Thursday, January 17, 2008

WoWing Facebook


Thanks to my friend and colleague Alisa Harris, WORLD on the Web has entered the world of social networking with its very own Facebook page. If you are one of the 50 million Facebookers out there (if you’re not, you probably will be soon), stop by, become one of our “fans,” let all your “friends” know, and write something clever on our “wall.” And be sure to return often as we continue to add features. The page, which is still in its infancy, currently offers news feeds from the WoW/WorldMagBlog pages and links to WoW’s movie and music reviews. If you have any great ideas for some cool apps we could create for the page, be sure to let us know....

For those of you unfamiliar with WORLD on the Web, it's a site that reports from a biblical worldview and provides an open forum for discussion of news that arises at the intersection of religion and culture.

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New Year, New Job

Happy New Year! I hope 2008 will be great for you all.

The New Year marks a big change for me as I assume the role of Web managing editor for God's World Publications, the publishers of the Christian news magazine WORLD.


For the past 15 years I have been blessed to have worked with a great group of people at ... Pace Communications -- the last 12-plus years as managing editor of Delta's Sky magazine. A little over two years ago, through God's Providence, I began contributing to WORLD Magazine's blog, which helped pave the way to my career change this week.

As I take on these new responsibilities, I covet your prayers for me and my family. Thank you.

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The New and Improved Son of Westminster


Our pastor, Bill Marsh, has a new home for his Son of Westminster blog: williamcmarsh.com. Bill writes: ...

"I know the [URL] name is a little long, but there is a silver lining. If you ever need a Buick, Pontiac, GMC, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Hyundai, Jeep, or Saturn in the Traverse City, Michigan, area, my namesake is the guy to see. He's so smart that he locked up the www.billmarsh.com domain at some point in the past; thus, the baptismal name version for this site."

Bill describes his blog as "The musings of a Reformed and Presbyterian pastor living in a non-Reformed and non-Presbyterian world."
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Saturday, April 07, 2007

"Word-of-Mouth Bestseller"


Almost 10 months after it was first released, Ron Hall and Denver Moore's incredible life-changing story, Same Kind of Different as Me: A Modern-Day Slave, an International Art Dealer, and the Unlikely Woman Who Bound Them Together, continues to sell well. As Ron Hall told me in an interview, "Our publisher calls it a 'word-of-mouth bestseller.' One person reads it, then buys five copies to give away, then those people buy five more."

And that word-of-mouth phenomenon could gain even more momentum now that ... Tim Challies has endorsed the book at his site. It is such an amazing story, Hollywood is likely to scoop it up any day now. So take Tim's advice: "Why not buy it now so you can say that you read the book before you ever heard of the movie!"

To read an excerpt from Same Kind of Different as Me, which was written with the help of WORLD Magazine Features Editor Lynn Vincent (who is also my "blog boss" at WorldMagBlog), go here.

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Me and R.C.


Three weeks ago, I had the privilege to attend Ligonier's 2007 National Conference, "Contending for the Truth," in Orlando, Florida. The trip to hear and see the likes of John MacArthur, Al Mohler, John Piper, R.C. Sproul, Ravi Zacharias, R.C. Sproul Jr., Steve Lawson and Joel Beeke came courtesy of my wife and daughter, who made this my combined Christmas and birthday gift. (Thank you, girls.) As you can see, I even got to meet some of my heroes of the faith, including R.C. Sproul (above). ...

I also met Christian uberblogger Tim Challies (right), who blogged away from the front row at Orlando's First Baptist Church so that people like me wouldn't have to take notes (but I did anyway). Be sure to check out Tim's excellent summaries of the sessions.

It was great to hear all these guys speak in person on apologetics and postmodernism, especially John Piper. His two messages, "Faith and Reason" and "The Challenge of Relativism," are available online at the Desiring God site.

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"A People's Film"

A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I saw a special screening of The Ultimate Gift, the latest release from Fox Faith. (The movie is dedicated to the memory of Clete Childs, a student at our daughter's school who died a year and a half ago in a car accident.) Based on Jim Stovall's book of the same name, the Capraesque film tells the story of a trust fund brat who must perform a series of tasks designed to help him grow as a man in order to receive an inheritance, a.k.a. "The Ultimate Gift," from his late grandfather.

