Three “keeping it real” reasons why I won’t be seeing “American Sniper” in the theaters

1. As a busy father of 3 active kids, with a full time work, active lifestyle and the normal family life… Ask me how many movies I see in a year?  At the theater… We’re talking 1-3 on average… with 2 of them being something that all the family will enjoy.

2. I read the book, and books are always better. (no disrespect to what I have heard about the cinematography, directing or acting of this piece, but I am a book nerd. I also listened to Brandon Webb (who ran the training program that produced men like Chris) speak extensively about how inaccurate that segment the film is.

3. And really, is it a surprise that an “R” rated film is full of something worldly? As my friend Seth McDonald aptly noted the prodigious use of the “F” word fills the film does meet well with my desire to live beyond this world.

I have a few friends who knew Chris personally, From what I have heard, Mr. Cooper does an outstanding portrayal of him in the film. So I’m sure at some point I might rent the movie and fire up the ole’ TV guardian and give it a go, but until then, You can find me outside trying to keep up with my kids 😉

Jesus wants you to judge, by Matt Walsh

Jesus wants you to judge

I’ve always been a pretty big fan of the Ten Commandments. My favorites is the one that says “Thou shalt not judge.”

Oh, that one isn’t in there, you say?

Sorry, it’s easy to forget nowadays, especially in this country where many Christians carry on as though the entire Bible could be summed up by the phrase, “it’s all good, bro.”

In actual fact, there are a lot of urgent truths and important moral lessons in the Bible. Interestingly, almost all of them have fallen out of favor in modern American society. Here are just a few verses that aren’t particularly trendy or popular nowadays:

(WARNING: Politically incorrect truths ahead)

“Whoever harms one of these little ones that believes in me, it would be better for him if a millstone where tied around his neck and he were drowned in the depths of the ocean.”

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.”

“But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, unless the marriage is unlawful, causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

“For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat.”

Strange as it may seem, enlightened, progressive Christians rarely attempt to wrestle Ephesians 5 or 2 Thessalonians 3 into a conversation. Yet, while the bulk of the Bible has ended up on our civilization’s cutting room floor, the warnings about “judging” are quoted and repeated incessantly, by Christians and non-Christians alike.

Apparently, the rest of the Book is outdated, outmoded, antiquated and fabricated, but the verses about judging — that stuff is gold, man.

Here’s a fun experiment: post something on your Facebook condemning any sin — not sinner, but sin. Maybe write a few paragraphs about why we shouldn’t kill babies, or why marriage is sacred. Write something defending truth. Write something combating popular cultural lies about morality. Write something where you call out an act — not a person — an act, and then sit back and wait for the responses. Statistically speaking, it will take only 4.7 seconds before a self identified Christian rushes in to insist that you must never speak out against any evil, ever, for any reason, lest you be guilty of “judging.”

And then the “no judging” chorus will begin:

“We’re not allowed to judge.”

“Christians shouldn’t judge.”

“Jesus said to never judge.”

“You’re not a real Christian because you are judging.”

“You’re judging so I’m going to judge you and tell you that you’re a piece of garbage because you judge so much!”

“Judger! You’re a big fat judge-face, all you do is judge all day like a judging judge McJudgePants!”

And so on.

Now, here’s the thing: they’re right — well, almost. Unfortunately, they left out an important word. It’s not that we shouldn’t judge at all — it’s that we shouldn’t judge WRONGLY. The idea that we shouldn’t judge at all is 1) absurd, 2) impossible, 3) very much at odds with every moral edict in all of Scripture. It’s also hypocritical, because telling someone not to judge is, in and of itself, a judgement. Any time you start a sentence with “you shouldn’t,” whatever comes next will constitute a judgement of some kind. Saying, “you shouldn’t judge,” is like saying, “there are no absolutes.”

Translation: you shouldn’t judge… except when judging people for judging. There are no absolutes… except the absolute that there aren’t any absolutes.

