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1
Drowning in Distortion — Darren Aronofsky’s “Noah”

My first experience teaching the Bible came when I was asked at the last minute to teach a Sunday School class of first-grade boys. I was only 16 years old, and I did not exactly volunteer to teach the class. I found myself telling a familiar Bible story to six-year olds and explaining it as best I could. There have been very few Sundays since when I have not taught or preached, usually to a congregation a bit less fidgety than my first.

2
The Repristinator: A Review of Noah

The controversy has so overshadowed the film that it makes it difficult to judge the film on its own merits. Since expressing either appreciation or condemnation for the film immediately aligns a reviewer with one camp or the other, I was fully prepared to have to defend a side. But after seeing the movie for myself I see there is a third alternative position where one can stand—the mediocre middle. The movie simply isn't worthy of the heated debate that has grown up around it.

3
Southern Seminary Expeditions | Israel & Jordan

Southern Seminary Expeditions offer on-site lectures from experts in biblical, theological and historical studies. We will travel to historical sites such as Petra, Masada, and King Herod’s tomb. We will stand on the steps of the temple mount where Jesus would have stood and taught. We will study the Scriptures on the Sea of Galilee and in the Garden of Gethsemane. While on the trip, you will also learn about the culture of the Middle East and be introduced to gospel-centered ministries there. It is our prayer that this Expedition will further equip you for ministry and continue to cultivate in you a heart and mind for Christ.

4
Why It Matters that Matthew McConaughey was Reading Lee Strobel

Over the last few days I have been praising Matthew McConaughey’s acceptance speech at the Oscars.  One of the points I argued was that sectarian Christians should not have attacked McConaughey’s speech as too “theologically light” for he may be a new believer and that we should always cut a new disciple some slack.  Ironically, many Christians attacked my post for that very reason. Some argued that McConaughey’s speech was no different from the cliché of an athlete thanking god.  It is true that many athletes reflexively thank god for some success but it is not so common in Hollywood.  In fact, it is so uncommon that many mainline news services expressed shock (and dismay) that a celebrated actor would dare utter praise to a divine being (which they see as nothing but a delusion) during an artistic ceremony.  After all, since the Romantic period, art has essentially replaced religion as the raison d’être for existence.

5
The Hero Of God

What Gideon is doing here is very dangerous. Certainly there will be moments in your life where God's work will confuse you, but instead of doubting God's character and running from Him, we're called to stand on the sure Word of God and rest in the promises that we know are true. Gideon has abandoned all hope and faith in the Lord and His promises when difficulty strikes.

6
¿Qué piensa un cristiano sobre la película Noah?

Este no es el lugar para analizar todas las implicaciones de este pasaje, pero hay algo que sale a la vista: Dios tiene un mismo estándar, pero hay dos grupos de personas. Piénsalo en la vida diaria, ¿juzgas igual cuando una persona estafa siendo un inconverso que si lo hace luego de profesar la fe? ¿Acaso sometemos a un proceso de disciplina a un no creyente por ser un mentiroso? La verdad es que los que no conocen a Dios no pueden agradar a Dios (Ro. 8:7), así que ¡por supuesto que no van a representar perfectamente al Dios santo en una película! Por eso creo que debiéramos dejar de juzgar Noah como si fuera una película hecha por cristianos para cristianos. Ni lo es, ni trata de serlo. Es una película hecha por paganos, pero que en este caso están haciendo preguntas de mucha profundidad y peso espiritual. Ahora, nosotros, que tenemos las respuestas correctas a sus preguntas, debemos tener cuidado de cómo reaccionamos al hecho de que ellos estén preguntándose sobre la justicia y la gracia del Dios creador.

7
http://thegospelcoalition.org/book-reviews/review/how_jesus_became_god

Jesus was not a mere man who only later became God; rather, God took on humanity in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Within a short decade or two, the early Christians understood Jesus’ identity was intrinsic to the identity of Israel’s God and that he wasn’t a second or lesser god but instead part of God’s own being and identity and thus a fitting object of worship. Also, the types of Christology Ehrman discounts as contradictory are found side by side, even intertwined, in individual New Testament books like John and Colossians. Apparently, these biblical authors held both views simultaneously without considering them contradictory. This evidence calls into question Ehrman’s trajectory from exaltation to incarnation Christologies, then, as many New Testament authors would have to be internally conflicted for his thesis to be correct.