With an excellent cast that includes James Garner (reportedly his last film), Brian Dennehy, and the Oscar-nominated Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine), the movie uses sometimes over-the-top characters and far-fetched plot twists to weave its message of redemption. Still, it's an engaging story told from a Christian worldview that doesn't whack you over the head.

That hasn't stopped some critics from blasting the film for its moral messages. ...

The New York Times' Jeannette Catsoulis wrote, "Reeking of self-righteousness and moral reprimand ... [the film] is a hairball of good-for-you filmmaking coughed up by ... Fox Faith." The Chicago Tribune's Lou Carlozo added, "There's an anti-abortion message jammed into one scene with all the subtlety of an avalanche," in reference to a scene where a single mother simply says that giving birth to her daughter "was the best decision" she ever made.

Ultimate Gift producer Rick Eldridge has responded that it "is a people's film, not a critic's film. And there is, increasingly, a big difference between those two things."

If you've seen it, let us know what you think. If you haven't seen it, I strongly recommend that you do so.

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Roger That

Local pastor Roger Wiles, host of "Reformation Today" on AM 830 WTRU, has expanded his radio ministry with Reformation Today Online along with the Reformation Blog. The site features ... Roger's sermons from Meadowview Reformed Presbyterian Church in Lexington as well as the last two weeks' worth of his radio shows. And be sure to download and read "The Highest Duty of The Church," which is the beginnings of a book Roger is in the process of writing. If you're interested in joining a Bible study, Roger has recently started one in Winston-Salem and plans to start another one soon in Greensboro.
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Getting Serious

A good friend of mine has just started a Christian resource site/blog called The Serious Christian. Here's how he describes his site ...

If you are concerned that many modern Christian churches are becoming more like the secular society around us and not transforming the lives of people and our culture to the Glory of God; if you are concerned that man centeredness has replaced God centered worship and preaching, you will find The Serious Christian an excellent resource. The Great Commission says, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you (Matthew 28:19-20, ESV)." As Christian disciples, we must learn the truth of the Scriptures if we are to live lives consistent with our faith and impact the lives of others. The purpose of this web site is to help you find resources that will encourage your growth in the Christian Faith and, at the same time, keep you informed of current issues related to Christianity.

Stop by and have a look when you get a chance.
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Monday, September 11, 2006

9Marks on the Emerging Church

Lately, I've had quite a few people ask me questions about the Emerging Church: "What is it?" "What do those involved with it believe?" "How do their beliefs differ from orthodox Christian beliefs?" "Is this movement a threat to my church?"

I've read a lot online about the Emerging Church Movement (or, as proponents prefer to call it, the "Emerging Church Conversation," and the article I've found that sums it up best is by Justin Taylor over at Mark Dever's 9Marks site. Taylor does a great job of defining what the Emerging Church is, evaluating what it stands for and offering what the alternatives should be.

In "An Emerging Church Primer," Taylor encourages discernment in us all: ...

Some of you may be called to be experts on the emerging church. We need experts. But I'm not that expert. And perhaps it's good for you that I'm not. In conservative evangelical circles, we can be tempted to listen to experts so that we can hear the person's conclusions: "Just tell me what to think—don't bother me with how you got there." We want the Cliff Notes on the emerging church. We want to read the cast of characters—"this guy's a wolf, that guy's a sheep," and so on.

I'm not going to do that. One of my goals is to help you understand the "emerging church." But my deeper goal would be for us to become the sort of people who know
how to think about things like the emerging church. After all, the "emerging church" is not here to stay. It's a movement, and this is its season. It might be replaced in a year or so; it might stretch out for decades. Yet one thing's for sure: Emerging Church Version 2006 is going to look different next year. And the next.

As Christians, we want to train ourselves to have the mind of Christ, so that we can respond like well-trained tennis players to whatever ball flies in our direction—no matter the angle, the spin, or the speed.

I encourage you to click on the link and read the article in its entirety.
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Saturday, September 09, 2006

Free Derek Webb

Free Derek Webb
No, he's not being held against his will. This singer-songwriter, who appeared at Christ Community Church here in Greensboro earlier this year, is making his latest album, Mockingbird, available as a free download.

Why? ... "It's actually never been as simple as it is today to connect music with music fans," writes Webb on his site. "And I want people to have a chance to listen to Mockingbird and engage in the conversation."
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Thursday, September 07, 2006

For a Lark

For those of you who have not stumbled upon it yet, there's a great satirical Christian news site called LarkNews.com. It's so good that some readers actually believe the stories are true (including some friends of mine who will remain nameless on this blog).

