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Showing posts from 2006

The Christian Hedonist’s Playbook (Part 4)

Today, let’s look at Psalm 130.

Out of the depths I have cried to You, O LORD;
Lord, hear my voice!
Let Your ears be attentive
To the voice of my supplications.

If You, LORD, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with You,
That You may be feared.

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
And in His word I do hope.
My soul waits for the Lord
More than those who watch for the morning—
Yes, more than those who watch for the morning.

O Israel, hope in the LORD;
For with the LORD there is mercy,
And with Him is abundant redemption.
And He shall redeem Israel
From all his iniquities.
Letting go of idols isn’t easy. Sometimes God makes things even harder by simply taking away an idol even as we try to keep from losing our grip on it. For example, when I lived in California I placed too much importance on my best friend, Peter Bogosian. He and I did everything together. I treated him better than I did my own brother. His friendship meant the world to me.

Then my stepfather decided t…

CHARLOTTE’S WEB (2006)

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From the trailers, it really looked like the filmmakers had gotten it right. The classic children’s story was about to get an upgrade. But as it turns out, the live action version of Charlotte’s Web is a disappointment. The 1973 cartoon is far superior in almost every way—especially in plot, voice talent, and character development. Only when it comes to the musical score does the new film come out on top.

Charlotte’s Web is supposed to be a family film, the main thematic element being the importance of friendship and keeping one’s word. However, most of the promises the main characters make are rash, without much thought given to how they will follow through. (Not the best illustration of genuine commitment.)

An even bigger problem is an implicit message that runs through the film: in the case of rebellious children, parents are usually wrong. At least in the cartoon the parents didn’t allow any disrespect from their children, including headstrong Fern. In this new version, Fern repeat…

The Christian Hedonist’s Playbook (Part 3)

One of my greatest temptations as a single has been to place my hope in the promise of a spouse and not in the God who designed marriage for His glory. That, of course, is only one struggle among many in which idols of the heart have attempted to usurp the rightful place of Jesus Christ. It is in the midst of struggles like these that reading and memorizing the Psalms has become invaluable. They speak to the heart of my problem and call me to seek refuge in God alone.

We’ll limit ourselves to just one verse today:

One thing I have desired of the LORD,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD,
And to inquire in His temple.
(Psalm 27:4)
I love how David’s example encourages me to have singleness of heart. There are, of course, many good things I can desire from the Lord. However, when all is said and done what I really need is nothing less than God Himself. If I can just see and savor the beauty of His glory (which we n…

The Christian Hedonist’s Playbook (Part 2)

One of the passages from Psalms that I have most benefited from memorizing is Psalm 62:5-8:

My soul, wait silently for God alone,
For my expectation is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be moved.
In God is my salvation and my glory;
The rock of my strength,
And my refuge, is in God.
Trust in Him at all times, you people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah
When I am tempted to trust that something other than God will bring fulfillment in my life, I often recite this passage. In these four verses is found a plethora of nouns used to describe God: rock, salvation, defense, glory, rock of my strength, and refuge. These vivid descriptions reveal God as the idol-antidote, the Original that makes all substitutes look pitifully insufficient to bring me joy.

I especially like the first two lines because they speak to the future-oriented nature of faith. My hop…

The Christian Hedonist’s Playbook (Part 1)

First, a little background information. I used to think Psalms was one of the most boring and useless books in the Bible. I didn’t get what the writers were whining about because I couldn’t identify with their struggles. That was before God decided my life was too comfortable and that my sinful self needed an extreme heart makeover. (Ugh. Sorry, that was lame.) He helped me identify with the Psalmists by allowing my family to go through some serious trials. During that time, the Psalms became a lifeline to me and taught me how to cry out to God for mercy.

Fast-forward several years. As God began to deal with me on the topic of idolatry, the Psalms once again spoke truth to my heart. They helped me see more clearly the root of my sin. Idolatry is not just a sin of the human heart, it is the sin of the human heart.

