saints like me.

Some years ago I ran across these lines from the poet Thomas John Carlisle. He writes about the confrontation of wills between Jonah and God in Jonah 4 this way:

And Jonah stalked
to his shaded seat
and waited for God
to come around
to his way of thinking.

And God is still waiting
for a host of Jonahs
in their comfortable homes
to come around
to His way of loving.

Monday, May 21, 2007

"24" finale tonight!

So, any bets on whether Jack Bauer is going to save the world again tonight?

While I'll always be a "24" fan, I think this was the weakest season yet in terms of the story. I liked the switcheroo that the writers pulled on us a few weeks ago (from nuclear bombs about to destroy America to World War III with Russia!). But I got weary of the relational dramas that ruled the high security world of CTU. I'm also still wondering how in the world Chinese terrorists could infiltrate CTU so easily!

On the other hand, Powers Boothe raised the quality of the acting up several notches. And it was a clever move putting Jack's dysfunctional family in the center of the action.

I'm hoping poor Jack will finally get the girl tonight...er, at 6:00 a.m....or whatever time it is.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Thankful for Florida

I'm sorry to say that I complain about our state sometimes. But wow, this spring has been an exceptionally beautiful one for us in Orlando, hasn't it! I often get up early and sit on our back porch to enjoy the cool morning air, pray, and watch the wonders of nature unfold around me.

In a few weeks when it's another hot and humid June, I'll need to remember these days.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Do girls not realize...?

I was sitting in Taco Bell having lunch today when I noticed (sorry, I couldn't help it!) two college-age girls wearing clothes intentionally designed to catch attention. One girl's t-shirt said, "We're bringing sexy back." On the back of the other girl's shorts were the words, "Salute these shorts."

Now, if you're reading this and you're a woman, I have a question for you: Do girls not realize what they're doing when they wear clothes like this? Are they just naive? Or, possibly, do they do it on purpose to capture guys, like throwing bait out to a hungry fish?

Because that's what guys think girls are doing. To a guy's brain, a girl who dresses seductively is inviting guys to have sex with them. I know you probably disagree, but that's how men interpret women who dress provocatively or wear suggestive sayings on the back of their t-shirts and shorts.

Ironically, when these girls walked into Taco Bell I was reading Donald Miller's book, To Own a Dragon: Reflections on Growing Up without a Father. Chapter 10 is called "Sex: The Value of the Dollar in Argentina" (typical of Miller is wacky chapter titles...you have to read the chapter to understand it).

In that chapter Miller writes about why women should not send out "I want to have sex with you" messages to guys:

Women saying no to men, not letting men have sex with them, causes men to step up. If, in order to have sex with them, women demanded you got a job and shaved every day and didn't dress like a dork or sit around playing video games, then all of us [men] would do just that. So, when sex gets cheapened, we are getting what we want without having to pay for it. [When women just give sex away] women are imitating men, I think. The presupposition is that men are right, and in order for a woman to be successful, she should not act like a woman but like a man. Thanks for the compliment, but I disagree. I think men need women to be women, and we [men] need to be made to jump through some hoops. If a woman withholds sex until she gets what she wants, we are all better for it.

What Miller is saying is that women need to think more highly of themselves. When a girl flaunts her body or dresses seductively, she is saying to guys (whether she realizes it or not), "Hey look at me, I'm cheap, I'm a body you can use for your own selfish gratification, and you don't have to give up anything." That's such a sell-out. And guys will take advantage of the offer.

See, women hold the power when it comes to sex. If they will withhold sex from guys until marriage like the Bible says to do, they will both dignify themselves and teach men to be responsible citizens, faithful husbands, and good fathers and workers. If, on the other hand, women give themselves away without expecting commitment and work from men, they lose their dignity, their beauty, and their power, and they allow men to become selfish pigs.

So girls, act like women instead of men. Be feminine. Be modest. Make guys jump through some hoops. I'm not saying you need to cover your bodies from head to toe like Muslim women, but you definitely need to stop advertising that your body is for sale...cheap.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Graduation day!




It's official...our son Michael graduated from high school TODAY! Here are some pictures...