Yet, have you ever noticed that these “Don’t Judge” folks are nowhere to be found when the conversation turns to the Westboro Baptists, or domestic abusers, or the Nazis, or Republicans? I guarantee I could write a post condemning gay marriage opponents as bigots and homophobes and not a one of these pragmatists would swoop in to tell me not to “judge.”

Behind the Bible, my second favorite book is the dictionary. Let’s consult it, shall we?

Judge: To form an opinion of; decide upon; settle; to infer, think, hold as an opinion.

When you tell someone not to judge, you’re telling them to stop deciding things, to stop forming opinions, to stop thinking, and to stop inferring. Brilliant bit of philosophy, Plato. “Stop thinking and deciding!” Do you really think Jesus meant THAT when he told us not to judge? Well, I guess you can’t think about it one way or another if you’re adhering to this whole “never judge” schtick.

I know we live in a sound bite culture. Everything has to be condensed down to 14 syllables or less, and every concept must be communicated in under 12 seconds. Entire elections are decided this way. And while this strategy doesn’t work well in the democratic system, it’s an absolute catastrophic heretical disaster if you try to utilize it in the realm of theology. Yes, Jesus said “Judge not,” but you have to read the rest of that passage, and then the rest of the Book to put those two words into context. Once you’ve done that, you’ll understand that what He meant is precisely the opposite of how it is translated by modern cowards who are looking for any excuse to shrink away from the task of standing up against our culture and its many lies.

We must judge. We must exercise judgement. We must be discerning and decisive. We must expose evil and identify sin. Only we must do it righteously and truly. Judge, but judge rightly. That’s the point. We are to judge the sin, not the sinner. People seem to love the latter part of that phrase, and then selectively forget the first portion.

We can not condemn a man to hell. We can not see inside his soul. This is an important point, but it doesn’t mean we can’t speak harshly about the atrocities of a particular individual. If a guy commits adultery, I’ll call him an adulterer. That’s not an insult or an evaluation of his soul; it’s a true and accurate judgement based on the fruits he has produced. If a guy steals, he is a thief. If he murders, he is a murderer. If he commits tyrannies, he is a tyrant.

Jesus stopped a bloodthirsty mob from stoning a woman to death for adultery. Famously, he said “let he without sin cast the first stone.” This profound Biblical event has since been contorted to mean that nobody can condemn any (popular) sin, or speak out against any (popular) evil, because nobody is perfect.

Nonsense.

Jesus wasn’t telling the crowd to chill out and be cool with infidelity; he was telling them that they don’t have the authority to pass final judgement on another human being for their moral shortcomings. In the immediate sense, he was also stopping them from brutally killing a woman. This can not be construed into him strolling in with a shrug and saying, “Hey, live and let live, dudes.” In fact, after he forgave the woman’s sin, he commanded her to “sin no more.”
Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. That doesn’t mean that we must be without sin before we can call a sin a sin. Just because we make a judgment does not mean we are throwing rocks at a helpless woman. Sometimes, it means we are shedding light into a terrifying darkness.

Remember, this is the same Jesus who told us to separate the wheat from the chaff and the sheep from the wolves; the Jesus who called his opponents “snakes” and “vipers”; the Jesus who made a whip and violently drove the money changers out of the temple; the Jesus who said he came to bring a sword and drive a wedge between families.

He was loving and peaceful, but He was also manly, strong, courageous, outspoken, decisive, and commanding. He wasn’t a hippy. He was, and is, a King and a Warrior. Our culture has an agenda, and the agenda has nothing to do with following Christ or His precepts. Flimsy modern weaklings have taken the “don’t judge” concept out of context — twisted it, perverted it, and used it as an excuse to sit silently while all manner of unspeakable evils happen in their midst.

They’ve tried to turn Christianity into a religion of apathy and permissiveness. I certainly make judgments about their slander of my faith. I judge it to be sacrilegious, evil, and despicable.

