Dec 7, 2011

The Top Ten Christmas Movies Ever Made!

It has been two years since my Top Ten Christmas Movies of All Time blog. Some of my opinions have changed. Several movies received high marks for being classics, but I no longer go out of my way to see them. Others were newer and are starting to be time tested favorites. So here is the new list:

10. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
Yes, this was only a television special. It was not on my previous list for that very reason. However, this just seems wrong. It is time tested and great. You can even buy inflatables and Charlie Brown Christmas trees years after its release. What other Christmas movie had a song that is so readily played on Christmas radio stations? It is classic and is here to stay.

9. A Christmas Carol (2009)
The best of the Christmas Carols by far. I had not seen this when I made my first list. Although, if we could make a perfect version it would have Kermit as Bob Cratchit, George C Scott as Scrooge, Goofy as Jacob Marley, and be done in the style of the Jim Carrey version. 

8. Die Hard (1988)
Yes, it is a Christmas movie. And I will be watching it again this year!

7. Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Great! and unlike other Christmas movies, it is surprisingly original in its storytelling.

6. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
It is worth watching simply for the back story of the Grinch's descent into obscurity. A back story that seems to have been copied in part by MegaMind. 

5. Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
Definitely the Superior of the two "Miracle" movies.

4. The Santa Clause (1994)
Tim Allen's best work by far. It is too bad that they kept making these, because one was perfect. It would serve better as a stand alone movie than in an sub-par trilogy.

3. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
I LOVE this movie! Last time I had it as number one, but it is a little long. It also seems to be slipping in popularity. It must be the modern attention span. I still think it is Jimmy Stewart's best role.

2. Home Alone (1990)
Home Alone was the best Christmas movie that came out when I was a kid. Perhaps that is why it has stuck with me all of this time. The hijinks of Stern and Pesci as the inept wet bandits never gets old.

1. Elf (2003)
Elf is HUGELY funny and highly quotable.
"Smiling is my favorite"
"You sit on a thrown of lies!"
Need I say more? Elf has become my favorite Christmas movie, simply because it is one that constantly makes me laugh. It is an added plus that my wife and kids love it as well.

Didn't see your favorite? Comment below.

Nov 17, 2011

Christmas Already?!

Christmas is upon us!!! Or at least the department stores would have us think so. With only a week before Thanksgiving one would never know that it wasn't the middle of December.

A few weeks ago I was at a store that had Halloween decorations on one aisle and Christmas decorations on the next. Really? I mean come on. Why not throw some fireworks and chocolate bunnies into the mix?

I even came home the other day and my wife had Christmas carols blaring as she cleaned. What in the world?

As Christmas really gets closer it will probably monopolize a good chunk of my posts as well. What can I say? I actually love Christmas, just not so early.

Nov 16, 2011

How to Get a FREE Texting Service for your Ministry

Have you ever wanted to text your entire student or children's ministry all at once. If you are anything like me you have looked into it. I found out that the price was more than my church could afford to budget.

Only 50% of emails are actually read, but 96% of texts are opened and read. This means that not only are texting services the best way to communicate with large groups, but they are also a necessity.

How did I get a text service for absolutely free? I let Twitter pick up the tab. I recently learned how to do this at a breakout session of the Orange Conference. Now I want to share this with you.

Here are the simple steps to make this work.

1. Start a Twitter account for your group. Example: @kwazykids

2. Plan to tweet no more than 3 times a week so as not to annoy the receiver enough to where they drop out.

3. Communicate the new communication method (you do not even need to mention Twitter)

4. Have everyone in your group text to 40404 the following: follow kwazykids

It is imperative that there is a space between follow and your Twitter name.
You do not need to include the @ sign.

5. Tweet to Text to your group

Good luck with your New FREE texting service. May God bless your ministry

Oct 31, 2011

Halloween and Spirit World

It's Halloween! The time when the ancient Druids incorrectly believed that the veil between the physical and spiritual world was the thinnest. Costumes and the use of pumpkins both date back to their times.

There was however a time when there was a veil between the spiritual and physical. It was a time when people needed to go through a priest to ask God for forgiveness of sins.

Jesus came to remove that veil. He was God in the form of man. This closeness is what He wants for all of us by indwelling us with His Spirit. It was not possible before Jesus because of our sins.

When Jesus died on the cross God tore the veil in the temple in two. Now anyone may come to Him and experience His unconditional love.

Oct 26, 2011

Honey, I Shrunk the Car!

I only remember going trick or treating once as a small child. The rest of my childhood was spent hiding in the dark on Halloween with sheets over the windows so that children would not know we were home. We would take our stand against the evils of Halloween in the silence of the family room.

Several years later we begin going to a kids carnival put on by our church. Unbeknownst to my family, I was slowly developing a deep appreciation for Halloween. It wasn't necessarily the candy or scariness as much as fun of dressing up.

I grew up reading comics and the thought of becoming a different character still excites me. If it were socially acceptable I would where a cape every day.

Now that I have kids Halloween has become one of my favorite times of year. Yes, I know the origins, but I do not care. If it was once meant for evil, I definitely mean it for good.

The annual Trunk or Treat for our church is coming up and I am preparing a shrink ray for "Honey I Shrunk the Car". We will be scientists (except my wife who will decked out in curlers as my wife) There is something about getting into character as someone else that is awesome fun for my whole family.

