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November 2005

November 26, 2005

video_cover_elliot.jpgThe Torchlighters video series is a new series of animated DVD’s dedicated to “Highlighting the honor, integrity and life-changing experiences of those well-known and little-known Christian men, women and children who in response to God’s call, dedicated their lives to a life of whole-hearted commitment and passionate service to Jesus.” It is a production of Christian History Institute along with International Films and Voice of the Martyrs. The first in this series is The Jim Elliot Story. Elliot is widely known in the Christian world because of the prolific writing and speaking career of his wife, Elisabeth. In 1956 Jim Elliot, along with four other young missionaries, were killed by a vicious tribe of Euadorian natives whom the men were trying to reach with the gospel. The tragedy has become an inspiration to people across the world as they have seen the families of those who were killed continue to love and serve among the tribe who put them to death.

This video, which is about a half hour long, provides a brief glimpse of Elliot’s short career as a missionary. It introduces each of the men who served with him and shows their love for the Lord and their determination to serve him whatever the cost. The cover for the DVD says, “In the inaugural Torchlighters episode we follow Jim’s adventures from his college years to his work in the jungles, showing young people his faith in action as he answers God’s call to do the seemingly impossible.” The story is presented well, focusing on the unshakeable faith of these young men.

It should be noted that the series is targetted primarily at children between the ages of eight and twelve. I was hoping that I could show this film to my son, who is five, but my wife feels that it might be a little too intense for him. Perhaps next year. There is nothing too terribly graphic (certainly by today’s standards) but the viewer will nevertheless witness the deaths of many people, including the hero of the story.

Included with the film is a study guide suitable for children that includes a leader’s guide and reproducible student worksheets; an interview with Steve Saint, son of Nate Saint who was killed along with Jim Elliot and who has gone on to serve with the same tribe; and a video autobiography of Marj Saint Van Der Puy, Nate’s wife. These add significant value to what is already a strong presentation, though these extras will appeal far more to adults than to children.

Future titles in the Torchlighters series include The William Tyndale Story (release is imminent), The John Bunyan Story (set for a 2006 release) and The Eric Liddell Story (also set for a 2006 release). This looks like a wonderful little series and I am sure each of the titles will be a valuable addition to any church or personal library. I hope to make each of these titles available to my children.

The Jim Elliot Story is well-made and will surely appeal to the target audience. It will share with children the deep and inspiring faith of some of God’s most dedicated servants. I am glad to recommend it.

The Jim Elliot Story is available from Vision Video (800-523-0226). Adults may be interested in Beyond the Gates of Splendor.

November 25, 2005

Yesterday I indicated that I am a little bit envious of American Thanksgiving. We Canadians are impassioned about almost nothing (except our lack of passion and our distaste towards most things American) and make far less fuss about Thanksgiving than our friends across the border. I don’t think that is a good thing, but I also kind of like America and Americans. That is probably grounds for treason up here. While I often spend Christmas in the US of A, I have never spent a Thankgiving down there. Perhaps I’ll have to do that sometime soon.

While I am somewhat envious of American Thanksgiving I am in no way envious of Black Friday. In fact, one could make the argument that the entire long weekend is a celebration not of thanksgiving, but of excess and gluttony. On Thursday people eat far too much and follow that on Friday by spending far too much. Excess: it’s the American way! Wouldn’t it make for a nicer weekend if, instead of shopping, people went out and shared what they had rather than spend it?

Now that I have offended what is probably 80% of my readership, I will turn to other topics.

This just in: sending out an email announcing the conclusion of this month’s giveaway on a day when everyone is out of the office is just a bad idea. My inbox is being flooded with Out of Office notifications. Lesson learned.

A couple of weeks ago I received an odd review request. The producers of the film The God Who Wasn’t There asked if I would watch and review the production. It is an anti-God documentary that seeks to prove that Jesus never existed. What Bowling For Columbine did to gun culture and what Supersize Me did for fast food, this is supposed to do with religion. I’m not entirely sure what Bowling For Columbine did to gun culture, but if this production is a parallel, then I’d say “not much.” It is poorly made, terribly documented and the only shocking thing about it is that anyone could think it is shocking. I find it amusing that part of their marketing program is sending it to people like myself and Joe Carter, who didn’t like it anymore than I did. However, it does provide an opportunity to answer some of the common claims made against Jesus’ existence so I am hoping to examine some of the film’s claims next week. I will feed their marketing claim, but only with well-reasoned, rational, documented evidence to disprove their nonsensical claims. Here are a few of the claims made in the film:

  • Jesus Christ is a fictional character.
  • Jesus bears a striking resemblence to “other” ancient heroes and legends.
  • Contemporary Christians are largely ignorant of the origins of their religion.
  • Christianity is obsessed with blood.
  • The Bible is, and was only intended to be, symbolic literature.
  • There is no empirical data to support God’s existence.