8
Carter vs. Starke on Jesus in the Movies

At the same time, such movies depend on a certain level of engagement in order to be meaningful. Shocking art is trying to catch our attention, and the viewer can either just walk away from the shock with distaste in his mouth or ask what the artist is trying to say. Whenever an artist uses biblical themes to say something, he's always trying to say something about ultimate reality (God, self, or the world). I think, for Christians, it's worth sticking with a film long enough to understand his purpose. It will either give us a surprising perspective about God that we don't ever consider or gives us insight into how our society views God (or what we want him to be like). I think Last Temptation gives us both.

9
Noah: A Man Who Walked with God

Wherever I travel throughout the world, I always make certain to visit the grave sites of civilization’s most famous men. From the grave of Martin Luther in Germany, to the tomb of Cyrus the Great in Persia (present-day Iran), I have visited many places where the honored dead have been buried. Several years ago, I was in Yerevan, Armenia, where it is hard not to see the great mount Ararat standing tall in the distance between Armenia and eastern Turkey. Every time my eyes caught a glimpse of the great mountain, I could not help to think that it was upon that massive, snow-covered mountain where Noah’s ark rested after the great flood. Concerning the worldwide deluge as recorded in Genesis, we read: “At the end of 150 days the waters had abated, and in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. And the waters continued to abate until the tenth month; in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains were seen” (Gen. 8:3–6).

10
Nullifying the grace of God

“What eloquence is able sufficiently to set forth these words: ‘to nullify grace,’ ‘the grace of God,’ also that ‘Christ died for no purpose’?  The horribleness of it is such that all the eloquence in the world is not able to express it.  It is a small matter to say that any man died for no purpose.  But to say that Christ died for no purpose is to take him quite away.”

11
Difference Maker

This week we feature an in-studio performance from Us and Our Daughters. Plus, we talk to Rachel Cruze about money (she's Dave Ramsey's daughter), a terrifying new creature, the week's news and entertainment, your feedback and much more ...

12
The Briefing 03-31-14

1) How can there be such high rates of religious belief and such poor rates of religious faithfulness?

13
A Question From India on God’s Personhood

A Question From India on God’s Personhood

14
Toward a Theology of Dessert

Too many Christians have learned to seal off their faith-beliefs from the way they work in their vocation. The gospel is seen as a means of finding individual peace and not as the foundation of a worldview—a comprehensive interpretation of reality affecting all that we do. But we have a vision for a church that equips its people to think out the implications of the gospel on how we do carpentry, plumbing, data-entry, nursing, art, business, government, journalism, entertainment, and scholarship. Such a church will not only support Christians' engagement with culture, but will also help them work with distinctiveness, excellence, and accountability in their trades and professions. Developing humane yet creative and excellent business environments out of our understanding of the gospel is part of the work of bringing a measure of healing to God's creation in the power of the Spirit.

15
One Simple Way to Help Kids Love Your Teaching

Keep the world vivid and the message simple: Kids should be able to see, taste, feel, hear the world you create. But it should all help to focus on one simple idea. Take for instance the story of the paralytic being lowered through the roof (Mark 2:1–12). It’s not just a hole with a guy coming down on a mat. There are unsettling digging noises, people blinded by falling dust and the shock of sunlight, heads peering down from above. Maybe they did the first hole in the wrong spot! But it’s all about one thing—a paralyzed man is about to be lowered down before Jesus.

16
The Briefing 03-31-14

1) How can there be such high rates of religious belief and such poor rates of religious faithfulness?

17
God Meets Busy Moms Right Where They Are

When my first baby was born I sensed that my perspective on the nature of my spiritual life was being rattled and reshaped. In the midst of a venting session with a dear friend I confessed that I felt I'd forgotten the Lord since I became a mother. She shared with me 2 Corinthians 9:8: "God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work." God plans the end from the beginning, and he governs all the time in between, and he is able to give me the grace I need for the times he has planned right when I need it so that I can be about his will. If Jesus has assured me that he is with me to the end of the age (Matt. 28:20), then surely he is with me in all of my baby carrying, house cleaning, car driving, nighttime parenting, and husband helping.

