Wednesday, August 31, 2005


Not much to say about the aftermath of Katrina. Words seem so useless at times like these. Please consider donating to some of the many organizations mobilizing relief efforts.

For those in the Southeast U.S., there are plenty of opportunities to offer direct help to victims of the devastation. For instance, in Atlanta the Red Cross has already opened up two shelters for Gulf Coast refugees who fled the storm with little more than the clothes on their backs and are now stranded indefinitely.

These Hurricane Photos should underscore the gravity of the situation and the tremendous need for aid.

God have mercy.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Plan 9

Related to yesterday's look at Tim Challies' post on pragmatism, the iMonk has a humorous (yet pointed) take on some of the same issues. Clive Staples himself probably would have enjoyed "Plan 9 From Lower Space."

Monday, August 29, 2005

What Works vs. What's Right has a great post today entitled, "Challenges to the Church - Pragmatism." As the title implies, the post is part of an ongoing series on the different challenges faced by 21st Century Christians. Personally, I think pragmatism -- the view that consequences are the most vital criteria for evaluating whether an action is "good" or "bad" -- is one of the greatest issues facing Western Christians today. While the other two challenges about which Challies has posted (relativism and open theism) are certainly troublesome, they do not appear to be as prevalent in churches that still affirm the authority of the Scriptures. However, pragmatism rears its ugly ahead even within churches that proclaim the supremacy and infallibility of God's Word. Says Challies:
Pragmatism and Sola Scriptura must stand in opposition as each claims to be the key to determining truth. As Christians we need to decide if we are going to depend upon Scripture as the absolute standard of truth or if we will determine truth by consequences. Though we would be hard pressed to find a Christian who says "I believe in pragmatism," the philosophy manifests itself in the Christian world in many different ways. Though people affirm Sola Scriptura with their mouths (or doctrinal statements) they often deny it with their actions.
Challies gives a case study of two hypothetical churches faced with the option of violating their own Scripturally-informed convictions in order to pursue an action that will grow the church and outreach to the lost. The first church opts for a short-time suspension of conviction in favor of growth, while the second decides to stand firm even if it means foregoing potential growth (at least, in this instance). Which church is right?

Challies correctly notes that this is another examples of pragmatism versus sola Scriptura. Many would favorably view the "step of faith" taken by the first church as being vindicated by the results. However, the second church is actually the faithful one, because they have remained obedient to God's commands. By ignoring Scriptural conviction, the first church has sinned. As Challies states, "Results simply cannot excuse disobedience. God may choose to use our disobedience to further his purposes, but this does not give us license to ignore the clear teaching of the Word."

One of the most clear examples of God using man's disobedience for His greater purposes is in the death of Jesus, whose sacrifice ultimately redeems His people from their sins. However, Acts makes it clear that the men who conspired to murder Jesus were not excused from their disobedience, despite the greater good that came out of it. God may choose to use the disobedience of His people to further the expansion of His kingdom; however, He also chastises His people for their failure to obey His commands. My fear is that the pragmatic practice of 21st century Christians is resulting in the storing-up of a great measure of chastisement that will inevitably fall upon us (and already is).

(P.S. Derek Webb's "ballad in plain red" came to mind as I was reading the Challies post.)

School Days

I have survived my first two weeks teaching high school. They say I should take it one day at a time, but it's usually more like "what will I do in the next ten minutes?" Admittedly, I've put a lot of pressure on myself at the beginning, and I'm learning from my mistakes. The mound of papers I already have to grade is a tell-tale sign that I should've spaced out my assignnemts more than a few days. I have 160 students. But that's why I love teaching, I suppose. I'm learning right along with the kids.

I think my biggest sigh of relief is that we successfully pulled off our final events for Apartment Life over the weekend. Saturday was action-packed, since I cooked for a community breakfast that morning, then we helped out some friends with THEIR Apartment Life cookout, and then that evening, we hosted a "Dive-In Movie Night" (as opposed to a drive-in) where we got a company to set up a HUGE screen by the main swimming pool and we watched The Incredibles from lounge chairs (the children were really the only ones watching from the water). Over 60 folks came out to enjoy the show, and the company brought out a dinosaur of a popcorn popper, which apparently came from a real theater. Pixar, M&M's and popcorn. Good times.

