Welcome to Provocative Church

As you browse, read and share the many articles, our hope is that you may find this site an encouragement to your faith and Christian life.

Worship

We were created to worship. And we are to worship God with every aspect and area of our lives - presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.

The Church

The bride of Christ can often times be difficult and messy - but it is Christ's beautiful mess - to which He is the head and chief cornerstone.

Ancient Future

Our faith comes out from a rich heritage and history. It was during the formative years of our faith that creeds, confessions, traditions, and liturgies were developed. These practices and traditions recaptured will not only anchor us but move us forward in our faith.

Freedom

There is freedom in the gospel as it proclaims that in Christ we are sons and daughters of the King. The importance is learning to preach those truths to our heart and life everyday.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Best of Provocative Church 2007


I know that it seems presumptuous to have my own "best of" list, but I thought I would share with you several posts that are worth looking at again from the past year. Perhaps you are new to the blog and you missed these posts or you would like to look at these again.

These posts get the "best of" honor based on several factors. They are either the most linked to posts, commented on posts or have had significant "hits" and web traffic.

Sit back, grab some coffee and enjoy the best of Provocative Church 2007

Stop the Madness - a post on black Friday

Jesus Called He Wants His Religion Back

6 Keys to Leading Volunteers

It is so dry in Georgia...

How to Recruit and Communicate...


How to Get Others to Do What You Want

5 Ways to Spark Creativity

Beautiful Mess

Swarm Theory

What the iPhone May Undo

Stop it!

Shuffling the Deck

Identifying our Idols

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Unexpected customer service


Just because there is a Starbucks in every place known to exist, you might think that because of their monopoly they wouldn't have to care about the customer. Not true.

I had a very interesting thing happen the other day. I had ordered a Venti Americano and I went to sit down with a friend of mine for our meeting in the corner of the coffee shop. Just when I thought my drink might be ready, I went up to see if it was at the bar, and the barista was just finishing a big order and said that my drink would be right up. I was ok with that. I didn't complain or even make a sour face, I just went back to sit down. A couple of minutes later, my Americano arrived delivered to the table with a special note, apologizing for the inconvenience and welcoming me to a free drink during my next visit.

Wow, what a surprise! Starbucks cares so much about their customer's experience that they are willing to do anything to make it right. This was the case even though myself, their customer, wasn't too put out. That didn't matter. They were put out. They measure their excellence not merely by the customer's reaction but rather by their own standards. They are the ultimate gauge of whether they have accomplished excellence -and they care.

This is a good reminder and lesson for the church. We need to strive for excellence and find effective measurements for whether or not we are meeting those criteria- because you only "expect" what you "inspect".

Now I can't wait to cash in my free certificate - I think that I might take this blog post's advice!

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Exceptional Presenter


I just finished The Exceptional Presenter by Timothy Koegel.

Since much of what I do is public speaking in some form or another, I am always looking for good books about the subject to keep me fresh and to always be learning.

Definitely give this book a look. I have posted a review and some excerpts from the book at my other blog: First Impressions - click here

Thursday, December 27, 2007

How to avoid Christmas Debt

In yesterdays post, Christmas Hangover, I mentioned about all the Christmas debt people take on and have to pay off during the following year. I thought that this video would contribute to the point. Enjoy!


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Hangover



Christmas is over. The floor is covered in wrapping paper. Everyone is stuffed to their eyeballs with cookies and treats. Perhaps you are standing in line, the day after Christmas, at the store to return many of the gifts you had looked forward to receiving. Family and house guests have left and now...Christmas is finished....and you are left with a Christmas Hangover!

What is a Christmas Hangover? It is the feeling that comes as a result of unmet expectations. You think that Christmas is going to deliver all that it promises, but at the end of the day, you are feeling as empty as the opened and discarded boxes being carted off to the trash. There is so much build up to Christmas that it never meets up to all the expectations.

