Monday, July 28, 2008

Made More Sure

This coming Sunday I get to go out to Harvest Community Church, where Matt Guerino now pastors, and speak for the weekend. It will be great to be there and great to see Matt and Amy and their kids (we get to all have lunch together afterwards; that is, unless I really mess up on the sermon).
Anyway, I get to speak on 2 Peter 1:16-21 and I have been spending some time meditating on the passage today.

For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.

I find it really interesting to think about the distinction Peter is making here. He is making clear that the gospel is not just an eloquent philosophy. If it was a great philosophy, then it could be communicated through fantastic stories, just as the gospel is. However, if the gospel was simply a bunch of ideas and a philosophy and life and the world, then it would not matter whether or not those fantastic stories were true. After all, they simply exist to illustrate a truth about life.
Peter drastically differentiates the gospel from a philosophy on life that is illustrated through fantastic, but maybe untrue, stories. He emphasizes that he saw the glory of Jesus Christ with his own eyes. He ends up referring to the Transfiguration, where he and James and John saw Jesus shining in glory, and heard (with their own ears) the Father affirm the Son.
What difference do these historical details make, though? I mean, if the things in the Bible are true, then they are true regardless of whether or not the stories are true, right? I mean lying and adultery and murder are all wrong, no matter what. And all people are equal and deserving of dignity no matter what, right?
This thinking misunderstands the core of the gospel. The gospel (and the whole of Scripture) is not a bunch of rules on how to live a nice and successful life. It is the story of how God has chosen to relate to mankind. In Peter's mind, it is vital that we understand that certain things really happened. If they did not happen, then there is no gospel. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15 (paraphrased), "If Jesus Christ was not raised from the dead, let's all call this quits and go live how we want to live."
So, how does it impact us that these historical events related to the gospel message really happened?

So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.

I love that Peter refers to Scripture and says, "to which you do well to pay attention." It just makes me laugh because it seems like such an extreme understatement (at least it comes across that way in English). God has spoken about how He has related to mankind, and He has given us a message of reconciliation, freedom, and eternal life. Yeah, I would say that it is a good idea to pay attention to it. Sounds reasonable.
I think it is worthwhile to constantly remind ourselves of the historicity of the Christian faith. Jesus really did come, perform miracles, tell stories, overturn tables, sacrifice Himself, and raise from the dead. If these things did not happen, we have NO GOSPEL. Since they did, we have something that we can be assured of. And when we communicate with those who do not follow Christ, we are not simply communicating about competing philosophies and worldviews. We are doing that, but we are doing much more. We are talking about whether or not these things really happened, and, if they did happen, what impact that has on people who live today.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Worst Movies Ever!

Okay, so whenever I go off about a movie that I think is really bad, I inevitably end up offending someone because they liked the movie I hated. So, that said, this is all obviously just my opinion and meant for fun.
That said, I saw Vantage Point this past week. I am not going to say that it was the worst movie ever made, but I do think it is somewhere in the conversation. It was so, so bad, and so, so boring. The concept was that you got parts of the story from different people's vantage point. The concept was not bad, but, man, the movie sure was. I was falling asleep. There was this car chase at the end that lasted like half the movie (the whole movie was only about 80 minutes). The car chase was just laughable. Wow, the whole thing was really, really bad. Sometimes you just wonder how movies this bad are made.
I think bad movies are made even worse when they have famous actors or directors. It is one thing for a no-name director to get together a bunch of his buddies and make a bad movie. It is another thing for a movie with a budget to be a total bomb.
So, I would like to list off the four worst movies that I have ever seen. I would do five, but I didn't want to compromise the badness of these movies, just to make it a round number.
Number 4: Poseidon. This movie came out a couple summers ago and Karina and I went to see it. You know that it is not a good sign when you laugh at a lot of parts that are not meant to be funny. This movie was so bad. Kurt Russell and Josh Lucas. Terrible. Terrible. It is a perfect candidate for Mystery Science Theater 3000, where those three guys sat in front of the screen and mocked the movie while it was happening.
Number 3: Waterworld. I know that I am not the first person to talk about how bad this movie was. At the time of its release, it was the most expensive movie ever made. That made its badness that much worse. There is just nothing fun at all about watching this movie, and there is certainly nothing deep or meaningful about it. On that note, I think Kevin Costner is the worst famous actor of all time. And Field of Dreams is in my all-time top 10 favorites. Still, how this man got major movie parts eludes me. And he is especially bad when he has to have an accent. Watch 13 Days, and experience Costner's Boston accent. Classic.
Number 2: Celtic Pride. Fortunately, most of you will not have seen this one. But when I was in high school, my friend Zac and I went on a double date and this was the movie we saw. It was forever etched into our memories as the worst movie ever. It is about two Celtic fans who kidnap the star of a rival team. The movie is just not funny at all. It tries, and its stars try, to be funny, but it is just awful. I actually never thought that I would ever see a movie that I would rank lower than Celtic Pride. But about five years ago, Karina and I saw a movie that has to be the worst movie ever made. In fact, it makes the rest of these movies look amazingly watchable.
Number 1: Excalibur. How could a movie about King Arthur, the sword in the stone, Lancelot, and Camelot be this bad? Karina and I had been reading some Arthurian stuff, so we thought it would be fun to watch this movie. Man, it is so bad. I almost want to tell everyone to watch it, just so that you can experience how bad a movie can be. I don't even think that I could watch it again for laughs (I could certainly watch Poseidon again for laughs). If you ever want to teach your kids something about the Arthurian legend, don't make the same mistake we did. Stay as far away from this movie as possible.