In other news, I finally finished re-reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which has been languishing on my bedside table for weeks. There are definitely some strong clues about events and revelations that appear in Book 6, but I'll have to save those insights for later. Mostly, I wanted to let everyone know I'm alive, enjoying my job, and am very grateful that we are taking a sabbatical from our Apartment Life duties for a while.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Go Ahead and Hoist a Celebratory Butterbeer

Travis has opened up a new section on his site for ongoing discussions of Harry Potter. Particularly, he (and guest bloggers) will be interacting with and contributing to many of the ongoing discussions about the role of Christian thought in J.K. Rowling's work. It should be great.

So please be sure to check out Sword of Gryffindor!

Green with evil?

As I was leaving for work this morning, I noticed a cool-looking mantis hanging out on the hood of my car. He was just chillin', so after admiring his coolness for awhile, I started my morning commute. Zorak seemed a little confused, but he merely shifted his position on the hood and stuck with me for about ten minutes. Unfortunately, a few miles of southbound travel on I-85 was enough to dislodge him. Although this did resolve my ethical struggle about whether I was qualified for the carpool lane, I was sad to see him go. Perhaps this was a stepping stone to a new and exciting life inside the perimeter (for those unfamiliar with the area, I-285 circles the city in a big loop, outside of which Team Redd dwells).

(I didn't have a camera, but he looked pretty much like this, although Zorak was a lighter shade of green.)

Thursday, August 25, 2005

I Asked The Lord That I Might Grow

I don't know much about Infuze Magazine, a web publication on "art, entertainment & faith," but Randall Goodgame has been asked to be a staff writer. His first entry, "My co-write with John Newton," is pretty cool. After applauding the trend of reinvigorating old, obscure hymn texts for worship, Randall describes his own attempts to update a little-known John Newton hymn called "I Asked The Lord That I Might Grow." Really good stuff.

Perhaps if enough people pester him, he'll post a rough demo of the music.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

For All God's Worth

I recently finished reading For All God's Worth, a great little book by N.T. Wright. Subtitled True Worship and the Calling of the Church, the book is a series of reflections on Christian worship and mission stemming from Wright's tenure as Dean of Lichfield Cathedral in England. Cathedrals, as Wright notes in the introduction, have an interesting purpose within the Church of England: on the one hand, they are to be centers of authentic Christian worship; on the other hand, they are intended not to be self-contained retreats but rather to be beacons that reflect the light of the Gospel into their surrounding communities. Along these lines, the book divides into two major sections: the first half addresses what exactly is meant (or should be meant) by Christian "worship," while the second deals with the way in which true worship inevitably results in mission to the world outside the church. Unlike some of Wright's denser, more theologically-driven works, this book is a series of brief yet insightful reflections.

Part One, "The God Who Is Worthy of Praise," looks at what worship truly is, especially as it seeks to proclaim who God really is. Wright notes the ease with which people fashion the god that they want, reflecting their own desires in creating something to worship. Ironically, these self-created gods rarely inspire praise. On the other hand, the Trinitarian God of the Scriptures is a direct affront to any desire to create our own deity: the Trinity is too unpredictable, too dangerous, too unfathomable.
The Trinity is not something that a clever theologian comes up with as a result of hours spent in the theological laboratory, after which he or she can return to announce that they've got God worked out now, the analysis is complete, and here is God neatly laid out on a slab. The only time they laid God on a slab he rose again three days afterwards.
Yet "God on a slab" is precisely where our knowledge of God must focus. As Wright notes, it is in Jesus that we see the face of God's love for the world. It is through the cross of Jesus that we must understand God. Our worship should not focus on our efforts to "do something" for God (though a God worthy of worship should certainly inspire action), but on what God has already done through the death and resurrection of Jesus. This central act displays God's love, God's power, and all the other attributes which we cannot help but celebrate. Worship, for Wright, is the Church's single most important purpose, because the constant posture of declaring God's greatness back to Him trains our hearts and minds to proclaim that same goodness out into the world.

Part Two, "Reflecting God's Image in the World," deals with issues stemming from the Christian mission to the world, such as how the Church's proclamation of the Gospel confronts the surrounding world. A clear understanding of grace brings Christians into service as forgiven sinners, realizing their need for the Spirit's empowerment to complete their vocation in the world, and Jesus's call to repentance to Israel serves as the model for the Church's own mission. Wright notes that, as a model, there is not a one-to-one correspondence, because Jesus was primarily calling Jews back into adherence to Torah, which they largely were failing to keep (despite their scrupulous outward appearances). But, as Wright asks, how exactly does this translate for the majority of Christians, whose evangelism and mission are geared primarily towards Gentiles? The answer is that the Fall has left a broken world plagued by pain and suffering, as well as the perception that life should have more meaning that it seems to have. The root of this emptiness is universal sinfulness resulting from man's refusal to worship the Creator (a la Romans 1). Wright argues that the Church's mission should confront this sad state of affairs with the fact that Jesus' death and resurrection have created a new humanity in Christ, and that God uses the Church in His ongoing project of new creation (to be consummated at Christ's return).

