Showing posts from July, 2013

Ignorance is Not Bliss

Dead men tell great tales. They really do. When a literary work stays in circulation for hundreds—or thousands—of years, you know it has captured something timeless about the human experience. One such timeless masterpiece is John Milton’s Paradise Lost. In recent past, we’ve spent some time exploring the poem, and while we won’t be systematically going through the rest of the book, I will, from time to time, post another entry into the blog series. (Eventually, we’ll get through the whole thing.) This week, let’s look at Books 5 and 6.

Summary Book 5: God sends the archangel Raphael down to earth to warn Adam and Eve about Satan. Raphael explains to them who Satan is, as well as how he used his authority to lead a third of the angels in revolt against God. Of all the legions under Satan’s command, only the seraph Abdiel remained unmoved by the seduction of his lies and refused to partake in the rebellion.
Book 6: Raphael describes the war in Heaven to Adam and Eve: God sends His an…

Loving Someone Who is Trying to Kill You

There’s a story about a missionary in western Asia. While visiting a city called Al-Quds, he was accosted by a mob. The angry throng attacked and attempted to kill him. Providentially, officials from the local government heard the commotion and intervened, rescuing the man from the violence of the mob.
Here’s where the story gets really interesting—for me, at least. As this Christian was being carried away to safety, he made an unexpected request: to be put down so he could address the group that had just tried to take his life. With permission from the government officials, this battered individual turned to the mob and began to share his testimony. What amazes me most is how he started his address: “Brothers and fathers, hear my defense before you now.”
“Brothers and fathers.” Not exactly the words you would be tempted to use when talking to people who just tried to maul you, but that’s what this man did.
You’re probably familiar with the missionary: the Apostle Paul. This particular s…

Judging What the Bible Should Have Said

My wife and I didn’t kiss each other until the week of our wedding. It wasn’t that we were scared of physical intimacy (far from it!). It was based on a desire to avoid temptation and pursue purity (2 Tim. 2:22).

We know not every Christian couple has followed the same practice. That’s because God hasn’t laid out all the specifics regarding how we are to pursue romance and marriage. Where Scripture is unclear or silent, we need to exercise wisdom and discernment in our choices. In such cases, if our desire is to glorify God—and not to get as close to the line of compromise without actually crossing it—God will, I think, be honored in our differing practices.
Some proponents of purity seem to disagree. I recently read an article about an upcoming documentary on virginity. The film’s protagonists appear to elevate certain extra-biblical practices to the status of universal Christian principles. These practices include no kissing between a man and woman until their wedding day and no coll…

MAN OF STEEL (2013) – Film Review

It’s been several weeks since the release of Man of Steel, but I’ve only now gotten to see the movie. I do have some thoughts, but I won’t develop a full-length blog post. Consider this a capsule film review.

CONTENT (C): 4 out of 10 Man of Steel is surprisingly and refreshingly clean. Except for a couple vulgarities and a few other words, there is little profanity to speak of. Sex and nudity are eschewed. Not as surprisingly, there are several Christological references throughout the movie. Clark Kent even seeks counsel from a priest at one point in the film (although I found the resulting conversation lackluster). The reason I’m giving a 4 out of 10 here is because of a handful of thematic choices made by the filmmakers that depart from Superman’s intrinsic character strengths. If you want a more detailed description of these elements, see Steven D. Greydanus’ review over at Decent Films.
ARTISTRY (A): 7 out of 10 This is a well-made film with a wonderful cast. The special effects …

I Love Jesus, but I Hate the Church

“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you judge and despise one another.”

Sadly, many in the church (including me) often think and live as if that is actually what Jesus said. Facebook rhetoric abounds in our interactions. You know, where we commit “drive by criticisms,” post snarky memes, and plaster derogatory labels on others—and all for the sake of good (at least, in our minds). This attitude can even pop up in otherwise well meaning statements, like the title of this blog post: “I love Jesus, but I hate the church.” Our Christianity can be characterized by judgmentalism and despising.
But that’s not in line with Jesus’ words in John 13:35. He said the world would know us as His disciples “if [we] have love for one another.” This love Jesus refers to is a love for the church—not buildings with steeples, but the body of believers that He purchased with His own blood (Acts 20:28).
Yes, the visible church is filled with hypocrites, and no one likes a hypocrite. There are…

How One Hebrew Word Changed My Heart

I have a confession to make: I’m not a loving person. Actually, that’s probably putting it a bit too nicely. Sure, I can be agreeable and diplomatic. I’m not quick to butt heads or pick a fight. But the truth is, when it comes to displaying compassion, I am naturally as soft and snuggly as a slab of granite.

To a certain degree, I think men in general can struggle with a tendency toward being harsh and unloving. Colossians 3:19 seems to indicate so: “Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them” (ESV). Personal experience has taught me that this temptation toward harshness is particularly strong when faced with…uh, shall we say, wildly fluctuating female hormones. When those closest to us demonstrate an emotional stability on par with a wave pool, our annoyance can go into overdrive fairly easily.

Several months ago, on one particularly emotional evening, I isolated myself in the bedroom with my Bible, desperate for God’s help. I was angry and I knew I needed to demonstrate …