Finally, a TV program that treats faith fairly, and it’s not even a religious show. In fact, The Last Ship is more spiritual than most of the religious programming on The Bible Network. One of the core characters is CMC Russell Jeter, played by Charles Parnell. CMC Jeter, is a professed Southern Baptist Christian. A rational, heroic, likeable black man, he lives his convictions in the context of his duties as a Master Chief of the Navy. And as a return to past years’ honest treatment of Christianity, even the non-religious characters respect CMC Jeter’s faith and spirituality.

In the tradition of JAG and NCIS, The Last Ship shows the US Navy as competent and effective, even noble, in its execution of possibly flawed government policy. Even though it conforms somewhat to Political Correctness, the show presents a balanced approach by allowing the men and women to actually be men and women, and the displayed PC doctrine conveys accurate US military policy. One significant omission in current Political Correctness, however, is the lack of overtly homosexual characters. Perhaps that only bows to the, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” doctrine of years past.

Obviously I was very favorably impressed by this TV series and highly recommend it for family entertainment, with the exception of small children because of graphic portrayals of bloody violence. It presents opportunities for Christian parents to use the pause button to ask their children the hard questions and offer commentary on issues of faith, nationalism, the military, and social issues.


Who would portray God as a spiteful child? Who would take a compelling Biblical story that already has all the adventure and pathos of the best Hollywood spectacles, and rip out three-quarters of its guts, leaving a disjointed fictional movie.

Hollywood, and more specifically, 20th Century Fox and producer Ridley Scott, that’s who. And they didn’t even have the decency to change the characters’ names to protect the innocent. For instance, the Moses character confronted Pharaoh only once, and that was during the plagues, rather than giving him a warning before each plague. When the people Israel stood at the Red Sea there was no trace of a pillar, either of cloud or of fire. The only pillars of cloud were the chain of tornadoes that brought the sea back to cover the Egyptians. Any Sunday school kid would tell you how wrong that was.

While I eschew sitting—or standing—in judgment over others’ motives, I think my analysis is right; the film’s producers sought to explain away the majority of miracles surrounding Israel’s exodus from Egypt with natural phenomena, thereby stealing God’s thunder. That attempt was as effective as a cockroach shaking its thorny claw at the boot that’s about to squash it.

God is glorified by those very movie moguls’ every breath, and I don’t envy their sense of futility over their corporate failure to repudiate Him. They share the same insanity as any other crazy person, by repeatedly trying the same failed strategy over and over again, always thinking it will produce different results.

Lee Daniels’ THE BUTLER (Movie Review and other thoughts)

Lee Daniels’ THE BUTLER clearly illustrates historical revisionism at its subtle best. The cast, a Who’s Who of Hollywood knee-jerk liberalism, performed brilliantly.

I say political revisionism because this film made President Obama’s election appear to vindicate the entire civil rights movement. In truth, his presidency only deepened the subjugation of the poor and minorities, for the single purpose of perpetuating the welfare state and the political party that supports it for its own political ends.

As I gaze into the past, I hate the fact that white America made the civil rights movement necessary, when respect for all is an expression of Christ’s love for all, and our responsibility as Christ-followers (1 Corinthians 13). I also hate the fact that left-wing politicians have co-opted the righteous quest for equal human rights, with President Obama standing at the pinnacle of that self-serving agenda.

God gave me a love for all of humanity, and that includes people of all races, even though I struggle to love those who pursue anti-Biblical ends. He loves militant atheists and secularists. God even loves racial, sexist, religious and sexually perverse bigots, just as much as He loves those who follow Him in love through Christ Jesus. He is not the Father of the faithful only, but of all creation. I, as a father, know something of His love for us. I know how my heart breaks when one of my children is in danger of pursuing a destructive path, and my love for that child holds as firmly as for the compliant one.