Check out this week's feature on the "downsizing" of a mega-church in Winston-Salem: ...

In a trend that may signal rough times for wallflower Christians, bellwether mega-church Faith Community of Winston-Salem has asked "non-participating members" to stop attending.

"No more Mr. Nice Church," says the executive pastor, newly hired from Cingular Wireless. "Bigger is not always better. Providing free services indefinitely to complacent Christians is not our mission."

Lark News is the creation of freelance journalist and author Joel Kilpatrick.
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Friday, March 17, 2006

Hot Burgers Now!


Gateway Grizzlies fans in Sauget, Illinois, will be able to sample an exciting new concession item at GMC Stadium this season: "Baseball's Best Burger." What makes it so great? Well, it ... "consists of a thick and juicy burger topped with sharp cheddar cheese and two slices of bacon. The burger is then placed in between each side of a Krispy Kreme Original Glazed doughnut." Bet that'll send Krispy Kreme's stock price soaring, as well as Pfizer's (they make Lipitor, you know). Hey Don Moore, will we be seeing these at First Horizon Park this summer? (HT: Mark Bergin at WORLD Magazine's World Views blog.)
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Happy St. Patrick's Day


In his BreakPoint commentary today, Chuck Colson shares the story of the real St. Patrick - not the snake chaser, but a missionary to the Irish.
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Saturday, February 25, 2006

Don Knotts (1924-2006)


Mayberry lost one of its dearest and most cherished citizens yesterday. Don Knotts will be truly missed.
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Friday, January 20, 2006

@ WORLD: Under the Influence

From WORLD Magazine's World Views Blog: "Under the influence" ... which links to a ranking of "The 50 Most Influential Christians in America," according to The Church Report.

Also, be sure to check out Joe Carter's excellent statistical breakdown of this list at The Evangelical Outpost.

To read the entire post with comments and links to this post, click here.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

@ WORLD: Emerging Categories

From WORLD Magazine's World Views Blog: "Emerging categories" ... which links to an interesting article by the North American Mission Board's Ed Stetzer on the emerging church movement.
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End of the Spear


Fifty years ago this month, five Christian missionaries were killed in Ecuador by members of the Waodani tribe. This weekend the movie End of the Spear, which tells the story of this massacre and the incredible reconciliation that followed, opens in theaters nationwide (locally at Brassfield Cinema 10, Carmike 18 and Grande 16; click here to find a theater near you).

In his column today, Cal Thomas writes: ...

"End of the Spear" is the latest in a steadily growing number of films that are taking on culture on its own turf. Instead of cursing darkness, more independent producers are beginning to make good movies (do not confuse "good" in content with bad in execution) containing positive messages.

Also be sure to check out Gene Edward Veith's review of the film in this weeks' WORLD Magazine.
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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

@ WORLD: Fearing Fundamentalism


From WORLD Magazine's World Views Blog: "Fearing fundamentalism" ... which links to an interview with Rick Warren and a response from Albert Mohler.
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Monday, January 16, 2006

Trunk Monkey

Who needs OnStar when you can have a Trunk Monkey in your car? ...

Apologies to those of you who have already seen these ads from Suburban Auto Group. (Hat tip: Challies.com)

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Friday, January 13, 2006

The Faith of Abraham

During our small group study Wednesday night (we're studying R.C. Sproul's video series based on his book Knowing Scripture), our conversation turned to faith, especially the incredible faith Abraham showed when he was willing to sacrifice his son Isaac (Genesis 22). Our discussion carried over to the next day with a few e-mail exchanges. My good friend Timm shared: ...

This morning as I was running, I kept thinking about our discussion last night on understanding the Bible. In particular I thought about our struggle understanding how God could ask Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, and how Abraham was willing to obey God. I can not imagine being asked to make that sacrifice with my children or any other person for that matter. However, it made me realize what an ultimate sacrifice it was for God to send His son as a sacrifice for us. Just as He provided a lamb for Abraham to sacrifice in place of Isaac, He also provided Christ as a sacrifice to cover all our sins. This, like many parts of the Bible, is way beyond my comprehension. However, one passage that helps me with difficult areas is Proverbs 3:5-6. It says "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." I hope that we can all grow together in our understanding of Scripture, but more importantly I hope that we can grow in our faith and trust in Christ. Thank you all for your friendship, open conversation and causing me to examine my faith.