Focusing on specific sins is important in pursuing holiness, but it also helps to know the underlying problem that leads to those specific sins. David Powlison explains it well…

Overcoming Sin and Temptation

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Many of you are familiar with the Puritan John Owen, whose works are still read today. Well, just recently a new book has been released: Overcoming Sin and Temptation. Compiled and edited by Kelly Kapic and Justin Taylor, this book combines three of Owen’s works on the topic of overcoming sin. For right now, I will limit my comments to the first book in this three-part volume: Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers.

The Mortification of Sin is divided into three sections. Part 1 deals with the necessity of mortification, in which Owen stresses the seriousness of the battle. “There is not a day but sin foils or is foiled, prevails or is prevailed on; and it will be so while we live in this world.” In fact, “not to be daily mortifying sin is to sin against the goodness, kindness, wisdom, grace, and love of God, who has furnished us with a principle of doing it.” One cannot think he is growing in the Lord if he is not seeking to kill the sin in his life: “Let not that man think he makes…

Happy Feet—er, Thanksgiving

Gratitude isn’t an attitude I find easy to cultivate. Too often I think I am entitled to God’s goodness, and when troubles litter the road ahead of me my inclination is towards self-pity.

Sometimes God shows His goodness by igniting our hearts with a delight in Him so passionate that our joy almost seems effortless. Other times He shows His goodness by revealing our sin and calling us to fight for the refreshing spring of joy in a seemingly endless desert of depravity. I’m not a fan of being in the latter category, especially during the week of Thanksgiving.

Nevertheless, God’s goodness remains true and constant. I must not think of God as being good only when pleasant circumstances come my way. Primarily, God’s goodness is revealed to me through the cross, not the lack of adversity in my life. The Psalmists explain God’s goodness like this: “Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” (See Psalm 106:1, 107:1, 118:1, 29 and 136:1-26.)

How do I know God is…

Emoticons: Cultural Learnings of Technology for Make Benefit Glorious Nuances of Communication

(Note: the above title is not an endorsement of the Borat film.)

Some friends of mine (most of them from the Manspeak blog) have criticized men’s use of emoticons. Evidently, they believe the utilization of technology to enhance communication is somehow unmanly. I find their stance disconcerting, especially since they purport a pursuit of genuine masculinity. I have been repeatedly persecuted by them for using emoticons and have decided a refutation is in order.*

Before the invention of computers and cell phones, modes of communication were simplified. People conversed with each other face to face. Phrases like “Thou milksop,” “A Pox on thee,” and “Thou art a misbegotten son of Beelzebub” were easily understood.

Nowadays, words aren’t always enough. In some cases, signs and symbols must be added to words to clarify their meaning. How much more important are signs in the technological age in which we live, when many forms of communication lack necessary elements of physical expression (po…

Read the Sandwich

I just stumbled across a great website: The Sacred Sandwich, a “periodical for small town Christians in the big bad world.” The mock news headlines are creative and entertaining. For example, check out WARREN UNVEILS THE R.I.C.K. PLAN ON HUMILITY.

Here’s a quote from the disclaimer page: “Despite the tongue-in-cheek style, The Sacred Sandwich’s main objective is to herald the sufficiency of Scripture as one of the surest means in which the visible Church might humble herself to God’s will and enjoy true spiritual revival.”

Other sections of the newspaper include the following:

Food for Thought, with numerous articles by authors—living and dead—that call the church back to sound doctrine.The Twin Theologians, where Maruice and Emmett answer questions sent in by readers (and yes, hilarity ensues).The Bohemian Baptist: Correspondence from a Postmodern Heretic, a column with articles such as, I DON’T BELIEVE THAT ANYONE CAN BELIEVE IN A NON-BELIEF SYSTEM.Photo Gallery. You have to see the co…

Let Dead Men Feed You

In an age of theological ambiguity, it’s refreshing to sit at the feet of saints long gone. One thing I appreciate about dead theologians whose works are still read today (Martin Luther, John Owen, etc.) is that they centered their lives on the gospel. Nothing on which they taught strayed from the cross. Even topics like discipleship and the pursuit of holiness were firmly grounded on the finished work of Christ. For example, here’s a quote from Scottish preacher Horatius Bonar (1808 – 1889):