I am not done with the ray yet, but here is a pic of it so far:

Oct 6, 2011

Pizza Imperfections

        Is it a little strange that my six year old will literally flip out if he does not get the slice of pizza with the largest cheese blister on it. When I think about it, I never see him eager to put anything burnt into his mouth. I should know because I have used a knife to transform toast back to a less than charcoal color so I could save my ears from hearing that old familiar "yuck".

        Although Pizza may be the most perfect food we will enjoy prior to the pizza bearing trees of Heaven (my translation) it is still imperfect. In a fallen creation even the pizza suffers. As the cheese melts to coat the pizza in a warm gooey thick spread, the heat from the oven is more than it can take. Bubbles pop up, pulling the cheese tight then singeing the blister like a crusty wart.

        When I think about my son reaching for the bumpiest slice available, I think of God seeking relationship with messed up people. I was one of those people with the marks and scars of my sinful actions. He still called me and He still wants us--warts and all.

Sep 27, 2011

My Lawn Wants to Eat Me

        I could almost hear my lawn licking its lips as I walked though it last night. Long blades of grass grasped for my ankles. Getting back inside did not come quick enough. It is official: My lawn wants to eat me. It has rained here in North Carolina on every possible mowing day for the last few weeks. 

        Generally I try to keep my lawn at bay. You know, just so everyone knows who is really in charge. It is different now. There is mutiny brewing. The once tame fescue I called my friends has teamed up with the wire grass and kudzu to put an end to me. This may be my last post.

        An unkempt lawn is no different than an unkempt relationship with God. If we do not confess our sin to God as it comes, we can easily be fertilizing the sinful nature within us that Jesus died to defeat. Before you know it we may be only feet from the house but it is completely out of sight. Be sensitive to the Spirit's conviction. God wants to do regular maintenance on our lives so that we do not become a weeded tangled mess. 

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Sep 12, 2011

French Toast Gone Wrong

        I have always loved breakfast foods. Any meal, any time. Among my favorites are pancakes and french toast. I even enjoy making them and add my own "special" ingredients.

        A few days ago I was making french toast for my family and had just used up my last egg in the mix. I reached into the spice cabinet and grabbed what I thought was cinnamon. It was the same color bottle, and I  saw the 'C' at the beginning of the word as I reached for the bottle that was half way turned around. 

       I shook in just the right amount, mixed it, and began dipping my bread. As I breathed in to smell the familiar smell of french toast on the griddle, I was greeted by another scent. A familiar one. I grabbed the bottle to discover that I had used chilli powder on nearly all of the bread. There were no eggs left and very little bread. We actually ate the french toast anyway (although I do NOT recommend this recipe). 

        We all make mistakes, but I am reminded of what an older carpenter I know used to say. "Measure twice, cut once." What is done is done and although I could have gone back to the store or made something else, I chose to live with my mistake.

        The next time you are tempted to share something about someone else, measure twice and maybe you will not cut at all. James tells us "...the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark" (James 3:5).

Sep 7, 2011

Should We Offend People?

        In 1 Corinthians 10:32 Paul says, "Don't give offense to Jews or Gentiles or the church of God". We tend to run with verses like this in churches today. We have become an ulta-tolerant society. 

        Often we assume that we already know what the Bible means when it says words like offend. However, we should first ask what Paul meant by offense. Before we do that let's ask what 'we' mean today by offend. The definition of offend is: to Cause to feel upset, annoyed, or resentful. It can also mean: to transgress the moral or divine law. 

        When we say we are offended it means that someone did something we did not like or that we do not think they should do. Occasionally we may use it to talk about how someone morally or ethically wronged us. When the Bible talks about us offending God it is talking about transgressing a moral law. We literally commit offenses against Him.

        However, when the Bible talks about us offending each other it means something entirely different. In the King James Bible we read, "But whoever shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea" (Matthew 18:6). The New International Version captures the meaning of the word better for today. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea (Matthew 18:6). 

        Why does the NIV have to capture the meaning rather than say offend? It is because what we mean by offend has changed drastically over the years. Webster's Dictionary still shows an old definition for the word but has the word obsolete beside of it. That definition is to cause to sin or fall. This is usually not the case when we "offend" someone today.

        Jesus told us not to judge if we had a plank in our eye, but to first remove it so that we can help our brother. This means that we ARE to confront other believers who are falling into the trap of sin as long as we are not involved in the same things. It is our Christian duty to offend (in todays meaning of the word). And we all probably know some Christians who need to be "offended".

Aug 16, 2011

Truths From a Galaxy Far Far Away

As I watched The Empire Strikes Back with my children (Luke and Leia) tonight, I was reminded of some classic truths that are core to my faith.

1. There is a darkness inside all of us that wants to take over. The Bible calls this darkness sin and Romans 3:23 tells us that we all have it.

2. Fear is a path to the Dark Side (or sin). Fear and worry are not from God. Jesus told us not to worry about the future and Yoda said that this was a major problem in Luke's life as well. God has not given us a spirit of fear. It is definetly from our sin nature (Dark Side).

3. Unbelief leads to failure. Luke tells Yoda that what he wants is impossible and that he does not believe he can lift his X-Wing from the swamp. Yoda tells him that is why he fails. In Philippians Paul tells us that we can do ALL things the Christ who strengthens us.

I am sure there are many other truths such as Tauntauns make great Hot Pockets, if a cave shakes when shot it may not be an actual cave, and if you are looking for someone you have never met he may in fact be the little green puppet rumaging through your things.