We focus on our concept of civil and human rights, and the list of those “rights” grows constantly as ungodly people insist on governmental and societal sanctions for their personal preferences. As Christ-followers, however, all of our rights derive from just one responsibility: to follow His commands, as best we can in our human frailty, without bowing to the world system. We have the right to be discriminated against, to be hated, and to be martyred. In Christ, our right to “freedom of speech” does not include the right to belly-ache about schools prohibiting prayer, gun control, abortion, or even the homosexual agenda. We must limit our speech to words of love and affirmation. In fact, such speech must be so proactive that our conspicuous love, and conversely, our lack of apathy, becomes the moral light in this dark world (Ephesians 5:6-12). Please note: I said, “proactive,” as opposed to passive. There is nothing passive about Godly love.

THE BUTLER mentions social heroes such as Gandhi, King and Kennedy, and in their own ways they were great men. But idealizing them is no substitute for loving and obeying our Lord Jesus Christ.



On sitting through a TV movie called, MELTDOWN: DAYS OF DESTRUCTION, my only choice for redeeming an otherwise wasted ninety minutes is to draw a spiritual object lesson from the experience.

The scenario has fat, bald, money-grubbing Republican (my surmise – not stated in the movie) Jared Olsen insisting on executing an experiment against the advice of good-guy Nathan. The experiment? Nuke a perfectly innocent asteroid that wasn’t even in danger of crashing into Earth. You know, target practice. You can see the story coming, just like I did; the nuke split the asteroid, with the biggest piece—roughly the size of Iceland—heading Earthbound. When it ricocheted off the atmosphere, all the scientists thought we had dodged a major bullet, but they soon learned that this close encounter of the worst kind had nudged our garden-planet closer to the Sun. Of course, all the flowers, as well as billions of people, began wilting forthwith.

At the top of my list of technical blunders in that flick stands the fact that any change in our solar orbit significant enough to cause temperatures to climb so quickly would have generated such catastrophic, worldwide earthquakes that everyone would have died long before we could develop a corporate sunburn. Add to that, a moon that would have either crashed into earth or set off on its own interplanetary voyage, and you can see that would have been a bad day indeed for everyone concerned.

Don’t worry, the first two blunders of my list are enough to demonstrate the producers’ scientifically careless attitude, so I won’t belabor the point with the rest of my long and boring list. Said careless attitude illustrates the superficial approach that characterizes naturalistic scientists’ observations of the physical universe. Simply put, they make the best observations they can, given technology’s developing state, run a few explanatory theories up the flagpole, shoot down all but one, and reap a Nobel Prize for it. Of course, all scientists are not atheists, but academia pretty much ignores those who refuse to toe the naturalistic line.

Do you ever wonder why so many good church kids graduate from college as atheists? Most of the blame goes to the fact that state-funded higher education is misnamed; it’s not education, but naturalistic indoctrination.

Another great portion of blame falls at the feet of Christian education, which fails to teach church kids how to think critically. The religious establishment believes that the best response to public education’s naturalistic indoctrination is to simply tell kids not to believe it. They’re afraid that teaching our youth critical thinking will cause them to question what they’re taught about God. But guess what; they will anyway. Wouldn’t we be better off teaching young people the correct use of logic? To fear that is to doubt God’s credibility.

Yes, this is a critique, but not of a movie. It’s the church that deserves healthy criticism.

(For a follow-up post, see, Solution.)

The Wonderful Cross

Chris Tomlin’s lyrics are a great place to start with singing glory to our Savior King Jesus, but our praises mustn’t end there. First, we need to think about the words we are singing.

When I survey the wondrous Cross
On which the Prince of Glory died
My richest gain, I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride

What is wondrous about the cross on which our Lord died? Nothing whatsoever! It represents the curse that Jesus bore for us, who truly deserve to so die. The fact that He actually chose to die in our place because of His love for us, His wayward creation, is the most wondrous thing of all. But that awful cross? Just two pieces of lumber; nothing special about that.

Christendom has elevated the cross, a symbol of Christ’s redemptive work for us, to the status of a religious icon. We’re okay as long as we only view it as the symbol, but when we elevate it to a position of singular importance and venerate it as a source of God’s grace, we are in danger of becoming idolaters.