Every plant must have both soil and root. Without both of these there can be no life, no growth, no fruit. The root is “peace with God”; the soil in which that root strikes itself, and out of which it draws the vital sap, is the free love of God in Christ. “Rooted in love” is the apostle’s description of a holy man. The secret of a believer’s holy walk is his continual recurrence to the blood of the Surety, and his daily intercourse with a crucified and risen Lord. All divine life, and all the pre…

Holiday Causes Moral Dilemma for Area Teen

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KNOXVILLE, TN – Halloween is upon us again and 13-year-old Knoxville native Martin Erasmus Hinn is in turmoil. “I always hate this time of year,” he told the Doxology Press during an interview on Sunday afternoon. “Each year, I face the same problem: how can I get through October 31 without offending at least one of my parents?” You see, Martin’s procreators are both confessing Protestants, but while Mr. Hinn adheres to Reformed doctrine, Mrs. Hinn is a staunch Arminian. “Opposites attract, alright,” Martin mused. “They attract controversy. I mean, my parents couldn’t even agree on what name to give me. The anomaly they came up with is a twisted compromise that haunts me to this day.”

Named after Desiderius Erasmus (proponent of free will) and Martin Luther (proponent of free grace), Martin Erasmus Hinn (who prefers to be called Mr. H) has been plagued with identity issues ever since he can remember. “My father wanted me to attend the local Lutheran school, while my mom preferred the …

Appreciating Film Score Music

Film scores are usually composed in a matter of weeks and the most ambitious films contain no more than 20 or so major themes. Composer Howard Shore, however, spent a minimum of twelve months on each of the Lord of the Rings films. In translating the rich tapestry of Tolkien’s Middle-Earth into musical expression, Shore also incorporated more than 50 different themes and motifs. The amount of research that went into creating this superb music defies comprehension. Consider this one excerpt from the “Music of The Lord of the Rings Films” booklet:

Gollum’s wretched theme is intertwined with the music for the History of the One Ring, which sighs the films to life with two prolonged rising pitches, a half-step apart. This same rising half-step can be heard in the Evil of the Ring/Sauron theme and, inverted, in the martial, clangorous music of Isengard. Isengard, however, inverts the figure, dipping down a half-step, then returning upwards, a figure that dead-sets it against the Fellowship …

Sola Scriptura, Part 2

In chapter 8 of When I Don’t Desire God, Piper discusses how to “wield the word” in the fight for joy. One key strategy is Bible memorization. He quotes author Dallas Willard:

Bible memorization is absolutely fundamental to spiritual formation. If I had to choose between all the disciplines of the spiritual life, I would choose Bible memorization, because it is a fundamental way of filling our mind with what it needs. This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth. That’s where you need it! How does it get in your mouth? Memorization.
Piper then says,

The joy-producing effects of memorizing Scripture and having it in my head and heart are incalculable. The world and its God-ignoring, all-embracing secularism is pervasive. In invades my mind every day. What hope is there to have a mind filled with Christ except to have a mind filled with his Word? I know of no alternative.
A few pages later, Piper explains why he places so much emphasis on this practice:

I spend this much time on B…

Sola Scriptura

Over the past few weeks, God has been working on my heart in a couple of areas. One of them is a growing appreciation for Scripture.

I think it started when I picked up John Piper’s book, When I Don’t Desire God, which I’m still working through. This book is phenomenal and I would highly recommend it. (And if you’re completely strapped for cash, you can read the book online at the above link.) Chapter 7 is entitled, “The Worth of God’s Word in the Fight for Joy.” In this chapter, Piper details ten reasons why Scripture is so valuable. I don’t think I have ever read any other work that has so impressed upon my heart how valuable God’s Word is—and how desperate I am for it. (I won’t share the ten points here because I think you would most benefit from reading the chapter—and book!—yourself.) For it is in Scripture where God most clearly reveals Himself to me as my ultimate goal and my ultimate joy. As Piper says,

God can and does show himself in other ways, especially through the works of…

Back to the Future—er, Past

I have been consistently and notoriously behind the times since, well, forever. (Maybe that’s a contradiction in terms.) I have yet to purchase an iPod or any form of portable audio device, unless you count the Walkman I owned a couple hundred years ago. The only reason I have a DVD player is because someone gave it to me for free. I still do my writing on a glorified Etch-A-Sketch. (Granted, it’s a bona fide computer, but not much of one.) And as you all know, I recently—or finally—purchased my first cell phone. I guess you could say I’m stuck in the past.

