Monthly Archives: October 2008

A Blog Break to Finish My Book

I am working diligently to complete the final stages of my book, Your Church Is Too Small. I plan to give the completed work to the publisher next week, God willing. My self-imposed deadline is Monday, November 3. To reach this goal, and to preserve my time and energy, I am taking a few days off from blogging. I will try to come back on Monday or Tuesday next week. I have one simple request. Please pray for me as I seek to finish this very demanding work. I am weary, not sleeping as well as I would like, and desperately need to get this done. Your intercession would be a great blessing to me.

By |October 29th, 2008|Categories: Personal|

Patriotic Grace

Peggy Noonan, the author of the best-selling book, When Character Was King, has authored seven major works on American politics and has for some years written a regular column for The Wall Street Journal. She is one of the most intellectually rigorous, and totally honest, writers in the field. She is also a serious, practicing Roman Catholic and wrote a fine book on John Paul II. Noonan actually took time off from writing, in 2004, to assist the re-election campaign of George W. Bush. But Peggy Noonan is not the usual pugnacious conservative. She has a first-rate mind and loves her country more than she loves political ideologies. In Bush's second term she began to question the president and suggested that he had gotten away from his real message and messed up badly on Iraq. Noonan has not switched parties but she has told the truth. This is what makes her so incredibly important at this precise moment.

Her new book, Patriotic Grace:

By |October 28th, 2008|Categories: America and Americanism|

Appaloosa: A Great Western That Works

Film Appaloosa Cover
Readers know that I love the movies, almost all kinds of movies. I especially like history, drama, science fiction, certain action films and a lot of biography. I like some comedy, but a great deal of it I find rather unassuming and inane. Only in the last two years have I gone back to the one film genre I watched as a child: American Westerns. Series like Lonesome Dove and the greatest Western of 2007, 3:10 to Yuma, both gave me a renewed appreciation for such films.

The new film Appaloosa is, to my view, a truly great Western. It is set in a small town in New Mexico in 1882 and is an adaptation of a novel by Robert B. Parker. It is an unassuming, character-driven, drama as much as it is a Western, including the saloons, whores and Indians. It takes a time period in American history, when people lived a rugged existence, and shows how they

By |October 27th, 2008|Categories: Film|

Christmas and the Market

There was a time when most of us thought that the Christmas season began after Thanksgiving. Then the retail stores began to start the festivities earlier and earlier in order to boost their year-end gains. I seem to recall that we began to hear Christmas music and see lights and Christmas-themed sales in mid-November just a few years ago. Yesterday, October 25th no less, I had to pick up something at the pharmacy at my nearby Costco. Low and behold Christmas music filled the aisles and sales were up and running. The place was packed. In fact the suburban roadways were in a state of traffic jam already. October 25th. Utterly amazing. And we are in a bad economy?

I wonder with the economy in the tank, so to speak, if Christmas will begin in September next year. Who knows, maybe we could eventually begin right after July 4th. Why not? A culture with little or no understanding of the meaning of the incarnation only has an aggressive sales plan left anyway. I have often

By |October 26th, 2008|Categories: America and Americanism|

North & South

Elizabeth Gaskell's nineteenth century novel, North & South, is a passionate tale of love across the social divide of the agrarian south and the industrial north of mid-nineteenth century England. It is a book which tells a great love story while it brings the reader into the social context of the Industrial Revolution and how the impact of suffering and class struggle upon many ordinary people. The BBC produced, in 2004, a four-part mini-series based on the novel, also called North & South. It stars Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe, both of whom are superb British dramatists.

Margaret Hale (Denby-Ashe) is the daughter of a middle-class English parson who looses his faith and can no longer follow the Prayer Book with confidence. Hale's dad decides to leave the ministry and relocate to northern England to take up teaching. Margaret's life is so fundamentally changed that she is forced to begin a whole new life in Milton (a fictitious town which is meant

By |October 25th, 2008|Categories: Film|

Lay Up Treasures in Heaven

I wonder how many Christians in America really believe the teaching of Jesus? I mean, "How many really believe it?" I doubt that the number is actually that large. Jesus plainly taught that we should "Lay up your treasure in heaven, where neither moth nor rust corrupt and where thieves do not break in to steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Mathew 6:20-21).