Some Christian denominations cover their church buildings’ walls with icons representing Jesus, saints and religious objects. Others condemn using icons in worship. Both extremes are wrong when they take pride in their respective beliefs and make them conditions for spiritual fellowship.

Now, for the phrase, “Prince of Glory.” Maybe I’m picking nits, but I wonder if using a non-Biblical title for our Lord Jesus is quite the thing to do. He is indeed the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) and the King of Glory (Psalm 24). Would the lyrics have suffered if Tomlin had used, “King of Glory” instead? The cadence would have been the same, so why not use the Biblical phrase?

The balance of that stanza cries out a truth that the church badly needs to grasp. Oh, aren’t we into worldly gain! The more, the merrier! Ephesians 4:17-32 gives us a strong statement of how we must conduct ourselves in the church and the world. Apostle Paul begins with, “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called.” Then, in verse twenty-eight he adds, “He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need.” Does that include any provision for accumulating possessions? Can we find that anywhere in the New Covenant of God’s grace? So, why do we insist on devoting ourselves to accumulating possessions for our own glory?

Finally, Tomlin’s second and third stanzas remind us of Christ’s depth of suffering and the response we owe to Him.

See from His head, His hands, His feet
Sorrow and love flow mingled down
Did ever such love and sorrow meet?
Or thorns compose, so rich a crown

Were the whole realm of nature mine
That were an offering far too small
Love so amazing, so divine
Demands my soul, my life, my all

Read more: Chris Tomlin – The Wonderful Cross Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Why Lukewarm?

Francis Chan

I mean, not speaking of myself, of course; it’s all those people. You know, the less-spiritual “brethren:” The ones who don’t spend enough time in God’s Word. The ones who don’t help out. The ones whose lives are too hurried for much prayer. The ones who fill their minds with worldly entertainments. And the ones who follow pop-culture’s behavioral and fashion trends, rather than Godly principles.

Wait a sec! That’s me, except for the last one. No one would ever accuse me of being trendy. Those are the kinds of things that gradually cover our eyes with worldly-colored contacts, nudging our world view and priorities away from what Jesus taught, one teeny-tiny step at a time. Walk that path very long, and no one will recognized Christ’s presence within—that is, if He’s still there.

Bible Gateway sent me a link to the article, Biblical Literacy by the Numbers: Fixing the Problem, where Ed Stetzer suggests: 1) Viewing the Bible as a whole, as opposed to fracturing it into sound-bites to suit our purposes, or taking a, “spiritual fast-food,” approach to our “McBibles.” 2) Creating a reading and study plan, personally or congregationally, since becoming conversant with God’s word flows from the top down. 3) Teach the Bible, not predigested curricula that may, or may not, present Biblical principles faithfully. 4) Teach and preach from the best contemporary translations, while taking older, more established versions, into consideration.

Stetzer summarizes with, “Reading the Bible is actually part of the abundant life Christ has given us,” but I say it’s far more. Only when God’s Holy Spirit makes His Word alive within us, will we understand His life-giving principles, but each Christ-follower—that’s you and I—must commit to learning them. We cannot live the Christian life without them.

The resurrected and glorified Jesus told His disciple John to warn the Laodecian church about the consequences of their lukewarm commitment to Him (Revelation 3:14-22). If there are ages within the historical Christian church, we are now in the Laodecian age, where we take our ease, having, in our own minds, satisfied Christ’s minimum requirements for salvation. We are rich (by the world’s standards), we have become wealthy, and have need of nothing … nothing but repentance.

Another View of Creation

I just discovered an oddity: a Christian scientist. Not an adherent of Christian Science, but a scientist who, though once and atheist, is now a Christian. I discovered him through a video titled, “Francis Collins Denies Intelligent Design.” Like me, you have probably never heard of Dr. Francis Collins. If you click here you can learn why what he says is important.

