Monthly Archives: December 2008


Nick Saban: Coach of the Year

A lot of college fans do not like Nick Saban, especially if he coaches against the team you love. Some feel that he ran out on LSU for the NFL and all the money that came with it. (When he took the Alabama job LSU fans went into a frenzy, for a very good reason. They know, deep inside, the ability Saban has to beat them.) Others see him as a four-year hire and then he's gone. "Liar, liar, pants on fire . . . "

Michigan State, where Saban coached before LSU, would take him back in a heartbeat. He is the only coach at MSU since the famed Duffy Daugherty to beat Ohio State, Michigan and Notre Dame all in the same season. And when LSU was in the dumps, losing year-in and year-out, Saban breathed life into the program and won a national title in four years. But when he went to the Miami Dolphins many fans blasted him for that choice.

By |December 31st, 2008|Categories: College Football|

Vision Statements and Local Churches

Almost every church that I speak at these days has a "vision statement" or something like it that is called a "mission statement." These statements are often the result of good work done by people who wrote them after spending considerable time and thinking in creating a carefully written short sentence or two. It appears to me that there are several reasons why churches write such statements. Sometimes it might be purely because of trends and/or expectations. I can recall, in the 1970s, when no one wrote such statements. Churches just did what they did and there was no serious discussion about why or how. Things were pretty simple back then. We had a flock, a pastor or two (if the church was quite large) and we conducted the various services and rituals of the Christian faith weekly and seasonally. Our community saw the church as an integral part of life in the town or city. We did not have to do a lot to keep people happy and involved. I came along, as a teen, in the early 1960s when the

By |December 30th, 2008|Categories: Missional Church|

Slumdog Millionaire

Director Danny Boyle Boyle(photo at right) had produced a number of successful films in the past but in this new film, Slumdog Millionaire, he has certainly produced one of the truly best films of 2008. Slumdog Millionaire is truly a beautiful and dazzling film. The actors and actresses are all Indian but 90% of the film is in English with some subscripts for a few hindi portions.

Slumdog Millionaire powerfully deals with subjects like racism, jealousy, child exploitation and brutal conditions in the worst slums of the world and yet it manages to wonderfully entertain you. The end result is a fantastic love story. And Slumdog Millionaire could even help Hollywood learn a thing or two about how to tell a really great love story without all the sexual material placed at the center of the story. In typical Indian fashion the last scene has the two lovers beginning a kiss right when the story ends, thus leaving the physical passion to your

By |December 29th, 2008|Categories: Film|

The Day the Earth Stood Still

Earth Stood Still
This big budget film is a remake of a 1951 original that has long been considered a sci-fi classic. Klaatu comes to earth, as an alien, to ostensibly save us from ourselves. In the 1951 version we are on the brink of war while in the 2008 one we are in danger of environmental catastrophe. In the original version Klaatu, while in human form, takes on the name "The Carpenter," thus demonstrating amazing parallels with Jesus, the incarnate messiah. In fact, in the 1951 version the alien experiences a death and resurrection for the sake of earth. In the remake he is not "The Carpenter" but there are elements that cause the discerning viewer to see that the "Christ figure" is still present in the film.  Director Scott Derrickson, himself a Christian, maintains that he wanted to alter the story a bit but not at all remove this aspect. The truth is here but the modern viewer may be challenged to see

By |December 28th, 2008|Categories: Film|

Do We Have to Offend Unbelievers to Share the Good News?

I often make the point on this blog that evangelism can be seriously carried out, albeit in personal and very direct ways, without making non-Christians angry or hostile because of the way we share our faith. There is a an offense to the gospel, I am well aware. But often the offense is more in our approach than in our message. A recent You Tube post by cable television's Penn Jillette demonstrates this point very well. Watch this five minute video and you will see how Penn Jillette describes his encounter with a “good” Christian who personally gave him a New Testament as a point of direct witness. You will also see how much this unbeliever actually respects Christians who sincerely want to convert him.