What truths have you noticed in Empire or the other Star Wars films?

Jul 30, 2011

His Strength is Perfect in Our Weakness

        I just returned from a mission trip to Tuscaloosa, Alabama. We took 24 teens and adults to do ministry in the wake of the tornados that hit this year. I was challenged by our teens as I saw them continually resort to prayer in hard situations.
        The time in particular that I want to share with you was a block party that we threw for a neighborhood in a very low income area. We had pulled out all of the stops. We had bounce houses, hundred of hotdogs to grill, face painting, basketball and a host of other activities. We even had another church bringing coolers stocked full of ice water. I was sure we had planned it well enough to be a success.
        If my plans had gone right then I may have been able to boast in me rather than God alone, but my plans went horribly wrong. The propane grill would not work, the breakers for the bounce houses and sound system kept tripping, and we had no stakes to even hold the houses down. The worst however came when the other church came an hour and a half later than scheduled. It was a hundred and two degrees and when they finally arrived there were no coolers or ice just hot water..
        If anything good would happen it would have to be God. Our teens did a couple of skits, I preached the word, students counseled, and HIS Gospel which is the power unto salvation redeemed 22 people. I will boast in Christ ALONE because his strength is made perfect in my weakness.
        One older lady noted that churches come in every year and try to do something in the same pavilion. According to her there are never more than 20-30 residents in attendance. In total over 300 came to the block party.
        The day before God had given us the opportunity to spend the entire day there. We picked up trash, hauled debris, and cut down damaged trees. We also witnessed a drug deal and an arrest (separately). None of it scared us off. There was a police chopper overhead looking for someone, but we had a job to do. We knocked on every door to invite the neighborhood to the block party. I am convinced that people don't care how much you know until the know how much you care.
        It took God's love through us for that many people to show up, and then God took over and did the rest. Isn't He awesome? What stories do you have that can only be answered with, God stepping in?

Jun 28, 2011

Cars 2-My Official Review

        "Cars 2" is one of those movies that I am divided on. On the one hand I see a movie that was not up to Pixar's usual high standards. However on the other hand I was thoroughly entertained as I sat there with my two kids laughing and enjoying the show. I do wish they had done more with Doc Hudson's death. They missed a chance to make a sad montage in the vein of "Up" and "Toy Story 3".

        This movie is more about Tow Mater than anything else and has a real clear message to be yourself. They go out of their way to show how a true friend doesn't try to change their friends, but loves them for who they are. As believers we should put this principle into practice. I am not saying that our friends should never change. I am saying that the thing that needs to change in all of us is our sin.

        Christ came to free us from our sin, not our personalities. As a believer I am to love my unbelieving friends even if they never choose to come to Christ. I cannot change them, only He can. It is my job to love them where they are.

Jun 14, 2011

Love is . . .

I was created by Love. I opposed Love. Love pursued me anyway, in spite of my spurning. Love found a way back to me. Love met me where I was. Love gave me everything. I resisted Love and Love died. Love soon sprang to life again. I fell in Love with Love and Love changed me. Now Love is my purpose and the object of my affection. Love never fails me and Love enables me to love. Love knows me and brings out the best in me. After all, Love is who thought me up. God is love.

Jun 7, 2011

TOMS is Not Just a Shoe Company Anymore

        TOMS founder and CEO Blake Mycoskie  just announced that they are expanding to eye-wear.  They have already given away over one million pairs of shoes to underprivileged children. Now they are going to be a one-for-one company with every product that they make.

        Instead of giving sunglasses away when a pair is purchased they have opted to give the gift of sight instead. This could be as simple as glasses to as complex as cataract surgery. There are so many people going blind in this world that this will be a welcome change making program.

        This one-for-one movement could be huge if it catches on. Would you pay a couple of dollars more to see a movie if it meant that kids in a local children's home could attend for free? Would you be willing to pay a little more to get your oil changed if you knew that a garage would change a widow's oil at no cost? Would we as individuals be willing to buy an extra can of veggies for our local soup kitchen with every can we purchase for our family?

        What other ways could companies or individuals make a difference?

Jun 3, 2011

James Arness Dies--What Can We Learn From Old Westerns?

         James Arness has died at age 88. He played Matt Dillon for twenty years on Gunsmoke, which is arguably the best western ever on the small screen. He was also in four different John Wayne movies. In fact Wayne endorsed Gunsmoke and his friend Arness before the first show aired.
        Sometimes I miss the old westerns. I know that movies such as "3:10 to Yuma" have more "realism", but sometimes it is better to see authentic heroism. Back in the day a hero was a hero and right and wrong were actually right or wrong. Integrity and upright characters are hard to find in today's cinema. All of our heroes have been tainted or have some dark element in them in order to make them "realistic".
        As I reflect, I find myself longing for shows like Gunsmoke, Bonanza, and The Rifleman.  Longing to see characters who stand for justice and defend the weak and oppressed. Perhaps I long for them because our society and not just our cinemas are devoid of this type of character. Its not to late for a few "Matt Dillons" to man up--take responsibility in their fatherhood, love their wives, and stand up for the weak. Thats who I wanna be. What about you?