The book is not without some controversy. One chapter focuses on ecumenical efforts within the Church, and Wright expounds on his understanding of "justification" language as public vindication that one is within the covenant community. As such, it is the basis upon which all Christians can come together, especially in table fellowship (particularly at the Lord's Supper). Regardless of whether Wright's understanding of "justification" language is correct, I think he makes some great points on unity within the Body of Christ. We often get the cart backwards when we attempt to make doctrinal agreement a prerequisite for sharing the Lord's Table. Rather, the very act of sharing the Supper together creates the setting within which doctrinal disagreements can be discussed and -- God willing -- resolved. Admittedly, I would think there would need to be some boundaries, but Wright's thoughts on the subject are a welcome correction to schismatic tendencies.

Overall, this is a great little book. For those unfamiliar with Wright, it is probably a good introduction, as it is simultaneously easy to read while remaining thought-provoking. It also demonstrates Wright's method of establishing the historical and cultural contexts within which the Scriptures were written, while still paying careful attention to the actual text. Christians don't always achieve this balance, and in this regard, Wright is definitely worthy of emulation.

Monday, August 22, 2005

More Half-Blooded-ness

John Granger over at Hogwarts Professor has uploaded some new articles. I especially liked "Why Half-Blood Prince is the Best Harry Potter Novel." It's a bit long, but that's because Granger packs it with a ton of good stuff, ranging from Rowling's use of "the rules" for detective stories to her skillful use of narrative misdirection to keep readers on their toes. Granger also has some intriguing thoughts on what HBP reveals concerning which characters are actually good, which ones are really bad, and what exactly the Dark Lord is up to during Book 6. Some of his speculations may be a bit fanciful, but he does make some persuasive arguments.

There are several other new articles, including "Baptism Into a Sacrificial Death: The Christian Keys to Half-Blood Prince," which is also a pretty good read.

As always, the usual spoiler warnings apply: if, for some reason, you haven't yet read Half-Blood Prince, please spend time reading it before reading the articles.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Veritas Forum

N.T. Wright audio available on mp3 (1996 lectures at Yale):

The Jesus of Myth and History

So What?

(Props to the N.T. Wright Page for the links.)

This site, run by the Veritas Forum (which seeks to foster discussions on Christianity and related issues on university campuses), has a good selection of free audio from other cool folks, too, such as Os Guinness and Ravi Zacharias, just to name a couple.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Basket Case

I often use Yahoo's Launchcast to listen to streaming music at work. Usually it's pretty cool, even though I use the free -- and advertisement-laden -- version.

Unfortunately, it appears that Green Day will be here in Atlanta in concert next week. Why is this unfortunate? Because after every 2-3 songs, I get treated to the beginning of "American Idiot" and the same minute-long commercial for the concert. It has the potential to drive one insane from the repetition. I don't know, but I think I'm cracking up.

But, I guess I get what I pay for.

Good Times

Sorry for the blog-famine this week. Allison has been busy with her first week of teaching high school English (which she is thoroughly enjoying). I've got a handful of posts struggling to break out of the Draft folder, including a Wright mini-review. But nothing seems to get finished. All in good time, though.

In the meanwhile, I would be remiss if I failed to mention Star Wars - Clone Wars, Volume 1, a series of shorts created by Cartoon Network. It fills in some of the gaps between Episodes II and III, and it is quite enjoyable. So enjoyable that it could quite possibly be interfering with productive things like reading and writing about what has been read. At least it's not that long. Of course, Volume 2 is in the works ...

Monday, August 15, 2005


Over the weekend, I picked up Charge!!, the latest album by The Aquabats. Before I comment on the album, I guess I should describe the band for the uninitiated out there. How can one even begin to describe The Aquabats?

