Monthly Archives: April 2012

True followers “give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…” 1 Peter 3:15
This is just awesome… May we live it!

CNN Belief Blog

Editor’s note: Jim Daly is president of Focus on the Family, Dr. Russell Moore is dean of the School of Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez is president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.

By Jim Daly, Russell D. Moore and Samuel Rodriguez, Special to CNN

(CNN) – We’ve all heard it, since we were schoolkids knocking about on the playground: “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” A saying with good intent, to be sure, designed to steel young minds, and hearts, against the inevitable bruises that come with sharing childhood and adolescence with other children and adolescents.

But did any of us ever believe it was true? Even today – now that we’re older, hopefully wiser, having experienced the heartaches of everyday life more fully than we may have as kids – is…

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Toward an Evangelical Earth Day


Greening for God: Evangelicals Learn to Love Earth Day – Atlantic Mobile.

Above is a link shared by my geologist friend, Chuck Carrigan. I have to admit that as a very young Christian I went along with conservatives who marginalized the environmental cause. We were confusing “this world is not my home” (the world = whole fallen human enterprise with the will to power, sex, and money driving the daily engine) with “Christians should be unbridled consumers of God’s creation because soon I’ll be raptured out of here”. Up to that point I was unaware of Romans 8:19-23 and not considering how many biblical passages celebrate the glory and beauty of God’s creation. Oddly enough, we loved to use Romans 1:20 as an indictment against “sinners” (=people with different sin problems than me) because God made his invisible qualities evident in creation. Yet we ignored this on the positive side of considering God’s work sacred. The whole of creation is essentially presented as a temple in Genesis, built as an ideal environment in which we could walk with and worship God. How could the same people who sang In the Garden reject the care of that garden?

That was then. But knowing what we know about best practices for interpreting the Bible and being confronted with expanding environmental disasters and reaping the harvest of indifference how can so many still persist? I’m shocked that any Christian leader would say Christians are to “usecreation”! Obviously we shouldn’t worship creation. No biblical command could be clearer. But stewardship of all the resources and gifts God has given us, including creation, is mature worship of the Father. Genesis 1:28ff and 2:8-15 make it clear that “fill the earth and subdue it” and “have dominion over…” did not mean abuse it. God is our King. We are created a little lower than the angels to reflect His image in His world. Does God abuse and use up His subjects? No true King would. I’m out of space to share more biblical insights…

If Earth Day was started by pagans it’s to our shame. We should’ve been first to the party, but we’re showing up late. Yet we can redeem this celebration in fully Christian, biblical ways. In the season of Easter, when we celebrate Jesus as the first fruits of the resurrection, which will mean the redemption of the entire created order and our physical bodies, let us give thanks to Father for His fantastic planet. Let us confess that our fallenness has distorted it and our indifference has neglected it. It’s not our highest duty, but on our way to loving God with our whole being and our neighbor as ourselves, even as we are going into all the world to make disciples, let us teach them to obey every command, even the one to care for creation.

It’s a very small thing. But the children of our congregation are leading us in a paper drive this Sunday. As a response to worship we’ll march out and try to fill our paper recycling bin. One little act of stewardship. But I think the Father will be smiling because through it we seek to honor Him.

Disposable Prayer, John Wesley, and Dictionaries

PRAYER—Jesus, my Savior, let your love rule my heart without a rival. Let it dispose all my thoughts, words, and works; for then only can I fulfill my duty and your command of loving you with all my heart, and mind, and soul, and strength. Amen. John Wesley*
*Beacon Hill Press (2011-09-01). Year B: Ashes to Fire: Daily Reflections from Ash Wednesday to Pentecost (Kindle Locations 1997-1999). Nazarene Publishing House. Kindle Edition.