There you go. As much as I disliked Transformers (and got a lot of flack for how much I ripped on it), it does not compare with how bad these four movies are.
Anyone have any nominations to round out the top 5?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Still Lovin' 24

So, it has been like 6 years since 24 was on the air (okay, so just over one year), but I have been watching through some of the previous seasons again. At Costco, they were selling each season for only $25. I already had 1, 2, and 4, so I bought 3 and 5. I like to pretend that Season 6 didn't happen because it was so inferior to the first five.
Anyway, watching 24 again (I have been sick lately, so I have watched a bunch) had just reminded me of how great a show it truly is. I hope they bring it back to form for Season 7.
Watching it again also reminded me of just how great some of the twists have been. If you haven't watched the show (and if you plan to), then let me throw out the spoiler warning now. Because I am going to talk about surprises and twists, it will ruin the show for you (or at least make it far less engaging) if you know these things.

Without Further Ado. . .

The Top Ten Twists of Twenty-Four
10. Sherry Palmer is involved in the nuclear threat (Season 2). Jack is staking out the house of the man who forged a recording that could start a war, when in walks Sherry Palmer. She is there is get the same man, to try to silence him from exposing her role in the smuggling of a nuclear bomb into the country. Great stuff. We knew she was bad, but wow!
9. George Mason is on the plane! (Season 2) One of the best strands ever on 24 was when Geroge Mason was exposed to lethal doses of plutonium and responded with newfound courage and focus. When someone had to fly the nuclear bomb and crash the plane into the desert, Jack volunteered. Thankfully, an already dying George snuck onto the plane so that Jack could parachute out while Mason finished the job. It would be higher on the list, but there was a certain part of everyone watching that was at least hoping for it to happen. More for George's sake than for Jack's. We all knew Jack was going to live somehow.

8. Kyle Singer is fine (Season 3) The first 4-6 episodes of season 3 revolved around CTU trying to find a young man named Kyle Singer who had been infected with a deadly virus. We all watch the gut-wrenching process as both Kyle and his parents go through the process of accepting his oncoming death, and saying their final farewells to one another. It turns out to be a major bluff by the terrorists and Kyle is freed to go back to his parents.
7. Victor Drazen is alive (Season 1) The first season found Jack's family being targetted for revenge because he had assassinated Victor Drazen several years prior. Drazen's two sons are the main perpetrators of the attacks on Jack and Senator David Palmer. Toward the end of the season Jack discovers that Drazen (played by Dennis Hopper) is still living and has been in secret prisons for years.
6. That's not Janet York's father!!! (Season 1) Jack's wife Teri is looking for their daughter Kim, who was kidnapped with her best friend Janet York. Janet's dad is driving around with Teri looking for the girls, until CTU identifies a dead body as belonging to Alan York, Janet's father. The fake Alan York then leads Teri to the terrorists, where she is captured.

