If the World Vision marriage controversy a few weeks ago (more about that here and here) teaches us anything, it is this: there has to be a better way for Christians to be involved in mercy ministry. If we are content giving money away to organizations that pride themselves on being atheolgoical, then we are going to continually be frustrated when our resources end up being used to advance an agenda that is less than biblical.

I have a few ideas about how to do mercy ministry more effectively, but first a quick comment about the stunning hypocrisy that came out as a result of World Vision’s capitulation (and recapitulation) on gay marriage:   Continue Reading…

Jamie Pierre, 250 Foot Cliff Jump, Grand Targhee Backcountry, WYFor many who live in high alpine terrain, mountain sports like skiing are a way of life. As with any such sport, carnage comes with the territory. On one particular occasion, I watched a friend missile himself off a 60 foot cliff on a day which skiers would label the snow conditions as “boiler-plate” (referring to the penetrability of the snow). When he finally landed, the boiler-plate-like snow gave 4 inches (though he stopped, his skis continued airborne without him for another quarter of a mile). By the numbers, he was going about 40mph, landed, came to a complete stop in a fraction of a second, with only 4 inches of snow-cushion. That’s probably less forgiveness than landing on hot asphalt. Needless to say, he compacted a few vertebrae and was laid up for a month. And once it was clear he was still alive, the stunt provided for a powerfully learning experience as one might imagine: among other things, don’t imitate Eddy the Eagle on boiler-plate snow conditions.

unforgivingThe falls and mishaps of others are never occasion for juicy gloating though they must be for humbly learning. At our local resort, you’re the mountain chump if you chuckle at a big fall. But you’re also the mountain fool if you fail to learn from them.

As normal for any era between Genesis 3 and Revelation 20, these past few months have seen a far share of ministry falls, scandals, apology-kind-of-things, disqualifications, and hard-to-name-types-of-things. As the church, this provides opportune learning occaions for us to understand the times and know what to do.

This is by no means exhaustive, but here are 7 suggestions in light of recent events:

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Have you ever thought about heaven as a city?

In the apostle John’s account of the new earth in Revelation 21-22, prominent attention is given to the New Jerusalem, the capital of the eternal heaven. Nearly half of Revelation 21 is devoted to describing the physical properties of the magnificent metropolis. Its glorious splendor will be the heart of the new earth, for it is here that God Himself dwells.

New_Jerusalem

Christians rarely think of heaven as a city, and yet that is precisely how God describes it (Heb. 11:16; cf. John 14:2). Cities have buildings, streets, houses, and citizens. They are places of political power, economic industry, higher learning, refined culture, and impressive architecture. These characteristics are true of the heavenly city as well, though the New Jerusalem will far outshine any of earthly city in both its magnificence and its might. Continue Reading…

night skyReverend Robert Evans is a retired pastor who lives in Australia. Many ministers these days claim to have various supernatural gifts. But unlike the usual suspects of contemporary charismania, the Rev Evans actually does posses an ability that is closer to supernatural than any claim I’ve seen on TBN. It’s practically a superpower–though Evans neither acts nor (thankfully) dresses, anything like a superhero. As far as superpowers go, it’s not the most flashy one would pick; nevertheless it has proven very useful to cosmologists and astronomers. You see, if Rev Evans fixes his gaze on an array of particles (of any magnitude), then the next time he looks at them he can instantly tell if one is missing, or has been added.

Like I said, it’s not exactly leaping over tall buildings in a single bound.

But to impress you with how remarkable this gift really is, I want you to imagine a pool table with a fistful of salt grains causally strewn over its surface. These ruinous white specks on the felt backdrop represent stars. Now imagine 1,500 more such tables arranged in the world’s biggest pool hall, each displaying thousands of salt grains randomly spread over them. After Rev Evans has walked around and inspected each table, you could then surreptitiously sneak one grain of salt off any table and toss it on any other table. Upon his next stroll through the dining hall, Evans would be able to pinpoint exactly which spot the ambulant grain used to occupy, and where it now resides.

It might not help curtailing crime in Gotham, but it’s more impressive than Benny Hinn’s ability to make old ladies fall over with a wave of his Armani-clad arm, or banishing back pain for long enough to pass a collection plate.

With characteristic modesty, Evans explained to one interviewer, “I just seem to have a knack for memorizing star fields. I’m not particularly good at other things. I don’t remember names well.”

—“Or where he’s put things,” added his wife Elaine.

How is this party trick helpful in the real world?

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The Noah movie was released, and by all accounts (or by all discerning accounts) was a complete mash-up of gnosticism, mysticism, kabbalah, with an unhealthy dash of environmentalism. It has certainly brought out the worst in the quasi-evangelical community, who produced all sorts of reviews showing their earnestness to engage with popular culture (“it may have promoted devil worship, but the CGI was awesome!!!), whereas others seemed to try really hard to justify all those buses they rented to take their congregations to Christian screenings.

Anyway, Trevin Wax helpfully put many of the best (and worst) reviews in one place. Some of the highlights:

This review shows how the movie is essentially warmed up gnosticism.  Al Mohler’s makes the same point. If you might actually want to see the movie, then Denny Burk gives you a review without spoilers. Meanwhile, Ken Ham does what Ken Ham does.

Today on Cripplegate, Tom Patton (a pastor at Grace Church in Los Angeles, and also a literal acting coach!) gives his meticulous review as well.

As for me, I strongly recommend you read Lyndon’s review. If you don’t know why people care about this movie, then read Lyndon’s review. If you think the movie was fun to watch, then read Lyndon’s review. If you are sick and tired of reading people who say things like “blah blah, at least it will help you talk about God more, blah blah” then read Lyndon’s review. Lyndon does not mix words, tells you all you need to know about the movie, and writes exceptionally well. Plus you will get a picture of Eddie VanHalen eating a McMuffin. If it doesn’t instantly become one of your favorite movie reviews, then let me know, and I will gladly refund your money.

This review is written by Tom Patton, Pastor of Congregational Care at Grace Community Church in Los Angeles.

Last Friday movie theaters all around the nation opened their doors to invite the viewing public in to watch Russell Crowe take on his newest role; the epic character of Noah. Isn’t it interesting how just the mention of one of the Scripture’s most well-known characters in the same sentence as one of Hollywood’s most celebrated actors can create an odd blend of curiosity and dread in most Bible-believing Christians? The two just don’t seem to go together. I remember the first time I saw the massive publicity poster hanging from the walls of my local cinema before the film’s release. There right before me hung a larger-than-life portrait of a grizzly bear of a man with a full beard, drenched with water, sporting what seemed to be a biker crew cut and wrapped in a battle worn leather garment more reminiscent of Harley-Davidson performance gear than Antediluvian dress. It was Noah meets Gladiator; Maximus meets Genesis; Hollywood meets the Ark.

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