Monday, April 28, 2008

Origin Or Extinction?

Yoko Ono has filed a federal lawsuit against the producers of the documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed that challenges the theory of evolution saying they used the song "Imagine" without her permission. The film uses part of the song that asks listeners to imagine a world without religion or faith in an afterlife. "Expelled" executive producer Logan Craft says the lyric reflects the views of many advocates of unguided evolution and insists that its "fair use" is protected under the First Amendment. Isn't it ironic that the lawsuit is about a song with the lyrics "Imagine no possessions"?

And while all that is entertaining, I find Brian McLaren's [not so] unrelated question more intriguing: Why are so many religious people arguing about the origin of the [human] species, but so few are concerned about its extinction? Genocide. Stupid poverty. No clean drinking water. Child prostitution. Modern day slavery.
Which one interests YOU more?

Wanna Watch The Robe?

My friend Jeff recommended this DVD to me and I'm happy to recommend it to you. It was nominated for five Academy Awards® in 1953, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Richard Burton. The visual aspects of the film are stunning and it may be worth viewing for that alone. But the story of the Roman Centurion who gambles and wins the robe Jesus wore to the crucifixion subsequently transforming his life is even better. Enjoy!!! [And click the pick to purchase the DVD for >$8]

Made To Worship?

Made to Worship written by Ed Cash and beautifully sung by Chris Tomlin was named song of the year at the 2008 Christian Music Awards. But according to the Barna Group, more and more Americans don't know why we worship. In fact, only one third of the people surveyed even know Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount. Fewer than half of Americans surveyed can name the first book of the Bible. And 80% of born again Christians believe the phrase "God helps those who help themselves" is in the Bible [which it’s not. That bad theology came from Ben Franklin].

All of which makes me think that EVERY time we gather for worship should be like opening night of a 52 week evangelistic series explaining why we're there. Because one of those Americans could be visiting for the first time. Even if they—and in some cases the "regulars" inside—don't know why. Revelation 12:10 &12 says it this way: "11They [us] overcame him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb [Jesus]. Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them!" Who and why do YOU worship?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Having A Ball?

Tim Nolan is having way more than a ball. Press the triangular play button to see what I mean. Could you do this?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Is Casper A Friendly Ghost?

Glancing at the familiar name on the tiny screen, a heartbroken husband leaving his wife's funeral is startled to see from the caller ID that it's his wife!!! She's attempting to contact him from "the other side." But is this possible?

What I say next may surprise you. I believe it is. But not because you can talk to dead people. The Bible says in Job 7:9-10 “As a cloud vanishes and is gone, so he who goes down to the grave does not return. He will never come to his house again. His place will know him no more.” So if dead people are dead, with whom are some communicating? Not Casper!!! 1 Timothy 4:1 speaks of "deceiving spirits." Jesus Himself cast them out [Mark 1:21-26]. Maybe that's why God tells people not to get near "Anyone who conjures spells or one who calls up the dead" [Deuteronomy 18:10-13].

From sugary sweet films like Ghost [back in the day] to the scary plot lines of White Noise [described above] to the dramatic episodes straight from the occult on network television [such as NBC's Medium], Satan is asserting himself in the world. So what do we do about it? Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus [Hebrews 12:2]. And stay away from mediums and sorcery and talking to dead people. Even the friendly kind. Why? Because 2 Corinthians 11:14 says "Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light." Do you think this is good advice?

Will We Praise Him?

Went to a Mudhens baseball game this week. But if you go to any sporting event, you're likely to hear at some point the lyrics to Queen's famous anthem "We will rock you."

Well, some time after the first pitch [when the Mudhens took a 3-0 lead on a home run] but before the 7th inning stretch [when Joshua and Lydia and nearly every child on the TJA field trip had abandoned their seats in favor of the playground beyond the outfield], we came up with some new lyrics to sing while that song was periodically blasted throughout the stadium. Joshua and Lydia loved singing them preceded by the familiar bass notes they duplicated with their hands and feet. STOMP STOMP CLAP. STOMP STOMP CLAP.

Jesus is the man come / down from heaven / to die on the cross / and pay our sins / got blood on His face / we're saved by grace / when He comes back / gonna take us to His place / so we're singing / we will, we will, praise Him!!! / we will, we will, praise Him!!! / we will, we will, praise Him!!!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Wanna Take The Catholic Quiz?

With the arrival of Pope Benedict the XVI this week, we set our gaze on the nearly 75 million Catholics in the United States. Take the following 10 question quiz to learn more about your Catholic neighbors.

1. The current pope’s birth name is:
A. Cliff Claven
B. John Ratzenberger
C. Joseph Ratzinger

2. The Catholic church is headquartered in:
A. Ocean City
B. Atlantic City
C. Vatican City

3. Catholics believe:
A. The same thing as Protestant Christians about the Trinity, the deity of Jesus Christ, that He died on the cross for man’s sins, rose again and ascended to heaven
B. They are sinners but think their sins are only venial or minor and that they can take care of venial sins themselves through good works and purgatory—a temporary place after death
C. Both A and B

4. Catholics believe Mary:
A. Didn’t like Mary Magdalene
B. Wouldn’t have watched the Da Vinci Code
C. Was perfect and a co-mediator of God’s grace

5. Catholics say priests:
A. Can get married
B. Play major league baseball
C. Can forgive sins

6. Catholics believe the only true church is:
A. Oprah’s
B. The Roman Catholic Church
C. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

7. The Council of Trent [1545 -1563] said:
A. We are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone
B. We are saved by a combination of what Christ has done for us and what we accomplish over our lifetime
C. Only Oprah will be saved

8. Who does the pope not consider a saint?
A. Mother Teresa
B. Francis of Assisi
C. Mel Gibson

9. Chapter 9 of the Council of Trent’s Decree on Justification concludes with which sentence?

A. “No one can know with certainty that he has obtained the grace of God.”
B. “He who has the Son has life. I write these things so you may know you have eternal life.”
C. “Whew, that only took 18 years!!!”