One day in 365 can never meet them all. Like the rest of life, nothing can satisfy all our expectations. In life, things will occasionally go wrong. Your kids will get dirty, make messes and make noise. On Christmas day, you will forget to buy batteries, thaw the turkey, or the oven may choose to break as you are preparing for your evening meal. Planes will be delayed, relatives will get tied up with other responsibilities, and dogs will jump on your favorite suit or Christmas dress with their muddy paws.

Not only will circumstances disappoint but also people can as well. Family will never meet all your expectations. Your family is a real family, not a TV family. There will be arguments and rivalries among siblings. Perhaps that perfect Kodak moment got ruined because the children squabbled and fought over their toys. People will smile and thank you for their gift, while you can detect their disappointment in their eyes. If your mom or mother-in-law has always criticized you, she still will.

Also, tis the season for stress. We run ourselves ragged with all the preparations and planning then after Christmas we deflate. We decompress.

What are we chasing after? What do we think and hope Christmas will bring?
And as all the stress, that brought us up until Christmas lingers, we now have to pay off, throughout the year, all the purchases we made for this ONE day.

We get drunk with our spending. The average American spends around $800 on Christmas gifts. The credit card debt generated around the holidays is not paid off until the following July, and 25% of American consumers report that it takes them until October to finally pay off the Christmas debt. Christmas has become one giant consuming orgy and once it is done, we get a hangover.

I grabbed this excerpt from the book, Unplug the Christmas Machine by Jo Robinson and Jean Coppock Staeheli. This book urges readers to escape the commercialism of the holiday season, to make it a “joyful, stress-free” time for the family. In a chapter entitled “The Four Things Children Really Want for Christmas”, the authors write:

One concern voiced by most parents is that of shielding their children from the excesses of holiday commercialism. While adults can mute the TV when the ads get annoying, children are defenseless against the onslaught of ads. As early as the age of four or five, they can lose the ability to be delighted by the sights and sounds of Christmas, only to gain a two-month-long obsession with brand-name toys. Suddenly, all they seem to care about is how many presents they will be getting and how many days are left until they unwrap them.

The authors go on to recommend four things that children "really" want for Christmas:

1. A relaxed and loving time with the family.

2. Realistic expectations about gifts.

3. An evenly paced holiday season.
4. Reliable family traditions.

And although these principles discuss what children really want, I believe ultimately it is what even adults really want.

Christmas should be a time of joy and reflection. We should take more advantage of the advent season and give ourselves over to reflect on the arrival and implications of Christ's birth. Advent has been a tradition in our home since our children were young and it allows us create and cultivate conversation with our children about the significance and importance of Christmas. Christmas is special because it ultimately points us elsewhere. It points us to the cross. It is often said that "Jesus is the reason for the season". I believe that sentiment is misplaced.

"You" are the reason for the season. Jesus came because he was on a mission. A mission to seek and save the lost. Guard yourself from the Christmas Hangover next year by allowing yourself and your family to slow down, be simple, reflect and enjoy the celebration of our savior's birth.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from the Reichart Family

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas out of the box


This is the second part of our Christmas series entitled, "Christmas Out of the Box"




* the first minute of the audio is dead air due to a technical glitch

This is my sermon from 12/23/07, entitled "Three Kings"

Big Trends

The Big Trends of 2007

The Barna Group has identified four significant trends that have emerged from their 2007 research. Here is a list of them, and a couple of points to expand on most of them. But make sure to read the entire Barna Report for more detail.

1. Americans’ Unconditional Self-love
-Americans have a high opinion of themselves - and lingering reservations about others.

-Many Americans want to continue to change and grow… and… are willing to change as long as the pathway promises benefit and enjoyment, and generally avoids pain, conflict and sacrifice.

-Many Americans are seeking to be viewed as individuals distinct from the ever-growing masses.

- Adults - especially those under 30 - regularly strive to be connected to a substantial number of other people and yet possess a nagging sense of loneliness, isolation and restlessness. (this discontent of our culture with real, meaningful relationships is an issue that particularly has my interest peaked)


2. Nouveau Christianity
The research discovered that people are reframing not just faith in general, but Christianity in particular.