For starters, they wear costumes and perform as a band of superheroes bent on defending the world from evil-doers of all sorts. And of course, the songwriting tends to follow along those lines, talking about themselves or the many challenges they face, such as two-headed cats, snakes or the Floating Eye of Death. Even when they aren't singing about superheroics, they tend to be incredibly goofy, whether singing about the mundane (as in the nostalgic "Pizza Day") or the exquisite (such as the epic "Captain Hampton and the Midget Pirates!"). Sounds pretty silly, doesn't it?

Well, yeah, it is. But it's a lot of fun. They have a knack for composing really catchy melodies and hooks. The musicianship is actually quite good. The band has seen a metamorphosis over the years, starting off as a ska-ish sounding band and gradually melding into more of a rock sound, albeit with plenty of hooks and riff-age. I am no fan of ska, but the band's goofiness was enough to catch my attention, and my continued appreciation has been stoked by the steady transition into rock-dom. Plus, they manage to sneak plenty of Gen X pop culture into their songs, whether a musical homage to The Goonies or a well-placed riff from Rush's "Tom Sawyer." It's quite clever. (Although, admittedly, there's such a fine line between stupid and clever.) There's also a certain Napoleon Dynamite-esque feel at times, in that prevailing standards of "cool" (in their many different incarnations) are skewered.

So what about Charge!!? It is very different from their previous albums. Although they have returned to their previous practice of ending song titles with exclamation marks (e.g., "Meltdown!" and "Mechanical Ape!"), their sound has continued to evolve. The most noticeable change is the lack of horns, presumably brought about by the departure of the band's horn players. Filling the void are some trippy-but-not-overwhelming synthesizer parts, which were subtly present in previous offerings from the band. The guitar takes the center-stage, and it is in the doubly-able hands of Chainsaw Karate (see the hook-tastic riffs on "Plastic Lips!"). This album was released on Nitro Records, the label founded by Dexter Holland of The Offspring, and Holland's influence can be felt on some of the background vocal singing/screaming. The lyrics are ... well, pretty much what you'd expect from the Aquabats, with songs like "Nerd Alert!" and "Look at Me (I'm a Winner)!" -- the latter of which has an amazingly-catchy arena rock-inspired chorus. Need I say more?

Anyway, sometimes I like to expand my horizons with artistic, thoughtful music. Other times, I just like stupid stuff that is fun to listen to. I'll leave it to the reader to categorize The Aquabats.

(Oh, be sure to check out the video for "Fashion Zombies!" from the new album, with multiple streaming options. One description I saw was "'Beat It' meets 'Thriller' meets 'Night of the Living Dead'" -- yeah, that's about right.)

Friday, August 12, 2005

Why Should the Fire Die?

Nickel Creek's third release, Why Should the Fire Die?, is quite an impressive album. As with all of their previous releases (including solo albums and collaborations with other artists), this album showcases the immense instrumental talents possessed by the trio, each of whom displayed prodigious skills from youth. Additionally, the album makes great use of their vocal talents, featuring some fantastic harmonizing. But, although the band features traditional bluegrass instruments (guitar, mandolin and violin), this album, even moreso than their previous efforts, demonstrates why "bluegrass" is a completely inadequate genre description for Nickel Creek. Granted, there are several tracks that harken back to previous albums, such as the instrumentals "Scotch & Chocolate" and "Stumptown," as well as the soft-yet-introspective "Doubting Thomas." But the overall feel of the new album is quite different from past offerings. I've given it two complete listenings, and I'm still not sure what words are best to describe the album. "Edgier" and "heavier" might be one way to compare the album with previous efforts: although they are still playing the same traditional bluegrass instruments, the production on the album gives them more impact and percussive attack -- the opening chords of "Best of Luck" are a great example. Nickel Creek has always made great use of vocal harmony, but this album features many complex and sometimes dissonant harmonies, such as on "Eveline." Several tracks featuring more ragged and intense lead vocals than one would expect. There are definite jazz and rock influences present, from the unexpected key modulations in "Can't Complain" to the hammering outro of "Helena." But the great thing about the album is that the new stylistic influences never sound derivative. Nickel Creek has managed to mature and evolve their sound while still making it distinctly their own.

So that's my initial assessment. I haven't had time to digest all the lyrics yet. Many of the songs deal with broken or failing relationships, so there is a darker feel to the whole album. Yet glimmers of hope manage to surface, especially in the wistful and honest "Doubting Thomas." The song confesses a crisis of faith, yet it still manages to end on a note of hope. Many of the lyrics are much more "poetic" than those from previous albums, so I'll probably need more time to decipher them.