And I judge it rightly.

So, don’t judge? Wrong. Judge. We must judge. The Bible exists, in large part, to shape our judgement and to tell us how to judge. We must teach our kids to have good and moral judgement. We must equip them with the spiritual tools to exercise it publicly, without fear. We must show them how to be discerning, critical thinkers.

You can not raise your children without judgement; you can’t function as a civilized human being without judgement; and you certainly can’t be an obedient Christian without judgment.

I am a sinful person. If you would ever consider accepting and celebrating my sins for the sake of being “non-judgmental,” please do me a favor and stop doing me that favor. I don’t want to be made comfortable and confident in my wrongdoing.

I’d rather have you hurt my feelings as you help me get to Heaven, than protect my feelings as you usher me right along to Hell.

“Jesus’ Wife” Fragment: A Continuing Puzzle

Interesting continuance of similar thoughts from another article I read yesterday @

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/anxiousbench/2013/12/plagiarism-personality-driven-leadership-and-the-problem-with-evangelicalism/

Larry Hurtado's Blog

A few weeks ago I asked here what further news there was about the so-called “Jesus’ wife” fragment announced to the world in late summer 2012.  Since then, despite direct inquiry to Prof. King (the email address listed for her no longer valid) and asking several scholars who were in various ways directly involved in the analysis of the item last year, it has proven impossible to get anything further than the last notice about it given in early 2013, that it was undergoing further “tests”.  (How long does it take to conduct such tests, after all?)

We do know that the article on the fragment by Prof. King on the fragment announced as forthcoming in Harvard Theological Review was put on hold, and, so far as one can tell, seems now likely permanently so (i.e., it isn’t going to appear).  It also seems that the TV programme in preparation…

View original post 550 more words

Philippine Relief

“To our American brethren, Your outpouring of love and generosity had relieve the suffering and made the pain more bearable. Members of the Cebu City church of Christ extend a helping hand in packing relief goods for the suffering brethren at Bogo City affected by the typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda). Preparation of same commodities will be undertaken for the affected brethren at Tacloban City, Ormoc City and other places in Leyte” ~ Jonathan Cariño

A Refuge in Times of Trouble, by: Ken Weliever

Via: http://thepreachersword.com/2013/11/21/a-refuge-in-times-of-trouble/

hawksbill

The Old Testament Patriarch, Job, observed over 3,000 years ago, “Man that is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble.”

I have been reminded of that this week.  Again.

Rescue teams have been searching the Barren River in Bowling Green, Kentucky, looking for Adam Smelser, missing since Sunday afternoon.  Evidently he went for a run.  Then a swim. And hasn’t been seen since.  I feel the grief and heartbreak of his parents, family and friends.

Then on Monday Norma Jean received a call that her cousin, Carolyn Parslow, collapsed suddenly. She was taken to Florida Hospital and never regained consciousness. She passed away on Tuesday evening.  We are leaving for Tampa tomorrow where I will preach her funeral service on Saturday.

I think back this year of those who have left us too soon.  Azaiah DeGarmo. Marty Pickup.  Ted Brewer.  And there are many others.  Friends that I have loved.  Families we’ve been close to.  Earthly relationships that are severed.

Then there those who are suffering with an incurable, debilitating disease. A fire that destroyed a family’s home.   A father who has walked out on his family.  Someone who has lost their life savings.  And people who have lost everything in the Typhon stricken Philippines.

So what is the answer? How do we cope? Where do we turn when Trouble troubles our lives?

The Psalmist says, “The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, A refuge in times of trouble. And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; For You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.”  (Ps. 9:9-10)

Let me suggest four ways God can be your refuge that I have observed from my friends who are suffering and based on Biblical teaching.

(1) Live in God’s Presence. James said, “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.” Jesus promised “I am with you always even to the end of the world. Mt 28:29.

When we suffer adversity, we can know that we are in the presence of God. What a great encouragement, comfort and consolation.

