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Archive for December, 2009

Great words from Matt Chandler, a church planter in Dallas, TX. Pray for him and his family. About two weeks ago, he had a malignant tumor removed from his brain. Docs didn’t get all of it, so he will undergo chemo this Spring.

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Gospel View of Making Resolutions

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression, p. 35:

Would you like to be rid of this spiritual depression?

The first thing you have to do is to say farewell now once and forever to your past.

Realize that it has been covered and blotted out in Christ.

Never look back at your sins again.

Say: ‘It is finished, it is covered by the Blood of Christ’.

That is your first step.

Take that and finish with yourself and all this talk about goodness, and look to the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is only then that true happiness and joy are possible for you.

What you need is not to make resolutions to live a better life, to start fasting and sweating and praying.

No! You just begin to say:

I rest my faith on Him alone
Who died for my transgressions to atone.

(HT: David Mathis)

Here’s the “one thing” Paul wanted to do: “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13-14).

Also remember this rule from Robert Murray M’Cheyne:

For one look at yourself,
take ten looks at Christ!

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The Best Films of 2009

Disclaimer: Some of these films that I am recommending are rated R, so if you are sensitive to certain words or themes, these films may not be suitable for you.

We are all in Memphis this week and that means going to the theater (my mother-in-law always gives us movie passes for Christmas). Today, I saw two films. My eyes hurt a little, but I thought this would be a good time to briefly highlight the best films I’ve seen this past year, in no particular order.

1. “Up”: I saw this film over the summer at the Flat Rock Cinema. The first 10 minutes of the film made me cry. I am amazed at the creative and compelling story telling that the folks at Pixar have. The director of “Up”, Peter Docter, is a follower of Jesus, and his direction is not in your face, but he paints such a wonderful picture of what a good marriage is to look like. I hope I grow old with my bride and love her as much as the old man in this film.

2. “500 Days of Summer”: I saw this film on my birthday with Amy and some friends. It was fun and playful and hard to watch at times because of how the main guy character is treated by the main gal character. Great to see Joseph Gordon Levitt in this film about a 20-something single guy looking for the woman to love. He thinks that person is Summer, played by Zoey Dechanel, who works in the same office as him. This film has great insight into the dating world of those who are trying to find that special someone.

3. “District 9”: I also saw this film on my birthday by myself in Hendo. This is a great sci-fi film about Aliens that have landed in Johannesburg, South Africa (an obvious connection to Apartheid). Really good story-line and awesome special effects.

4. “The Hurt Locker”: This film is set in Baghdad in 2004. It follows a three man team of American soldiers who disarm roadside bombs planted by the insurgents. It was directed by Kathryn Bigelow, the same woman who directed 1991’s “Point Break”, so you know this film is gonna have action. All kidding aside, “The Hurt Locker” was a really intelligent film and gave me a new respect for our soldiers fighting overseas.

5. “Up In The Air”: This was the first film I saw today. It is rated R, so I am just giving you a heads up. This film is about a man (George Clooney) who flies 322 days out of the year and works for a company that fires people. He is a Termination Facilitator. Earlier this Fall, I read Tim Keller’s “Counterfeit Gods” and this film is all about Clooney’s character turning “good things into ultimate things”. He has a goal in mind of flying 10 million miles and because of that goal, he has carved out a life of isolation and no relational commitments, including his own sisters. One of his co-workers calls him out on this lifestyle that he has chosen. When he finally meets his goal of flying 10 million miles, he realizes that his life is really empty and that he has been building his identity on an idol, a practical savior, a counterfeit god, that ultimately leaves his life empty and without purpose. A great commentary on how our culture runs after the false gods of success, money, career, and reputation. Again, not that these things are evil in themselves, but they become evil when we look to them as ultimate things that we build our hopes and identities upon. Only in the gospel can we have true purpose and hope.

Honorable Mention:

“Taken”. One of the most enjoyable films I saw this year was “Taken”. You cannot man handle Liam Neesom. This film won’t win any Oscars, but still.

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Great article in today’s USA Today on the fast growing trend of multi-site churches. You can read it here. I pastor a church like this, Grace Foothills. We call our model the OCMC, “one church, multiple congregations”. We are one of three sites of Grace Community Church. One site is in Mills River, the other in Hendersonville, and ours is in Tryon. The leadership of Grace decided about three years ago that instead of growing up in one huge place, they would grow out instead. Our goal is to saturate Western North Carolina with gospel-centered and culturally relevant churches. Multi-site is the best and the least expensive way to do this. Another benefit of structuring new church plants like this is the relational component. I meet with the other teaching pastors and staff throughout the week as we collaborate in ministry together. As a younger pastor at 39, this is a huge draw for me.

Here is a video that was done last month on the multi-site model at Grace.

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The Hurt Locker

Last night I saw The Hurt Locker at the Tryon Theater. Needless to say, I have a new respect for those fighting in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Here is the trailer.

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Good Article on Tim Keller


Read it here.

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“The heart of most religions is good advice, good techniques, good programs, good ideas, and good support systems. These drive us deeper into ourselves, to find our inner light, inner goodness, inner voice, or inner resources.

Nothing new can be found inside of us. There is no inner rescuer deep in my soul; I just hear echoes of my own voice telling me all sorts of crazy things to numb my sense of fear, anxiety, and boredom, the origins of which I cannot truly identify.

But the heart of Christianity is Good News. It comes not as a task for us to fulfill, a mission for us to accomplish, a game plan for us to follow with the help of life coaches, but as a report that someone else has already fulfilled, accomplished, followed, and achieved everything for us.”

—Michael Horton, The Gospel-Driven Life (Grand Rapids, MI; Baker Books, 2009), 20.

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