It may come as no surprise, then, that I bought my first video game soundtrack only last week. I’ve loved film scores for over a decade but I haven’t dabbled in any related subgenre. So yeah, purchasing my first game score was pretty exciting. I felt like I had burst onto the stage of the Modern Age.

The CD is Mercenaries, composed by Michael Giacchino and Chris Tilton. And yes, it rocks. Great themes and orchestration, and some magn…

It’s That Time of Year Again…

Love 89’s 3-day Sharathon is in full swing, which is especially good for me. Why? Well, because my one responsibility is food quality control. (Technically this is a self-appointed responsibility, but it is a burden I willingly bear.) In other words, I officially test all the catered food that comes in. Nothing is left untouched—er, untasted. Even the Krystal burgers brought in this morning by Krystal Meyers herself were not above inspection. So far, all the food has been approved—even Krystal’s Krystals. (As a side note: try having a conversation about Krystal burgers with someone with Krystal Meyers standing a few feet away; she’ll keep looking over at you, wondering why you’re calling her while not looking at her.)

Here’s to two more days of fabulously free foraging.

Wisdom for Today (or However Long it Takes)

Below are Charles Spurgeon’s thoughts for the day. Quite an encouragement to me, being the impatient person that I am.

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Let Trials Bless

Knowing that tribulation worketh patience. (Romans 5:3)

This is a promise in essence if not in form. We have need of patience, and here we see the way of getting it. It is only by enduring that we learn to endure, even as by swimming men learn to swim. You could not learn that art on dry land, nor learn patience without trouble. Is it not worth while to suffer tribulation for the sake of gaining that beautiful equanimity of mind which quietly acquiesces in all the will of God?

Yet our text sets forth a singular fact, which is not according to nature but is supernatural. Tribulation in and of itself worketh petulance, unbelief, and rebellion. It is only by the sacred alchemy of grace that it is made to work in us patience. We do not thresh the wheat to lay the dust: yet the Rail of tribulation does this upon God's floor. We do not t…

The Path to 9/11

My apologies for not posting about this earlier. I really should have.

A five-hour ABC movie entitled The Path to 9/11 recently aired over two nights of commercial-free broadcasting. It’s a docudrama based on the 9/11 Commission Report, as well as a few other sources. It begins with the terrorist bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 and ends with the events of September 11th. The movie details the numerous failures of both the Clinton and Bush administrations in the investigation of the growing terrorist threats against the United States.

The film is outstanding. Kudos to everyone involved on the project, both behind and in front of the camera. John Cameron’s score is especially effective—what little there is of it. (Most of the music in the movie is source music and not original score.) The main theme hauntingly and powerfully accents the film’s final act. As I have said elsewhere, I think this is the best film music theme for 9/11 yet.

If you missed the movie, you can view it o…

What Makes a “Christian” Video Game?

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I’m becoming more and more familiar with the Biblical doctrine of vocation, especially since I started reading the Lutheran blog Cranach. In the words of Gene Edward Veith:
Luther’s doctrine of vocation says that God gives each of us different gifts, interests and capabilities. He also gives each of us an external calling to a particular avenue of service. We are to use all that in love and service to our neighbor and service to God…. In addition, the doctrine of vocation tells me that I don’t have to be a pastor or missionary or always doing church activities to be effective as a Christian. I’m called to live out my Christian faith in my calling in the secular world. The doctrine of vocation helps us see the danger of creating a Christian subculture. For example, what makes a video game “Christian”? Blog poster Pastor Matt has this to say:
Where does the doctrine of vocation fall in all of this? I say a first person shooter about a US (or any nation's soldier for that matter) ma…