18
http://www.ligonier.org/rym/broadcasts/audio/what-theology-mar-2014/

What is theology? If you asked most people on the street if they knew the answer to that question, they would have no clue what to say. Biology, zoology, physiology, or anthropology sound familiar but theology, the study of God is foreign to them. Dr. Sproul says in this message that the term is actually an all encompassing subject that covers all parts of those things that God has revealed to us in sacred Scripture. He takes a look at what theology truly is and breaks it down in a way that is easy to understand.

19
Drowning in Distortion — Darren Aronofsky’s “Noah”

My first experience teaching the Bible came when I was asked at the last minute to teach a Sunday School class of first-grade boys. I was only 16 years old, and I did not exactly volunteer to teach the class. I found myself telling a familiar Bible story to six-year olds and explaining it as best I could. There have been very few Sundays since when I have not taught or preached, usually to a congregation a bit less fidgety than my first.

20
"4 Questions Everyone Should Ask" With Jon Acuff

This week we feature an in-studio performance from Us and Our Daughters. Plus, we talk to Rachel Cruze about money (she's Dave Ramsey's daughter), a terrifying new creature, the week's news and entertainment, your feedback and much more ...

21
http://thegospelcoalition.org/io/story/the_power_of_the_gospel_in_ecuador

Manuel Chacaguasay Naula is an indigenous pastor in Ecuador and an ethnic Quichuan—a tribe made known through the work of Elisabeth Elliot and Rachel Saint. Alcoholism and a resistance to the gospel preached by American ‘devils’ and ‘demons’ once prevailed in his rural farming village. Manuel came to salvation in Christ after sneaking out and traveling 30km to a neighboring community where he heard the gospel message. He now trains and strengthens other pastors, with assistance from APOYO, a ministry that works with the local church throughout Latin America.

22
10 Signs You Might Have a Need for Approval

Every journey toward freedom from others’ approval starts here—in the naming. Whose approval do you seek most? Where do you look for it? To let go of something, you have to first admit you’re holding on to it. The moment you’re willing to call the problem by its actual name, you’re one step closer to canceling its power over you. This is perhaps why lives change in rooms where these words are uttered quietly into a circle of understanding faces: “Hi, my name is [insert name here]. And I am a [insert addiction here].”

23
Do atheists have a lower divorce rate than Christians?

I’ve never been in a church where they explained the hormones that are released during sex that cause you to bond to the person you’re having sex with. You would have to look in books or listen to lectures in order to understand the problem with having sex with someone you are not committed to – how it causes you to hold back your emotions for fear of a break-up. The church doesn’t have much to say about the social effects of single motherhood by choice or the effects of gay parenting on children. Nor do they have any positive vision to offer men about how they can serve God by marrying carefully.

24
'Star Trek' Actor Gives Great Advice to Little Girl Called a Nerd

Actor Wil Wheaton—known for his role on Star Trek: The Next Generation and The Big Bang Theory —knows what it’s like to be called a nerd by people who don’t like sci-fi culture. This video, taken at the Denver Comic Con last year, has recently got some new attention for his awesome answer to a little girl who asks, “When you were a kid were you called a nerd, and if so how did you deal with it?” His advice: Treat the bullies with kindness: “Maybe find out what they love, and talk about how they love it. I bet you find out that a person who loves tether ball, loves tether ball exactly the same way you love Doctor Who ” ...

25
Pope Francis Shocks Congregation with Public Confession

Pope Francis continued to break with typical papal protocol this weekend, shocking a congregation in St. Basilica by confessing his sins to a priest in front of the church. After concluding his sermon—which dealt with the sinfulness of man and importance of confession—Pope Francis surprised those in attendance by walking to a confessional booth and kneeling in front of the ordinary priest. According to the AP, “Francis, solemn-faced, then rose and started hearing confessions himself” ...