May 27, 2011

My Guest Post on Combating Cliques-Part 2

In the first part of Combating Cliques we discussed how pranking by youth leaders reinforces diminished respect for those outside of a student’s clique. In this second part, I want to dicuss the feeling of safety in the status quo that their cliques offer, and what can be done about it. . . Continue Reading

May 25, 2011

My Guest Post on Combating Cliques-Part 1

        I was recently asked to guest post on a great youth ministry blog called Strengthening the Chain. The following is the beginning of part 1 of Combatting Cliques. The rest is continued on Strengthening the Chain.

I grew up in a youth group that had cliques. I started a youth group that had cliques and until recently had never seen a clique-less variety of anything involving teens.
Like many youth pastors operating out of frustration I would do the occasional sermon on cliques and how wrong they were, hoping to make a small dent in the “You’re in, he’s out” system. It was always to no avail. I began to suppose that this was the way of it . . . Continue Reading

Part 2 is Here!

May 24, 2011

Pirates 4--a (Christian?) Movie Review

        I went to see Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides at midnight on Thursday. I was not expecting much since I had not enjoyed a Pirates move since the first one. I was pleasantly surprised.
        It still contained the same amount of innuendo and drunkenness as the first three, but something was different. Blackbeard's ship contained a Christian missionary who actually lived his faith. I could tell that even though Blackbeard and Jack Sparrow disagreed with the missionary's world-view there was an amount of respect for him. Blackbeard would only tie him up rather than kill him. He was selfless and believed that anyone could be redeemed. This side story alone is worth the price of admission.

May 17, 2011

My Life as a Television Remote Control

        When I was a kid, I was the remote control. If real remotes existed at the time we were unaware of it. Our television was a giant piece of wooden furniture with a heavy glass screen, and knobs to change channels. I can tell you that being a TV remote isn't fun, but with only three channels I was never up for very long.
        As I became older I would come home from school with different excuses as to why I would get in trouble. It usually involved others making me angry. My dad would simply asked me if they controlled me.
        It still makes me think today. Do I allow others to push my buttons and create responses in me? Am I really that weak? Me? I mean, I am a follower of Christ who the Holy Spirit has taken up residence within to produce fruit that lasts. Christ should be in control. How dare I give the remote to someone else!
        What about you? Are you letting people push your buttons? Is your attitude based on what someone else does? It is time to embrace the freedom that giving God control truly brings. It is time to give Jesus the remote.

May 13, 2011

Is Your Door Locked?-A Five Year Old's Observation

      If I was ever worried about what would happen to Randumblog in the event of my untimely demise (and I wasn't), I no longer have to. My wife Debbie shared something with me that could put my mind at ease permanently.  She was driving with my five year old son Luke when he made a profound statement.

        Now, before I share the statement with you, let me say that anyone who spends any amount of time on Randumblog should realize one thing.  The ideas may seem random, but the one constant is they usually contain an analogy that bridges the gap between the physical and spiritual world.

        Debbie saw Luke staring out the window after she hit the door-lock. She asked him what he was thinking about and he said, "Unlocking the door is like letting sin into your life, but Jesus hold the keys that can lock the door and keep out sin." Wow! Now that is the son of the Randumblogger.

        So, in my tradition of asking analogy bridging questions--Is your door locked?

May 10, 2011

It's Never too Late

        When John D. Rockefeller died his accountant was asked how much Mr. Rockefeller had left behind. The accountant responded by saying, "He left it all". My basketball coach in high school used to tell us to leave it all on the court. After all what good would a little extra energy do for us after the game was in the record books. We should live life this way. After all, you will leave it all, so why not make it count? 

        My great Aunt Ethel passed away on Saturday at 81 years old. She not only left it all behind, but she left it all on the court. Ethel volunteered in a youth ministry and gave of her own time to visit teens in a children's home every week until she was well into her 70s. Years after her peers were speaking in "used to" phraseology she was still going strong. Why? Because our time here is short and she loved teenagers. In the end only the ravishes of cancer could pull her from her calling. Instead of quitting though she began to focus her attention toward mentoring my mother, which she continued until the end.

        Many people fear, that what they have to say will not be relevant. Teens do not care how much you know until they know how much you care. You will also find that your knowledge and relevancy increase in any area that you love. My aunt was reading the newest, most cutting edge ministry books before I was even aware they were out.

        Aunt Ethel leaves behind a lasting legacy. Because of her faith and others in my family, most of those she leaves behind are firm believers. In fact myself and two brothers have also gone into youth ministry as well. 

        One day you will die. You WILL leave it all. Will you leave it ALL on the court or waste the God-given potential inside of you? You can decide to stand out and make a lasting difference. It's never too late to start. 