Movie Trailer Music Euphoria

The group Immediate Music has created a lot of original music for movie trailers, including Lord of the Rings, Spiderman 2, King Kong, Superman Returns, The Chronicles of Narnia, and X-Men: The Last Stand. Until recently, this increasingly popular sub-genre of music has not been made available to the general public. Now, the CD “Epicon” has been released for all to enjoy. This is from the official press release:

Ever since director John Boorman had the brilliant idea to track Carl Orff’s rousing ‘O Fortuna’ piece from ‘Carmen Burana’ into his 1981 film ‘Excalibur’, the sound of movie trailer music has never been the same. “Back-end music”, as it’s often called, follows a formula that any moviegoer will instantly recognise: a eclectic mix of orchestral music underscores an often dizzying array of moods steadily building to an overpowering sonic explosion that stirs audiences into a near-euphoric state of anticipatory frenzy.
The Globus Music MySpace page has several samples from the albu…

Monday Morning with Mike Moeller and Miracle Morgan

(Yes, one of my mottos is “avoid alliteration always and allow alternative articulations.”)

As some of you know, I had the privilege of helping produce a documentary about Morgan Moeller, a Knoxville girl who suffered from DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis) with cerebral edema in 2001. Well, this morning I got to join Morgan and her father Mike on the Bob Bell Show (on Joy 62, WRJZ). Mike and Morgan shared some of their family’s story, which Mike has written about in his book Above the Clouds.

One area of the story Michael Cummins and I chose to omit in our film (because of thematic and time constraints) was Morgan’s interaction with the spiritual realm. During her coma, she went “above the clouds” and met her three guardian angels: David, Jacob, and UM. Yes, the third angel’s name was UM.

During one of the breaks, Mike explained to us a recent development of Morgan’s story. Mike got a call from a stewardess who had read his book. She told him, “I know who UM is.” She explained that when young …

WORLD View

Want to know how much I love The Lake House? Click here. (Look for the subheading, “Spoiling a romance.”)

WORLD TRADE CENTER (2006) – Film Review

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Oliver Stone is nothing if not controversial. This time around, though, the controversy surrounding World Trade Center is based on the fact that the award-winning director has jettisoned his usual trademarks in favor of telling a simple and straightforward story.

Reverent, heartfelt, restrained, spiritual, patriotic—the film is all these things and much more. There is no need for extravagant effects and Stone thankfully avoids sensationalism. Most of the horror the movie portrays isn’t visual—it’s aural. Rather than being forced to watch what we have already seen a hundred times, we simply hear the first plane’s impact. When the policemen run into the elevator shafts for safety, we don’t see much; instead, we endure the seemingly-endless and gratuitous sounds of the towers collapsing. What we hear is more than enough to make the movie real. In fact, the sense of claustrophobia/peril is so real that there were times I feared John McLoughlin (Nicolas Cage) and Will Jimeno (Michael Peña)…

WTC Opening Night

Advanced tickets for World Trade Center are now available. For those of you in Knoxville, we’re going to see the film opening night, Wednesday, July 9. If you’re interested, you can purchase your ticket here and meet us in the lobby of the Pinnacle at 10:00pm. You can watch several scenes from the movie here.

New Weekly Feature

In an effort to infect visitors with my love for film scores, I have decided to implement a weekly feature to this blog. Simply go to my profile page and click on the “audio clip” link, which will play a segment of music from a carefully selected score. Yes, there will be a new clip each and every week!

As a general rule, I’ll try to post clips that are longer than the typical thirty-second samples you find at many sites. Sometimes I may have to use shorter clips, but I want that to be the exception, not the norm. Anyway, to start things off with a flourish, check out the current clip from Cutthroat Island. Sure, the movie may have been a financial and critical flop, but the music is considered to be one of the best swashbuckling scores of all time. Enjoy!

A Saga of Cellular Proportions

As they say, there’s a first time for everything. Well, yesterday I dropped my cell phone for the first time. I had just stepped out of my car in the Bed Bath and Beyond parking lot. (Uh, I wasn’t there for me—just so you know.) As my hand brought my phone down to place it in my pocket, my fingers got tripped up in the pocket flap and the phone slipped from my grip.