26
Don't Fear the Reaper: Aging Has Been Successfully Reversed in Mice.

So, how much will this actually lengthen these mice's lifespans? Will the mice's muscle tone continue to increase if the mice live on a diet of pizza? What happens if their age reverses and continues to the point where they become baby mice again? No time for such questions now. Researchers say they could be starting human trials as early as this year ...

27
Kathryn Jean Lopez - Freedom Gets a Hearing

When Pope Francis met with President Obama later in the week, a little bit of a media miracle happened when religious freedom did, in fact, make its way into media reports. The White House had hoped to benefit from papal popularity and distract attention from the Court challenge. The pope welcomed the president, and did so as the holy father he is. He’s a head of state, yes, but, more importantly a pastor and shepherd. And whatever the White House’s goals for the meeting were, the president seemed to acknowledge this as he asked the pope for prayers for his family. Although the White House tried to reclaim the narrative after a Vatican report from the meeting mentioned discussion of human dignity and religious freedom, we know this was a topic. The president, after downplaying any disagreements he might have with the pope and the Catholic Church (never mind evangelicals and Mennonites!), explained: “I don’t think that His Holiness envisions entering into a partnership or a coalition with any political figure on any issue. His job is a little more elevated. We’re down on the ground dealing with the often profane, and he is dealing with higher powers.

28
Do You Have What It Takes to Be Google's Pokémon Master?

Google's got a new opening. Sounds pretty tough. Better get your application in early. Definitely an interesting job. Certainly not related to the fact that April 1 is right around the corner. Good luck out there. Catch 'em all ...

29
A ‘Harry Potter’ Spinoff Trilogy from J.K. Rowling Is Headed to the Big Screen

Good news Harry Potter fans. It looks like you haven’t seen the last of J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world just yet. In an interview with The New York Times , Warner Brothers CEO Kevin Tsujihara revealed that a spinoff franchise based on Rowling’s short book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them —a faux Hogwarts text book published in 2001 between Harry Potter novel releases—would be adapted into “three megamovies.” Rowling herself will be closely involved the in the process of creating the films which, according to Variety , will be “set initially in New York about seven decades before the start of the Harry Potter story” ...

30
A Reservation for Your Destination

Unfortunately, not enough people heed the Bible’s warning of hell or its prom­ise of heaven. That’s why we can’t just sit around and wait for God to take us home— because real suffering awaits our friends who don’t believe in Christ. But if we have trusted Christ, our future is truly heavenly. Heaven is a real place where we will en­joy being with God and his people forever.

31
http://www.ligonier.org/rym/broadcasts/video/war-ideas-mar-2014/

Since the entrance of sin into the world, people and nations have been killing one another. What are the root causes of war? Where do all wars ultimately begin? In this message entitled “A War of Ideas,” Dr. Sproul introduces us to the fundamental elements of different worldviews and some of the irreconcilable differences many of them have.

32
What You Were Made For: Complete DVD Series

Join Frank Turek and Ted Wright as they highlight and apply the attributes of God to your life in this 9-Part DVD series.  Episodes are between 50 and 59 minutes. They cover:  

33
5 Questions You Should Ask Yourself When Seeking an Education For Apologetics

I am a firm believer in continuing education. This is true for anyone but it is especially important for those active in apologetics. Sometimes people know that they should go back to school but don’t know where to start. Here are some questions to ask yourself.

34
Twenty-First-Century Ambassadors

“Representing Christ in the new millennium requires three basic skills. First, Christ’s ambassadors need the basic knowledge necessary for the task. They must know the central message of God’s kingdom and something about how to respond to the obstacles they’ll encounter on their diplomatic mission.”

35
The Gospel Coalition Reader Dessert Recipes

We're making a dessert cookbook and want your favorite recipes to be in it. Fill this out and, when the series is complete, we'll share a downloadable PDF of the cookbook on our site. Three notes: (1) you may submit as many recipes as you want, (2) make sure that your recipes are not taken directly from a cookbook, (3) you have until 12noon on Saturday, April 5th.Until then, happy baking!