Followed by this message from my wife, Tammie:
Thank you for sharing this, Timm. It's a real blessing to read what you're saying and realize that's exactly what the video referred to last night from the Scripture, that whole business of meditating on God's word no matter what we're doing [Deuteronomy 6:4-9].

I pray that I will not spoil the effect of what you have said by adding a couple of things. First, I have a bad habit of alluding to Scripture and getting a few words right but not remembering where the verses are found so anyone can go back and have their own look at them. So I went back to Genesis after reading your e-mail and found that the verses I was trying to quote are actually in Hebrews: "By faith Abraham ... was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, 'It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.' Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead. ..." (Chapter 11:17-19).

What I like about this is that it appears that God wasn't just expecting Abraham to obey Him, in that famous parenting logic, "because I said so," even though He is the Sovereign God and it is perfectly reasonable for Him to do that. But Abraham was ready to obey Him because He had promised Abraham that Isaac would live to have offspring (in Genesis 17:19b God says, "I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him").

So Abraham obeyed God because he fully believed that Isaac would somehow survive according to God's plan. In fact, he says to the servants who accompany him and Isaac to the mountain for the sacrifice, "Stay here . . . while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you." He's not lying to them; he trusts that God will make a way to bring Isaac back alive. And when Isaac, who looks around and discovers there is no "lamb for the offering" (22:7), asks his dad what's going on, Abraham answers, "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." Again, Abraham isn't just saying something that sounds good, but he's saying what he truly believes.

That makes such an impression on me. Even when I try to obey God, I think of how many times I do it kicking and screaming and crying as if I don't really trust that He knows what He's doing.

The funny thing is, Abraham wasn't always such a trusting child of God. When God told him in Genesis 17 that Sarah would have a son, "Abraham fell facedown; he laughed. ..." It would be a great study to look at how Abraham went from thinking God was off His rocker to being able to put his son in God's hands, knowing God would honor His promises and spare Isaac's life no matter how unlikely that seemed in the circumstances.

Thanks for letting me preach a little sermon! I love our small group and feel God is at work in us.

And thank you Timm and Tammie for letting me share your insight on the faith of Abraham with my blog readers. I am blessed to be in a small group made up of people who sincerely want to love each other and build each other up in His Word. And if you are not currently in a small group at your church, I strongly encourage you to join one. It can be an incredible blessing for you and your spiritual growth.
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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Purpose Driven Problems


A couple of years ago, I, along with millions of others, read Rick Warren's The Purpose Driven Life and gleaned a lot of good from the 40-day devotional study. Since then, I have read and heard a lot, both pro and con, about Warren, his methods and his ministry. Recently, I ran across an article on Tim Challies' excellent blog (Challies.com), where he shares his misgivings about this phenomenal bestseller and the man behind it. He writes: ...

I have decided to present to you my three primary concerns with Rick Warren, his ministry and all things Purpose Driven. These concerns are: Warren's ongoing abuse of Scripture, the all-encompassing nature of the Purpose Driven programs and Warren's ecumenism.

I do not wish to indicate that these are the only concerns I have with Warren, nor do I wish to indicate that there is nothing beneficial happening because of his ministry. I merely wish to express what I feel are three serious, overarching concerns that Christians should be aware of because of Warren's increasing profile as America's pastor and as a leader of the Evangelical church.
[To read the entire article, click here.]

I admire a lot of what Rick Warren has accomplished in his ministry and believe he is sincere his endeavors. However, Tim's article gives me pause and demonstrates to me that we as Christians need to be more discerning when it comes to fully embracing studies and programs such as The Purpose Driven Life.
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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Conservative Christianity

For the past week, Gene Edward Veith has been discussing and dissecting conservative politics on his Cranach blog. He notes, "I learned that for Christians, the point is not to be either liberal or conservative but Biblical."

Today he turns to conservative Christianity and asks some important questions on conservatism and the church: ...

Could we say that conservative Christianity today is hindered by some of the same misconceptions that hamper conservative politics? Is there a risk of Christians also focusing too much on "democracy" (the will of the people) as opposed to "constitutionalism" (adherence to the Bible)? Do churches also focus too much on the "free market economy" (growth, affluence, money, material success) as opposed to deeper values (beauty, truth, goodness)? Is our theology shaped more by human measures (whether intellectual or emotional, traditional or innovative) than by the Word of God?

