Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Family's coming

This will be a great Christmas because my whole family will be together. It's been at least 2 years since that happened!

Our youngest son Michael is already home from college. On Christmas Eve our daughter Jennifer and her husband Tim will arrive with their Great Dane Li'l Bit. Late Christmas Day our other daughter Rebecca, her husband Scott, and their 3 kids will pull in after their all-day drive from Gulfport, Mississippi. Finally on Friday our older son David and his wife Lindsay will get here.

So it'll be a house full... but I'm so glad!

I came from a small family. It was just my parents, my older brother, and me. We didn't have many aunts and uncles or cousins. I never knew either of my grandfathers. My dad's only sibling, a brother, was killed in WWII. My mother had only one brother also, and he and his family lived out in California. Other than that, I had these somewhat mysterious relatives that I only heard about when my parents talked about them so I'd know they existed. But most of them I never met or don't remember.

So I consider it one of God's most wonderful gifts to me that my wife and I have four children, and that one of them already has 3 kids! Lord willing, all of my children will one day be married and have children of their own, so the Osborne family tree will grow a lot bigger. I want to do my little part to be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and subdue it to the glory of God!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Frost/Nixon

In March, 1977, disgraced ex-President Richard Nixon sat with talk show host David Frost for more than 28 hours stretching over 12 days, in a historic set of interviews about Watergate and other subjects related to the Nixon presidency. My son and I saw the movie about those interviews last night. Frost/Nixon is a film adaptation of the 2006 play of the same name, and it's directed by Ron Howard, one of my favorite movie directors.

It may not sound like the kind of thing that would make for a good movie, but I was totally engrossed the whole 2 hours. Of course, I'm already fascinated by everything Watergate. But this movie does what no documentary would do. It takes you inside the lonely heart of Richard Nixon. Frank Langella plays Nixon to the hilt. Without trying to "act" like Nixon (like an impressionist would do), Langella sounds like him, hunches over like him, and displays both Nixon's arrogance and sadness so well I felt like I was really looking at the man.

Beyond a treatment of Nixon's complicity in Watergate (he basically confessed during his last interview with Frost), what this movie does is show how the two adversaries - Frost and Nixon - were really after the same thing. They were both looking for satisfaction in a world they felt had rejected them.

Tim Keller, in The Reason for God, defines sin as "the despairing refusal to find your deepest identity in your relationship and service to God. Sin is seeking to become oneself, to get an identity, apart from him." Looked at in that light, Frost/Nixon is an excellent glimpse into the soul of a sinner who has yet to find a relationship with Jesus Christ. In totally different ways, both Frost and Nixon broke the first of the Ten Commandments - "You shall have no other gods before me."

Monday, December 15, 2008

I may be totally wrong, but...

I'll say it anyway. I don't like going to Christian concerts and listening to an overly-long plea to get involved in a cause (like Samaritan's Purse, World Vision, Compassion International, etc.).

I know this makes me sound like a total, insensitive, selfish heel. And I am.

Still, I've been to two concerts by Christian bands recently, and both times there was a REALLY long appeal to contribute money, sponsor a child, or whatnot. This seems to be par for the course at Christian concerts. I'm going back in my mind to all the ones I've been to over the years (DC Talk, Audio Adrenaline, Michael W. Smith, Newsboys, etc.) and it seems there's always a "ministry" time during intermission or at the end. And if memory serves, it's normally way too long and guilt-motivating.

Conversely, I've been to "secular" concerts where there was no such appeal, and the time was entirely given over to the performance of great music, so that we the concert-goers could celebrate the talents of the artist without hearing one of them say, almost apologetically, "You know, it's not really about the music, it's about caring for people."

One of my concerns is that a lot of non-Christians attend Christian concerts and I'll bet they get completely turned off by this. Plus I'm afraid it communicates something we don't really believe.

A Biblical worldview says that you don't have to baptize art with a Christian message for it to be worthwhile. Now hear me out... I'm not suggesting for a moment that these wonderful Christian artists are consciously doing that. They have good hearts and pure motives when they ask us to meet needs around the world. And I sincerely appreciate what they're doing. They could have chosen to be in the music industry for the glory and fame, but they didn't. And I'm proud of them for that.

But I would argue that it would be better to give us more of their art, without suggesting (even unconsciously) that the art has to be servant to a cause of some kind. For if music or art is just a means to an end, it becomes manipulative and superfluous. For the Christian, the arts are ends in themselves, a display of the glory and beauty of God.

Let us enjoy that without feeling guilty for not contributing to a cause.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Eben Update

I've posted about my grandson Eben a couple of times before. He's now 4 1/2 years old. He's big into soccer. Here's a great picture of the young competitor getting ready to score some goals.

Every time I think about Eben I am reminded of God's faithfulness. God miraculously preserved Eben's life while he was in his mother's womb. Every day is a gift from God to Eben and his family.

For that matter, isn't that how we all ought to view our lives?

Sixpence None the Richer

My wife and I joined our good friends Jonathan and Amanda a few nights ago for the Love Came Down Christmas concert featuring Jars of Clay, Sixpence None the Richer, and Sara Groves.