3. The 5 P’s of Parenting Strategy
Most parents want to do a great job of raising their children. However, Barna studies conducted throughout the year among parents of children under 18 revealed that few parents have a strategy or plan for how they will accomplish that goal. There are, however, five primary outcomes that most parents have focused upon and serve as a de facto strategy. George Barna, author of the book Revolutionary Parenting, about parenting strategies, called them the "five P’s of parental hope."

4. Designer Faith with Rootless Values

To learn more about each trend, read The Barna Group’s full report.


(HT: churchrelevance.com)

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Communion Meditations



At Big Creek Church we celebrate communion weekly, you can read the theological and practical reasons from this series of posts on the Lord's Supper, part 1; part 2; part 3.

These are this Sunday's communion meditations.

"I am utterly fascinated by this man. I feel what he preached was revolutionary, and it's totally what we need now."
Jane Fonda, May 18, 2007

By the world's measure, revolution starts at the point of a sword.
"A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another."
Mao Zedong

"The hallmarks of the Church that Jesus died for are clear, based on Scripture: your profession of faith in Christ must be supported by a lifestyle that provides irrefutable evidence of your complete devotion to Jesus. "
George Barna, Revolution (p. 25)

"Two thousand years later, no one is singing songs about Herod or giving themselves to the kingdom of Caesar. Herod's kingdom is dust, Rome is ensconced in museums, yet billions gather in the name of Jesus each week. No matter how many Caesars and Herods fill this world, they will never have the last word. The revolution of Jesus will see to that." Mike Erre, Jesus of Suburbia (p. 20)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Information Overload - Christmas Edition


Here again is a lot of good material throughout the week that I come across. I feel the need to share the good stuff with you since I don't have time to comment on it through the blog.

A lot of the material in my shared items have a Christmas theme..so enjoy reading some some fun, entertaining and provocative Christmas reading. (my shared items have their own individual rss feed that you can subscribe to directly)




Friday, December 21, 2007

The Curse of Knowledge

I am currently reading, Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

This book is a business book, but it has been on many church leader's top book lists. When a book receives so many accolades from people I respect, I take notice.

Another motivation to dive into this book is that communication is one of our biggest challenges at Big Creek. I am only half way through the book, but I just finished reading a section on the "Curse of Knowledge" and after reading it, I thought to myself - this is exactly our problem at the church.

From the book, here is an explanation of the Curse of Knowledge:
This is the Curse of Knowledge: Once we know something, we find it hard to imagine what it was like not to know it. Our knowledge has "cursed" us. And it becomes difficult for us to share our knowledge with others, because we can't readily re-create our listeners' state of mind. (page 20)

I am here at the church all the time. I am in team leader meetings and staff meetings all the throughout the week. Therefore I know exactly what we are thinking and planning at the church. I have been cursed with this knowledge. But for those you who come to Big Creek, mileage varies on how much you actually know about these same things.

Once I have knowledge, it makes it hard to communicate effectively. I know what I know, but I don't know what you don't know. (is that confusing :-) ).

Because of the curse of knowledge at Big Creek we assume too often what we are communicating clearly. Here is an example: If you have had any experience or questions about our end of the year ask these past several weeks, you are perfectly aware that our communication with our ask was as clear as mud.

The leadership knows with the end of the year ask what we we were asking. We were cursed with knowledge. But those of you receiving the letter and the envelope didn't have the privilege or exposure of that knowledge and therefore you were at a disadvantage. There was confusion. But that wasn't your fault, it was ours.

At Big Creek, it becomes our job and responsibility to communicate in a way that presupposes your, the receiver of the communication, point of view.

Key point that we must always remember: Just because it makes sense to us, doesn't mean that it will make sense to you!