May 6, 2011

Thor: My Official Movie Review

        I went to see Thor last night in a newly converted digital theater. I will say two things about the technical side of the experience. First the 3D was TOTALLY unnecessary. I continue to maintain that what we are seeing is merely some 2D images at one distance while a few 2D images are viewed as closer.  This is not truly three demential. Do not waste your money on the 3D version unless it is your only option (as mine was last night). Second the sound was phenomenal. Even if you have to drive an hour to find an all digital theater it will be worth it. This was the best surround sound immersion I have ever heard in a movie.
        Now to the movie itself. It is very appropriate as a family film. When I say that I am not talking about violence (where actors are merely acting), I am talking about sexual content or profanity (where actors are actually nude or cursing). There is a difference in my book. There is some mild profanity in the film, but there was far less profanity in the movie than from the row behind me. Apparently the sound of crashes and explosions was so loud and clear that it inspired all kinds of adjectives from people in the theater.
        The story was as good as could be for an origin story. It turns out that he is not a god, but was merely viewed as a god by people from our world in ancient times (which is a good improvement from the legend). I am still not sure why Thor and Natalie Portman's character Jane Foster are so attached to each other by the end. I mean sure she was super impressed with him, but they never really had them fall in love in a believable way.
        The spiritual overtones are pretty heavy. Thor wants to give his life to save the Earth (like Jesus). Thor was originally filled with pride then becomes mortal until he denies himself to become new. This is the central plot of the human race in the Bible. We sin become mortal and if we deny ourself take up our cross and follow Jesus we put on immortality (Luke 9:23).
        I highly recommend this film as it ties in nicely to the Iron Man and Incredible Hulk movies. The stage is almost set for the Avengers in 2012. Thor is well worth the money. Are you going to see it? Will you shell out the money for 3D? If you see it let me know your thoughts on the spiritual themes and overall quality.

May 5, 2011

The National Day of Prayer is Like a High School Reunion.

        This is the National Day of prayer. I am sure you have already heard. One day to officially recognize our dependance on our Creator. One day to live as if the motto "In God We Trust" is something we actually live by. One day when more prayers will be offered up then any other time of the year except in natural disasters and national disasters.
        Don't get me wrong I am glad we have this day, but it can be much like a high school reunion. We rehash and reminisce with people that we have not talked to in years. Wouldn't it be great if we saw God for who He truly is. A lifelong friend to walk with us through anything. 
        I hope you enjoy the National Day of Prayer, but I pray that you will make everyday your "Personal Day of Prayer".

May 3, 2011

What Announcement will George Lucas Make Tomorrow?

        Tomorrow is May 4th. What is so special about the 4th of May. To Star Wars fans it is virtually a holiday. Star Wars actually came out on May 25, 1979, but a German TV station mistranslated a line from George Lucas to "we are with you on may fourth." It is unofficially Star Wars Day. Now fans everywhere will be heard saying, "May the fourth be with you" all around the globe tomorrow.
        Tomorrow at 9AM eastern time "All will be revealed" according to the Star Wars website. There is even a countdown. What could the big announcement be? This Star Wars fan is hoping for episode 7. Farfetched you say? Not really.
        It could be done with the technology used on Jeff Bridges in Tron Legacy. They digitized his face, took the wrinkles out, and superimposed it onto a 35 year old actor. This not only means that we should not have to endure another geriatric Indiana Jones movie, but we could see a Star Wars film that takes place shortly after Return of the Jedi.
        Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, and Carrie Fisher are still alive to do the voices and all we need is their digitized face. This could be why all of the films are coming out in 3D starting next year. We could be a short 6 years from episode 7.
        The announcement will probably be Blu-ray related although I certainly hope not. I have thought about the possibilities episodes 7, 8, and 9 since I was a kid. As the years dragged on the prospect became less and less real. With modern technology however, we could see the age shed off of all of the actors.
        As I grow older my mortality is ever before me. No amount of digitization could truly add time to my life. This verse brings me comfort--Romans 6:23 The payment for sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. I will never truly die because of the price Jesus paid. Sure my body will wear out here like an aging Star Wars character, but there is a pre-planned heavenly sequel waiting for me on the other side.
If you enjoyed this post you may also like:
The Phantom Menace Passes Star Wars!
7 Problems with the Prequel Trilogy
Truths From a Galaxy Far Far Away
Star Wars 3D: its Official 
Star Wars in Concert--Original or Rip-off 
A Former Prequel Basher Speaks Out
Will the Earth Really Have Two Suns . . .?

May 2, 2011

"Obama Killed Osama" in the Style of Dr. Seuss

        This is not a normal post for me but I couldn't resist. I was thinking of how funny it was that Osama was killed by a President named Obama. This poem in the style of Dr. Seuss is the result of the randomness of my mind. Please not that I always call our President by his title first regardless of who is in the White House. In the poem both President Obama and President Bush are called simply by their last names for better flow.

  Obama killed Osama, after ten long years of looking,
  Bush began the search and push, but Obama did the cooking,
  Obama killed Osama. Was it easy? I don't know,
  But if I knew the drama to kill Osama by Obama, I think this is how it would go,

  Obama wore pajamas in the White House making plans,
  Osama cried for his mama hiding out in Pakistan,
  Thought Obama of Osama, We still need to catch this man,

  It was late and he was tired, but something stirred and kept him fired,
  Other than Trump who says you're fired, who claimed he's not American but a liar,
  Yes, he could have snuggles in an Afghany that was knitted by his granny,
  But they had not caught the mad meany manny who was an Afghani from Afghanistany,

  He got a call that settled him with news our troops were closing in,
  They had found within a big mansion contained the lion's den,
  So they asked Obama of Osama just what should be done with him,
  Obama said Osama's reign of terror's at an end.

  So Obama killed Osama with an order just and right,
  Bringing closure to 911 families and better sleep tonight.

If you enjoyed this post you might like:
Osama Bin Laden is Dead

May 1, 2011

Osama Bin Laden is DEAD!