My favorite part of the concert was hearing Leigh Nash and Matt Slocum, aka Sixpence None the Richer. We also got to meet Leigh after the concert, pictured here with my wife Suzy. Leigh's voice is wonderful and I find many of Sixpence's songs creative and mesmerizing. (You might know them best from the song "Kiss Me" in the 1999 film She's All That.) They've just come out with a Christmas album called The Dawn of Grace. I especially enjoy their arrangement of "O Come, O Come Emmanuel." Our church's worship team recently led us in song with that arrangement.

There's an interesting piece on ChristianityToday.com about Sixpence. They were on the David Letterman Show about 10 years ago. Letterman asked where the band's name came from. Leigh explained:

"It comes from a book by C. S. Lewis…called Mere Christianity. A little boy asks his father if he can get a sixpence—a very small amount of English currency—to go and get a gift for his father. The father gladly accepts the gift and he's really happy with it, but he also realizes that he's not any richer for the transaction…"

Letterman then remarked, "He bought his own gift."

Leigh: "That's right. C.S. Lewis was comparing that to his belief that God has given him, and us, the gifts that we possess, and to serve Him the way we should, we should do it humbly… realizing how we got the gifts in the first place."

In a rare show of soul, Letterman replied, "Well, that's beautiful. If we could just keep that little sliver of enlightenment with us, things would be so much better."

I love it when Christian artists are able to win credibility in the culture and speak winsomely and clearly from a Biblical worldview.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Most recent guilty pleasure

Sour cream doughnut from Dunkin' Donuts, heated up in the microwave until just soft and warm.

The Diet Coke I had with it cancelled out the fat and calories.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Rachel Getting Married

This movie is a sad, serious, nearly interminable look inside a dysfunctional family. And while I didn't "enjoy" this movie, I thought it was really good (if you can figure that out). Don't see this movie if you're already in a depressed mood. Or then again, maybe it will cheer you up to realize you're not half as bad off as this family!

Anne Hathaway plays the part of Kym, a drug addict in rehab, who comes home for the wedding of her sister Rachel. There are numerous very awkward and painful exchanges between Kym, Rachel, their parents, step-parents, and friends who are all gathered for the weekend of the wedding.

Hathaway is amazing in this movie. In fact all the acting is great. You can't help but get swept up in the constant banter and arguing as Kym, Rachel, and their parents dredge up old wounds and navigate the swirling waters of anger, bitterness, guilt, and denial.

I have several gripes about the movie, but I'm willing to bet the director intentionally did these things to make you feel the dis-ease of Kym and her family. One is the constant fiddle music being played in the background by Rachel's assortment of artsy, goofy friends. I couldn't wait for the movie to end just to stop hearing those annoying tunes! Then there was the LONG (understatement) wedding reception scene. It reminded me of all the times I've been stuck at wedding receptions for people I didn't know. Again, I'm sure it was a device to make you feel the utter despair of a family that failed to really love one another all along the way.

It was humorous to see Bill Irwin playing the part of Kym and Rachel's father. Irwin was a familiar face throughout my parenting years, as Mr. Noodle on Sesame Street. He's also been a character actor in lots of other TV shows including The Cosby Show. But in Rachel Getting Married he's effective as a father who desperately wants to rewrite the family history but cannot.

One thing I really liked was the positive way Narcotics Anonymous is portrayed in the film. It is a piece of redemption and grace in a movie otherwise devoid of those things. Kym's determination to find healing and friendship among fellow addicts is a picture of how we in the church should pursue authenticity and sanctification with one another. It was inspiring to see Kym make an effort to finally confront her mother, but sad to see how poorly her mother responded.

This is one of those movies that absolutely begs for the gospel. I am so very thankful for what Christ did to free me from my past and break the cycle of family dysfunction. Not that I've arrived by any means, but as I watched this movie I couldn't help thinking, "There but for the grace of God go I."

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Cardboard testimonies

This past Sunday, our worship service concluded with something called "cardboard testimonies." Our worship director and I picked up the idea from a video we'd seen from another church, and he invited a number of our people to participate.

About 25 people came forward at the end of the service and walked across the stage holding a cardboard sign written on both sides. On Side A was a brief description of something each person has struggled with at some point in the past, or still struggles with. On Side B was an equally short description of what God has done to help them with that struggle.

It was very moving. Many of the testimonies were about very personal things, and I was inspired by the people's willingness to be real. The fact that the testimonies were written on cardboard, rather than spoken, took away the intimidation factor. The congregation was visibly moved as they read how God has helped real people with addictions, loss, unhealthy relationships, perfectionism, and the like.

It's so encouraging when people tell others how God has stepped into their pain.

Wycliffe's inspiring vision

I have the privilege of serving a church attended by many people who work for Wycliffe Bible Translators. Recently I went to a celebration of Vision 2025 at Wycliffe's Orlando headquarters. Vision 2025 is their plan to see a Bible translation program in progress in every language still needing one by the year 2025.

I was amazed to learn that a new Bible translation program begins somewhere in the world every 5 days. With advancements in computer technology and new methods of working together, our friends at Wycliffe expect to translate the Scriptures into other languages at a much faster rate than had at one time been possible. The 2025 goal, while ambitious, is doable.

Today, however, about 200 million people around the world still do not have a Bible in their own language. If it's the truth that sets people free, we should all get behind Wycliffe Bible Translators with our prayers, encouragement, and financial support... so that Vision 2025 can become a reality and every people group can hear the good news about Jesus.