36
Faithful Thinkers: Favorite Quotes: Why The Universe Is The Way It Is

This is a collection of my favorite quotes from the book Why The Universe Is The Way It Is by astrophysicist Dr. Hugh Ross . My full review of the book may be read here . For more information about the work of Dr. Ross, please visit Reasons to Believe . Investigating Reality "Humans...wonder about everything: tangible and intangible, tiny and huge, near and far, the past and the future as well as the present- the how and why of everything both in this universe and beyond. Human curiosity knows no boundaries, and many individuals will pay any price, even lose their own lives, to satisfy it." "I'm firmly convinced we can know enough. Not enough to end all questions, but enough to make sense of our lives. We can build a cosmic perspective solid enough to remain firm yet flexible enough to absorb the impact of new discoveries." Problem of Evil "Nothing seems to perplex humanity as much as the subject of evil. Some say the existence of evil is a paradox wrapped in an enigma enshrouded in mystery embedded in riddle implanted in a puzzle inside a giant maze." "From the moment spiritual death (autonomy from God) invaded creation physical death became a blessing, an avenue through which God could temper the outbreak of evil and suffering.

37 Fred Sanders reviews a book that makes the case for the deity of Christ

The case as perceived by scholars for the deity of Christ is stronger now than it has been for a long time, and those who went through seminary more than a decade ago should take a moment to update their notes. Though the New Testament is clear about the deity of Christ, generations of modern critical scholars have picked away at the standard proofs. Here a verse, there a verse, the arguments that Christians have always relied on to demonstrate that the New Testament teaches that Jesus is God have been rendered dubious.

38
Against Heresies: 4th Century Wisdom for 21st Century People

And therefore we look to Thy support for the first trembling steps of this undertaking, to Thy aid that it may gain strength and prosper. We look to Thee to give us the fellowship of that Spirit Who guided the Prophets and the Apostles, that we may take their words in the sense in which they spoke and assign its right shade of meaning to every utterance.

39 THE QUESTION OF CANON: Challenging the Status Quo in the New Testament Debate | Books at a glance

While this topic may prove to be a bit technical for the uninitiated, Kruger’s writing style helps to explain some of the complex nuances of canon studies so that the typical lay person can grasp the arguments quite readily. Particularly valuable is his chapter on the definition of canon (Chapter 1). This chapter alone makes the purchase of this volume worth the investment. Here Kruger shows that the issue of definition does not need to be isolated to one particular view in distinction from others. (Incidentally, this chapter helps to dispel a consistent trend in academic studies—dichotomization, the notion that one’s view of something must be seen in opposition to other perspectives.) Instead, he shows that the definition of canon should be integrative and multidimensional in its explanation. Thus, the exclusive, functional, and ontological definitions of canon all help to provide a “much-needed clarification to the ongoing debate over the [meaning] of canon” (p 43).

40
Help! I'm Bored With Church.

Phil, maybe your boredom isn't caused by a learning style mismatch, maybe it’s due to whatever you're bringing with you into the service. I am keenly aware when I stand in front of the congregation that every person in the room is in a different place. Some are having the best days of their life, some are in deep mourning. Some trust the church, some have been deeply wounded by it. Some trust Jesus, and many don’t ... and the list goes on and on. So how are you right now? What’s on your mind? What baggage are you hauling into the sanctuary?

41
Matt Walsh urges everyone to avoid the "Noah" movie

I wish everyone would just cool it on the Noah movie. I’s like very body needs to dish out their $12 just so they can blog on it and tell everyone else how bad it was. Enough already. Yes it’s bad; yes it’s offensive; yes it’s heretical — it’s a Hollywood movie. What does anyone expect. Just pretend they named the movie Fred, instead of Noah, and then there is no possible reason to go.

42
HABITS Production Pack

"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." (1 Peter 3:15)

43
Farewell to a Faithful Servant

send to a friend #41  Posted by Rick Koenig  |  Monday, March 31, 2014at 7:16 PM Will, I had some trouble with my browser so I hope Denny won't mind me posting this as a reply to his comment. Reading through all these comments, especially from those who know you, gives us a clear sense of your faith and warm spirit. We've all been touched by your dedication to the same level of excellence that is evident throughout this ministry. You've made all this material visually appealing and accessible to us, and that's no small thing in this age where sloppy work seems to be the norm. Well done, good and faithful servant. Go with the blessings of our Lord, and the love of His people. Soli Deo Gloria Rick Koenig Click here to subscribe to comments without commenting.