10. When the pope leaves Hanger 19 at JFK Airport in NY on APR 20, he'll fly:
A. Southwest
B. On the popemobile with wings
C. In a regular commercial aircraft reserved for him [from the Italian airline Alitalia] dubbed Shepherd One when he's on board by air traffic control

How many did you get right?
Here are the answers:
1-5C; 6-7B; 8C; 9A; 10C

Monday, April 14, 2008

What Is Your Fave Season?

Easter weekend it snowed. But now it's warming up and looks like Spring is here to stay. The other day I took the kids out to play. Lydia's favorite new thing is swinging as high as she can. Joshua likes swinging and kicking the 4square ball around. And Barkley likes chasing his nemesis we call Nutcase—the chatty squirrel in our front yard—up the closest tree. It's obvious the squirrel is mocking him. But Barkley can't do anything about it. What is your fave season?

Addict Or Ironman?

Todd Crandell, of Sylvania Ohio, is the founder and Executive Director of Racing for Recovery [click pic for info]. I met Todd recently and asked him how Racing for Recovery is different than typical 12 Step AA programs. He said the difference is instead of emphasizing what they used to be ["Hi, I'm Todd, and I'm an alcoholic."], Crandell and his Racing for Recovery support groups unashamedly emphasize the physically and spiritually healthy people they are becoming in Christ. They credit the life transforming grace of God for making them into "new creatures" [2 Corinthians 5:17].

When he's not racing, Todd is available to speak at your church [call 866.SOBER.01]. To tell his story. And encourage you to open your doors to host a Racing for Recovery support group. Which don't have to be about drugs. Some people are addicted to food. Pornography. Shopping. But they all need encouragement and friends with faith in the life transforming power of God. Think about it!!! And then click the triangular play button to watch the 10 minute segment ESPN recently aired. WTG Todd!!!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Who Is TED?

TED stands for "Technology, Entertainment, Design." This annual conference brings together the world's most fascinating thinkers and doers and challenges them to give the talk of their lives. Talks from the conference are available online, for free, and have been watched more than 35 million times worldwide. Click the pic above to sign up for TED Talk emails to keep current on the latest greatest talks sure to stir your thinking and curiosity. The email sign up box is at the very bottom of their homepage.

What's Pangea Day?

Inspired by the 2006 TED Prize Wish of the Egyptian / Syrian / American documentary filmmaker Jehane Noujaim [click the pic to watch her proposal in its entirety], Pangea Day is a live broadcast via every medium imaginable featuring 24 short films meant to promote dialog and cooperation on universal themes such as food, home, water, laughter, sorrow, hope, landscape, despair and joy. It takes place on May 10, 2008 18:00 - 22:00 GMT or 2-6pm EST.

But here's the part that caught my attention: After May 10, Pangea Day organizers will facilitate community-building activities around the world by connecting inspired viewers with other organizations willing to help. Wouldn’t it be cool if one of those organizations was the church? How significant would it be if churches led the way in this venture by opening its doors to become host sites for this global conversation? [Click here for more details about that].

he chose the name pangeabecause it describes the hypothetical landmass that existed when all continents were joined together. It is derived from the Greek words pan meaning “all” and gaia meaning “earth.”

Can Watching Movies Change The World?

Movies can't change the world. But the people who watch them can!!! And on May 10, 2008, from 18:00 - 22:00 GMT, [2-6pm EST] millions of people will be doing so!!! From Times Square to Cairo, they will be watching the same visionary speakers and uplifting music scattered among 24 short films selected from an international competition based on their ability to inspire, transform, and allow us to see the world through another person's eyes.

In a world where people are often divided by borders, difference, and conflict, it's easy to lose sight of what we all have in common. Pangea Day seeks to overcome that - to help people see themselves in others - through the power of film. Click the pic to watch the preview.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Does Every Pair Count?

Some of you remember meeting 7 year old Hannah Turner during Ringfest 2007 [click here to refresh your memory]. She and her dad Vic and mom Doris were pleased to accept our 3,153 pairs of socks that students from 11 bell choirs and church schools [including our own James Meade and Toledo Junior Academy] collected and brought to provide the less fortunate of Toledo with warm feet and warm hearts. Well, since then, Hannah's Socks have gone global. With contributions pouring in from as far away as the Netherlands!!! Vic Turner called me the other day to thank us again for contributing to Hannah's Socks. And to give me a heads up that he was sending us a reporter from the Toledo Blade to interview me about why we wanted to show people, especially those less fortunate, that God loves them like crazy.

Much of what I said wasn't included in the article that appeared in the Toledo Blade on March 5, 2008 but if you click the pic of Hannah, you can read what was. Every pair DOES count!!! Small things done with great love STILL change the world!!!