Thinking Out Loud

August 24, 2016

Wednesday Link List

Tomorrow is August 25th, which means only 4 months to Christmas. It’s never too early to start planning your advent services:

Advent Service Planning

Wednesday List Lynx

Wednesday List Lynx – Do Not Pet

Today something a little different. Because the 30th Weekend Link List happened on Saturday, I’m going to reiterate all those links at the bottom of today’s, just ICYMI. (Statistically many of you do miss it, and this one contained some important items.)

Adam and Eve

As promised, our first ever reiteration of the weekend list experiment, not including images and witty introduction.

 

August 17, 2016

Wednesday Link List

Saw this one on the weekend; it can be ordered from Grimm.ca

Saw this one on the weekend; it can be ordered from Grimm.ca

Bridezilla of ChristLet’s be realistic here. After last week’s 38-point link list, you weren’t expecting another huge one, were you?  You do know I don’t get paid for this, right? At right, our Book Cover of the Week, published this year by Multnomah, authored by two of the Happy Rant Podcast guys.

 

How many of you have this as your life verse. See the Phil Vischer link above; this shows up starting around the 17:00 mark (or thereabouts)

How many of you have this as your life verse? See the Phil Vischer link above; this shows up starting around the 17:00 mark (or thereabouts)

August 16, 2016

Once Again, God’s Not Dead

God's Not Dead 2 BillboardReleasing today on DVD, this is, by my count, the third movie in a highly successful franchise for Pure Flix Entertainment, if you count the first God’s Not Dead from 2014 and then 2015’s Do You Believe? Like Snakes on a Plane, the film’s intention is clear from the outset; you know what you’re expecting.

With Do You Believe? I remarked at the time that there were more characters, more plot lines to follow and a lot more on-screen action compared with GND1 . With God’s Not Dead 2, there is less activity. This is a more cerebral film providing food for thought for the skeptic as well as the already converted. In some respects, I felt this 2016 movie was more ‘preaching to the choir,’ though I’ll grant that its potential to impact the unbeliever is still present.

With the two previous films, I observed that one of the major wins was the ability to transcend Christian clichés and awkward screen moments. This time around, I decided that a certain number of each may be inevitable if one is going to portray authentic Christians doing Christian things.

There were also what some might consider gratuitous appearances by two Christian apologists, J. Warner Wallace and Lee Strobel, but their presence was essential to a major plot point, though it’s unclear how the lawyer in the courtroom scene in which they appear was able to snag them. (Gary Habermas and Rice Broocks also appear.)

Melissa Joan Hart realistically plays the central character in the movie, a teacher under threat of losing not only her job, but everything else in a punitive action hoping to curb the presence of Christianity in the classroom once and for all. Her crime isn’t so much quoting what Matthew attributes to Jesus as it is doing so from memory, with conviction and being able to cite chapter and verse.

Jesse Metcalfe is cast as her somewhat inexperienced atheist lawyer who might not get the whole Jesus thing, but understands clearly the issues the case raises.

Hayley Orrantia of The Goldbergs TV series is student who is the supposed victim in the legal case in which her parents are the plaintiffs. Other cast members include Pat Boone, and Duck Dynasty‘s Sadie Robertson. And yes, The Newsboys are back. 

Boone also gets this line early in the film, “That’s the thing about atheism, it doesn’t take away the pain, it just takes away the hope.” Another key line is in the graphic above, a billboard which — in a real life imitates the film moment — was refused space at the Republican National Convention last month as being “too political and way too incendiary.”

Having fewer plot lines and characters to track than Do You Believe? made this more enjoyable, but with this third film in three years, I do wonder if the genre is being overworked. On the other hand, fiction is a great vehicle for apologetics — including some of my favorite books — and so I was fully engaged as the movie developed. 

Note: If you’re watching the DVD, be sure to continue through the closing credits for what is either an interesting sequel-begging scene, or a nod to the composers who end their pieces with an unresolved chord.


Movie has been provided courtesy of Sony Home Entertainment Canada and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

I received a screening link, features on the full DVD include:

  • Deleted Scenes
  • Man, Myth, Messiah with Rice Broocks
  • Between Heaven and Hollywood with David A.R. White
  • Visual Effects of God’s Not Dead 2
  • Filming in Arkansas
  • First Liberty
  • Trailers
  • English and Spanish Audio
  • English and Spanish Subtitles

 

 

August 10, 2016

Wednesday Link List

I hereby declare this link list officially opened! Not only opened but jam-packed this week! (I needed to write something here because this is the opening sentence which appears in the Twitter feed.)

GUTS Church

I keep thinking we’re pushing the envelope too far with the way some churches are named. The one pictured above is real, with several locations. I never did get the story of where the name for GUTS Church came from.

