Monday, February 28, 2011

Did Portman Deserve an Oscar?

Mary Kassian at Girls Gone Wise discusses why Natalie Portman in The Black Swan deserves an Oscar Award for Best Actress this year, despite the fact that she says -- DO NOT GO SEE THIS FILM. (I have not seen it, and I'm very glad that I did not after reading her article.) Find out what she has to say>>>

Here's an excerpt:
"The lie is as old as time. Satan tricked the first woman into believing that “white” (light) was boring… incomplete, lacking passion—and that “black” (darkness) was beautiful, harmless, and oh-so-desirable. He convinced her that God’s rules were ridiculously restrictive, and that she’d attain a greater level of perfection by indulging in the forbidden fruit. The temptation to believe the lie was—and still is— incredibly powerful."

Friday, February 25, 2011

Harlots and Heroines -- Upcoming PresWIC Conference

Harlots and Heroines: The Midwives of the Messiah w/ Sharon Betters is the title of this year's PresWIC conference in the local presbytery.

Here are some more details about the conference, as an FYI:
2011 Annual PresWIC Conference
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Featuring Sharon Betters
Location: Faith Presbyterian Church
720 Marsh Rd,
Wilmington, DE 19803
302-764-8615
Time: 8:30am - 3:00pm

Download a copy of the brochure
Download a one-page flyer

Key verse: “I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who calls you by name.” Isaiah 45:2-3

Description

--- A wounded widow, a professional prostitute, an indomitable immigrant, a bathing beauty, a terrified teenager.

Each woman in the genealogy of Jesus – Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba and Mary – faced insurmountable odds that would have disqualified her from most jobs in many churches. Yet emotional abuse, prostitution, murder, death, lies, widowhood, poverty and an out of wedlock pregnancy are scars that God redeems and transforms into glory on the pathway to the Incarnation, the birth of our Messiah. Where we might see darkness God reveals His faithful love. He majestically intervened into the lives of these women to ensure that our Messiah would come at precisely the right moment and into the exact family His Father had prepared. What seems to disqualify them from the genealogy of Jesus actually becomes the source of great hope for broken people.

Harlots and Heroines is a study of our spiritual mothers. They are waiting for us in heaven and as they wait, they call back, “Dear Sons and Daughters, study our lives and you will see that God is sovereign and you can trust Him, too.”

Our seminar topic, Harlots and Heroines: The Midwives of the Messiah, is inspired by the book of the same title, written by Sharon’s husband, Chuck. There is a companion Study Guide available and is appropriate for personal and group study. The book and study guide will be available for purchase.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Why Inception Should Win Best Picture

Here is a video from The Guardian discussing some of the key reasons why Inception deserves the Oscar for Best Picture this year.

Yes, I also saw True Grit and The King's Speech. While both were decently entertaining, neither of those films left me with a giddy anticipation of going back and seeing the film again.. and again the way Inception did. Inception is a ground-breaking movie that defies traditional movie making boundaries, defines its own genre of film, and directly engages the movie goer in the experience. For me, this is the most important reason why Inception deserves recognition. The typical Hollywood movie expects passive receptivity in its viewers. Inception, on the other hand, assumes audience engagement and intelligence. I'd like to think people prefer to be respected. The Yahoo user poll seems to support this, as users voted Inception to win 8 Oscars! Granted, the academy will never go for a full 8. Most likely it will only get 3 in the sound and visual categories, which is an insult to Director Christopher Nolan. The movie deserves at least 5 Oscars. We will see.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Every Christian Involved in Evangelism?

Is every Christian supposed to be involved in Evangelism? Links to a video of Dr. James White providing some excellent insight.


(Ht: John Samson of Effectual Grace)

The Hope of the Gospel in Justification

How can guilty people have a right standing with God?
Phil Johnson discusses this and how the doctrine of justification is the hope of the Gospel for His believers:

(video does not have an embed function, sorry)
What is Justification by Faith?

Good stuff.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

CHRISTIAN CARNIVAL CCCLXVI

Welcome to the 366th Christian Carnival!
The Christian Carnival is a weekly collection of blog posts by Christian authors.

If you have a blog and fit that criterion, and you want to submit a post for next week's carnival, you can find more information about the Christian Carnival here. Hosting Schedule is published here.
Without further ado, here is this week's Christian Carnival:

Enjoy! And have a blessed week,
Deb
All Things New

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Pharisee and The Situation

Let's face it. Mike, aka "The Situation", from Jersey Shore is a lot more disciplined at a lot more things that don't matter than we Christians are in things that have eternal value. Owen Strachan wrote a neat little post to this end at the Gospel Coalition recently called, "Lessons in Faith from 'Jersey Shore'." The article made me uncomfortable right from the beginning, and although Owen made some convicting points about the lack of discipline in the lives of most Christians, I thought it was important to emphasize and elaborate on the fact that the acts of neither the pagan, nor the Pharisee are commendable, because neither do so by faith in Christ.