One man said, where was God when my son died?” The answer is: The same place he was when His son diedIf you feel forsaken, Jesus knows how you feel. God is not a spectator of our pain, we are in his presence.

(2) Learn from God’s Promises. The Psalmist affirmed that God would be with us. That he is “our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble.” God promises help. Comfort. Hope. He says, “I care. And I will care for you.” (I Pet. 5:7). He feels our pain. And will supply our every need.

(3) Lean on God’s Power When Sennacherib, king of Assyria invaded Judah, the king stood up and said. “Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid nor dismayed before the king of Assyria, nor before all the multitude that is with him; for there are more with us than with him.  With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people were strengthened by the words of Hezekiah king of Judah” (2 Chron 32:7-8)

Finite strength is undependable and expendable, but God’s infinite power is sufficient for every need. Indeed we are “kept by the power of God” (1 Pet 1:5)

(4) Look For God’s Purpose God’s purpose is not to make you miserable. Paul said to “rejoice in the Lord” God does not send pain, problems and pressures. God is the giver of good gifts. (Jas. 1:18)

Why does trouble come? Maybe it is because of the evil of other people. Sometimes it is the result of living in a natural world that is filled with sin, suffering and separation. It could be through our own poor choice (Gal. 6:7-8) Or maybe the Devil is trying to trap us (1 Pet. 5:8)

So what is God’s Purpose for me as I experience life’s problems? To walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor 5:7) To use adversity to make me stronger (Jas 1:2-3) To focus on God’s eternal plan in Jesus. (Eph. 3:11) To claim victory through His love, grace and mercy. (Rom 8:30-31)

We all will suffer trouble in this life. Sometimes extreme tragedy will befall us. Yet, whatever the trial or trouble, there is help.  Hope. There is God.

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman

Philippine Update

Harry Osborne passed along this update from the Philippines

“Since it will be Thursday before we can start to distribute the benevolence on Leyte where the need is the greatest, the funds already committed for sending via MoneyGram should be available before we leave from Cebu going to Leyte on Friday. The need here is so enormous that we have had to focus on meeting immediate needs for survival at this time and leave longer term efforts of rebuilding and other needs to be met at a later date. My plan is too also bring a bag of first-aid and sanitation supplies with us to Leyte. With the massive death toll and release of open sewage from the floods, the danger of disease taking another large toll is a very real and present danger. From what we hear, our brethren are in great need of such supplies.

To give you a sense of the enormity of the disaster, the major international rescue and relief organizations were saying the death toll may exceed 10,000! There is some speculation that number may be very low and may go much higher. The Philippine government said just yesterday that the number might exceed 1200. In other words, no one knows the magnitude of this disaster at this point, but time a new area receiving a direct hit is surveyed, the numbers keep going up. Today, U.S. Military helicopters and air support began an aerial assessment of the damage and they are saying the damage is unprecedented. One of the crews likened it to an F4 or F5 tornado, except it is 100 miles wide and several hundred miles long. There are hundreds of small, inhabited islands that the full force of the storm impacted. Each one presents a new challenge to reach, assess and get relief efforts going.

In our travels yesterday, we did not see a single national Philippine government vehicle or relief effort of any kind, nor did we see any international relief organization presence. If what we saw was the lesser problem compared to other places, I shudder to think what the situation is in such places. When people in the streets of Bogo saw me as a white American, it was obvious that they were looking at me in hopes that I would help. I don’t know if I will ever be able to forget the utter helplessness I felt on that occasion to see so many people in such dire need, looking for help, yet knowing that I had no way to help. Our brethren now have food to eat for several weeks, the masses of humanity I saw have nothing and no hope in sight. May God in His providence make a way to ease the tremendous suffering of these very poor and hopeless people — ultimately bringing them to seek for a way of hope that leaves the calamities of this life to forever rejoice in a heavenly hope that knows no sorrow and no end! God bless!”