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Christmas Revolution


"Two thousand years later, no one is singing songs about Herod or giving themselves to the kingdom of Caesar. Herod's kingdom is dust, Rome is ensconced in museums, yet billions gather in the name of Jesus each week. No matter how many Caesars and Herods fill this world, they will never have the last word. The revolution of Jesus will see to that." -Mike Erre, "Jesus of Suburbia"

This week at Big Creek Church we are continuing our series on "Christmas out of the box". And this Sunday we are going to take a look at the birth of Jesus, as king, against the backdrop of several other kings in the Christmas story.

Do you have a manager set up in your home or on your front lawn? Often we look into those manger scenes and observe what appears to be a tranquil and placid event. We look at the cherubic looking Christ child in the feeding trough and and we sing, "sleep in heavenly peace". We call it a "Silent Night". But it was anything but silent. The arrival of Jesus was anything but peaceful, quiet and subdued. It was a REVOLUTION!

The entrance of God into our world, wrapped in flesh, shook up the status quo. His arrival that fateful Bethlehem night shook the kingdoms of the earth off their fragile foundations. The arrival of Jesus ushered in a kingdom that declared war and stood in direct opposition toward the kingdoms of the day.

Too often we forget that Jesus incited revolution. We forget that his birth was in fact an insurrection against the establishment and "business as usual". The Christmas Revolution started at the cradle but now that Revolution makes a call upon you and me.

When you are sitting behind another car in Atlanta traffic, you've probably seen this sticker on their bumper, "Jesus is the reason for the season" That's incorrect...YOU are! YOU are the reason for the season.

Jesus came not because it would be cool for God to come in the flesh, but because it was absolutely necessary for Him to come in order for us to have peace with God. Jesus lived a perfect life - a life that you and I couldn't live. And He paid the penalty of death that you and I should have paid by dying on the cross. What Jesus did on the cross was revolutionary. It allowed us, as sinners, to be reconciled again to a holy God who loves us so dearly.

We must remember though that coming to saving faith in Jesus isn't so you can just get your ticket punched for heaven but then He doesn't make any indelible mark on your life this side of heaven. Not at all! When the God of the universe comes into your life, He wants to bring revolution. Your life will get shifted around.

There will be shifts in your priorities. Shifts in your values. Shifts in your desires. Shifts in your heart. Shifts in your motivations.

But lets even get more concrete and practical: Shifts in the way you love your spouse. Shifts in your checkbook. Shifts in how you see and treat other people at work. Shifts in your thought life.

Jesus is a revolutionary. Let Jesus bring revolution to our life. Let that revolution overtake your life this Advent and Christmas season, and Beyond!

Want a free iPod?


Don't dismiss this just yet make sure you read it all!!! (shameless plug alert!)

I’ve been wanting to get an ipod for a long time. Problem is: BUDGET. (I couldn't justify the expense)

After following the advice of a friend, I am giving this a plunge.

So, I decided to give YouriPodTouch4free.com a try. Basically, you sign up for a service, fulfill a requirement and get a couple other people to do the same thing and they thank you with a free ipod touch.

I’m the most skeptical of these kinds of giveaways because there always seems to be a catch hidden in the Terms of Service that makes the whole thing either illegitimate or totally not worth my time, but I now know of others who have received not one but two items doing this. This is the real deal. All I need are a couple other people who want an ipod touch for free, too!

HOW IT WORKS

It’s pretty easy to do. It probably takes about 10 minutes to setup. Click on the link below, register, pick an account type (referral is the easiest) and complete just 1 offer. This is not like other sites where you need to complete one offer on 2 or 3 different pages. And a lot of these offers are free trials with nothing else to buy and no commitments!

There are plenty of cool offers to choose from, such as Blockbuster online, Stamp.com, Netflix and Gamefly, services you might regularly sign up for anyway. I currently use Blockbuster but I decided to sign up for Netflix as my offer since it was only $14 and they have movies that I can't get from Blockbuster. There’s basically no long term commitment or obligation, so after a month or two I can cancel after receiving credit. Another good offer is renting DVDs through Blockbuster online (it’ll cost ya $9.95 to try it and I use it and have been well pleased).

