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 😉

What shall we teach about Jesus’ birth? by Doy Moyer

PictureAt this time of year, some people, who may rarely otherwise do so, will think a little bit about Jesus. There are many errors that float around concerning Jesus at this time, but Christians should seize upon the opportunities to teach the truth. If people take this time to think a little about Jesus’ birth, then let’s teach the truth about it. While it is unlikely that Jesus was born on December 25th, the truth is that He was born at some time, and the implications of His birth are far greater than any particular time of the year. If they are willing to do so during this season, why not take people to the Scriptures and let them see the truth of what His birth means? Truth in its purest form will always debunk the errors that find their way into culture.

Yet our goal is not just to debunk errors. Our goal is to get people to understand what really happened so that they can appreciate what it means for their salvation. Here are some biblical points we need to be reminded of:
1. The birth of Jesus was the fruition of God’s plan from the beginning. Isaiah prophesied His birth (7:14; 9:6), and Micah named the place (5:2). The Chief Priests and Scribes understood that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem (Matt 2:4-5). This was no accident. Paul said it all happened “when the fullness of the time came” (Gal 4:4).

2. The birth of Jesus was necessary as God carried out His plan for redemption. Paul wrote that Jesus was born “so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Gal 4:5). He was born in order to redeem. Joseph was told not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife because the Holy Spirit had caused her to conceive. She would bear a Son, “and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matt 1:21). God’s actions were planned and deliberate, and this plan included entering this world so that He might redeem and save the lost.

A few days after the birth, when presented at the Temple, Simeon held Jesus, and he recognized what this meant: “For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a Light of revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel” (Luke 2:30-32). Then Anna, a prophetess, “came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38).

If we speak of Jesus’ birth, we ought to think of redemption, salvation, and glory. These are continual themes of the Christian regardless of the season.

3. The birth of Jesus created very different reactions. Simeon told Mary, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed—and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:34-35).

To the shepherds, angels spoke of glory to God and peace among men (Luke 2:14). The shepherds made their way to where Jesus was born. Their reaction was to praise and glorify God (vs. 20). The magi, who came from the east a bit later, sought for the Messiah, the King of the Jews (think about the implications of gentile wise men doing this). Their reaction was one of great joy, and they worshiped Him and presented gifts (Matt 2:10-11). Herod, on the other hand, sought to kill Him, initiating a terrible slaughter.

The reactions toward Jesus are similar today. People love Him or hate Him, but they cannot be neutral about Him. We can choose to glorify God, praise Him, and worship, or we can seek to destroy His influence. People still fall and rise because of Jesus. What shall it be for us?

Now here is what people need to know at this time of year: Jesus is not seasonal. Once done, we cannot pack Him back away in a box until next year. If we seek Him now, we must seek Him always. If we worship Him now, we must continue our worship through every season.

Salvation is not seasonal. Jesus was born to redeem us from sin. This is not about a cute little baby. This is about the God of heaven and earth becoming flesh so that we might be saved from our sins. Unless that message is stressed, we have merely turned Jesus into a seasonal commodity.

Let us never forget these true messages of the incarnation: “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

Doy Moyer

via: http://www.mindyourfaith.com/doys-blog/what-shall-we-teach-about-jesus-birth

Suggested Reading for Men: The AOM series on Pornography

As part of my ongoing work preaching and teaching about the Kingdom of Christ, I have seen more than my share of men and families brutalized by every type of addiction and destructive behavior. At the onset, I’ll say I don’t necessarily agree with every point that Brett makes. I do believe he presents a successful plan if you really want to change your ways in his last post.

If I can be of help to you, feel free to contact me @ 931.349.2492 or pwmartin@gospeldefender.com

Husbands and Wives Reflecting the Bride of Christ, by Steve Wolfgang

Over at the website for the Dowlen Road church of Christ, you can find another much needed lesson by Steve Wolfgang. If you have time, spend it meditating on your connection to Christ as seen in your marriage.

Husbands and Wives Reflecting the Bride of Christ:

Please Don’t Steal Hymns!, by Matthew Bassford

If you copy or distribute a copyrighted hymn without the copyright holder’s permission, you are breaking the law.  ALWAYS ask permission before copying or distributing!

New hymns and praise songs are exciting.  Nearly all of us who love the worship of God love the opportunity to “sing a new song”, and we are eager to introduce these new songs in our own assemblies and other devotional settings.  This eagerness is commendable.  However, we must make sure that our eagerness does not lead us to violate the law.

 

At the bottom of most modern hymns, there appears a notice that looks something like the following:

© Copyright 2014 by John Smith, Owner.  All Rights Reserved.