5. Tony saves Jack (Season 4) Jack and Audrey are trapped with gunmen closing in on them. Jack calls the only person he can trust (but we don't get to hear who it is that he called). Suddenly Tony Almeida saves the day by taking down the hostiles. The last time we saw Tony, he was being led away to prison at the end of season 3.

4. President Logan is in on the plot (Season 5) No one liked President Logan anyway, but when it was revealed that he was in on the plot that led to the assassination of former President Palmer, it was a total shocker. Jack had suspected that someone high up in the administration was helping the terrorists, but he never suspected it was Logan. Then we see him on the phone with the head bad guy and we know the truth.The end of season 5 chronicled Jack's attempts to bring the president to justice.
3. Marie Warner (Season 2) CTU knows that someone has been using Bob Warner's company to fund terrorists, but the focus is on Bob himself, and his Middle-Eastern son-in-law-to-be Reza Nair. It is finally revealed that Bob's daughter, and Reza's fiancee, Marie is the one who is in league with the terrorists. This is revealed when she ambushes two CTU agents and shoots Reza.

2. Jack is Back Undercover with the Salazars (Season 3) In season 3 Jack breaks terrorist Ramon Salazar out of prison in order to meet a demand by his brother Hector. When he gets Ramon back to Mexico, it is revealed that Jack and Hector planned the whole escape. What Hector doesn't know, though, is that Jack, Tony, and Gael all planned it as a secret sting operation kept from everyone in the U.S. government. Jack is now back undercover to thwart the Salazar's attempt to buy a weaponized virus. This twist also reveals that Gael, who was thought to be a mole helping the terrorists, was actually a double agent helping Jack and Tony.

1. Nina (Season 1) I wish I had experienced this in all its glory, but I already knew that Nina turned bad by the time I watched the first season. When she does, though, the betrayal is just horrific. Jack's most trusted partner and advocate had been playing him the whole time. Then they brought her back in season 2. . .and then again in season 3. Thankfully, then she met her end because I don't think they could possibly have justifed bringing her back a third time. She was just such an amazing bad guy (gal) that they couldn't resist.

Great show. I hear now that they are planning a 2-hour special in November that will be a sort-of prequel to Season 7. It is supposed to take place in Africa, and will bridge the gap between seasons 6 and 7. As far as I know, they are still planning on doing the season that they filmed 8 episodes of, that did not air this year because of the strike.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Karina's Blog

So, my wife Karina just started a blog. You should all go check it out and comment the heck out of it (if you want to). There is a link on my sidebar, but here is another one:

Monday, July 07, 2008

A Message from Jack

Hi, my name is Jack. I am 10 and a half months old now, so Dad says that I am old enough to do my first blog post. There are a lot of things I want to talk about (food, nicknames, colors, the fact that I am starting to stand on my own), but I thought I would just let you see some pictures of something that my brother and I did a couple of weeks ago.

My Dad took us out for the day. First we went to Multnomah Falls. It was fun to get to go. It was really loud, and we got sprayed with water. All said, though, it was still worth it.

My brother, Matt, was used to going to the Falls, so he was more interested in what we were going to do next. In the car he kept asking Dad where we were going. Dad had hinted that it might have to do with fish, so Matt kept asking, over and over, if we were going to see fish. I can't really talk much yet, but I thought Matt had a pretty good strategy for extraction information. I mean, he's no Jack Bauer, but he was pretty relentless. Every time he would ask Dad if we were going to see fish, Dad would say, "I don't know, you'll have to wait and see." After this went back and forth, oh, I don't know, 20-30 times, Matt paused and then said (very seriously), "Yes or no?" This made Dad laugh a lot, but he still didn't give up any more information. Next time I think we will have to try out sensory deprivation. That might bring some better results.

Well, we did end up seeing fish. We went to the fish hatchery in Bonneville. It was pretty cool. Here is Matt standing next to some Rainbow Trout. We got to feed them and watch them all fight each other for the food. We also got to see some huge sturgeon and some tiny little baby fish. Pretty cool stuff.

At the end of the time, we got this picture together, all three of us. As you can see, I am trying to keep these guys serious.

Well, I hope you enjoyed my story. I am going to sit down and eat some cornbread now. And then later on I will pull myself up on the couch over and over and over again. Then I will practice saying "Mama" and "Dada." I've just about got both of them identified.
Have a nice day.