Dr. Collins’ position on the origin of the universe won’t sit well with the Evangelical Christians that I know; he says creation and evolution are perfectly compatible, and that science and faith are parallel world views with little bearing on one another. While his position is reasonable, I’m not convinced that God’s eternal Word created the universe through a Big Bang. He certainly could have created the universe with the appearance of age, like the young-Earthers preach, but I have to wonder why. Here is Collins’ rationalle for his position:

Almighty God, who is not limited in space or time, created a universe 13.7 billion years ago with its parameters precisely tuned to allow the development of complexity over long periods of time. God’s plan included the mechanism of evolution to create the marvelous diversity of living things on our planet. Most especially, that creative plan included human beings. After evolution, in the fullness of time, had prepared a sufficiently advanced neurological house (the brain), God gifted human with free will and with a soul. Thus humans received a special status, “made in God’s image.” We humans used our free will to disobey God, leading to our realization of being in violation of the Moral Law. Thus we were estranged from God. For Christians, Jesus is the solution to that estrangement.

If you find this presentation reprehensible, I challenge you to act like a Berean and search the Scriptures to see whether or not these things are true. We all have a great body of beliefs that we have received through our church culture, and we need to know, from the Bible, why we believe them.

As I alluded above, I don’t buy it, especially the human part of his story. The Bible clearly states that God made Adam from the dust of the ground; we didn’t evolve with the other animals, from the same single-cell organisms that floated around in the primordial soup. As for the literal, six twenty-four hour days of creation, while I readily admit that God could have done the job that quickly, I need to see more Biblical evidence to arrive there. His ways are not our ways, and similarly, His understanding is not our understanding. I think the part of Genesis 2 that catches me is verses four and five: This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, before any plant of the field was in the earth and before any herb of the field had grown. The word for “day” is the same one used in verse one and all the other references to days of creation. Verse four uses “day” as a period of time during which God created the heavens and the earth.

Feel free to weigh in on the debate, without name-calling and emotional rants. Show me book, chapter, and verse for your position. If I’m wrong, I want to know why.

Why Are You Still in Such a Hurry?

I’ve often asked that question when “Mr. Wheeler” can’t seem to abide by my speed limit driving, and at the first opportunity, or occasionally before the first opportunity, he streaks around me, just to throw on the breaks at the next traffic signal or turn off at the next intersection. (Thanks for the illustration, Goofy.)

That used to be me, as my Facebook picture shows, so I already know the answer; hurrying originates as procrastination or an over-full schedule, so we leave at the last possible moment, thinking all will be green til we get there. Of course, we all know about the best laid plans, etc., but somehow we fail to consider the near-certainty of Murphy’s Law coming into play at exactly the wrong time (which is, after all, how it works). Before long, hurrying becomes a habit, then an addiction.

This is a revision of an earlier post, because in my observations of my Christian brethren, the church needs this message more than ever. I understand how the urgency of circumstances might push outsiders over the edge of reason, but those who claim to rely on God’s timing and provisions have no excuse for chronic hurrying. Are the few minutes gained by leaving for work late worth all the stress of darting through traffic like a race driver? And those manic, traffic meatheads usually don’t get very far ahead anyway, and pay lots more on fuel while doing it.

Medical science tells us that our adrenaline response “evolved” as part of our fight-or-flight instinct. If that’s true, our nearly constant adrenaline flow is unnatural, placing the sort of stress on our bodies that we place on over-amped electric motors or supercharged automotive engines. In short, we can’t last as long if we’re always in a hurry.

My problem with rushing around is, it undermines the peace I have in Christ Jesus. We already have the supernatural peace that comes from knowing our eternal destiny, as well as the peace we get from knowing, loving and communicating with God through our Savior Jesus. That’s all quite wonderful, and just part of our reward for following Christ, but we fill our lives with more immediate, even urgent, issues than that. While our peace that passes understand is God’s gift to Christ-followers, we must deliberately apply it to life’s everyday choices if we want to enjoy its maximum benefit.