As someone who spent about a decade (my 20′s) living in New Jersey and NYC — before being saved — I’m not at all surprised to read about the discipline of Mike “the Situation” or other young folks on the Jersey Shore. I lived as a perfectly debauched pagan for many years before meeting Jesus and can tell you that I was one of the most disciplined people you’d meet. Always on time, always looking neat and clean, and always in shape. You know, the outside of the cup was polished up pretty well, meanwhile the inside was full of the equivalent of rotting corpses.


From my standpoint, the Jersey Shore example is just one more illustration that goes to show that merely keeping external commandments gets us exactly no-where. Whether we derive our external law-keeping from pop culture or the scriptures makes no difference apart from repentance and faith.

Mike "The Situation" lives like he does because he is a slave to his tanning, his gym and his appearance. He doesn’t know any other way and without Christ he is incapable of becoming ontologically different in any significant way. "The Situation" can replace his gym with his family, his tanning with his church attendence, and his laundry with daily devotionals, but without true heart change, all he has done is exchanged idols.

This is why the Gospel matters! Gospel truth convicts us of our own works, which are done in the flesh and are nothing but filthy rags in God's sight. The Gospel causes us to turn toward Christ, and seeing His righteousness, we are able to do His works from faith.

If we do not act from the position of faith, then we will be acting like the Pharisee. We'll either get burned out because we’re white-knuckling it and doing stuff that we really don’t want to do, because we’d rather be lifting weights or drinking; or we will be despairing and feel condemned because we know that no matter how hard we try, we simply cannot measure up to the standard by which we are measured. God is perfect, we are not. And idols are cruel masters. Wait until this one hits home for Mike, the Situation, as it has for Hollywood’s past discarded hereos. 

Let us focus on the finished, perfect work of our savior, Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith. Otherwise, our highly-disciplined regimens will simply mimmick the practices of pagan idolatry, and we will be doomed to their same end:

Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.” – Jonah 2:8

Let’s not forfeit the grace of the gospel that IS OURS!!!

His Lovingkindness, Leading to Repentence

Exodus 34:6 "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness"

Romans 2:4 "Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?"


How can you read this testimony or reflect on your own and not see the life-changing effect of the steadfast loving kindness of our awesome God!

In 1920, seventeen year old Watchman Nee became a Christian in mainland China. He had an extraordinary ministry, winning thousands to Jesus Christ and following them up. He shared the night he gave his life to Jesus:

“There was a real struggle within me. Then I knelt down to pray. At first I had no words with which to pray. But eventually many sins came before me, and I realized that I was a sinner. I had never had such an experience in my life before that time. I saw myself as a sinner and I also saw the Savior. I saw the filthiness of sin and I also saw the efficacy of the Lord's precious blood cleansing me and making me white as snow. I saw the Lord's hands nailed to the cross, and at the same time I saw Him stretching forth His arms to welcome me, saying, "I am here waiting to receive you." Overwhelmed by such love, I could not possibly reject it, and I decided to accept Him as my Savior. Previously, I had laughed at those who believed in the Lord, but that evening I could not laugh. Instead, I wept and confessed my sins, seeking the Lord's forgiveness. After making my confession, the burden of sins was discharged, and I felt buoyant and full of inward joy and peace. This was the first time in my life that I knew I was a sinner. I prayed for the first time and had my first experience of joy and peace. There might have been some joy and peace before, but the experience after my salvation was very real. Alone in my room that evening, I saw the light and lost all consciousness of my surroundings. I said to the Lord, ‘Lord, You have really been gracious to me.’”
1 Cor. 13:4
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails."


(emphasis mine)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Four-Star General, Five-Star Grace

Four-star Army Gen. Peter Chiarelli at a recent Washington dinner demonstrates grace by not only overlooking an offense, but also by going out of his way to serve and humble himself so that the other person would not feel ashamed.
May we follow in his example. Read the story here>>>
(Note: There are also two other characters in the story, Karl Malone and Frank Sinatra, who demonstrated similar acts of grace.)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Three Ways with Families

Tim Keller writes an insightful and theologically interesting piece on the Family - from The Gospel Coalition:

In Japan, in Western Europe, and in Russia, the birth-rate has fallen precipitously, to below replacement levels. If this does not change, the economic and cultural impact will be very great on those nations. Many have pointed out that interest in child-bearing is lowest in the most secular countries and sectors of society, while it is the highest in the most religious countries. Why is this? One explanation is that more educated people put off child-rearing until later in life and that means fewer children. However, educated religious people have more children than educated secular people, and therefore the socio-economic answer isn’t the most basic answer. I don’t think anyone can be completely sure that they have a handle on this complex phenomenon, but I think it creates an interesting backdrop for the consideration of the unique Christian view of the family.
My European friends have two theories for why their secular neighbors have lost interest in the family. First, there is the sacrifice factor. For the last 30 years, sociologists have documented that secularism fosters individualism.