It indicates that the author has chosen to copyright the hymn.  Legally speaking, such a copyright notice is unnecessary.  Since 1989, United States law has provided that any creative work is automatically copyrighted, whether the creator includes a notice or not.  However, most hymnists include the notice anyway, to preclude the possibility of someone unintentionally infringing their copyrights.  As a practical matter, it is safe to assume that any work copyrighted 1923 or later is still under copyright.

Under Sec. 106 of Title 17 of the United States Code, the copyright owner has the exclusive rights to do the following:

  1. “Reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonorecords.”  In other words, if you make a copy of a copyrighted hymn without the owner’s permission (whether by transcription or scanning, photocopying, etc.), you are breaking the law.  If you make a recording of a copyrighted hymn without the owner’s permission, you are breaking the law.
  2. “Prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work.”  In other words, if you change the words of a copyrighted hymn without the owner’s permission, you are breaking the law.  If you rearrange the harmony of a copyrighted hymn without the owner’s permission, you are breaking the law.
  3. “Distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership.”  In other words, if you photocopy a copyrighted hymn and pass it out at a singing without the owner’s permission, you are breaking the law.   If you e-mail a PowerPoint or PDF of a copyrighted hymn to a friend without the owner’s permission, you are breaking the law.
  4. “Perform the copyrighted work publicly.”  In other words, if you sing a copyrighted hymn in an assembly without the owner’s permission (which is presumed to be granted when the owner grants permission to copy), you are breaking the law.
  5. “Display the copyrighted work publicly.”  In other words, if you make a PowerPoint of a copyrighted hymn without the author’s permission, you are breaking the law.

Copyright law is civil rather than criminal, so there is no prison time attached to any of these offenses.  However, any of these actions gives the copyright owner grounds for a lawsuit.  According to 17 U.S.C. §§ 504-505, statutory damages may be as high as $150,000, in addition to court costs and attorney’s fees.

Now, on the basis of 1 Corinthians 6:1-8, neither I nor any other hymnist I know would sue a brother in Christ for copyright infringement, but it is certainly ungodly to treat our forbearance as license to violate the law!  According to Romans 13:1, God commands Christians to obey the law.  Copyright violators, then, engage in activity that is not merely illegal but also sinful.

The cure for the disease is simple.  Before copying or distributing a copyrighted hymn, always ask the owner’s permission!  In our digitally connected age, this is much less onerous than it has ever been before.  All the hymnists I know have e-mail addresses or Facebook accounts.

I have never yet refused permission to someone who wanted to copy or even to record one of my hymns, and (even though hymnists do have the Scriptural right to ask compensation), I have never asked a penny in return.   I also make the effort to reply to permission requests in as timely a fashion as possible.  Once again, this is generally true of the writers with whom I am familiar.  Alternatively, websites such as songsofthechurch.org have secured the relevant permissions from copyright owners and offer the opportunity to download clean copies for a nominal fee.

All hymnists write because we want our hymns to be sung.  However, we also want our work protected, from everything from innocent transcription errors to would-be editors who think they can improve our hymns by rewriting them.  Copyright is the legal means we have to make sure that the integrity of our work is preserved.  It is ethical, legal, and godly for all who want to use our hymns to honor those copyrights, and ignorance of the law is no excuse.  All of us should want to glorify God with new hymns, but we must make sure that we glorify Him with our actions too, by obeying the law of the land.

find more of Matt’s good work at: http://hisexcellentword.blogspot.com

2 Short Articles inclined to improve worship through singing to one another, (by Matthew Bassford) and an invite

The Performer-Audience Model of Worship

“In 1964, Marshal McLuhan famously opined, “The medium is the message.”  In other words, the content of a given communication is influenced by the context in which it is presented.  A news story in an evening newspaper is different than the same story on the 6-o’clock news is different than the same story read on a website.

This is familiar ground to every communications major for the past 50 years, but rarely do we consider its impact in the realm of the sacred.  In particular, the context in which a given hymn or spiritual song is used will shape that hymn’s very nature.”

Read More Here:

The Congregation-Participant Model of Worship

“Conversely, hymns used in the congregation-participant model will be like this:

  1. SIMPLE.  Performers may be skilled musicians, but the ordinary members of the congregation emphatically are not.  Indeed, every congregation contains those who do not enjoy singing, do not sing well, and only sing in the assembly because they believe God has commanded them to do so.  Most congregants are not able to read music.  They do not gather weekly for rehearsal; instead, they show up on the first day of the week and sing without preparation.  In a setting like this, only simple songs survive. A band can navigate a praise song with inconsistent meter and tricky rhythm; a congregation will train-wreck every time.  When the congregation has to actually sing interesting music, its love of interesting music diminishes greatly.”