From observation I see few who actually live this teaching. Most of us believe that we are obligated to give God a tip, or maybe even 10% as a tithe, if we are really religious. (Remember, a modern tip is now 15%.) But the text does not stop there at all. It says that where our money is amounts to the place where our heart is. American Christians are finding out these days where their hearts really are and the picture is not that pretty. I have never seen so much fear and anguish.

By |October 24th, 2008|Categories: Economy/Economics|

What Do the Polls Mean?

Would someone please explain why we have polls on the upcoming election that say Obama's lead is as high as 13% while two very reliable polls, released in the last 24 hours, that say his lead is 1%? (A statistical dead heat!) Is this wide range of numbers as odd to you as it is to me? I am not into conspiracy theories, as I have said numerous times, but something seems amiss when the range is so vast. And why do we have so many poll anyway? What purpose do they really serve? Every one of them is based on various bits of data directly rooted in the questions that are being asked and when they are being asked. None can say who will finally vote.

Does anyone remember that the polls in 2004 said that John Kerry was up by 10% in most of the battleground states only to have him loose these states and the nation, 51% to 48%. I am not an expert on polling but I do know that these numbers are so

By |October 23rd, 2008|Categories: Politics|

It's the Economy Stupid!

Bill Clinton ran and won, in 1992, on the economy. Barack Obama is attempting to do the same thing in 2008. He may succeed. John McCain is doing everything within his power to stop him and to show why he can be better trusted to resolve our problems. I believe both candidates fail to grasp the depth of the "real" problem. It's not the economy, it's the debt. You don't have to be an economist to figure this one out.

Who caused the financial panic of the last few weeks? Republicans blame Fannie and Freddie. Bill O'Reilly nightly gets angry at the greedy Wall Street CEOs and corrupt congressmen. Democrats blame President Bush and the run-away free market. Republicans blame the Cintonites for creating massive entitlements and starting this mess. Democrats believe "trickle down" economics has finally failed and Republicans believe "pork spending" is the culprit. There is blame everywhere. And there is truth in some of all of it.

But no one seems willing to

By |October 23rd, 2008|Categories: Uncategorized|

The Evangelism of Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort

I have not followed the controversies surrounding the evangelism methods of Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort until I saw the movie Fireproof, starring Kirk Cameron. Then, in discussing this movie with friends, I got into this story.

Ray Comfort is an evangelist from New Zealand who has created quite a storm in his appearances across the United States. He is bold, if nothing else. And he is determined to never water down the rough edges of the gospel, at least as he understands it. Cameron, who also starred in the Left Behind movies and Growing Pains in the 1990s, has linked his efforts with Comfort in an approach called "guerrilla evangelism." In late 2001 Cameron and Comfort launched The Way of the Master to teach Christians how to share their faith "simply, effectively, biblically . . . the way Jesus did." Something about this troubles me, especially the assumption that they are sharing "the way Jesus did." What makes them so sure? And is this claim truthful

By |October 22nd, 2008|Categories: Evangelism|

Fireproof: A Movie Made By Christians for Christians

The new movie Fireproof is is conceived and produced by the same folks who brought us Facing the Giants, the football movie that stirred some evangelicals so deeply. The congregation of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia, is to be commended for its noble efforts to present the gospel to modern men and women. The church, and numerous friends of this congregation, have invested thousands of dollars and probably millions of hours of personal sacrifice to produce these two films. I have no doubt that some people have been profoundly changed by seeing both films. I saw Facing the Giants on DVD and I saw Fireproof in the theater a few weeks ago. I had not planed to go but more than a few Christian friends urged me to, so I spent an afternoon at the theater.Fireproof_1001

Fireproof highlights the marriage of a non-Christian couple in Albany. The man (Caleb), played

By |October 21st, 2008|Categories: Film|

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