Monthly Archives: November 2006

The Nativity Story – A Movie Review

No, I haven’t seen this film yet, but Al Mohler has, and he liked it. You can read his review here. I’m sure that many will have problems with anyone trying to put the life of Christ to film, but it is done so the question really comes to how accurate is the story that is told?

Should the story of Jesus be reduced to film? That question is not as easily dismissed as some might think. Nevertheless, The Nativity Story is the first major Hollywood studio film in many years to deal with a biblical story. In fact, World magazine reviewer Steve Beard reports that The Nativity Story is the first such release from a major studio since Ben Hur and The Ten Commandments.

Dr. Mohler notes that the filmmakers seem to have given more than lip-service to biblical accuracy.

When it comes to the virgin birth, the divinity, and the saving mission of the Christ Child, the movie never blinks. Cinematographers may find fault with the presentation of the angels and the voice of God, but I have the sense that where the director had to choose between accuracy and artistry, accuracy often won. For that decision Christians should be thankful.

There are so-called “Christians” that tend to waffle on the virgin birth, divinity and mission of Christ so I’m looking forward to having the opportunities that this film might bring to speak truth about who Jesus is.


New to My Blogroll

I’m adding a link to Thabiti Anyabwile’s Pure Church site to my blogroll. I know some will suggest that it is because of his church location (it does sound a bit exotic). Others might think I just like the name of this pastor. But in actuality it has to do with his consistently solid posts that reflect a pastor’s heart. I don’t know Thabiti (who used to be known as Ron Burns – you can read the story here) but I do appreciate his insights into the Word, his theological concern, and the practical thoughts. I’m thinking that maybe we should send a small delegation to learn what we can from First Baptist Church.

“Sermons Here! Fresh, Hot Sermons!”

Tim Challies has an interesting and frustrating post today about plagiarism in the pulpit.   I wrote about this back in April, concerned with the impact Rick Warren’s sermon selling might have on the character of pastors and churches. Challies links to the latest Wall Street Journal article by Susan Sataline about this very topic and brings his typical wisdom to the conversation. I appreciated the paragraph about why pastors might choose to preach other men’s sermons:

Of course we would be remiss to read about this issue and to neglect asking why pastors feel it necessary to preach other peoples’ sermons. I’m sure that in some cases pastors are simply lazy and are looking for a way to avoid what can be a long, tedious task. But in many cases I suspect pastors preach these sermons because they feel their congregations will demand a certain quality and a certain level of entertainment that they cannot provide. The spirit of pragmatism lives in the church today and I know of many pastors who have succumbed to it. They feel that their congregations will be better served by a sermon that is witty and contemporary than by a pastor who absorbs himself in a week-long study of the Bible. Some churches expect far too much of their pastors, demanding that they be leaders and entertainers more than preachers. Some pastors are not allowed sufficient time to adequately prepare their sermons. In many cases, the pressure for plagiarism may well originate in the pews and not in the pulpit.

I think it is just one more evidence of a weakening commitment to the Word of God and its power to change lives when truth is clearly preached by one who has be thoroughly changed by his interaction with that truth. What do you think? Or does it even matter?

I also appreciate Challies’ words of caution about speaking to the secular press about issues inside the church. Read down to the bottom of his article.

Football and the Church

Steve Camp (aka “Keith Green with Theology”) may have a little too much time on his hands this week, but his football-church comparisons are pretty good. Labels like these might even draw a few more men into worship?

Memo: Old is In?

music-hands.jpgSome days I wonder if I wasn’t copied on the memo. You know, when everyone seems to be wearing the same color except you, or when the small talk around the church seems to be about the same, unexpected topic. I understand when it happens in blogland since most of just link to others who link to others who ….

Anyway, I found it interesting that I participated in no less than four “church-foyer-small-talk” discussions about how “nice it was to sing so many hymns lately”, and “we could have had old-time revival altar calls with all the hymns we’re singing.” Our worship is blended, and I’ve not paid attention to how many hymns we have been singing, but I’ve recently thought that worship in general has been moving back towards some older songs and hymns. Then I read Challies today and find he’s thinking the same thing.

And that gave me something to blog today after a week of being “blahed out” by allergies, rain, dark days.

On a happier note, the Seahawks just squeaked by the Rams again!

Baby FaceAnd Linda spent some time with babies today. I love the joy I see in my wife when she holds one of the little ones in the nursery.

Another Warning to Us All

I don’t know Ted Haggard. I don’t know all his doctrinal positions or how well he preaches. I DO know what most of the rest of the nation now knows … he has experienced failure in ministry. It appears that his church has responded properly. He seems to be owning his failure. Time will bring truth. This is a blow to the church of Jesus but it is not fatal. Nothing can destroy the church, not even it’s leaders. The image may be marred, but God has an amazing way of bringing glory to himself through the darkest of times – and giving us a “wake-up call” about the state of the church. I appreciate what Pyro Phil had to say as the story broke. Challies’ post today is very insightful.

I also know that all believers – especially those of us “in ministry” – should be reminded to take time to examine ourselves. Are we guarding ourselves against the weaknesses of our flesh? Do we deal with the things that may discourage us to the point of giving in to something to “ease the pain?” Do we have thoughts about being entitled because we “give so much?” More importantly, do we practice the Scriptures that remind us that God is our strength and shield? Do we aggressively pursue those practices of heart that will keep us from sin? Do we deal stringently with the thoughts that will ensare us?  And not just sexual thoughts by the way. Time again for us all to take time to consider our hearts! Maybe Wayde Goodall’s book is a good place to start. He goes beyond the walls of the church and ministry, but there seems to be some common threads. Or, maybe Rima and McIntosh’s Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership. Take heed to yourselves. I think it might be wiser than tossing stones.

A Rare Article

It is not often that you’ll find an article on building an intensely biblical youth ministry in the secular media. Sonya Steptoe’s October 31, 2006 article in Time magazine is one of those rarities. I’m not sure about the impact of the Purpose Driven element, but I’ve always believed that the Word of God must be central to ministry – even to youth (it was a core value in my 25+ years of youth work). Nice to see that more churches may be coming to the same conclusion.