You can follow Harry’s work in the Philippines @

http://harryosborne.blogspot.com/

He also passed along some photos to provide a frame of reference for the impact of the storm.

Though there are a few graphic images of the destruction, I have omitted ones far more graphic and disturbing. These will give a sense of the total destruction in Tacolban, mostly by the storm surge but also the intense winds.

What does the Bible have to say about the crisis in Syria? (hint: nothing. absolutely nothing), by Peter Enns

What does the Bible have to say about the crisis in Syria? (hint: nothing. absolutely nothing)
I came across an article on USA Today’s website that disturbs me–imagine that, finding something disturbing on the internet. Go figure.

Anyway, the article is “Some see biblical visions of doom in Syria trouble.” The article itself is fine, since some quotes urge caution about reading current events on the pages of the Bible.

What’s disturbing is that such an article even needs to be written.

Apparently the logic of it all goes something like this:

Syria is mentioned in the Old Testament as an object of God’s wrath.

Hey…lookie here…why of all the darndest things…a country called Syria is part of the Middle East right now and its government is doing terrible things.

That means, clearly, that the Old Testament must be talking about our current events. After all, what other explanation could possibly account for this bizarre scenario? And so, what held then holds now: Syria needs to be bombed. I’m just going with what God says. 

Ugh, sigh, and face palm.

Ancient Israel was in almost constant conflict with someone–and in the 9th and especially the 8th centuries, Syria was a major player.

Biblical prophets, like Isaiah, spoke to these international affairs. Chapter 17 of Isaiah is all about Damascus (i.e., Syria), and it begins:

See, Damascus will cease to be a city, and will become a heap of ruins. Her towns will be deserted forever. 

The chapter ends with a promise that God will rebuke the nations, and:

Before morning, they are no more. This is the fate of all who dispoil us, and the lot of those who plunder us.

Damascus is God’s enemy because it is Israel’s enemy, and count on it, they will get theirs soon enough.

One of the bigger missteps in the history of the western Christian fundamentalist view of the Bible is the idea that the biblical records of ancient hostilities are simply veiled references for what is going on in whatever moment we happen to be living in.

I get the idea behind it: the Bible is God’s word that “speaks to me,” and so all of it, somehow, has to connect with me and my world right at this very moment. But this mentality freaks me out for several reason, including but not limited to the following:

1. This view assumes that believing that the Bible is God’s word implies it must somehow be all about us. That assumption is not born from the biblical texts themselves, which say no such thing, but stems from a spiritual self-centeredness that is wrapped up in layers and layers of self-insulating theological rhetoric.

Many Christians simply adopt this mentality, not because they are stupid or horrible people, but because of the Christin subculture in which they were raised, and they see no other way of being faithful to God.

2. This view misunderstands biblical prophets as being concerned with “end times prophecies.” They weren’t. Their focus was on what was happening in their world and what God would do about it in the near future in delivering Israel from her enemies and kicking the other nations butts–or happily allowing them to join the party if they bow the knee to Yahweh.

Think of prophets not as predictors of way, way in the future “end times” scenarios, but preachers bringing the word of God to their contemporaries. That’s what being a “prophet” meant in ancient Israel. If you read the prophetic literature as a personal letter to you and your world, you are abusing the texts.

3. This view encourages a view of God who is out to get the nations that are a threat to Israel, Christianity–or worse, America, which is simply assumed to be God’s special little patch of ground, a “new Israel.” What is lost in this rhetoric is all the Jesus stuff, where tribal culture is left behind and the people of God are to be agents of peace and healing among the nations.

The crisis in Syria is tragic. Something needs to be done, and something likely will–hopefully a peaceful solution.

Just don’t drag Israel’s ancient conflicts with Syria into it and call it God’s will for today.

More at: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2013/09/what-does-the-bible-have-to-say-about-the-crisis-in-syria-hint-nothing-absolutely-nothing/