And so on. As I said, there is really nothing new here, except perhaps a very poor interpretation of the sin against the Holy Spirit.

Earlier this week I received an advance copy of a forthcoming book dealing with the Purpose Driven movement and Rick Warren. I have read most of it and am happy to say that it explains the movement in a very thorough, yet even-handed way. There is nothing alarmist in the book and it avoids sounding like a rant. It is well-argued, well-researched and will surely help a lot of people unravel the Purpose Driven movement. I hope to bring a preview before long.

I have a couple of things I am hoping to begin writing this weekend with a view to posting them here next week. I trust that, upon the conclusion of this long weekend, there will actually be some people around to read them!

May God bless and keep you this weekend as you seek to honor Him in all you do.

November 25, 2005

Friday November 25, 2005

Du Jour: Tim Irvin writes about “The Soap Opera Called ‘Blogging’ ” “The goal of blogging seems to have turned from posting something of practical benefit and edification…to posting something that attracts the most response and attention from readers.”

Du Jour Bonus: Steve Camp writes about Brian McLaren’s reinvention of Calvinism. If memory serves me correctly, I believe this article was first posted about a year ago. It is well worth reading.

Humor: Let Them Sing it For You is a funky little Flash program. It allows you to type in lyrics which will be performed by some of the world’s most famous singers. Try it for yourself!

Thanksgiving: Bob Kauflin, a newcomer to the blogosphere, shares a relevant modern hymn written by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend.

November 24, 2005

My neighbors to the South are celebrating Thanksgiving today, an event we celebrated six or seven weeks ago in Canada. Thanksgiving is a much more important celebration to Americans than it is in my country and that is something that makes me just a little envious. Americans know how to celebrate; I wish Canadians would learn from them.

What follows is an amazing Thanksgiving Proclamation, made by one of my heroes, Abraham Lincoln, in the year 1863, in the very midst of the Civil War. Reading a proclamation of this sort it is amazing to consider that many people are casting doubt upon Lincoln’s faith and character (not to mention his sexuality!). Americans have a rich heritage to celebrate today. I hope many heed the powerful words of this great man that they use this day to offer “up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings.” Not the least of these blessings is the relative peace that exists today and was so terribly lacking when Lincoln penned these words.

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

November 24, 2005

The Yali StoryUntil the 1960’s, the Yali tribe of Papua (formerly known as Irian Jaya) existed much as they had for thousands of years. An adventure web site says the following of the tribe. “Yali tools have not changed in a thousand of years [sic] - stone axe of pointed shards wrapped tightly onto a wooden stick, net carrying bags supported from the forehead, thick bows five or six feet long, and arrowhead carved to a purpose -broad and flat for large game, a triple barb for birds, notched and tapered black for setting tribal disputes.” They truly were a Stone-Age people who had existed in isolation from the industrialized world. They had very little knowledge of anything beyond their own villages. They were warriors, cannibals and lived in constant fear of evil spirits. Revenge was an admirable trait in their culture which, not surprisingly, knew little peace.

But in the 1960’s a group of missionaries entered their world and brought with them the gospel of Jesus Christ. Once language barriers had been crossed, the Good News was received with enthusiasm and a type of revival swept the tribe. Men who had once been medicine men became teachers of the Word of God. People who had once lived in fear of evil spirits now placed their trust in the Creator. The people, men and women alike, were educated and taught to read and write.

This DVD presentation, which is roughly a half hour in length (and is available in several languages) features three of the missionaries who were involved in evangelizing the tribe, Bruno de Leeuw and both of John and Gloria Wilson. The video documents the amazing transformation of this people as God changed their lives through the Scriptures. It tells of the long but rewarding process of translating the Scriptures into the native language.

The most amazing moment captured in this presentation, and one of the most powerful things I have witnessed, was the joy of the people as they received the first translations of the Bible into their own language. The New Testament was completed in the ’90s and the entire Bible in the year 2000. To watch the Yali people jump and dance and sing and celebrate over something we take so for granted was both powerful and moving. It quite literally moved me to tears. How I wish we, in the Western world, could experience that excitement and joy.

