Monthly Archives: July 2012

The Dark Knight Rises Review

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The Dark Knight Rises is Christopher Nolan’s final installment in the Batman saga. The sign of a great movie is that it leaves people wanting more. It’ll give too much away to go into detail, but the ending is a beginning on more than one level.
“Epic and amazing” were my first thoughts as the credits rolled. The story is big and complex, but not perfect. Anne Hathaway shines as a conflicted bad girl, but Joseph Gordon-Levitt quietly steals the show. There are flaws in the story but none of them linger.
Immersive, disturbing soundtrack, check! Bigger than life characters, check! Bad News that threatens the very fabric of our society, uh-huh. Globe-trotting, time-shifting storyline that leaves you guessing to the end, yep! We long for redemption even though we are brought face-to-face with the brokenness and frailty of humanity and civilization itself. This storyline makes The Amazing SpiderMan or The Avengers seem trite. This movie asks us to confront evil on a biblical-scale. Where can we look for redemption and hope? It shows us our need for a savior even as it chips away at over-simplified visions of the good news. In that way its a good setup for the Good News of the Gospel. Does this Batman story ultimately deliver? Just like real life, you’ll have to decide. Nolan’s unique gift is presenting the problem of evil. It could be debated if his stories resolve adequately.
There’s a lot of violence. No children should see it in my opinion. Very young teens are presented with a relentless hopelessness in this film. Make sure they have a way to talk it through if you let them see it. 15 and up is better.
We suffer, we hope, hopes are dashed, then dashed again. But finally The Dark Knight Rises…
Highly Recommended.

Habit-Forming

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Sad to hear of Stephen Covey’s passing. Ironic that it’s at age 79 when he had us imagine our 80th birthday party to begin with the end in mind. His son stated that all the children were there for the last hours the way he’d always wanted. Vision realized. No small feat to maintain positive relationships with 9 children! No doubt he lived to help others fulfill their potential as few have! Complications from a fall off my bike on a steep hill in Utah at age 79? Yes, I would take that exit ramp! Thank you, Stephen, for a great book that not only didn’t conflict with Scripture, but enhanced its application in my life.
At a crucial time in life, a key ministry mentor handed me this book. Thanks, Jeren. The 7 Habits gave us all permission to pay attention to the deep Spirtual rhythms of life. Covey made the point that these enhanced productivity. In one sense, the 7 Habits are about living out the Sabbath principle in Scripture. Take time daily and a whole day each week to sharpen the saw. Productivity-Capability growth is the renewable long-term key to increased productivity. In these lean times where states and corporations are tempted to squeeze workers and cut benefits, I hope we don’t lose sight of these principles. Work people too hard and you actually reduce productivity. On the other hand, where people feel empowered to dream and grow with fair compensation, they will often work harder than you could ever get them to with a stick. Growth as a person is habit-forming. May the church always be the best environment to develop human potential. May the experiences there create more potential in work life and in the home & neighborhood.
I pray my ministry can grow great people who can be used of God to change their world!

Elimination of Toll Road exit still in play

 

Elimination of Toll Road exit still in play.

I feel like I complain too much about NW Indiana politics but here we go again with NW Indiana getting reduced services. Cline Ave Bridge: gone. Main exit connecting to Hobart/Lake Station area: in jeopardy. School funding reductions: check. Source: Daniels Administration. I voted for Daniels and think he’s done good for the state as a whole, but this area isn’t given much consideration… It all seems structured to benefit the Indianapolis area the most. Say what you will about corrupt Lake or Porter County politicians, but this trend looks somewhat similar. And it’s the people who suffer through inconvenience and reduced services, not so-called “corrupt” leaders.
Whether it’s by design or coincidence doesn’t matter to the people affected by it. I-65 South is not an adequate alternative and the congested traffic flow to that interchange does not need to be doubled or quadrupled. It starts to feel like we don’t matter.
I just took this exit yesterday, and it has needed work for more than 10 years. There should have been a stipulation when control was released to a foreign company, whereby they couldn’t eliminate exits.  I feel like certain large banks and businesses are beginning to act like companies were in the 1920’s. Trying just about anything they can get away with and only backpedaling if the fallout is extreme. Proactively seeking the good will of people is vanishing. The State now seems to act in its own business interest rather than in the interest of the people whose taxes make government possible. A lot of people are complaining that things like ObamaCare are an infringement on our rights, which may be true. This type of situation is the inverse and just as bad: government allowing a foreign company to reduce services to people who pay the tolls for the road. Here we are “forced” to do commerce with a foreign entity, but the services can get reduced.
In the end, hopefully they will do the right thing and just fix the interchange. But to even have it on the table to eliminate seems wrong. I pray for the day when NW Indiana gets it’s full seat at the table even though the area has a Democrat voting history. I think Daniels missed a chance to change that dynamic by being the Republican who stopped partisan finger pointing and finally brought meaningful services to the area.

Fun Day on the Lakeshore!

Fun pictures from a nice day on Chicago’s Lake Front. Got those very special Holy Cow! Harry Carry glasses for $3.95! Showing Brandon some Chicago sites and making some family memories!

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When Sex Goes “Grey” | RELEVANT Magazine

 

When Sex Goes “Grey” | RELEVANT Magazine.

