Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Christians need to let their roots go deep.

            If the roots of a plant don't go deep enough, the plant dies; if the roots of a tree don't go deep enough, the tree blows over with the first strong wind. Mature and baby Christian, who don't become rooted face the same sort of challenges. We need to be grounded in God's word, we need to be plugged into a faith community, we need discipleship and accountability. If we do not become rooted, we are so much more susceptible to falling away, to listening to false teachers (read Paul's epistles in the New Testament to see what he thinks about that!) and to living a life which does not demonstrate the Christian life style which we profess to be living. (This sense of rooted means growing in Christ, not planting roots and refusing to move/change/follow God's call on our lives)
                In Rooted: The Hidden Places where God Develops You, by Banning Liebscher (WaterBrook Press, 2016) you can find example after example of the importance of being rooted and letting God work in your life.  Liebscher, the founder and pastor of Jesus Culture, starts with an introduction to why this is so important--for mature, developing, and young Christians.  He writes about how we grow in the midst of God working in and through us, reminds us that we can (and should) trust God in all circumstances. Nothing new there, but then the author takes it a step further, and talks about the joys of walking the walk.
                So far so good, so what next?  You read the Bible, you have accountability and a church, someone is discipling you and you are taking baby steps towards discipling someone else.  Liebscher takes us to the next level by discussing areas of our lives where God is at working developing us.  As it states on the back cover: " You were born to make an impact in this world and you know it. …[but] here's the thing: God is not interested in developing your vision first. He's interested in developing you! So there are sections on intimacy, on community and on serving.
                There is a lot of good information to be absorbed here. Life lessons that the author has learned from intimate relationships with God and others, from serving God and serving others, from being in community. He shares relevant  Scriptures, personal experiences, and multiple things that are happening within the Jesus Culture church community.
                For the most part I enjoyed reading this book, but at times, I got bogged down trying to figure out is something was involved in being rooted, or a commercial for Jesus Culture. I would recommend this book, because it has a lot of important information in it, but  sometimes if felt like instead of writing 2 books, this is a book with excerpts from a book waiting to be written
          I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my review.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Fee State of Jones

"Free State of Jones" opening soon.
catch a sneak preview here

Sounds like this will be one film that you won't want to miss.
Based on a true story, Academy-Award winner Matthew McConaughey stars as Newt Knight, a Southern farmer who became a leader that inspired a rebellion.

Knight rallied those who believed that, no man ought to tell another man what he s got to live for - or what he s got to die for. He and his men fought for freedom, equality, and the ideal that, no one can own a child of God. 

The film explores the issues of class inequality and race relations that permeate the south during the Civil War. It also tells the story of men and women during this tenuous time who have a strong faith in God, but are dealing with a moral struggle in regards to that inequality and the laws they are forced to follow.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Hillsong - let hope rise

You've heard their songs, and have probably sung them, and now this fall a movie is releasing about how a group singing in a small church is now an international sensation.  Here's the current press release. Watch for more about Hillsong-- Let Hope Rise between now and September


Film spotlights Hillsong UNITED’s remarkable journey from a youth group band at Hillsong Church to a worldwide recording and concert sensation  

LOS ANGELES, June 17, 2016—Pure Flix is distributing HILLSONG-LET HOPE RISE, the highly anticipated feature film that chronicles the spectacular and miraculous rise to prominence of the Australia-based band, Hillsong UNITED.

Directed by Michael John Warren (Jay Z’s FADE TO BLACK), the film explores Hillsong’s journey from a tiny church in the Sydney suburbs to an influential international ministry whose songs are sung every Sunday by more than 50 million people across the globe. Their songs have been translated into 60 languages and the band has sold more than 17 million albums. 

“HILLSONG-LET HOPE RISE is so much more than a film about a Christian band or even a church. It is truly a theatrical worship experience,” said Michael Scott, chief production officer and a founding partner of Pure Flix. “It is a dream come true for us, as a studio committed to influencing the global culture, to partner with a church like Hillsong.”

“Anyone who regularly attends a church knows Hillsong’s music by heart. That’s how influential they’ve become,” said producer Jonathan Bock. “And yet despite the fame and adulation, they’re still just a humble worship band trying to do what tens of thousands of other worship bands try to do every week -- glorify God through their music. How they balance that is a fascinating and surprising story.”

From a single church in suburban Sydney, Hillsong Church now extends to cities on five continents (including London, Paris, Sao Paulo, Capetown, Rio de Janeiro, and Phoenix) with more than 100,000 weekly attendees, including thriving congregations in New York and Los Angeles. In addition to its local church initiatives, Hillsong partners with international organizations committed to ministry – examples include feeding and educating children in the slums of India, building housing for those living with AIDS in Africa and rescuing victims of human trafficking around the globe.

“We’re thrilled that Pure Flix, the No. 1 producer of faith films in the U.S., is our partner on this project,” said Brian Houston, founding pastor of Hillsong Church. “It’s our hope that by sharing an up-close and unvarnished look inside our music and lives, we can shatter pre-conceived notions of what it means to follow Jesus in today’s modern world.”