        Osama Bin Laden is finally dead. I am not usually one to rejoice over the death of someone, but this is justice in its purest form. This man was responsible for thousands of American lives as well as people all over the world. He was shot in a mansion on a mission from our military. As I write this the President has just walked up to the microphone to share the news with America.
        Bin Laden stood for the death of innocent lives and evil in its purest form. Romans 13:4-5 says, "For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience."
        I want to thank our President, Justice Department, and our military for "not bearing the sword for no reason." Our president reminded us that we did not kill a Muslim leader. We killed a mass murderer who was also a murderer of Muslims. 
       I really thought at times that this day would never come. I am thankful that our leaders have not tired of hunting for this madman. Rest easy America. The world is a little safer tonight.

If you enjoyed this post you might also like:
"Obama Killed Osama"-In the Style of Dr.Seuss

Apr 28, 2011

Soul Surfer--Spoiler Free Movie Review

        I saw Soul Surfer yesterday and was pleasantly surprised. It is the true story of Bethany Hamilton's fight to get back into surfing after a shark attack. Her arm is completely severed yet she has the courage and faith to keep going.
        There are a lot of movies about couragous people, but very few where people rely on faith. In the beginning they are singing "Blessed be the Name of the Lord" by the Newsboys. The line "the Lord gave the Lord hath taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord" is straight out of the book of Job.
        It is very powerful to see a young girl trust in God in the face of such pain and loss. What makes it even better is that it is a true story. It is essentially a film about faith without the cheese factor provided by most "Christian" movies. Very often the story is great and the acting is lame. This is not the case with a cast  containing Dennis Quaid, Helen Hunt, Kevin Sorbo (Hercules), Carrie Underwood, and Craig T. Nelson.
        I went with just over 20 teens and parents. We laughed, some cried, and everyone enjoyed it. If you have some extra cash and a couple of hours this weekend Soul Surfer does not dissapoint.

The REAL Royal Wedding!

        There is a lot of talk today about the royal wedding. It is even a trending topic on Twitter. The funny thing is the the royal family have only been figureheads for years. Are you really ruling if you have no power? It is the equivalent of acting as if Ronald McDonald is the CEO of McDonalds.

        The church in scripture is called the bride of Christ. There will one day be a marriage dinner in heaven with all who have turned to God through his Son. Jesus told this parable (story with a meaning) to illustrate God's invitation to this royal wedding is like.

Luke 14:16-24 ... “A man prepared a great feast and sent out many invitations. 17When the banquet was ready, he sent his servant to tell the guests, ‘Come, the banquet is ready.’ 18But they all began making excuses. One said, ‘I have just bought a field and must inspect it. Please excuse me.’ 19 Another said, ‘I have just bought five pairs of oxen, and I want to try them out. Please excuse me.’ 20 Another said, ‘I now have a wife, so I can’t come.’
 21 “The servant returned and told his master what they had said. His master was furious and said, ‘Go quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and invite the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ 22 After the servant had done this, he reported, ‘There is still room for more.’ 23 So his master said, ‘Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full. 24 For none of those I first invited will get even the smallest taste of my banquet.’”

        Have you accepted His invitation? It is even more like a proposal. The royal wedding of all time is going to happen with or without you. God's desire is that you choose with. 

Apr 26, 2011

A Prayer Lesson from the Crazy Irishman in Braveheart

        I watched Braveheart again a couple of weeks ago for the first time in a while (It was definitely not the first time ever). It is one of my favorite movies of all-time. I love it for the leadership and sense of justice that is present in the character of William Wallace.

        I realize that it is not historically accurate at times and I really don't care. So any comments to this effect will be read but slightly overlooked. What struck me upon watching it again for the umpteenth time was Stephen the Irishman. He is portrayed as being a little crazy but extremely loyal. He talked to God directly for everything and in front of anyone.

        I must admit that seeing his interaction with God really made me reevaluate my ongoing God conversation. What about you? Has your walk with God become stale or formulaic? Are your talks with Him relegated to Sundays, meals, or even devotional time. When was the last time you had a real conversation with Him as if He were physically in the room with you?

        I've had some conversations like this in the past couple of weeks, and oddly enough I do not feel crazy. However, I do feel that I would be crazy to go back to the way things were.

Read this post as well:
Braveheart: A Lesson in Politics

Apr 22, 2011

Good Friday--The First Earth Day

        Today is Earth Day as well as Good Friday. What do these two days have in common? Well more than you may think.

        Earth Day encourages us to look around at our human made mess and take active steps to clean it up. We urge others to reduce waste, reuse items, and recycle our trash. In all it is a worthwhile effort reminding us to be good stewards of God's creation.

         There is another human made mess called sin (choosing our way over God's way). Good Friday marks the day that God sent his son Jesus to reduce the amount of people living apart from Him. Through Christ's death on the cross He can reuse those who were once serving sin. Jesus started the ultimate recycling project when He not only beat sin on the cross but He defeated death by raising from the dead. The recycling continues today whenever someone turns from their sin to God through what Jesus did for the entire world. He makes us brand new with an entirely new purpose.

        So I would like to wish a Happy Earth Day to everyone in the world that God loved so much that He would give His only son to save from ourselves.

Apr 19, 2011

Do You Soar Like an Eagle or Fall Like a Brick?

        I went to a park the other day with my son's kindergarten class. The park has a small wildlife section that includes two bald eagles.

        After seeing a couple of moms enjoying nachos, with a huge pile of cheese and jalapenos, I decided it was time for a snack. I left the kids with my wife and the other moms and headed for the concession building and the cheesy goodness that awaited me.