After signing up and completing your one offer, simply refer 5-8 people (depending on the free prize you choose - you can even get $350 cash) to do the same under your link. Then they will ship your ipod touch or your selected item for free.

Here’s how you can get a FREE iPod Touch:

1.
Click this link: http://www.YouriPodTouch4free.com/index.php?ref=4487380

2.Sign up and choose an account type (Referral is the easiest).

3.Complete just 1 offer (like Blockbuster, Netflix or Stamps.com) and then refer up to 8 people to do the same under your referral link. (The 8GB iPod needs only 5 referrals, the 16GB requires 8 referrals.)

4.Receive your iPod Touch for FREE!
It honestly isn’t any more difficult than that.

A little tip:
If you click an offer and don’t sign up for it on that visit, make sure you clear your browser’s cookies before going back to it again from your YouriPodTouch4Free.com account. Otherwise the tracking cookie might not register that you signed up for their service from YouriPodTouch4Free.com and you’ll have to request a manual credit, which can take several weeks.

Here’s a news report and also another one on YouTube that explain how all this works and proves that it is indeed legit.

Thanks Jason C. For Being The Originator For Me.

Anyone wanna help me and work towards their own free ipod touch?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

3 Myths of those who leave

Todd over at MMI, just published this about the youth who leave the church...
Thom and Sam Rainer are putting the finishing touches on their new book, "Essential Church". Today at the Church Forward blog, Sam Rainer says that they've found that 70% of those that leave the church do so between the ages of 18 and 22. He then introduces three myths about these dropouts...

1. The influence of the secular university has pushed them away.
Wrong - State universities and colleges are not to blame. No significant difference exists between the dropout rates of those who attend at least a year of college and those who do not. For those that attend college, 69% of active churchgoing youth stop attending church for at least a year between the ages of 18 and 22. Yet 71% of active youth who do not go to college stop attending church during the same period. It’s a statistical tie – the college itself is not prompting students to drop out of church.

2. High school students are planning to leave the church once they go to college.
Wrong - Students are not planning to leave the church. Our research reveals that an overwhelming majority (80%) of high school students do not plan to leave their church once they graduate. Conversely, only 20% of high school students have preconceived notions to leave the fellowship once out of their parents’ nest. Students are not fleeing the church because of deep desires for personal freedom. Nor are they scheming to leave once out of the house.

3. The scandal-happy media has disenchanted our youth.
Wrong - students are not leaving the church because of the attention given to recent scandals surrounding several well-known pastors and churches. While a media melee usually accompanies these large scale evangelical failures of church leadership, students do not leave the church because of them. In fact, only 15% of those who feel displeasure with the church say it’s because of a moral or ethical failure of the leadership.

More here...



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Christmas Love

Christmas Love
(paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 13)

If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights, and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals, and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another cook.

If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home, and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties, and sing in the choir's cantata but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug the child. Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the spouse.

Love is kind, though harried and tired.

Love doesn't envy another's home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.

Love doesn't yell at the kids to get out of the way.

Love doesn't give only to those who are able to give in return but rejoices in giving to those who can't.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust, but giving the gift of love will endure.

(HT: HolyTrintityNewRochelle)

Let's not first forget to allow ourselves to be captured by the Love of Christ during Christmas and to let that love spill over and out toward our family and those around us.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Facebook for old people

Sure, Facebook is used mostly by high school and college students. But more and more older people are getting connected through Facebook (even my mom got a Facebook account for a time, even though it was short lived- I know you are reading this MOM! :-) )

Would Facebook look like this for old people?

Click on the picture in order to see the details!

(HT: Seth Godin)

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Monday, December 17, 2007

"I need you to say Hello!"


Last Friday, I had an opportunity to see the latest blockbuster, "I am Legend" (it earned an estimated $77 million this past weekend!)

In this movie, Will Smith plays soldier-scientist Dr. Robert Neville trying to track down the antidote to a deadly virus that has decimated the world's population. It is the year 2009, and a cure for cancer has backfired and has become a plague., turning people into rabid, sub-human, aggressive, beasts who are allergic to light, called "Dark Seekers".