Founded in 2005 by Michael Scott, David A.R. White, Russell Wolfe, and Elizabeth Travis, Pure Flix has become the largest independent faith and family studio in the world. With offices in Los Angeles and Scottsdale, Pure Flix has produced, acquired, marketed, and distributed nearly 100 faith and family-friendly properties. Aligned with their mission to transform the human spirit through values-based entertainment, Pure Flix is the industry leader in creating high-quality inspirational feature film content.  Pure Flix official website: 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

thoughts on Jerry Bridges' 'The Blessing of Humility'

            Once you think you've got it, you’ve lost it. Of course that refers to humility. AS difficult a concept as it may be to grasp, the Lord Jesus calls us to be humble, to adopt that posture of humility. Many of Paul's letters also address the issue, and never in scripture are we called to be prideful or vain, except when Paul says it's alright to boast in Christ.  So what do we do with this concept of humility. How do we apply it in our lives? How do we become less so that Jesus can become more?
            May I make a suggestion?
            Go get a copy of The Blessing of Humility by Jerry Bridges: Walk within Your Calling (Nav Press, 2016).
            For years Jerry Bridges has inspired the Christian community with books like The Pursuit of Holiness, Trusting God, The Discipline of Grace, and one of my favorites:  Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate.  And now, his writing life has come to an end, but not before he finished The Blessing of Humility.
            This is a wonderful study of the Beatitudes (found in Matthew 5).  The introduction opens with these words:  "the character trait of humility is the second-most frequently taught trait in the New Testaments, second only to love".  Bridges adds that "all other character traits, in one way or another, are built upon love and humility." And so it's fitting that this very humble man, he practiced a life of love and humility chose to write about humility as the last book he would have the chance to write.
            Obviously the Beatitudes, the "bless-ed be's, are about much more than just humility, but Bridges shows how each group of people about whom Jesus was speaking were also called to humility. I enjoy reading and studying the Beatitudes, and have never seen them so eloquently yet simply explained.  As he starts though, he reminds his readers of 2 things. First, as Christians we are all called to the traits described in the beatitudes, and second, that this side of Paradise we're not going to get it perfect.
Each chapter can be read in a few minutes, or savored for hours. And in the various chapters, we find the answers to the question: Who are the  (poor in spirit), (those who mourn), (the meek) etc.  One of my favorites is the chapter on those who mourn. Bridges points out that this is an area where he feels inadequate. And as he explains that the mourners are those who are grieving over their own sin, I too felt the strings of inadequacy. Humility requires an awareness of our own sin, and the desire and ability to do something about it, to mourn deeply over how we have offended God by our sinfulness.
Each chapter contains AHA moments, the personal anecdotes leave no room for doubt that Bridges knows about which he writes, and the scriptural references show once again how the best way to interpret scripture is by using scripture. God's Word does not contradict itself.
At the end of the book is a chapter-by-chapter 'discussion guide' which I found useful for going even deeper into the thoughts and ideas presented in this book.
Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.


Saturday, June 11, 2016

Conjuring 2 giveaway

As Fallon said last night on the late show, Conjuring 2 opens this weekend. This is a film that depicts evil. And evil is real, but unlike much of what comes out of Hollywood, this is a film that depicts evil as evil. The advance info that I've seen indicates that this is a scary movie, but there are some opportunities to talk to friends about evil. Some questions that you might want to ask yourself or your family and friends include things like:

 Do you believe in good and evil? In the spiritual realm? In the human realm?

If you do believe in evil, what do you believe is the source of it?

If you do believe in evil, how do you think it can be defeated?

What do you think about the trend in entertainment to make heroes out of characters that have traditionally been villainous?

            To help get the conversation started the producers have offered me the opportunity to host a            giveaway on the blog.  If you're within the Ogden-Clearfield area be the first to comment for a            Tee-Shirt, cup and journal.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Conjuring 2 in theaters Friday

With THE CONJURING 2 in theaters this Friday, it’s only natural to think about scary movies. For some of us, the thoughts are about avoiding them at all costs, but for others there’s excitement at thinking about getting a good scare from our theater seats.

But what about our kids? Especially at younger ages, they can be truly disturbed if they happen to see something onscreen that frightens them. It may not even be a well-made supernatural horror film like THE CONJURING 2 – certainly not for pre-teens – but could be something they see in one of their favorite cartoons that raises fears.

What can you do as a parent when this happens to your son or daughter? Here are a few tips from the experts at Focus on the Family:

·         The first thing you need to do is sit down with your child and give them the chance to discuss the film openly. Ask them what they saw, what they thought about it, and how it made them feel. Whatever you do, don't make light of their fears or dismiss their feelings as silly or immature.

·         Once their emotions have been aired, assure your son or daughter that this was only a story, just like the imaginary tales they may have seen in picture story books. Bad things weren’t happening to real people – they were actors playing a pretend game, like they and their friends do.

·         Reassure your child that you, as their parent, are dedicated to protecting them. Let them know that it is one of your most important jobs – ensuring they feel safe and are safe. Reinforce that message with plenty of hugs.

·         If you are a Christian family, you can explain that God has promised to be with them at all times, even in the midst of danger. Open up the Bible and show them the passages where God promises never to leave us or forsake us (Genesis 28:15; Deuteronomy 31:6, 8; Joshua 1:5; Hebrews 13:5). Pray with them about the scary movie and their fears, and encourage them to pray on their own when they become frightened at night. If it seems appropriate, you can also practice some coping techniques with them, like deep breathing relaxation exercises or visualizing a happy place.

·         One last thought: it is definitely not a good idea for you to sleep in your child's room or to let them sleep in your bed. That will only reinforce the behavior you're trying to eliminate, encouraging them to act helpless and dependent. So whatever happens, make it clear that you will not be sleeping with them. Instead, find some other way to make them feel secure, like turning on a nightlight for a while or letting them take a special stuffed animal to bed.

Come to think of it, if you go see THE CONJURING 2 and you’re still a little scared even after the credits roll, feel free to take your favorite stuffed animal to bed with you, too.