Valiant for Truth

I’d like to pretend this isn’t a thing, but I know better. The idea that students are studying and being tested on defending “the Authorized Version” means that valuable learning time isn’t being spent on better things…

Lynx with flowerThe List Lynx wanted to remind everyone that Thinking Out Loud is not an Amazon referrer and tries to avoid links to book mentions which are. Support your local brick and mortar bookstore, even if it means combing your hair, getting in your car and driving a few miles.

This t-shirt is just wrong on so many levels: Misplaced theology, boring graphic design, silly politics…

Trump Campaign T-Shirt

Last night I was still trying to decide whether the image below should be the centerpiece of its own blog post. Not enough is written on what we call “saying grace,” but the contraption below allows a family to basically roll the dice to decide which prayer to say. I’m not sure this is a type of prayer Jesus had in mind, so you might see this picture again sometime soon:

Mealtime Prayer Cube

August 3, 2016

Wednesday Link List

Foxtrot Nov 11 2013 Predestination Free Will

This cartoon — which I discovered we’ve used before (in color) — highlights the need to be able to function on a number of levels. To some common folk, there are philosophical issues raised in the first panel which are possibly above their pay grade. But the highbrow intellectual or academic might totally miss the sports reference.

Thanks to those of you who send me link ideas. Keep ’em coming! 

Time Needed to Appreciate This Week’s List: 14.6 minutes

References to Chick Publications and/or The Gospel Coalition do not imply endorsement

  • Instagram of the Week: You won’t believe the realistic set they built for this interview Sheila Walsh did with David Jeremiah. Looks just like New York City, doesn’t it? There’s no limit to what can be done with a good art department and special effects, huh?

Sheila Walsh and David Jeremiah

July 27, 2016

Wednesday Link List

Coffee With Jesus - True Peace

Coffee With Jesus bookOur graphics this week come from Coffee With Jesus, which is also available as a book from InterVarsity Press (IVP). (Two books now, actually.) Blogger Clark Bunch introduced me to the David Wilkie comic many years ago and he one of them weekly as part of his Happy Monday feature. You can get your own dose daily on the Radio Free Babylon Twitter feed. Also check out a 2014 interview Paul Pastor did with the creator.

This was one of those Weekend Link List weekends. Only 12 items, but it was a rather good list. Check it out. Yes, you. The one staring at the screen.

Coffee With Jesus - Talents

Since you were all good boys and girls today and clicked all your links, we’ll give you one more.

Coffee With Jesus - Closed to Dialog

July 20, 2016

Wednesday Link List

Evangelism - Moorland College promo image

The theme of the above picture is Evangelism, and was featured on Twitter in promotion of a September conference at Moorlands College in the UK.  The artist is Annaliese Stoney

I enjoyed putting this week’s list together and hope you enjoy it also. Please take some time to look over this week’s stories and opinion pieces.

Vegangelical

July 14, 2016

Miracles Happen: A Review of Miracles From Heaven

Miracles from Heaven DVD

This review contains spoilers…

Miracles from Heaven is a movie based on the real life story of Kevin and Christy Beam, and in particular their daughter Anna who contracted a rare gastric disease in which her central nervous system stopped sending signals to her intestines, making it impossible for her to process food. Her pediatric specialist does not offer the family much in the way of hope.

But one afternoon while climbing a tree with her older sister, she suffers the equivalent of a three-story fall. Miraculously, she has little more than a concussion. There are no broken bones, no spinal injury.

Even more amazing is when it becomes apparent that the fall has caused a jump re-start of her nervous system and thereby kickstarted her intestinal tract. At the time of filming, the real-life Anna has not been sick in three years…

…DVD releases create a unique challenge for the reviewer. With the theater run played out, the basic plot line is already known, and I’m a little freer here with information than if it was the theatrical version we were considering. We have a general idea where the movie is going and simply mark the various steps toward its conclusion. This isn’t an intricate plot, and so the emotional level of the movie is somewhat steady throughout the first two-thirds of the film.

On this however, my wife and I had different reactions. At the beginning I noted to her that they seemed to be moving rather quickly, with some scenes rather abruptly jump-cutting to the next. But she felt the the movie dragged in places and could have moved faster.

It’s also difficult to watch as a parent. You empathize with the tremendous stress the entire family is experiencing. And as someone who isn’t a fan of medical drama, the hospital scenes are more documentary than entertainment.

But it’s hard not to be invested in the final third of the movie when Anna’s miracle happens. We long for happy endings, and this movie does not disappoint. There’s also an element at the end which is similar to the movie Heaven is For Real which released from the same production company; in fact there is an edition of the DVD available in which Heaven and Miracles are bundled into a single package.

The film’s purpose is not to discuss the validity of miracles in an age of science and skepticism, however there are some realistic moments where the possibility of facing this story with doubt and disbelief are brought to the surface. (On this I am reminded of the blind man in John 9:25 who is faced with people wanting to know the why and the how: “One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!“)

Christy Beam’s faith is fragile, perhaps even non-existent at points in the journey. It’s understandable, given the situation the family faces, not only with the daughter’s illness, but also the financial stress. Some of the people in her church, like Job’s comforters, don’t exactly help either. While those people are southern stereotypes, the portrayal of her church seems realistic.