You know how Hammy the Squirrel in Over the Hedge was able to move like lightning while everything else around him moved at a snail’s pace? That’s what my eyes and mind did. (The rest of my body, unfortunately, was not so quick to respond.) I had time to watch the phone fall in slow motion as the cruel arm of gravity drug it through the air and toward the hard surface of the concrete below. I remember my exact words at the time (although I have sense repented).

With a loud clickity-clack, the spinning LG landed on its backside and bounced—yes, bounced—back into the air. It flipped over, then landed again, this time on its fr…

Faith’s Check Book, Daily Entry

Lately I’ve been going through a “dark night of the soul.” But as this particularly dark period is giving way to the piercing light of God’s mercy, the Holy Spirit has greatly encouraged me through today’s entry in Spurgeon’s Daily Meditations:


More than Mere Words

I wilt give you the sure mercies of David. (Acts 13:34)

Nothing of man is sure; but everything of God is so. Especially are covenant mercies sure mercies, even as David said “an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure.”

We are sure that the Lord meant His mercy. He did not speak mere words: there is substance and truth in every one of His promises. His mercies are mercies indeed. Even if a promise seems as if it must drop through by reason of death, yet it never shall, for the good Lord will make good His word.

We are sure that the Lord will bestow promised mercies on all His covenanted ones. They shall come in due course to all the chosen of the Lord. They are sure to all the seed, from the least of them unto the g…

Don’t “Date and Drive”

Here’s something for the guys (although girls can probably benefit as well): go read the article Stop Test-Driving Your Girlfriend. Whether you are in a relationship or not, author Michael Lawrence gives an outstanding answer to the question, “How do I know if she’s the one?” In fact, it’s the best answer I’ve ever heard.

Two years ago—heck, two months ago—I would have balked at what this article says. Even now, it’s a strong and sturdy kick in the rumple seat. But by God’s grace, it’s helping me be transformed by the renewing of my mind. Check it out—and while you’re at it, listen to Superman Returns if you haven’t already (see link in previous post).

Super Music

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Even though Superman Returns lasted two-and-a-half hours, it felt like a mere 90 minutes. I enjoyed almost everything about the film—except for the unexplained motivations and inexplicable occurrences that detracted from the intended thrills of the third act.

For me, the greatest thrills were provided by the music, composed by John Ottman. He masterfully integrated the familiar themes John Williams composed for the original film with some beautiful and rousing new material of his own. The music is absolutely astounding (with some excellent choral work)! Definitely my choice for the highlight score of the year thus far.

Here’s the great part: the entire soundtrack can be heard online for FREE! Yes! Just click here.

Don’t succumb to indwelling sin by shrugging your shoulders and saying, “Whatever, Cap. You’re a nerd.” Think about it: the next time you surf the web, you could listen to Superman Returns as background music. You needn’t listen to the entire score, but give the first twelve mi…

Man Burned By Fireworks Tossed Into His Car

Yes, that was the title of a news story I came across on WVLT’s web site today. Now, maybe it makes sense to you. When I first read it, though, I misinterpreted the grammatical structure of the title. This is what my brain computed: a man who was burned by fireworks was tossed into his car. The accompanying mental image was pretty funny.

Of course, the real story was that a man received burn injuries when fireworks were thrown into his vehicle. Then, having been distracted by the patriotic prank, the man proceeded to crash his car. Happy 4th of July indeed. Which makes me wonder: how excited would our Founding Fathers be if they knew we celebrated our country’s liberation by blowing things up? Isn’t that kind of like PETA sponsoring a fur coat exhibition at its annual Christmas party?

Sin, Sorrow, and the Savior

God hates idolatry. This should be no surprise, since serving anything but God is to show a hatred for God Himself. When I pursue other things in place of Him—when I, in essence, spit in the face of holiness—it is an insult of the grossest kind.