44
http://thegospelcoalition.org/book-reviews/review/picture_perfect

My guess is when most people see the word perfectionism or perfectionist  they gloss over it. For myriad reasons, that isn’t their particular struggle. Sure they pay attention to detail, but a perfectionist ? That’s a little extreme. However, do you ever get frustrated with people when they don’t do things the way you want them to? Do you ever feel guilty for taking a 20-minute nap because you have too much to do? Are you ever rude to co-workers or family members when they make you look bad? I can answer “yes” to more than one of these questions. Which means in more than one area of my life, I am placing faith in my own (feeble, limited) strength. Perfectionism is the tip of an iceberg, an outward manifestation of a heart that is “worshiping a god of perfection rather than the perfect God.”

45
Sin and Unbelief

Does a desire for sin lead to a decision to reject Christianity, either before conversion or after? I am sure that it does happen. I have known pastors who have left their spouse for someone else and this makes things difficult for remaining in the church. However, I have not often seen Christians leave the faith because they wanted to live a life of sin. As for non-Christians, there are some who do not want to give up their lifestyle. Even so, those who encounter real Christianity most often will turn away from sin, even if it does not happen right away.

46
Answering Muslims: Great Britain: Honor-Violence and Forced Marriages Going Unreported Due to Fears of Islamophobia Accusations

Honor killings, forced marriages, female genital mutilation, the rape and abuse of non-Muslim girls, and other consequences of Muhammad's teachings are flourishing in Great Britain. But there's far more going on than we hear about from the media. Victims, schools, counselors, and leaders are so afraid of being labeled "racists," "bigots," "hate-mongers," and "Islamophobes," they choose not to report much of the abuse. Here we see the real fruit of the demonization of anyone who opposes Muhammad's misogyny. One of the main goals of Muslim organizations like CAIR and ISNA (along with lower-level Muslim apologists like Yahya Snow and Ijaz Ahmad) is to keep both critics and victims of Sharia silent, so that the oppression can continue and spread unabated. International Business Times—Honour-based violence and forced marriages in communities across the North East go unreported because victims are frightened of being branded as racist, a report by ITV News Tyne Tees has revealed. Honour-based violence is a form of domestic abuse which occurs when victims, mainly women, are punished, very often by their relatives, if they bring shame upon their families.

47
Is there such a thing as a pro-life Democrat?

Democratic Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, who describes himself as pro-life and campaigned as a pro-life candidate, has vetoed a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

48
Can Moral Values Be based in God? | Reasonable Faith

Your objection to Divine Command theory, Andrew, seems to be that if moral values are based in God, then it would be the case that if a morally defective being were God, then its defective character would determine the good. But it is impossible that there be different goods than there are. The only way to ensure the necessity of the goods there are is if moral values are transcendent qualities not based in God.

49
How To Handle Bible Difficulties

Context is the primary rule of interpretation, trumping all others. If we believe that there is a break of context, then the full burden of proof rests on us to demonstrate this. For instance, imagine if someone told you, “I saw your wife kissing a man in bed this week.” When you call your wife, you find out that the context was that she was kissing her elderly father on the forehead in his hospital bed. Likewise, when people misconstrue Scripture, we have to ask, “Was this an accident , or were they intentionally violating the context?” For instance, imagine if someone said that the Bible teaches, “There is no God” (Ps. 14:1). If we read this in isolation, we might believe that the Bible is an atheistic text! However, when we read the context, we find that David writes, “ The fool has said in his heart , ‘There is no God.’” This context changes the message considerably.

50
Why Bart Ehrman Gets Jesus’ Burial Wrong

Here is a two part series on Bart Ehrman’s new book. It is written by Greg Monette

51 Truthbomb Apologetics: Jesus and Muhammad
52 Answering Muslims: Egyptian Court Sentences Two Muslim Brotherhood Supporters to Death for Killing Nine-Year-Old Boy