Above is the link to an article that does a great job with a book I don’t plan to read. I downloaded the free sample 1st Chapter on my Kindle app. As a father and husband I’m terrified that people have embraced this kind of material. I can only comment on chapter one but most high school sophomores could do better. As a pastor I don’t want to come off as just judging everyone who’s gobbling up this book. I don’t want to read it because I know in advance how bad it is. What I like about this article is that the author not only read it, but as an informed female, she puts the book into the whole context of women’s rights. Let’s be discerning with our reading choices. But rather than railing against it, let’s use some of this helpful data to inform friends who may be into the book without realizing the implications. Please pass this article on to others who ask you about the book.
I plan to learn more about violence against women and changes I can make to help fight these disturbing trends. Are you in? If you have experience with this issue, I would welcome your comments!

Stereo Love

I grew up in the golden age of Panasonic Boom Boxes from the early 1980’s. Below is a YouTube video of someone trying sell the same classic model RX-5030 I owned in Junior High and High School. I can’t remember exactly what happened to mine but it lasted at least 15 years. I do recall a brief moment of shock when I realized she couldn’t be saved. It’s very cool to see this one still working. If it was still for sale I would try to get it! Just 9 D-sized batteries were required to set me free with my music without WiFi! This was my 1982 iPod and in so many ways was better!

Below is another YouTube video. One that describes that unique bond that can occur between a man and his boom box. It’s from a few years ago but it’s still got a nice beat and describes pretty accurately how I felt.  Enjoy!

The Amazing Spiderman Review

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The Amazing Spiderman is the reboot of the Spidey franchise. I had a soft spot for the previous series, so I was skeptical. But the previews looked interesting and Navy Pier IMAX had tickets available, so we took the family and donned the corny glasses: Image

IMAX 3D is the way to enjoy 3D. But this movie wasn’t obnoxious “in your face” 3D. It’s used sparingly and artfully with just a few fun surprises along the way. The soundtrack is very well done, providing a fun. immersive experience.
Now, if you’re a Spiderman story purist who has fallen in love with any previous version of the story you will be thrown early on. But I suggest you suspend story expectations and let this version take you to a better story. I agree with Roger Ebert that this story provides us with better reasons for the birth of Spiderman. I agree with Claudia Puig that the story is allowed to lead the way, rather than simply special effects. (But there are plenty of those.) Speaking of effects the action is a little easier to follow this time and you feel it more. The action is also a little grittier, too. We experience the joy of Parker’s newfound abilities, but also his limitations. The art of action film-making has become more subtle and it shows.
Denis Leary gives an inspired performance as captain Stacy, father of Gwen Stacy. He’s more subdued than I’ve ever seen him for most of the movie. As a father to teenage girls I’ve been that dad before, trying to understand, being over-protective, etc… But when the chips are down, we see the Denis we’re used to from past roles.
I wouldn’t have picked Andrew Garfield out of a crowd to play Spiderman, but in this unique version of the story he shines. Andrew is gifted at displaying vulnerability. He is masterful at almost saying something. Therefore, he’s very believable as a teenage boy dealing with unexpressed feelings for a girl and facing the impossible while trying to do the right thing.  Of course, Emma Stone delivers with great spirit and a winning smile. Again, I was impressed with her ability to make a character come to life.
This story is a complete reboot and with an all-star cast playing major and minor roles you are drawn in. It’s the emotion that makes any individual scene shine. It’s the story that keeps you wanting to see how this will end. Yet, somehow the carefully-paced action keeps this a fun summer blockbuster!
Spiderman can’t do it alone and that creates some of the best surprises the movie holds. We should all embrace the youth of this generation who want to make a difference. They may not have all the experience they need to make perfect decisions, but they have unique abilities and connections. When we all support them and let them do what they are gifted for the world can change. Highly Recommended

The Platt Controversy and Salvation

Platt: How to Lead Someone to Christ Without the ‘Sinner’s Prayer’.

An Alabama pastor caused a firestorm earlier this year when he challenged the validity of the classic Sinner’s Prayer as an evangelism tool. Platt rightly points out that a lot of so-called Christians have combined the Sinner’s Prayer with a very loose understanding of Eternal Security into an easy-believism, guaranteeing them a “seat” in heaven, but placing no responsibility upon themselves to change. These people seem like hypocrites to the culture, damaging the credibility of the church.

To a certain extent this is a Reformed tradition issue, not being quite as common  Nazarene/Wesleyan circles. We don’t emphasize Eternal Security and do emphasize life-change. But we have traditionally used the Sinner’s Prayer as a starting point.  As I have used it, I’ve included the need to commit to following Jesus daily, leaving your old patterns behind.  But maybe it creates too much energy around the moment of decision, leaving potential gaps in understanding and creating the impression that things are settled. I completely agree with Platt that we need to count disciples instead of decisions. In the link above he expounds a bit more, but the more he talks the less clear he becomes. I also don’t like his singular focus on wrath in the atonement. It’s limiting to what the cross accomplished. But at least he’s started an important conversation that needs to happen.

So what do you think? Is the Sinner’s Prayer too compromised to be a viable tool? Have we relied on it too much and failed to develop a disciple-making environment in our churches? What do you think of Platt’s alternative? I’d love to hear from you, so feel free to comment below!

Samson in Galilee

 

CNN Belief Blog.

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