        The eagle cage was on the way to the concessions. I was admiring the eagles when a nearby worker started using a drill. The eagle left its perch and began to soar right towards me. That is until it went about five feet. He tumbled awkwardly to the ground hitting a log on the way down.

        The eagle is a prisoner. The enclosure is too small for him to fly. In his moment of panic he forgot the limitations placed on him by his captors.

        If you have not submitted your life to Jesus then you are in captivity to sin. Only Christ can give you freedom from your sin. This is a sad place that everyone finds themselves in. However, what is truly sad is when a believer who has been freed from sin chooses to live in captivity. Unbelievers continually crash due to their lack of freedom and some believers chooses to sit and watch, not realizing that they could actually soar above it all.

        Isaiah 40:31 says, "but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Are you soaring in freedom, living in captivity, or choosing to voluntarily go back into the cage? 

Apr 16, 2011

Unevangelism: A Different Kind of Invitation

        I have been frustrated with a lot that goes on in modern evangelical circles for some time now, especially in the south. One thing that particularly saddens me is the invitation given at many Christian events.

        It seems that many people who "accept" Christ at Christian events are in one of two disturbing groups. The first ones are believers who are feeling convicted about sin and will pray "the prayer" again and again seeking solace from their doubts. The second group is the ones who have prayed a prayer at one time to get to Heaven. These individuals are often looking for a get-out-of-Hell-free-card, yet they have never given their LIFE to Him.

        This frustration has led me to investigate a different approach. So I thought I would see what Jesus did. His invitation was simply "follow me". Many people asked Him for eternal life who did not receive it (4 specific people in the Gospels). Why did Jesus turn people like the rich young man away? Because they would not follow Him with their entire being. People were instructed to count the cost, take up their cross and follow Him.

        Count the cost? We do not even let people open their eyes so that we can save a new believer the embarrassment of others seeing his/her "private" commitment. Are you kidding me?

        I recently spoke at an event where close to 25 people raised their hands to repent and turn to Jesus. I then asked them if they were already believers who just feel that sin has gotten in the way of their relationship with God to put their hand down. They were then instructed to talk to God about it in their seat. Over half of the hands went down.

        I spoke at an event last night where seven teens raised their hands to follow Christ. I told them of the trouble Jesus promises and the suffering that Paul said accompanies a believer. I told them that Jesus said that if we deny Him before men, He will deny us before His Father. I told them that I was going to let everyone open their eyes in a moment and to count the cost before keeping their hands up. Two hands went down. I pulled the five aside and began asking questions. It turns out three were already believers who just needed to start fresh. I prayed for them and dismissed them to pray with other believers about where they had strayed.

        The last two were serious. They were pastor's kids. They had never really followed Christ. An event that could have boasted seven souls now had two. In fact one tweet escaped that said five had accepted Christ. In the end though, I went to bed with peace in my heart. Knowing that I had no doubts about the two that had endured the most awkward invitation of their lives (especially as pastor's kids with members of their youth groups present).

        Christ has done ALL of the work needed for salvation, but lets not sugar coat the life that Jesus offers. It is tough, not for wimps, and at times all uphill. The good news of the Great commission is that He will be with us even until the end of the world.

        I know in ministry that there is a pressure for numbers. It is easy to start viewing people as numbers. My challenge to you is to present the Gospel, but also define the cost, so that one can "count it" before picking up his/her own cross to die to their old way of life.

Apr 9, 2011

Are You Spiritually Constipated?

        Everyone needs to eat and drink. We do it every day. However there are certain times that our hunger or thirst is masked by something else.

        At the risk of sounding gross I will say that the something in question is the need to relieve ourselves. Stay with me and I will make my point. When you have to go badly you would never think of guzzling down a glass of water. The same goes for eating a meal when you know that an extended stay in the facilities is required. We cannot enjoy a meal when our body needs to relieve itself of waste.

        Even though we would not miss a meal purposely (let alone for a day), many try to go a whole week on one meal spiritually. We sit at church gorging ourselves with what is offered, only to return with a empty stomach (spirit) the following Sunday.

        We should pay close attention to the physical needs of our body to understand the spiritual needs of our true selves. Our walk with Christ should be an ongoing time with a close friend that lasts throughout the day.  Meals are intimate. No one sits with strangers at a restaurant. We eat with those we are close to. To sell God short by meeting with him once a week is a tragedy. It is also a shame to box him into a small section of each day (devotions). We should be seeking him throughout the day, just as we eat when we are hungry.

        This brings me to the waste. When we have sin in our lives it is difficult to fellowship with God. Our bodies give us a clue as to how we should deal with sin. Flush it! There is no way to enjoy a meal (interaction with God) with sin in the way. My advise is simple: Relieve the waste and enjoy the meal. There is simply no room for spiritual constipation in a relationship with God.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

        How long has God been waiting for you to acknowledge him throughout the day. He doesn't want your Sunday, or five minutes--He wants you, yielded and open. He desires the intimacy of the meal to be shared between friends. Jesus said, "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me (Revelation 3:20).

Apr 4, 2011

Similar but Not the Same

        On Sunday my family and I went to visit Steele Creek Church in Charlotte, NC. It has been eye opening to visit other churches since I have been on sabbatical. The address that we put into our GPS was West Arrowood. The GPS gave us the option of Drive or Road. We both believed that they were probably one and the same so we chose Drive.

