Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Dangers of Scientology

I just saw this article that came from Time Magazine. Having lived next one of the worldwide centers of Scientology in Clearwater a couple of summers, and seeing these guys walk around downtown, it hits a little close to home. It's a very eye-opening, in depth look how this self proclaimed religion operates. It reminds me how thankful to know the Truth. The article opens up with this:

"By all appearances, Noah Lottick of Kingston, Pa., had been a normal, happy 24-year-old who was looking for his place in the world. On the day last June when his parents drove to New York City to claim his body, they were nearly catatonic with grief. The young Russian-studies scholar had jumped from a 10th-floor window of the Milford Plaza Hotel and bounced off the hood of a stretch limousine. When the police arrived, his fingers were still clutching $171 in cash, virtually the only money he hadn't yet turned over to the Church of Scientology, the self-help "philosophy" group he had discovered just seven months earlier."

(HT:Tim Challies)

Sunday, January 27, 2008

New Red Mountain CD

I am very excited to now have Red Mountain's new CD, This Breaks My Heart of Stone. At this point, I've only made it through a couple of times, but so far I really dig it. There's such a raw emotion that is felt in all their albums. And I'm really attracted to it. They redo old hymns, most of which you've never heard of, which I really enjoy. The hymns embrace the idea that God has everything to do with our salvation and how His love is on us, even when our hearts are cold.

I was having a conversation with my roomie this morning about how a lot of Reformed music seems to have a depressing feel. And Red Mountain Music definitely fits that description to some degree. But, honestly that's why I think it's so great. Like the Puritans, who were so in tune with the depth of their sin, these redone hymns talk a lot about how screwed up we all are. But becuase of this acute awareness of sin, the lyrics are able to continue on and talk about the grace of God through Christ in a much more profound way. I think it's a good thing to come to a point of near depression over the depravity of our own hearts, and not to wallow in that guilt, but to lift up a now humble, broken heart to God and praise Him for His grace.

Here's what the producer said about the album:
The further we get, the less we seem to be sure of, the less we seem to know. If I'm honest, I'll admit that I struggle with being angry. I struggle with cynicism. It's not only hard to believe. It's hard to love. It's hard to be hurt. It's hard to see so many other people hurting. It's hard to stay. It's easier to just be cynical.

And yet, there are moments where the light shines. There are moments where I am "convinced as a sinner, to Jesus I come". There are moments when I meet someone and their belief shakes me somewhere deep inside, because I feel a similar belief inside myself. These moments of belief don’t seem to happen very often, but when they do, it feels like rain is falling on the drought of my soul.

For me - and I think for a lot of us - these moments of belief often coincide with music. These songs remind me, they remind us, that the gospel is at work. That redemption is taking place. That sad things are being made untrue. That hopefully in small pieces and small moments, our hardened hearts are breaking.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Monday, January 21, 2008

MLK Jr.'s conviction and determination

Over the years I've grown to appreciate more and more the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I love his relentless pursuit of justice to overcome the sin of racism. Desiring God posted this excerpt from King's Letter to a Birmingham Jail. It is a powerful reminder of the oppression that he and the black community were facing.
Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging dart of segregation to say, "Wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six- year-old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son who is asking: "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross-country drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness" then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

There will be blood update

I got to see it last night, and I was not disappointed! It had incredible acting, incredible cinematography, an incredible story, and an incredible soundtrack. It is a very raw account of a man's pursuit of wealth and all that comes with that.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

There will be blood

It seems everywhere I turn I run into reviews about how incredible this movie is. Yet, when I tell most people about it, no one seems to know what it is. That's mainly because it is only in a limited amount of theaters right now and isn't being marketed all that much. (If you are in Atlanta, you can check it out at Tara Cinemas, which I hopefully will be able to do shortly).