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Fanfin seadevil


I'd hate to meet up with this fish in a dark alley! I ran across this picture today of a fanfin seadevil, otherwise known as Caulophryne jordani. It's found in the deep, lightless waters of the ocean. Guess what...the male of the species spends its adult life parasitically attached to a female.

What an appropriate thought for Mother's Day.

Michael's drama awards

Last night at his final awards banquet my son Michael won several awards for his work this year in Drama at Timber Creek High School.

He was one of two students selected as Best Thespian for the year (that's the tall trophy). The smaller trophy is for Best Student Director, which he got for directing The Actor's Nightmare, a funny one-act play by Christopher Durang. I saw it a few weeks ago and he did a great job.

He got a couple of other medals as well. I am proud of our son and love seeing how God has gifted him with an appreciation for the fine arts.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Pandora Internet Radio

Have you heard of this? My son David turned me on to it today. It's a free music-listening site where you can enter your favorite artists and listen to continuous songs by that artist as well as by others you may not have ever heard of but who resemble that artist.

So it's a great way to learn about other artists and listen to free music. You can't download songs, but for just listening it's great. It's also fun to set up new music "stations" and see what songs are out there in the musical universe.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Graduation party

The other night my wife and I celebrated our son Michael's high school graduation at church. It was a Senior Celebration for all graduates in the youth group. This is a bad picture I took with my camera phone, but at least you can see how many young men & women in our youth group are graduating this year. Most are going off to the University of Florida or Florida State University in the fall. (That's Michael in the back row, far left.)

I am thankful my son has been part of an active, committed small group of guys in the youth group. They've been meeting together for well over a year now, reading good books and holding each other accountable. Right now they're reading The Universe Next Door, a comparative study of worldviews by James Sire (a difficult read - but to their credit they're doing it!).

When we moved to this city Michael was in the 7th grade and did not have any friends. That's a tough time to move and adapt to a new place and a new school. But God gave Michael a resilient spirit. He dove in and found a place for himself. The guys that came around him then are still there around him now. That's a special grace from God. I did not have many close male friends in high school. It's a rare thing.

Thanks to the parents who raised these boys that became my son's friends. Thanks to youth group leaders who gave a lot of time and energy to see to it that my son (and many other sons & daughters) "caught" the gospel. I really appreciate each of you.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Painted Veil

A few weeks ago I bemoaned the fact that I hadn't seen a good movie for a long while. Now I have.

My wife and I rented the little-known indie film The Painted Veil, starring Edward Norton and Naomi Watts. It is moving, beautifully filmed, superbly-acted, and thought-provoking. It is based on the novel of the same name by W. Somerset Maugham.

Set in 1925 mostly in a remote, cholera-infested Chinese village, The Painted Veil is about an unhappily-married couple (Walter and Kitty Fane) who must work through their feelings of betrayal and loss while ministering to the dying, and at the same time patch together some type of relationship with each other.

I won't tell you what happens, only that the movie contains a very clear, redemptive theme that shows what is possible when people die to themselves and learn, through hardship, to forgive and love. It's brilliant.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Spider-Man 3 over the top

Spider-Man 3...It has everything I expected and more. Too much more. More bad guys, more fights in mid-air, more tears, more sub-plots, and more sad shots of Spidey and MJ than the first two Spider-Man movies put together.

I think this movie suffers from the same things that bother me about most movies of this genre: the story serves the technical effects (rather than the other way around), and the actors are there mostly to fill the space between computer-animated action sequences. I thought Spider-Man I and II were less that way than this one, and I loved them. I was glad when this one was over. Except for Kirsten Dunst and Tobey Maguire, who were very good, the acting was ho-hum and at times really bad.

Nevertheless, there were some interesting moments from a theological perspective. Peter Parker gets taken over by Venom, a weird alien parasite that, a la Star Wars, pulls him over to the "dark side." To rid himself of it he goes to a church, and there's a neat shot of the steeple with a cross at the top that suggests his only recourse is to cry out with Paul, "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?!" (Romans 7:24) This black, slimy creature moves from person to person and place to place with subtlety and strength -- a perfect illustration of Satan, who delights in destroying people and relationships and turning that which is good into evil.

Rather than give away more of the plot, I'll just say I give Spider-Man 3 a B-. Maybe you'll like it more than I did.