A 2003 Ben Gurion University study found religious communes in Israel did better across the board than secular communes. (Cited in “Darwin’s God”, New York Times Magazine, March 4, 2007.) The reason? The members of secular communes simply were more selfish, particularly the men. Men who went to synagogue regularly were much more willing to sacrifice for the family and the community than men who did not. Despite the new financial incentives to have children that European governments are now offering, many people can’t imagine a happy life with the severe loss of independence that comes with parenthood.

As the studies since Robert Bellah’s Habits of the Heart have shown, secularism teaches that every individual determines his or her own purpose in life—the autonomous self is sovereign. In this world-view, family life looks like the loss of personal meaning and happiness.

There is also the hope factor. My European friends tell me that their secular neighbors are much more pessimistic about the future. They (rightly) see oceans of injustice and poverty in the world surrounding islands of democracy and prosperity. They are keenly aware of the ecological and technological disasters that are possible, perhaps inevitable. Why bring children into such a bleak world? Religious persons, however, have a profound assurance that in the future is final justice, or paradise, or union with God in some form. They have an over-arching hope that makes them more optimistic about bearing and raising children.

At this point you might think I would simply say “Yay for religion, it is the friend of the family!” It is not that simple. While secularism in the West tends to make an idol out of the individual and his or her needs, traditional religion has often made an idol out of the family.

According to theologian Stanley Hauerwas of Duke University, Christianity was the very first religion or world-view that held up single adulthood as a viable way of life. Jesus himself and St. Paul were single. “One…clear difference between Christianity and Judaism [and all other traditional religions] is the former’s entertainment of the idea of singleness as the paradigm way of life for its followers.” (Stanley Hauerwas, A Community of Character, p.174.)

Nearly all (other) religions and cultures made an absolute value of the family and of the bearing of children. There was no honor without family honor, and there was no real lasting significance or “legacy” without leaving heirs. By contrast, the early church not only did not pressure women to marry but it institutionally supported poor widows so they were not forced to remarry as they were out in the culture at large.

Why? The Christian gospel and hope of the kingdom-future de-idolized marriage.

“Singleness was legitimated, not because sex was questionable, but because the mission of the church is ‘between the times’ [the overlap of the ages]…We must remember that the ‘sacrifice’ made by singles was not [just in] ‘giving up sex’ but in giving up heirs. There could be no more radical act than that! This was a clear expression that one’s future is not guaranteed by the family but by the [kingdom of God and the] church” ( Hauerwas, p.190).

“[Now, in the overlap of the ages], both singleness and marriage are necessary symbolic institutions for the constitution of the church’s life . . . that witnesses to God’s kingdom. Neither can be valid without the other. If singleness is a symbol of the church’s confidence in God’s power to effect lives for the growth of the church, marriage and procreation is the symbol of the church’s understanding that the struggle will be long and arduous. For Christians do not place their hope in their children, but rather their children are a sign of their hope . . . that God has not abandoned this world.” (Hauerwas, p.191)

The gospel-based community practices a view of family that is contrary both to the cultural idols of secular and traditional societies. The gospel frees singles from the shame of being unmarried they find in conservative cultures. Their truest identity is in Christ and their assured future hope is the kingdom of God. Even bearing children, in the Christian view, is merely nurturing more lives for the family of God. That can be done in other ways than the biological. On the other hand, the gospel gives us the hope and strength for the sacrifices of marriage and parenthood that is lacking in liberal cultures. Christians grasp that they were only brought to life because of Jesus’ radical sacrifice of his independence and power. We know that children are only brought to life and self-sufficiency if their parents sacrifice much of their independence and power. In light of the cross, it is the least we can do.

The gospel is neither religion nor irreligion, it is something else altogether. Vital gospel Christianity’s influence on a society will produce neither a liberal and secular nor a traditional and conservative culture, but something we have seldom seen before.

Dr. Tim Keller is the senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Manhattan, New York. He is also co-founder and vice president of The Gospel Coalition. For more resources by Tim Keller visit Redeemer City to City.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Quote of the Day

From challies.com:
"Frankly, I have never understood why someone who believes in the literal bodily resurrection of Christ would balk at believing all of Scripture, starting with Genesis 1:1" - John MacArthur
(From an interview by Tim Challies with Dr. MacArthur)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Life: Self Evident, Inalienable Right

Rep. James Lankford addresses the U.S. House on C-Span with a very impassioned and well-formed plea. I wholeheartedly agree with him and hope that others will get to hear his powerful statements.