Dr. Robert Neville finds himself the only person left in New York City, and perhaps in the entire world. Something in his blood has granted him immunity from the disease. Neville's only protection from the "Dark Seekers" are his fortified bunker, and the daylight which drives back the "Dark Seekers" until nightfall.

Most of the story of "I am Legend" takes place 3 years later (he flashes back during his times asleep to the beginning of diseases spread and the time with his family) as he continues to seek a cure. Part of his routine is to locate hives to abduct a “Dark Seeker” to test his latest cure.

This is a movie that is part 28 Days Later and part Cast Away. This movie plays on humans biggest fears, loneliness and darkness. Later in the film, Neville starts going a bit crazy dealing with the isolation. In order to have a semblance of connection with people, he names mannequins in a store and has conversations with them. There is one scene in which he is so hungry for human interaction that he cries out to a mannequin, "I need you to say Hello!". This scene is a powerful example of how we are created for community. It is not good for man to be alone! (ala God in Genesis)

The only thing keeping Neville functional and normal is seeking the cure (his mantra throughout the movie is "I can FIX this!"). There is a lot more I could tell you about the movie, but they would be spoilers and I want you to experience the surprises for yourself.

This is a very good movie. It is a movie that taps into much of what makes us human. For instance, the need for community, the desire to find meaning and purpose and how we cope with tragedy, just to name a few.

This movie had me on the edge of my seat and at times I couldn't even stand to watch - I was so nervous as the suspense built. My only concern and disappointment about the movie was the use of CGI (computer generation) for the "Dark Stalkers". In some ways it would have been more powerful if they could have used real actors, such as 28 Days Later, for their "zombies".

But needless to say, this movie has had a long lasting impact. For instance, I came home alone one evening and I was alone and it was dark. I was freakin' scared!!

Rating: A+

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Coffee with Jim


Thanks Jim for your accessibility, time and willingness to get together in order to meet and talk.

I had the opportunity to grab some coffee and conversation yesterday morning with Jim Palmer.

Jim is the author of Divine Nobodies and has just written a new book, Wide Open Spaces.

If you haven't read either of these books, I would encourage you to go out and get them. (ordering them from the links above would be an added bonus - since I will get credit for your purchase!)

Jim's honest and candid story-telling flies under the reader's radar. With his style of writing he is able to get to the nub of some really profound spiritual and life issues. Jim desires to shed off the religious posing and pretense and encounter Jesus and the ginormity of his love and grace.

To read an interview of his latest book, I posted it earlier here.

Here are some of my earlier thoughts of Divine Nobodies after reading it earlier this year.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Information Overload

Here again is a lot of good material throughout the week that I come across. I feel the need to share the good stuff with you since I don't have time to comment on it through the blog.

This stuff shows up in my Google RSS Reader throughout the week and I use the widget from my "shared items" in my Google Reader to post the most interesting information that I've gathered from the web. Enjoy some fun, entertaining and provocative reading. (my shared items have their own individual rss feed that you can subscribe to directly)




Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A Christmas Re-Run


I thought that if you hadn't had a chance to listen or catch my Christmas sermon from last year (or maybe you would like to hear it again), I would re-post it on my blog once again.

If you are wondering about the picture and the dragon in the manger scene, once you listen to the sermon it will all make sense to you. (thanks to the Johnson family for sending me this picture.)



This sermon is entitled, "not so Silent Night" and is drawn from Revelation 12:1-17.


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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

My Top Ten Movies of 2007




As many of you know I enjoy movies, and some of you take my advice and movie recommendations (I know this because you tell me). Since everyone else is doing end of the year lists, I thought that I would come up with my own. These are the top ten movies (that I have seen) this past year.