In Scripture, God doesn’t mince any words about idolatry. For example…

“They provoked Him to jealousy with foreign gods; with abominations they provoked Him to anger.” (Deuteronomy 32:16)

“They have provoked Me to jealousy by what is not God; they have moved Me to anger by their foolish idols.” (Deuteronomy 32:21a)

“You shall not bow down to [idols] nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me.” (Exodus 20:5)

“(for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God).” (Exodus 34:14)

“I am the LORD, that is My name; and My glory I will not give to another, nor My praise to carved images.” (I…

THE LAKE HOUSE (2006)

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The statement I am about to make isn’t grounded on objective observation (I can’t see into the future), but I’m going to throw caution into the winds of personal feeling and say it anyway: The Lake House is the best movie of 2006. I know, we’re not even halfway through the year yet. I have no right making such a claim. But make it I will. Romances like this simply don’t come along every day…or year…or decade.

I’m not a big fan of chick flicks, for two main reasons: (1) typically, they center around immorality, and (2) they are extremely unrealistic. As such, most modern romances could be appropriately filed under the category of “fantasy.” For me, fantasy and romance aren’t usually the best combination. (I have a hard enough time as it is viewing romance from a Biblical perspective without subjecting myself to Dr. Worldly Love’s advice.) The Lake House, interestingly enough, is a fantasy—and yet it reaches heights of relational realism that other films only dream about.

Though it isn’t …

Euphonious Everwood

As is true with all television shows, Everwood couldn’t last forever. After four seasons, it has ended. Not only did the show involve splendid writing (in particular, the banter between Doctors Abbot and Brown was priceless) and superb acting (especially by Emily VanCamp), it included a wonderful musical score by Blake Neely. You can listen to the Season 1 main theme here. Great music. (In fact, we used the score from episode 306, “Shoot The Moon,” as a temp track for the documentary A Weakness Worth Boasting.)

At the end of the season—and show—finale, we got to see Ephram and Amy together…again…forever…finally. It took them long enough—like, foreverwood. (You might think that’s just a bad pun, but it is actually the title of the final episode. So, it’s a bad pun with thematic significance.)

CARS (2006)

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Cars is the longest Pixar film to date (beating The Incredibles by a scant sixty seconds), with a sometimes-sluggish and less-than-original storyline, a small amount of surprisingly racy humor (pun intended), a mediocre musical score, and less funny/witty moments than are found in typical Pixar fare…and it is still better than anything else recently released by Hollywood.

Through a series of unfortunate events, a self-centered racecar, Lightning McQueen, is stranded in a tiny mid-western town on his way to California to compete in a race for the Piston Cup. Through his interaction with the local inhabitants, Lightning learns important lessons about life’s priorities. True to Pixar originality, the climactic sequence ends in a decidedly anti-Hollywood way, giving the film’s somewhat clichéd message a large does of moral potency.

There aren’t enough effective adjectives to describe Pixar filmmaking. Compare the “cow tipping” jokes in Cars to those in the Open Season trailer. One makes you…

Morning Meditation

Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I hope in Him!”
Lamentations 3:22-24

I’ve been meditating on Lamentations 3:23 today. In the context of the passage, we see that God’s mercies are new every morning—but not because there’s an automatic “reset” button at the beginning of each day, by which all our previous sins are somehow overlooked. We don’t deserve to start the day with a clean slate simply because it’s a new day. No, “we are not consumed” only because “Great is [the LORD’s] faithfulness.” And what is the cornerstone of God’s faithfulness to sinners who deserve to be consumed by His displeasure? That cornerstone is the cross, where Christ was consumed in our place. Therefore, we are free to say, “The LORD is my portion…Therefore I hope in Him!”

Hollywood’s Next 9/11 Venture

I can’t help but be excited, in spite of Oliver Stone’s reputation. The trailer for The World Trade Center makes it look like the movie just might be a simple “story of courage and survival”—without Stone’s usual conspiracy theory gimmicks. I hope so. It looks really good. And the use of music in the trailer (from Craig Armstrong’s original score) is powerful.

Fear/Fun Factor

First, there are a few things you need to know about me:

I’m scared of heights.My stomach doesn’t like long and sudden drops.I don’t usually put the words “vertigo” and “fun” in the same sentence. It might not surprise you, then, that I’m as enthusiastic about roller coasters as I am about having a two-ton boulder tied to my ankles and thrown over a cliff.