I'll certainly need a few more listens to render a final verdict, but I think this may be Nickel Creek's best album yet, and that certainly says a lot.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

One of my co-workers has "Cantina Band" from the Star Wars (Ep. IV) soundtrack as his ringtone. That's kind of cool.


Last night, we had our anniversary dinner at Fogo de Chão, a fantastic Brazilian restaurant that we've been wanting to try for some time. Thanks to a generous contribution from the grandparents, we were able to make that dream a reality!

Fogo de Chão specializes in the churrasco culinary style, which involves large slabs of tasty meat roasted over an open pit.

Basically, you first hit the gigantic salad bar, which is pretty awesome in its own right, laden with fresh veggies, cheeses and Brazilian side dishes. And of course, plenty of meats. Although it was fantastic, my one regret was that I filled up too much at the salad bar.

Once you are finished with your salad (or it is finished with you), you prepare yourself for consuming large quantities of meat. Each diner has a coaster to indicate whether meat is requested. Throughout the restaurant, Gaucho chefs make their rounds carrying skewers full of delectable meats. Flip your coaster to green, and within minutes, a chef arrives to carve off a slice of tastiness. There are like fifteen different cuts of meat floating around, so you have unlimited access to filet, pork tenderloin, ribs, bacon-wrapped chicken and more. Part of the fun is seeing which meat comes next once the green light is given. It is important to remember to turn the coaster back to red, though, because they'll just keep bringing it until you tell them to cease and desist.

They also have a wide variety of South American wines available. We tried "Casillera del Diablo," a Chilean cabernet whose name literally means "Cellar of the Devil." Apparently, the story goes that the original owner of the winery hid his secrets by creating a legend that his cellar was cursed by the Devil. Regardless, it still tasted great.

Anyway, it was quite a fine dining experience. A great choice for such a special occasion. I may not need to eat again for a few days, though.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

On This Day In History

2002 - Team Redd (the team, not the blog) was given official charter, both ecclesial and legal. Founding member Gaines is on record as saying "Woo Hoo!"

Monday, August 08, 2005

Torn loyalties

The recent NCAA ruling on "hostile and offensive mascots" is a joke and a fine example of political correctness gone horribly awry.

The response from Florida State University is pretty entertaining.

Although part of me would like to see hated ACC rival FSU take the hurting on this one, I really hope the Seminoles prevail.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Experience and Truth

New Testament scholar Ben Witherington is one of those names that I often hear highly praised by reliable sources (like J.P. Holding, who runs the excellent Tekton Apologetics Ministry) but sadly, is also someone whose writings I have not read. I have seen him on several news/documentary specials on Jesus, Paul and other New Testament issues; sadly, in this context, Witherington is usually the token conservative scholar who is allowed a soundbite or two in response to guys like Crossan (I still think this guy lives in a television studio), Spong, Pagels and the other usual suspects.

Anyway, Dr. Witherington now has a blog, and he has recently posted a series of thoughts related to I John (stemming from work on a NT commentary project he is currently writing). The most recent two have been really good. One post directly confronts the Blue Fairy's advice to "always let your conscience be your guide." The second one addresses the idea of how much weight "inspiration" should be given in determining whether something is true. The thrust of both posts is that Christians all too often allow their sincere feelings, religious experiences, enthusiasms or "spirituality" to become their final court of appeals for determining what is truth, what is God's will, etc. Witherington argues that John specifically addresses the dangers of using these criteria for evaluating truth. As the Apostle points out, our own experiences can be distorted and misinterpreted either internally (by our own weaknesses) or externally (by demonic agents of deception). Only God's Word provides the basis by which we can evaluate truth claims.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Blue Like Jazz

Kristen (among others) has plugged this book for a while. I actually first heard of Donald Miller in 2001, from a friend who also introduced me to Anne Lamott, who passed along Miller's wonderfully eclectic but now out-of-print Prayer and the Art of Volkswagen Maintenance. I passed it along to Gaines, and well, the rest is history. The word is out about this guy, and he's everywhere now.

I just wanted to share this fantastic review of the book by Walter Henegar, who works at ChristChurch Pres here in ATL. (It took me until the end of the article to figure out how I knew his name. We have friends who attend CCP, and visited one Sunday when our services were cancelled due to snow.)

Anyway, read the review and then go buy the book. I almost got it at the JEI conference-- they had an amazing, mouth-watering book table (If you're ever in Dallastown, PA, go there!)-- but now I think I'm going to have to spend some graduation money and order it from Amazon. I'm itching to read it....after I finish my final grad school assignment, of course!