Therefore as you may have some spare time during the holiday vacation, make a point to catch these movies before the year's end. All of these movies are out on DVD, except for Enchanted (but Enchanted is well worth the money)






1. Enchanted

Charming like a prince...I couldn't get the songs out of my head.
(see my extended review here)

2. Bourne Ultimatum
Bourne baby, Bourne - need I say more.

3. Ratatouille
A rat cooking in a kitchen, who would have thunk it?

4. Hairspray
Fun Musical and PLUS it's in Baltimore.

5. Hot Fuzz
I love British "humour"

6. Beyond the Gates
Let us never forget.
(see my extended review here)

7. Reign over Me
Great movie of men and friendship

8. Amazing Grace
Only if all our political leaders had this level of courage.
(additional information about the movie here)

9. 300
Eye candy and draw dropping action.
(see my extended review here)

10. Breach
Smart, political thriller - and it's true!

(Bonus!) Sunshine
In the future, the sun is dying- this is Hitchcock's "Lifeboat" but in outer space.




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Even this guy has a blog...



The Story Here
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - The Official Blog
I assume with Ahmadinejad's blog he is not going to tell us what he had for breakfast or post pictures of his cat!



(thanks Paul)


Monday, December 10, 2007

Movies that fly under the radar



Last week I wrote a post entitled "the other controversial movies".

In this post I want to follow up on some of those thoughts and talk more about the movies that have stirred controversy over the years.

Most of the movies listed in the previous post stirred up controversy because they were a blatant assault on Christianity (The Passion of Christ was a notable exception) You would have to be living under a rock not to notice all the television and internet buzz this past month about the recently released movie, the "Golden Compass". The fears about this movie are wrapped up in the authors' atheism (Phillip Pullman) and his desire to attack, undermine and destroy the Christian faith. Of course attempting to do all of that under the guise of using a children's story.

Because of this, there are many well-meaning people of faith who are urging us all to boycott the film. There may be other reasons not to see the film (the reviews of the movie have been less than stellar), but the movie's "ideas" should not be one of those reasons. For every Golden Compass movie, that reveals it's naked ambition to insult and attack our faith, there are THOUSANDS of movies, t.v. shows and songs that assault our faith everyday. The problem is that they go unnoticed. They are too clever to reveal their agenda. They fly right under our radar screen.

Movies and other media that are more subtle than the Golden Compass do more damage. Since they fly under our radar, our guard is down and therefore we don't critically engage what we see and listen to.

If you are my age, you most likely remember the movie "Footloose". Footloose was a movie released in 1984 and it was an instant hit. Here is an excerpt from the New York Magazine piece about Footloose and it's inclusion on the the ten most anti-Christian Movies of all time. -
"Despite its canonical status as an eighties classic, we’re willing to bet that if an original script like Footloose — in which fun-loving teen Kevin Bacon arrives in a small town where preacher John Lithgow has banned rock music and dancing — landed on a Hollywood exec’s desk today, they’d be too afraid to produce it, lest it offend some key demographic. It’s Lithgow’s villain who really makes the movie: Soft-spoken and patronizing when he’s not spitting out the fire and brimstone ("He’s testing us!!"), his performance is a bone-chilling portrait of smug self-righteousness and could easily blend in among any number of Sunday-morning-TV preachers. The only thing missing is a bad hairpiece."

(HT: The Ten Most Anti-Christian Movies of All Time -- Vulture -- Entertainment & Culture Blog -- New York Magazine)

Movies such as Footloose and the other's mentioned on the list slip right past us. No one is organizing a boycott. No one is warning others against those films. We just go and get entertained. We tap our foot with the music and we sing along. And yet, a movie like Footloose propagates the idea that our faith in Christ is bound up and enslaved by rules (legalism). Footloose also reinforces all the worst in negative stereotypes and it strips clean any notion of grace, love or virtue from our faith. Therefore I believe (uncritically) inviting a movie like Footloose into our affections does potentially more harm than a hundred Golden Compass movies combined.

Boycotts against the Golden Compass, and the next Golden Compass that comes along, allow us to miss the point. Cherry picking movies to boycott allows us to believe that we can be protected from the world and it's schemes by just ignoring a couple of blatantly offensive movies. No. We are constantly inundated with media and pop-culture. And unless you live in a cave, it is important that we critically engage the culture with a well informed Biblical worldview rather than merely close ourselves up from it.