Another beautiful prayer. Life was calling, but I put it on hold and stumbled on some good stuff.  I found in this prayer an interesting possible connection to Thomas a Kempis’ “Imitation of Christ”. Wesley’s use of the word “dispose” here doesn’t mean throw away. It means he’s asking that God’s love would arrange his thoughts in proper order. a Kempis mentions the Latin proverb: Homo proponit, sed Deus disponit. “Man proposes but God disposes” (determines the course of events). The imagery is hard to miss. And I think it demonstrates how Wesley’s devotional life included not only intense prayers and Scripture reading, but also the great devotional writings of Christian history. The thought of God’s holy love rearranging our best thoughts, words, and works so that they more adequately represent God’s will is among the most beautiful images I’ve ever come across in a prayer.
It wouldn’t be possible if Wesley wasn’t deeply engaged in truly trying to live his faith, but also reading widely enough to learn from his faith forefathers. In this case, something made me curious and I found everything I needed to know in the Dictionary attached to the Kindle app on my iPad, where I was reading today’s Ashes to Fire selections! The two meanings of the word dispose and the example of a Kempis’ quotation of the Latin proverb were all there. Just a touch revealed more than I imagined. I just had to press and hold on the word, then click FULL DEFINITION.
How quickly I sometimes move through life and prayer. With that practice there isn’t enough time to allow God to dispose my thoughts, words, and works. But God is gracious and can show us so much more with just a touch. Even dictionaries become luminous sources of inspiration when we listen to those inner promptings and seek more. May His love truly rule our hearts without a rival. And may it lovingly rearrange all that is required to empower us to live in new ways. And as that old Latin proverb implies, it’s the only way we’ll be living in sync with reality. Because God is God after all…

PRAYER—O God, Infinite …

PRAYER—O God, Infinite Goodness, confirm your past mercies to me by enabling me for what remains of my life to be more faithful than I have been up until now to your great command to love as I have been loved. Let me not rest in any external devotion, nor trust in words or sighs or tears. Let me know and feel what it is to love you with all my heart. Amen

John Wesley

Beacon Hill Press (2011-09-01). Year B: Ashes to Fire: Daily Reflections from Ash Wednesday to Pentecost (Kindle Locations 1973-1975). Nazarene Publishing House. Kindle Edition.

Heretics: The Crisis Of American Christianity : NPR

Below is a link to an interesting story based on Ross Douthat’s book Bad Religion. He argues for three main strands of home-grown heresy in North America. Special thanks to Scot McKnight for a headsup on this story.

I can’t find much to disagree with here. Looks like an informative read…

Heretics: The Crisis Of American Christianity : NPR.

Blue Like Jazz Movie Review


I saw the movie Blue Like Jazz with my wife. Only one other couple was in the theater. They left during the bookstore scene about 30 minutes in. We stayed. I really enjoyed reading the book by Donald Miller, on which it is based. So I really wanted to like the movie.
But I agree with other honest critiques. I couldn’t care much for anyone but Penny, the female lead. Everyone else seemed like a sophomoric cartoon of real people.
Many church going Christians without a sense of humor will be offended by language, abuse of alcohol, sexual dialogue, and the aggressively negative portrayal of most Christians. Can I admit that eventually these got to me, too? No need to sanitize everything, but a bit too much.
More importantly, I feel like it violated everything that has made Donald Miller so awesome. It’s not worthy of the book nor Miller’s widely enjoyed speech on script writing called “Story”. They tried to use this in the film, but it was altered in key ways that didn’t work for me. The story lacks focus. Characters lack authenticity. And there’s no way things get resolved so quickly in real life as they do in the final scene. It needed 10 more minutes to play out some implications. And at the 1hr 45min movie length, time was available to do more. The book version of that scene was so much better. I don’t get why they changed it.
Over all, soul-crushingly disappointing. Nobody wanted to like it more than me. Ugh!
Can I blame Steve Taylor, the director? Not sure it’s that simple. It’s like it tried to be “Thin Ice” (1988 Christian Movie) in reverse. In the end I found it to be a formulaic “not-a-Christian-movie” Christian movie. The same critiques always offered applied here. All about a decision that changes everything but doesn’t get explored or realistically played out.
There are many schools of thought about how Christians should make movies. But if a movie has a spiritual decision as its climax, at least be more thorough and realistic. And don’t try to pretend that’s not what it’s about. I would love a little more gospel there, more clarity about Jesus. But even without it, the ending needed more time to seem real. That’s what drew me to Miller’s writings again and again. Good storytelling. This movie/script didn’t achieve the same level of on-screen meaning. At least not for me.
I hope Christians keep making movies. But this proves how hard it is to go from a written work to a screenplay.
Oddly, I hope others like it enough that nobody loses money on this project. I don’t think Christians should boycott it. That would accomplish nothing edifying. Consider seeing it just to support Donald Miller who sold his house to make it. But it has to stand on its own merits, especially if they’re going to insist its a different kind of movie.

N.T. Wright Responds with Blog Comment

the12 – James K.A. Smith – Kings, Creeds, and the Canon: Musing on N.T. Wright.