Read More Here:

if you live near Cookeville, TN come join us for the 3rd Annual Summer Singing @ Jere Whitson Road

https://www.facebook.com/events/1431746897065404/

Before you hit “share” or “like”

Php4.8

Philippians 4:8 (NASB95)
8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

Before you hit “share” or “like” on that post or funny story, let it simmer for a bit and consider Paul’s admonition from Philippians 4.

  • Is it true… Each and every day, hyped up fear fed articles are posted about new applications, foods, vaccines, politics, local events, the family next door… Many of them are just not so. Simple common sense should tell us that 1/2 of these things are not so, and discretion  should eliminate the rest. If it is really that important take the time to do some fact checking.
  • Is it honorable… Not every noteworthy event in life needs space in our heads. Mark you space with things worthy of real honor.
  • Is it right… Fanning the fire of rebellion towards things that are truly right tears down the very ones who need help the most
  • Is it pure… It helps to become a little savvy with social media. Sometimes an old friend, will pass along a great uplifting story, but they shared it from a Facebook group or page that either has a foul name, or commonly passes along material filled with profanity. Make a choice to check out first if the story is true, then find a clean source to share. Not only will you help yourself, you help those who you want to encourage.
  • Is it lovely… Your kids and grandkids are, that 14th million share of “people of Walmart” is not…
  • Is it of good repute… Remember your reputation. When you share that page, your character goes with it, for good or ill, they will be latched together from that point on. Do you really think those 2 or three good things are worth the filth one needs to swim through.
  • Is there any excellence… Is this really what it seems to be, and does it provide the best you want those whom you care about and lead to follow. Does it raise the bar?
  • Is it worthy of praise… Life is already full of enough sorrow, our broken hearts desperately need things worthy of praise and rejoicing.

Remember,

Proverbs 4:23 (NASB95)

23 Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.

Some things linger longer than others.

410_Kielbasa_1_This summer, I was reminded of a long forgotten camping trip. The King family had arranged a group of folks to go on a trip with a number of us. As is normal for my early years of camping (and bachelor life) I apparently chose my standard meal plan. Kielbasa, Ramen, Soy Sauce and some lemon pepper. (and yea, it tastes great! ) Here’s the thing apparently some (one) of the group did not really appreciate the combined aroma of that fine combo cooking up… in the morning… for breakfast…

Life is like that, we don’t always see far enough or clear enough to see  how the choices we make or the words we use will impact those who surround us.

Ephesians 4:29 (NASB95)

29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

So take care with your works, you may not know how long it might linger.

 

So, What have you read lately?

books

When I first began my journey to preach this was the most common question that I was not prepared to answer. I wasn’t sure where it was headed, and at the time I was still balancing my need to grasp the relationship of the various books within the Book of Books. I remember joking with David Dann that I should just find some obscure text, start reading it, and use it as my answer and see how folks responded.

Now, admittedly, I’m a huge literary addict, maybe even a book snob, not to mention a curator of unused forgotten rare words. So whenever there is a new book or written series that rises in public popularity, some friends will ask me if I have read it, or intend to.

Full disclosure: I did read the Harry Potter series (in advance of my oldest son who really wanted to read it.  I thought it rehashed the plot mechanics of most of the work of its genre with less than stellar writing, but I can see why folks like it. I refuse to read the Twilight series, Hunger Games, etc. (I’m not a “tween”)

I no longer have the time to devote to sitting and reading books for the sake of the story like I once did. The last long series I completed had its first installment published in 1990, with the final piece coming out in 2013 and was not even written by the original author… (He passed away before he could finish the stories). 23 years is a long time to keep up a plot line I tell ya. That being said, most of the time folks remember that I am a Christian, so I don’t get asked my opinion on the ever-growing advance of a sex for entertainment culture full of visual & literary prostitutes and clients.

That leads me here, if you are wondering if I have read or watch the “Game of Thrones“, “Fifty Shades of Grey” or anything like it. The answer is no, and if you are seeking my suggestion if you should check them out, the answer is still no. It’s not because the story was developed initially as Twillight  fan fiction (Fifty Shades of Grey), nor is it because Salman Rushdie said about the book: “I’ve never read anything so badly written that got published. It made Twilight look like War and Peace.”

Here’s why:

“Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret.” (Ephesians 5:7-12 NASB)