Apostle Paul dispensed profound wisdom to the church in Philippi, but excerpting just a few words from the following passage would not do it justice:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. (5) Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; (6) do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (7) And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (8) Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (9) What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:4-9)

Verse four asserts a foundational, spiritual principle that Paul repeated for emphasis: We must rejoice always, and not only when things are going swimmingly. But know that such rejoicing is only possible when a life is fully given to God through the Lord Jesus. Verse five tells us to drop the “manly” act. Verse six deals succinctly with anxiety. But even with the sure-fire solution that follows, actually allowing God to remove anxiety from our lives takes constant vigilance. And I particularly love verses eight and nine, as they challenge me to the max.

This “always” passage gives us a verbal portrait of Jesus, as the behavioral target for our constant striving. And the ultimate reward for diligently pursuing Christ-likeness? God’s peace!

So, don’t hurry after your petty, earthly goals, but make your quest for God’s goals your highest priority.
(Note to self: Follow your own advice! ;^)

A Lesson From Prince Rupert

Prince Rupert of Bavaria discovered an interesting phenomenon that makes glass harder than steel. This YouTube video from Smarter Every Day demonstrates its properties.

Did you notice how the exceedingly strong lump of glass could only be broken by snapping the weaker, tail-section? That suggests an equally mysterious phenomenon within God’s church; as strong as the church is against outside attack, internal stresses can explode it.

When glass is held in a flame until it’s hot enough, it begins to flow like an extremely thick liquid, with its high-viscosity holding it in a single mass. Similarly, when God’s church is spiritually hot enough, it too begins to move, and like a liquid, it fills voids in people’s lives. When the church cools, however, it becomes brittle enough to break easily under stress.

I found the almost-instant, explosive force flowing from a break in the relatively weak tail particularly fascinating. God’s Spirit holds his church together and strong through the people’s individual characteristics and interpersonal dynamics, but the tiniest break can release those dynamics explosively and travel through the church at lightening speed.

The enemy will most certainly use the church’s internal stresses to fracture it, but that can’t happen as long as it’s kept hot by the Holy Spirit’s fire.

Why Muslim Dr. Nabeel Qureshi Converted to Christianity

First, grab a note pad and a pencil, ’cause you’re going to want to take notes; this has some of the best apologetics I’ve heard. Oh, and some Kleenex, if you really love Jesus.

Dr. Qureshi presented this talk on, “Why Islam?” He interpreted that to mean: Why and how should we engage Muslims to share the gospel with them?

  • Muslim family values:
    They are close-knit.
    Their lives are immersed in prayer and devotion.
    They have strong moral principles.
    Young Muslims are taught to be ambassadors for Islam.
    They must be known for their truthfulness.
    They must show respect for their elders.
    They must know the Koran in Arabic.
    They must pray consistently, including the five daily prayers.
    Families must center their lives around their religion.
  • Religious values:
    There is one God, Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet.
    Performing the Five Pillars earns Allah’s favor: To proclaim that Allah is God, and Muhammad is his messenger. To pray the five daily prayers. To pay alms. To fast. To go on pilgrimage.
    If they are good Muslims they will go to heaven.
    Allah is unknowable, transcendent, and Muslims are simply his slaves.
    Some Muslims work to please Allah because they love him, but most are just trying to please him.
    If someone tries to share their Christian faith, a Muslim must share Islam with them.
  • Beliefs:
    Muslims believe the truth matters.
    Muslims believe in Jesus and what he did, but they refuse to accept his divinity and death on the cross.
    When witnessing to Christians they challenge Jesus’ deity, and most Christians can’t counter that from the Scriptures.
  • Arguments with David in University that led to his conversion. (15.00)
    Attacks on the Bible’s authority and accuracy, and David’s defenses.
    Three issues he had to investigate: 1; Is Jesus Lord? 2; Did he die on the cross for our sins? 3; Did he rise from the dead after three days?
  • The rational process that led him to Christ.