So, because of the lack of awareness, I thought I'd post some information on it. It stars Daniel Day Lewis and was produced by Paul Thomas Anderson. Roughly, it's about a man who is in the oil business, who obtains some land in southern California. Drama ensues.
Paste Magazine had this to say in it's latest issue about it:
"There Will be Blood is a staggering exploration of how capitalism and religion shaped the American frontier at the turn of the century
"There Will be Blood is not a film about oil or prospecting or the allure of endless cash: the movie focuses sometimes distractingly --on one man's epic ascent and crumble."

and finally
"There Will be Blood is still an incredibly significant film--the most significant of Anderson's career--and it manages to say an awful lot about American character, then and now.

Check out the trailer here.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Base Jumping

I had heard about base jumping before, but I checked out a link on Mark's blog, and I never knew it was this cool!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Favorite Blogs

Some of you have inquired recently about some of my favorite blogs that I frequent. Even though I have many listed on the lower right hand of the page, I did want to take the time to highlight a few.

Ray Ortlund = My favorite as of late. He provides great insight into the Word as well as posting significant quotes that are worthy of thought.

Between Two Worlds = Probably the blog that made me want to start blogging in the first place, as well as the blog that I try to model somewhat. It is a "mix of theology, philosophy, politics, and culture."

Looking Closer = This is a great one for those of you into film. Jeffrey sees a ton of movies and is able to relay to others redeeming qualities about them. He also has the inside scoop on upcoming movies.

Friday, January 04, 2008

More on Osteen

Slate magazine recently published an article about Joel Osteen. It reveals a lot more about Osteen's past and how he came to embrace the Prosperity gospel. Though I don't endorse this message at all, I now have a better understanding of why he does. Thanks to Evan and Justin for the link.

Here's the full article. And below is the writer's summation:
"There's, of course, nothing inherently suspect or dishonorable about seeking uplift and consolation in the Bible. But the point of those "deep theological doctrines" that Osteen seems to deride is to leaven that quest with the less agreeable features of life—pain and suffering, the persistence of evil, the fleeting quality of all endeavor, the cosmic insignificance of the human self, let alone that self's subordinate chosen modes of expression in body posture or a near-pathological penchant for smiling. After all, the same Bible that Lakewood's arena full of believers champion as a handbook for what they can do and be also contains these words, in Revelation 3:17: "Thou sayest, I am rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing: and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked."

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

San Di-ago (or Saint Diego)

As I said yesterday, I went to San Diego to visit the Carluccios last weekend. I had yet to visit David since he moved out there last winter to join the Navy. And I had never actually been to San Diego. I had a blast.

Friday, when I got in, Looch and I played some golf and he took me by an obstacle course on one of the naval bases. I tried some of it, and it was quite difficult. We then visited most of Coronado island and I got to see why I had been told to see it. It's a really cool place. Saturday, they both took me all over different parts of the city. We mainly went up and down the coast, getting to see seals and surfers and some nice houses.

Because he got the 2nd to last Wii in San Diego before Christmas, no lie, we got to play some Tiger Woods that afternoon. That night they took me downtown to eat at a really great seafood place. It was probably one of my favorite downtown scenes because of all the restaurants, bars, and shops everywhere. As I've explained, it's a good mix somewhere between New York CIty and Athens, GA.

Sunday, they took me to the church they attend, Kaleo Church. I really enjoyed meeting the people I met, including Drew. And the gospel was brought. Two qualities of a solid church. That night, we played some more Wii, watched some of the Office, and ate some of Allison's awesome shredded BBQ chicken! Basically, I was very glad I got to get out there and catch up with them both.

Enjoy the pics below, and check out more of them here.
Here's Looch looking out at the ocean

Here's Looch and I at Torrey Pines.

Looch and Allison

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Holidays and Resolutions

I'm back. In the last 11 days I drove to Louisiana and back with the fam and flew out to San Diego to visit Dave and Allison. More to come on the San Diego trip in a few days. All the while I've been off work thanks to an amazing boss. It's been a great break.

In light of the New Year, Justin reminded me of some incredible resolutions written by Jonathan Edwards. There are 70 of them and he would read them once a week to keep his focus on God. Here's the first:
1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God' s glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriads of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many soever, and how great soever.

So, this is a reminder to me, and I hope to you, to not just cruise through life. Instead, it's important to search and figure out what is True, and pursue that with all we've got.