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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Bible Reading Resolutions


It's that time of year again. We vow that this will be the year we'll stick to a daily Bible-reading plan and read the Good Book cover to cover in 365 days. Our intentions are good, and we usually start off strong - that is, until we hit Numbers and Deuteronomy sometime in February (or March if we've already fallen a few days - or weeks! - behind). By then ... most of us give up and say, "I'll try again next year."

And next year, we try another program and probably find ourselves stalling out once again. What to do? Maybe Ransom Fellowship's Margie Haack, a fellow "shirker and slacker," can offer a solution. In an edition of her Notes from Toad Hall newsletter, she writes:

Until about six years ago, I NEVER made it through the Bible on one of those programs. In summary: I got sick. Traveled. Married. Raised children. The weather was bad. Or beautiful. My aunt had brain surgery. My in-laws dropped by for a day. The taxes were due at midnight, we were eating Chinese take-out, and still trying to figure out Turbo-tax. The engine fell out of the car while I was driving. (That was hard to explain to my husband who sort of believes some of our car repairs are due to my wild driving. Thankfully the Ford Company came to my aid when it recalled that year's Taurus for bad motor mounts.)

So when [my husband] Denis discovered a read-through-the-Bible-plan, which he called "Reading for Biblical Literacy," I was cautious about it. After all, I was a veteran who'd tried everything.

It first came to his attention through Douglas Kelly's book
[If God Already Knows,] Why Pray? The basic plan dates from the time of the Puritans. It was given to him by Venus Brooks, a pastor from the Lumbee Indian tribe. Dr. Kelly writes, "Its special value is that it gives you a varied diet by exposing you to different parts of Scripture each day while providing continuity by causing you to return to the same section on the same day of the week all through the year."

So throughout the year you read the following. On every:
  • Sunday: The books of poetry.
  • Monday: The Pentateuch.
  • Tuesday: O.T. history.
  • Wednesday: O.T. history. (There is a lot of it.)
  • Thursday: O.T. prophets.
  • Friday: N.T. history.
  • Saturday: N.T. epistles.

So while having a fit of resolutions on a January 1st some years ago, I pulled it out, cut down the margins, folded it in half so it would fit in my Bible, and began.

The big difference between this plan and any other I had tried was that it was not tied to any particular date. On any day of the week, say it was Friday, I read the assigned portion and happily checked it off. Fridays were good days and it is true I finished all of them before I finished the Saturdays, but then I simply read wherever I was behind. I was not tempted to cheat, because there were no unsightly gaps. I knew it was going to take me longer than a year. And, after all, what is so inspired about doing it in a year? Nothing. I also liked not having to look up five different references in one day, you could just settle in and read an entire assignment which came from one book. It also had the advantage of giving more context because you read a whole chunk at a time rather than a few verses here and there.

Clearly another advantage in the arrangement was that it helped me see the remarkable unity and interconnections that run through the entire Scripture. On Monday I would be reading about the covenant God made with Abraham and on Saturday Paul would be talking about the very same thing in Romans.

And I figured out at least one thing about Numbers. If God cared enough about all those tribes and clans to count the people and to name them so we could look at them in the year 2002, then it is a certain kind of evidence that God is mindful of every one of his people no matter how anonymous or insignificant we think we are. But the best thing by far was simply checking off a day's portion, not a DATE.

I got through the whole Bible. It only took me a year and six months.

You can find the "Read Through the Bible Program for Shirkers and Slackers" in Margie's Still Winter 2002 edition of her newsletter (a pdf version can be downloaded by clicking here).

This shirker and slacker started the program on January 1 (using my brand-new ESV Reformation Study Bible), and although I haven't stuck to it every day, I'm encouraged by the progress I've made so far. If you decide to give it a try, let me know how you're doing.
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Friday, January 06, 2006

@ WORLD: Congressman Denounces "Daniel"

From WORLD Magazine's World Views Blog: "Congressman denounces "Daniel."
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Thursday, January 05, 2006

@ WORLD: Lottery Cash Restores Creche

From WORLD Magazine's World Views Blog: "Lottery cash restores creche."
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