There is some bonus material included on the DVD. This includes “Lessons from the Yali Story” (a discussion of missions, a music video, two shortened versions of the main documentary, some commentary and John Wilson’s story of surviving cancer.

The Yali Story is a fascinating story and one that has served to encourage many Christians. I highly recommend this DVD for church, public or private libraries.

The Yali Story is available from Vision Video (800-523-0226). It can also be purchased through Amazon.com

November 24, 2005

Thursday November 24, 2005

Humor: Check out the Nicosphere 3000, a revolutionary “discreet smoking system.”

Parenting: Yahoo News reports that spanking children fuels aggression and anxiety. Solomon, on the other hand, tells us that sparing the rod will spoil the child.

Music A variety of Christian artists are working together to create a Tribute album for Wes King who is recovering from cancer. Among the artists performing are Downhere, Derek Webb, Phil Keaggy and The Kry.

Holiday: 2005’s busiest shopping hour is fast approaching. However, it is not the Friday after Thanksgiving. No, it is the time all the procrastinators do their shopping - 1PM to 2PM on Christmas Eve. FoxNews reports.

November 23, 2005

There were some things I had hoped to say today before all of my American readers disappear for a long weekend filled with thanks, gluttony and excess. Unfortunately, because of the unexpected call last night which took me out of the house for much of the night, I am awfully tired today and don’t trust myself to say anything profound. So rather than embarrass myself by posting some incoherent rant, I thought I’d simply post a link to a particularly relevant music video.

This video, made several years ago by Riley Armstrong and a couple of the guys from Audio Adrenaline, is for his song Sleep. It is a great little video and pretty funny too. I have met Riley a few times and he is a humorous and genuine guy. He is quite a talented musician too. Perhaps best of all, he’s Canadian.

In case you need them, here are the lyrics:

looking straight at the light
it never used to be that bright last night
but it’s a new day with fuzz in my eyes
alarm is still ringing when I open the blinds
how do these people do it
they are like driving around like there’s nothing to it
I imagine it’s like the medication they’re on
or probably just the coffee but
one thing is certain in life
and that is that today I’m going to eat cereal
I mean come on let’s get our priorities straight
but before I know it I’m out the door late
just trying to catch some rat or some race
or something I’m not quite sure what it is
so for now I just best keep moving
and by nine a.m. my brain and my body
finally decide to meet
and we come to the same conclusion as yesterday
that I never get enough sleep

sleep, no I never get enough
always waking up tired
sleep, no I never get enough
if I don’t show up I might get fired
sleep, no I never get enough
always waking up tired
sleep, no I never get enough
if I don’t show up I might get fired

they call it commuting
but I think they should call it intravenous
cause it’s what I need every time I get
stuck behind a truck, just trying to turn left
just trying to turn left, why are you trying to turn left
why don’t you park your silly cube van
hop in I’ll drop you off
cause at this rate we’ll both be late
but I’d rather be late than sitting here doing nothing
and by nine a.m. my brain and my body
finally decide to meet
and we come to the same conclusion as yesterday
that I never get enough sleep

sleep go on and sleep some more
sleep go on and sleep some more

November 23, 2005

We finally got the call. For the past couple of weeks we’ve been on “baby watch.” Our friends are expecting a baby and had asked us to watch their children while they go to the hospital for the birth. Today, sometime shortly before 2 AM, on what just so happens to be the due date, we got the long-awaited call. Because it was the middle of the night they asked if I would be able to come to their house so they would not have to wake their two children. Because the contractions were only three minutes apart they asked if I would be able to do it quickly.

So I suppose this is a logical time to apologize to the Ontario Provincial Police and the Halton Regional Police Department for what probably amounted to a good few traffic offenses, most of which were based on driving too quickly on snow-covered highways. One member of the HRPC no-doubt saw me slam on my breaks as I realized I was about to blow past an unmarked car on the highway. Thank you for being too interested in that big ‘ol cup of coffee to pay attention. I could use a cup of Joe right about now.

Anyways, I managed to wake up (kind of), get dressed (I think), and drive clear across town (literally) in about fifteen minutes. That’s pretty good for a guy who, as my wife can attest, has trained himself to sleep through pretty well anything related to babies.

And now we wait (and pray, of course).

6 AM Update

A healthy baby boy, Alexander, was born at around 4:30. Woohoo! As soon as the kids wake up I’ll take them to meet their little brother.