The Ecclesiology of Bulk

The iMonk has a link to an interesting blogpost on "The Ecclesiology of Bulk." It is brief but pointed assessment of the all-too-prevalent mindset that numerical growth in a congregation equals spiritual health. Sadly, this viewpoint is often accepted yet never questioned in many circles of Evangelicalism today.

Creation, Redemption, and Good Work

Back in July at the Jonothan Edwards Institute's Trinity Conference, I attended the first two parts of a seminar entitled "Callings and Vocations: In Pursuit of Coherence, Vitality, and Excellence." Dave Westervelt, an EPC teaching elder, led the discussion, focusing mainly on ideas from Nancy Pearcy's Total Truth and Niebuhr's Christ and Culture. His opening seminar centered around the false division between secular and sacred work, and the erroneous elevation of the latter. He traced the history of the idea from medieval Catholicism to the present, and discussed its Gnostic roots. He contrasted this with the Biblical narrative of Creation and Redemption, reminding us that Christians have been appointed as God's agents in the world (reminding me of Tolkien's idea of sub-creation). And, because Christ's work on the cross will ultimately redeem ALL of Creation, Christians are called to participate in redemption through our vocations, whether as a businessman, electrician, mother, artist, engineer, or teacher. All callings are sacred callings. Westervelt fleshed out his discussion with nods to Calvin and other Reformers, as well as Niebuhr's work, with the idea that we are God's agents of reform (stemming from Luther's "priesthood of all believers"). He encouraged us not just to engage but to transform culture by doing whatever it is we do excellently. I returned from this conference very refreshed and excited about beginning my new job in a few weeks-- by teaching excellent literature excellently, I will be participating in God's redemption of good books. (For more on culture, art and literature, etc. see this page and read "Why the Mona Lisa Will Be in Heaven.")

Imagine my surprise a few weeks later when the speaker at the Sunday night service at our church began a three-part series on the exact same topic! Admittedly, Tyler Thigpen (whose name always makes me think of Shultz' Pigpen) organized his talks a bit better than Westervelt, framing his ideas in the context of "Creation," "Fall" and "The Renewal of All Things." I have been delighted to listen to this entertaining youth pastor draw from Scripture and writers like Nancy Pearcy, Os Guinness, C.S. Lewis, and others (he even cited an article from N.T. Wright!). He began by addressing the first command from God to Man: "Subdue the earth and fill it" and explained how God created work to be GOOD and that Eden was created with the potential for growth, not as a static "perfect" entity.

It was extremely refreshing to hear him echo ideas that had so recently been brought to my attention, as well as include a nice good bashing of Gnostics both ancient and modern (praise ponies!) as well as what Paul Marshall calls "lifeboat theology." (The world is going to be burned up anyway so we might as well get our ticket to heaven and bring as many people as we can with us.) Instead, Tyler called for the church and individual Christians to actively engage the world and participate in the renewal of all areas of the earth, including social justice, the environment, and individual vocations: to make disciples "as we go" and draw others into the journey with us. Tyler also discussed the guilt many Christians feel when called to work in fields that are not considered "full-time ministry" (similar to Westervelt's recollections of his own journey within the business community). "You mean evangelism, gospel-sharing, winning souls for Christ, and 'getting sentences into their heads' is not the only thing Christians are supposed to pursue?! What? I can actually take pride in my work and glorify God by being an excellent lawyer or business owner or ballet dancer?" Yep.

Last night, in the concluding presentation, he examined the scriptures concerning "the renewal of all things," adding stressors on "all things." As he reminded the congregation, the New Heavens and the New Earth will not be "new" in the sense of starting over from scratch, but will be re-newed as the God revealed in Christ fulfills his eternal plan of redemption. Christ's death on the cross and His resurrection served not only to save the souls of those whom Christ calls, but also the entire Creation-- cities, trees, animals-- the whole kit and kaboodle. Yay for his emphasis on complete redemption!

Basically, the guy preached a sermon series too rarely heard in evangelical circles. I'm glad some Christians are realizing they don't have to reinvent the wheel-- these ideas have actually been around for hundreds, even thousands, of years. (Thank you Irenaeus! Thank you Protestant Reformation!)

The Far Country (Review)

David Mackle has a brief-but-good review of Andrew Peterson's latest effort, The Far Country, to be released on August 30. Check it out!