Actually if we, as Christians, are true to our Kingdom mandate, we would not merely respond to culture, but rather we would SHAPE it....but I leave that idea for another blog post.

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Friday, December 07, 2007

Going to the staff Christmas Party Tonight...


Ho Ho Ho....tis the season for parties and celebrations with friends and family.

Tonight is the staff party!

Good food.

Laughter.

White Elephant Gift Exchange. (I love getting rid of stuff from my closet!)

And getting to live life together with the best staff anywhere!

Year-end lists

Tis the Season for Year-end lists.

These lists are always helpful, just to make sure I didn't miss anything in 2007

Browse the Year-End Lists: (thanks to Brent)

Browse the Fimoculous list of year-end lists.
Browse Christianity Today’s list of year-end favorites.
Browse Christianity Today’s 2007 Reader’s Choice results.
Vote in NPR’s All Songs Considered’s poll for song of the year.
Browse Amazon’s list of their favorite music of 2007.
Browse Paste’s list of their favorite albums of 2007.
Browse Boomkat’s list of their picks for the best albums of 2007.
Browse Large Hearted Boy’s list of favorite 2007 albums.
Browse the Christian Science Moniter’s favorite 2007 fiction.
Browse Boston.com’s selections for nonfiction.
Browse Josh Kidwell’s reflections on 2007.
Browse Harp’s top 50 albums.
Browse Steve McCoy’s top 30 albums of the year.
Browse Josh Brown’s 10 favorite albums of the year.
Browse as the Village Voice picks their favorite books of the year.
Browse as the Times Online picks the 100 best movies of the year.
Browse Mojo’s list of the best albums of the year.
Browse VH1’s albums of the year.
Browse Pitchfork’s year in photos.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Things that make you go "hmmmm...?!"

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

"Restless Contentment"

My sermon from this past Sunday...

Philippians 3:12-4:1




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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Lessons Learned

Craig Groeschel has been blogging through a series on 40 Lessons learned from a 40 year old pastor...here are the first ten just to whet your appetite.
Yesterday I turned forty years old. This week, I’ll share 40 things I wish someone would have told me when I was 20. (They probably did, but I wasn’t paying attention.)

1. Life is short. Make every day count for God’s glory.
2. Life is short. Don’t take it too seriously.
3. Ministry is a marathon, not a sprint.
4. Jesus cares more about the church than you do.
5. You can’t please everyone…so why try?
6. People will criticize you. Quit whining. Get used to it.
7. Three months from now, you won’t even remember most of the things that are bothering you today.
8. You can’t do it all. Stop trying.
9. God called you because He is good, not because you are.
10. If you blame yourself for the bad results in ministry, you’ll likely also take credit for the good results.

Do you resonate with any of these?
(HT: 40 Lessons from a 40-Year-Old Pastor (#1–#10) )

I know that I resonate with number 5. I am an approval suck. This is something that I continually struggle with in my life. What I have learned over the years and what I need to continually remind myself of, is the fact that I can't please everyone. If I say YES to someone, most likely it means that I have to say NO to someone else. The question then I need to ask myself is who am I more willing to say NO to.

This is good stuff from Craig, whether you are a pastor or not, definitely click over to his blog and read his posts.

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Monday, December 03, 2007

Remembering other controversial movies


In the wake of all the hoopla and controversy surrounding the release of the movie, "The Golden Compass", it is important to remember that this isn't the first time a movie has generated this kind of attention and visceral reaction.

Beliefnet.com has posted a list of what they consider to be the most controversial religious movies of all time. Here are the movies that they have chosen:

The Exorcist
Dogma
Battlefield Earth
Birth of a Nation
Stigmata
The Da Vinci Code
Water
The Passion of the Christ
Submission
The Last Temptation of Christ
Visit their site to read their explanations of why each movie they picked made their list. Would you add another movie to this list?

(HT: Beliefnet.com)

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