Well, last Saturday, some of us from work went to Dollywood. I had never been to Dollywood before and, to be completely honest, never had any inclination to go. (When you grow up going to Disneyland at least once a year, everything else kinda pales in comparison.) But I love hanging out with my coworkers and this seemed like a fun extracurricular activity.

After I agreed to go, I found out there are some roller coasters at Dollywood, which made me a little apprehensive. Everyone kept talking about how fun they were. I wasn’t so sure. I’ve only been to Six Flags once; I rode three rides then decided to go home. Granted, not all roller c…

OVER THE HEDGE (2006)

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Over the Hedge far exceeded my expectations. Based on the trailers, I was anticipating a plot-less connection of juvenile skits with sub-par animation. I discovered something far different.

The plot may be simple but it is highly engaging. The humor is abundant and consistently clever. The animation is exceptional. In short, this is the closest any studio has come to duplicating the masterful storytelling of Pixar.

The highlight performance is Steve Carell as Hammy the squirrel. His character is outlandishly hilarious—especially in the climactic sequence. There are many other funny characters and situations, but Hammy steals every scene he’s in. I can’t remember the last movie in which I laughed as hard as I did in this one.

What’s more, Rupert Gregson-Williams’ score is amazingly delightful. The largely orchestral and vocal ensemble fits well with the thematic elements of wild animals and their natural habitat. I’ll be picking up the score CD as soon as I can.

Pixar is still the king of …

The Da Vinci Code “Other-cott”

Barbara Nicolosi is a Christian screenwriter in Hollywood with a solid head on her shoulders. Her proposal to the Christian community for this weekend? Other-cott The Da Vinci Code. Yes, that’s “other-cott”—not “boycott.” Boycotting the movie only gives it free publicity. Simply not going to see the movie makes no difference. Going to see the movie is, in essence, financially supporting a blatant attack on Christ and His Church. What does have the potential to make a difference is for Christians to go see an alternate movie this Friday (or, at the very least, sometime this weekend). The one family-oriented film being released is Over the Hedge.

Believers went in droves to financially support The Passion of the Christ and it became one of the ten highest grossing films of all time. If these same believers go see Over the Hedge on Friday, The Da Vinci Code’s opening weekend will be a huge financial disappointment. Check out the link above, or go directly to the official other-cott websit…

A Mother's Day Tribute

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Mom with Chloe (my niece)


On this Mother’s Day, I wanted to take the opportunity to brag on my mom. There are a lot of things I could say about her, but for now I’ll narrow it down to just three.

She is a woman of genuine love. She is far from perfect, but her love for me has been constant. You could even say my mother is my best friend. She is sweet and gentle. She constantly edifies others and rarely resorts to teasing. I, on the other hand, am prideful and sarcastic. Mom hates sarcasm with a passion. You do the math. And yet my mother’s love for me has been constant throughout my entire life. Why she loves me so much, I have no stinking clue. Our family has been through a lot together, but that doesn’t totally explain it; I’m not all that lovable. It all points back to God: Mom’s genuine love shows that Christ’s redemptive work is resulting in much fruit.

She is a woman of perseverance. My mother has dealt with a myriad of physical ailments her entire life. Whether or not she is heal…

UNITED 93 (2006) – Film Review (Part 2)

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I remember visiting the Filmtracks ScoreBoard (a message board for film score enthusiasts) as the attack on our country took place on September 11th. Going back to the messages we posted during that time, I am reminded of the shock, fear, and anger that engulfed not only those of us in the United States, but those around the world as well. Even in the midst of the confusion and unanswered questions, we seemed to understand something better then than we do now: we are at war. Everyone was saying it—liberal, conservative, religious, atheist, whatever.

At one point in the film, Ben Sliney, head of the FAA’s National Air Traffic Control Center (who plays himself in the movie), says, “We’re at war with someone.” This war is something many in the United States are choosing to ignore—and it is one reason why I am thankful for United 93.

The common phrase used today is, “We are at war with terror,” but that sidesteps the real issue. Andrew C. McCarthy comments on the events of 9/11 (in a spee…