I did not see Heaven is for Real but I’m glad I got to see this one. The DVD released officially on Tuesday. Enjoy the preview below or learn more at MiraclesFromHeaven-Movie.com .

 

 

Thanks to Sony Entertainment Canada and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. for providing a pre-release screening link to this movie.

July 13, 2016

Wednesday Link List

Ken Ham watches from the sidelines as kids take a selfie with Bill Nye the Science Guy at the Ark Encounter.

Ken Ham watches from the sidelines as kids take a selfie with Bill Nye the Science Guy at the Ark Encounter. Nye said,“On a hopeful note, the parking lots were largely empty, and the ark building is unfinished. We can hope it will close soon.” More on his visit at Religion News Service.

Welcome to link list #316. As in John 3:16.

They do things like this where we live.

They do things like this where we live.

July 9, 2016

Media to Fill Your Home

It’s been awhile, but this is the third time for this article here, this time with revisions…

I’ve previously written here about how we’re big fans of sermon audio when we travel, and as someone who works in a Christian bookstore environment, it’s a given that I’m a huge booster of Christian books and music.

But today I want to approach this from a slightly different perspective. Many times I’ve written about the battle that goes on for our thought life, and how this takes place on a moment by moment basis. Back in June, I posted a great analysis of the types of thoughts, that are going on in our heads at any given point in time.

I don’t spend a lot of time commuting, but I am increasingly aware of the contrast that exists between the mental processes that take place when I omit to turn on the radio — which is mostly presets for Christian stations — and drive in silence, versus the times I have worship songs playing. This is a giant contrast in my thoughts and attitude, not a mild difference.

Listening to Bible Teaching

I frequently listen to sermons from Willow Creek, The Meeting House, Woodland Hills and North Point, in addition to live sermons at church, and the occasional streaming of conferences.

Life was not always so.

I can remember asking my parents why they had to constantly listen to more preacher programs. Their media of choice was WDCX, an FM station in Buffalo, and WHLD, a Buffalo AM outlet. Of course, my choice would have been Top 40 rock station 1050 CHUM in Toronto. I think that was the real issue.

But today, although I hunger to learn and grow and discover more about Christ through what others have learned, I also am acutely aware of what happens in the absence of Christian media in the home.

Bible teaching can come in other forms besides radio and television. There are the aforementioned sermons-on-demand and live-streaming church services on the internet, plus many pastors often do a separate podcast. But there are still audio CDs of sermons kicking around, and of course books.

Reading Christian Books

One of my latest rants is that, in the average 21st Century family, I’m not sure the kids have ever seen dad sitting in a chair reading, and here I’m speaking of reading anything, a newspaper or magazine would suffice. How much more is it important to take time out and immerse yourself in the Bible, devotional material and study resources. If you missed it, I encourage you to read an article we did on Bill Hybels’ “Chair Time” concept.

Listening to Christian Music

For some Christ-followers, the dominant form of uplifting, inspirational and wholesome media is Christian music; which may consist of hymns, mass choirs, southern gospel, adult contemporary, Christian rock in all its various genres, and the current favorite, modern worship.

Again, these can be accessed in various forms. Some choose mp3 files which can be played back in the car and in the home. Many people are still buying music CDs. Christian music song videos abound on video sharing sites like YouTube. There is an abundance of Christian radio available online, and here in North America, most people live within range of a broadcast station that plays music, teaching or a mix of both.

But I have to say that as a worship leader, nothing compares to the songs what you experience in a worship environment with your faith family. Even today, I hear a song and I’ll remember which church I was in when I heard it and who was leading worship that day. Or I’ll be reading a scripture and I’ll recognize the verse as a line from a worship lyric. If you happen to be blessed with a gift that allows you to play in the worship band, a particular song can get stuck in your head for hours, and in a good way.

For a listing of some of my favorite songs with video, visit the sidebar in the right margin at Christianity 201.

Christian Movies

Our family was never a movie-culture family. We’ve been to the cineplex less than a dozen times, ever. But the production of Christian cinema has exploded over the last few years, and if you’re the type who enjoys gathering everyone around the home theater there are now some really decent films from which to choose, plus you’re supporting a genre that has tremendous outreach potential. You can purchase DVDs — great for loaning out after you’re done — or stream movies live.

Listening to God

These varied media I find to be a positive alternative to anything else, and in fact fulfill a direct instruction from scripture:

Phillips – Col. 3: 16-17 Let Christ’s teaching live in your hearts, making you rich in the true wisdom. Teach and help one another along the right road with your psalms and hymns and Christian songs, singing God’s praises with joyful hearts.

What will control your thought life this week?

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