Special thanks to my friend Lonnie Marshall for this link. How would you like N.T. Wright commenting on your blog? That’s what happened to Jamie Smith. Click the link above to see his questionable review of Wright’s book, then scroll down to the 10th Comment. None other than N.T. “Tom” Wright responds. I had the same response to Smith’s review. It seemed to not understand the context of some of the terms Wright uses in his book. Maybe it’s not his best book overall, but his carefully nuanced point, about the Creeds never having the purpose of replacing the full Gospel accounts about Jesus’ life and ministry, is well taken. He’s not attacking the creeds. He says them daily/weekly. He also prays the Lord’s Prayer which does a nice job summarizing Jesus’ ministry emphases. Creeds plus Gospels equals very fully formed faith. Here, here, N.T.! I agree, I agree!
This isn’t just a scholarly question. It gets right down to how we make disciples. People should be reading the story and living the story as they learn the creeds and get formed in faith.
I may not agree with many of Wright’s political examples, but I agree with his theological and textual points and think he’s asking the right questions about how we worship and do spiritual formation. What do you think?

Because they obviously do…

Because they obviously don’t have the evidence, and yet they claim this evidence, the question we must ask becomes this: who would benefit most from the discovery of first century evidence of a Christian belief in a spiritually, but not physically resurrected Jesus? The answer to that question will tell us much more about the possible motive behind Simcha and Dr. Tabor’s otherwise circumstantial and highly spurious conclusions.

Dr. James Cargill, University of Iowa XKV8R Blog Post 4-12-12

Dr. Robert R. Cargill of the University of Iowa makes all my points for me on tonight’s Discovery Channel broadcast. I totally agree that Simcha is a non-scholar just looking for TV time. Dr. Cargill points out that very little evidence is presented and that the producers have an axe to grind. They want to try to say Jesus didn’t physically rise from the dead. The problem is they don’t use valid methods and no reasonable scholar interprets their evidence as they do. The Gospels and 1 Corinthians 15:3-11 are the earliest Christian beliefs about the resurrection. It’s clear they believed in a physical resurrection, not a spiritual one. What Simcha found was a rather typical Greek Ossuary box from 1st Century Jerusalem. Many Jews believed in the resurrection of the dead at the judgment (Pharisees, for example) and the inscriptions fit that belief well. I’m surprised Discovery ended up airing the broadcast because the research has been so discredited. It really has the effect of strengthening the validity of the NT witness, by making such a poor argument.
This is not the purpose of Dr. Cargill’s blog, but I thank him for pointing out these errors and the attempted manipulation of believers and skeptics for money and fame. I hope well-meaning believers never put on something this lame trying the “prove” the resurrection. Let the biblical witnesses stand and let people decide based on faith.
As always, I’m seeking to let the Christian Scriptures bring life into focus…

XKV8R: The Official Blog of Robert R. Cargill, Ph.D.

This will be the live blog of the premier of Simcha Jacobovici’s “The Resurrection Tomb Mystery” on the Discovery Channel on Thursday, April 12, 2012 at 9:00 PM Central.

This blog will be updated frequently and will be corrected/altered throughout the hour. (Please forgive misspellings and grammatical errors, as this is rapid fire.) I shall edit and make the text into a more coherent narrative when it’s over.

Other live blogs taking place: Mark Goodacre, Thomas Verenna.


9:00 BEGIN

Disclaimer. Use your own judgment. Wise words.

9:01 Preview/Ad Intro. Seen this before.

Jesus’ crucifixion is being reenacted.

Intro Joseph of Arimathea. Wha?

Cut to Church of the Holy Sepulcher. True: no archaeological evidence of resurrection

Unused tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. OK. What’s the connection?

1980 in Talpiot (I didn’t know they had footage of that. 😉

Talpiot Tomb: removed 10 ossuaries.

2007: Intro Simcha ‘Re-discovering” the…

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PRAYER—O Lord, you have…

PRAYER—O Lord, you have set before us the great hope that your kingdom shall come on earth, and have taught us to pray for its coming; give us grace to discern the signs of its dawning, and to work for the perfect day when your will shall be done on earth as it is in heaven, in the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

John Wesley
Beacon Hill Press (2011-09-01). Year B: Ashes to Fire: Daily Reflections from Ash Wednesday to Pentecost (Kindle Locations 1799-1801). Nazarene Publishing House. Kindle Edition.

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