Penn Jillette (b. 1955) is an illusionist, comedian, writer and juggler. He has appeared in several movies, often makes wild allusions to sexual pleasure a part of his programming, and has had a feature on NBC-TV at one point

By |December 27th, 2008|Categories: Evangelism|

Our 38th Anniversary

Today Anita and I celebrate our 38th anniversary. I have no great secrets to share about how to have a great marriage. I am sure that God blessed me with a great wife. I am also sure that I have made my share of mistakes in this marriage. Perhaps my greatest regret is that I have not been nearly as patient as I wish I had been much of the time. "Why," I very often ask, "do I allow my greatest weakness to show the most often to the one I love the most?" With almost everyone else I am very patient but the "little" day-to-day things that pressure a couple will sometimes prompt me to be less than patient with my bride. I am reminded that love, by definition, "is patient." I have more work to do I assure you.

When Anita and I met, in May of 1970, we fell in love almost immediately. I was the interim youth pastor

By |December 26th, 2008|Categories: Personal|

The Incarnation

The incarnation is as mysterious to believers as any doctrine of the faith. I have often wondered why we do not admit this more often. My guess is that we are too comfortable with this truth because of the trappings of Christmas and the culture in which we live.

People often talk about the mystery of good and evil, or divine sovereignty and human freedom. Admittedly these are difficult truths and even divide Christians among themselves. But no truth is more mysterious, so far as I am concerned, than this: The second person of the Godhead, the eternal logos, took upon himself human flesh (a human nature in every sense of the word) and thus God became man. Now I know that without the death and resurrection of Jesus there is no salvation but there could be no death and resurrection unless there were first an incarnation. Further, the Scripture clearly treats the incarnation as a much more central to our redemption than

By |December 25th, 2008|Categories: Christ/Christology|


Movie POster
Baz Luhrmann's Australia has received both positive and negative reviews from the professionals, and almost in equal measure. I have to confess that I enjoyed both the story and the cinematography of this very big production.

Brett McCracken, a Christianity Today film reviewer, says this film is one "of great ambition and artistic audacity." The title itself reveals his point. The intentions of Luhrmann were never to make a definitive film about the county/continent, but rather to provide an big, grand extravaganza of a movie that takes you back to the big films that Hollywood produced twenty or thirty years ago. This, I would guess, may be the reason why so many modern reviewers simply do not like the film.

The story is set in the late 1930 and early 1940s as World War II begins to touch the northern coast of Australia. The viewer is taken into a part of the Japanese war effort

By |December 24th, 2008|Categories: Film|

The Joy of Giving

Christmas reminds us that the giving of gifts is always appropriate given the truth that God is the greatest giver of gifts, including the greatest gift of all, his one and only (unique, or only begotten) Son. But we are reminded each year that much of the gift giving that we do is about ourselves and those that we feel an obligation to bless at this time of the year. This all has a serious down side to it I am sure. But I do not intend to protest the whole season because it has been abused. There is too much moaning and protesting about this, at least for my tastes. (I have not been led to take a vow of poverty but I do believe in living within my means and in giving to the poor, both based on clear biblical principles.) I do give Christmas gifts to my loved ones, with moderation, and I thoroughly enjoy it. My family also gives to me and I enjoy receiving their gifts. But there is more to the season than this "exchange" of

By |December 23rd, 2008|Categories: Personal|

What Was Auburn Thinking When They Hired a Football Coach?

I am just not sure what a number of these BCS college football athletic directors were thinking since the regular season ended only a few weeks ago. Seven major programs have fired their head coach and chosen a replacement.  The seven schools are Mississippi State, Auburn, Tennessee, Clemson, Washington, Kansas State and Syracuse.

Do you see any pattern here? Three of the seven are from the SEC. When Alabama hired Nick Saban, right after New Year’s Day (2007), I made three predictions to my buddies. One, Phil Fulmer would be gone from Tennessee in two years. I got that one right on the button. The second prediction was that Tommy Tuberville (photo at right)TT
would be gone at Auburn inside of four years. I missed it. He was gone in only two. The third was that Alabama would play in the BCS national championship game within five years. I almost got that in two years as well, with Alabama ranked No. 1 and leading

By |December 22nd, 2008|Categories: College Football|

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