        We could not have been more wrong. Initially we would have been 45 minutes early so we could sign in, drop off our kids, and enjoy a stress free Sunday morning worshipping God. Soon the illusion of punctuality began to unravel. When we got close to West Arrowood Drive the exit was no longer open. We had to take a detour on new roads that our GPS didn't recognize. We finally found a street that it knew. We followed all of the "right" directions until we ended up at a dead end. Oddly enough there was a church there, but not the one we were looking for.

        We decided to try it with Road instead of Drive. We were 20 minutes out of the way and ended up 5 minutes late to the service.

        There are so many belief systems in this world claiming to be a way to God. Some even use the name of Jesus. It is politically correct to say that all roads lead to God. This is not the case according to the Bible.  John 14:6  says, Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." 

        Just because a path looks similar or even bears a close name does not mean that the destination will be the same. We all have an inward navigation system pointing us toward spiritual truth. The Bible calls this the law of God written on our hearts.  Just because the navigation system is good does not mean that we have entered the correct address. Jesus is the only way to God--Not our works, sincere beliefs, or fulfilled religious duties. Just Him. Period.


Apr 1, 2011

The Theology of a Kindergartner

I did an audio interview with my five year old son Luke, on his understanding of the Christian faith. Here is a transcript of our interview.

Me: Luke, who made the world?
Luke: God
Me: Can you tell me what happened when God made the world?
Luke: He made grass, He made trees, and He made water, and He made animals, and He made dolphins, and He made every single fishy, and He made the sky, and He made birds, and He made people, and He made trees and grass.
Me: Were the people good? 
Luke: A little bit and then the devil turned into a snake and tricked them, that they could eat the apple and they got sent out of the garden.

Me: What is it called when people do bad things?
Luke: Sin.
Me: Is there anyway to stop sin?
Luke: Um . . . um.
Me: Do you sin?
Luke: Yes.
Me: Do I?
Luke: Yes.
Me: Well, how can we stop it?
Luke: By . . . um, fighting it
Me: Fighting it?
Luke: Yes.
Me: And if I try really really hard, I won't be a sinner anymore?
Luke: You still will be.
Me: Well, then who could stop it?
Luke: God.
Me: How would He do that?
Luke: By dying on the cross for us.
Me: Why did He need to do that?
Luke: To ... um ... take our sins away.
Me: How does that take away our sins?
Luke: Because He's powerful.
Me: Right, but why did He have to die? Can't He just forgive us?
Luke: Yes.
Me: Without dying?
Luke: But He forgived us and died.

Me: Did Jesus stay dead?
Luke: No. He came back alive.
Me: Where did He go after that?
Luke: To Heaven.
Me: What's He doing?
Luke: Watching us and . . . listening to us.
Me: Why?
Luke: Because He is watching over us.
Me: What do you mean listening to us? Does He like to listen to us?
Luke: Yes. When we speak to God.
Me: How do we do that?
Luke: By praying and singing songs about Him.
Me: You can talk to Him by singing songs?
Luke: Uh huh, singing songs about  Him.

Me: Why do we go to church?
Luke: To learn about God.
Me: Can't you learn about God at home?
Luke: Yes, in the Bible and you can read the Bible wherever you want.
Me: Then why do we need to go to church? What is different about going to church than reading the Bible at home?
Luke: There are more people at church than at home.

Me: Do we sometimes give at church?
Luke: Yes.
Me: What is that called?
Luke: Um . . . Giving to God.
Me: Offering?
Luke: Yes.
Me: What do you think they do with the money?
Luke: God takes it.
Me: Why would God need our money?
Luke: . . . I don't know.
Me: They use it to pay for the building and the lights and . . .
Luke: No! It's up in heaven when God gets it.
Me: The money?
Luke: Yeah.
Me: Why would He need money in heaven? The streets are made out of gold.
Luke: Because . . . the money is for the streets. 
Me: So, He uses our money to make more roads?
Luke: Yes.

Me: What should people who follow Jesus do when they see someone who is hurt?
Luke: Help them.
Me: What if we see someone who is homeless?
Luke: You give them a home.
Me: What if we don't have enough money to buy a new house for them.
Luke: Then we should chop down trees to make a little house for them. 
Me: But you would have to own the land that you put the house on. What could we do instead of giving them a house?
Luke: We could let them stay at our house.
Me: For how long?
Luke: Until they have enough money to buy a home.

Me: If you are a follower of Jesus and someone is mean to you, what should you do?
Luke: If you don't like what they are saying then just walk away.
Me: What if they hit you?
Luke: Then just ask them to stop.
Me: What if they don't?
Luke: Then go get a grownup.
Me: What if they are hurting someone else?
Luke: Then I would stop them.

Me: What do you think the worst sin is?
Luke: To kill.
Me: Why?
Luke: Because that's very very very bad. 
Me: Why is it worse than lying?
Luke: Because killing is making people die.

Me: Why should we read the Bible?
Luke: To learn more about God.
Me: Why do we need to learn more about God?
Luke: 'Cause if you don't know much about Him, then read the Bible.
Me: What if someone doesn't want to know about God?
Luke: Then you just . . . um . . . tell them about God.
Me: Why do we need to tell them?
Luke: Because if they don't know about God and they don't know about any other gods, then tell them about our God.
Me: What if they do know about other gods? should we still tell them about our God.
Luke: Yes.
Me: Why?
Luke: Because, there gods are fake and our God is real!

Thanks for doing the interview buddy.