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Today is International Blasphemy Rights Day. Blasphemy is the act of speaking irreverently about God or sacred things. In centuries past, it was a very serious crime, and it still is today in some countries. International Blasphemy Rights Day was introduced in 2009 by the Center for Inquiry based in Amherst, New York. As far as I can determine, it exists and is international only because they said so. The reason they give for establishing this day is to support free speech and the right to criticize or satirize religion. One would think from the name of their organization, that the purpose for criticism would be to determine the truth, but on the front page of their website today, Ronald Lindsay, the president and CEO of the Center for Inquiry says that if you aren’t sure how to commemorate the day, “just state that there is no god”. That doesn’t sound like inquiry to me. What if there really is a god?

In Acts 17:10-11 Paul and Silas left Thessalonica and went to Berea to preach the good news about Jesus Christ. Whereas many of the Thessalonians had incited trouble and riotous behaviour among the crowds, the Bereans were commended for being open-minded. In some versions, open-minded is translated as receptive, fair-minded, noble-minded or of noble character. They eagerly received the message, but that does not mean that they were naïve or simple-minded. They were open to learning and to admitting that there might be something that they didn’t already know. They didn’t just accept it at face value though. They searched the scriptures to see if what Paul and Silas were saying really was true. At that time, the scriptures consisted of what we now know as the Old Testament; the New Testament didn’t exist yet. Paul and Silas taught from the Old Testament to show the people that the scriptures pointed to Jesus. Since the Jews had been waiting for a Messiah, their two choices were to believe that the Messiah could be Jesus, or to believe that it couldn’t be. The Bereans believed that it could be, but they studied the scriptures to confirm if it was true.

God has nothing against inquiring minds. He is not afraid of our questions. By all means seek the truth. In order to do that, however, you need to be open to the possibility that you do not already fully understand all the answers. If you were open to that, I would suggest that you pray for God to reveal Himself to you as you continue on your quest. God promises that you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart. (Deuteronomy 4:29, Jeremiah 29:13)


The other day I was watching an episode of Full Circle that aired a few months ago. (The good thing about Full Circle is that you can watch full episodes on-line anytime.) The conversation was about trying to be a good enough mom. Now, not all of us are moms, but most of us are trying to be great at something, maybe several things. I would guess that most of us also feel like we aren’t measuring up. And, I would say that even those who appear to have it all together probably feel like they don’t most of the time.

We are continually being bombarded with images of people to measure up to. This goes beyond the advertisements of perfectly sized men and women wearing this year’s perfect fashions. The people who are celebrated in the news, on TV, and on the Internet are usually the ones who have accomplished something extraordinary. We celebrate the people who have accomplished great things, donated a lot of money (or even just earned/won/have a lot of money), committed heroic acts, or overcome seemingly insurmountable odds. I have nothing against acknowledging these people, but where does that leave the rest of us who are pretty much just average?

God has a plan and a purpose for us, (Jeremiah 29:11) and the good news is that we don’t have to be strong, rich, well-educated or spectacular in any way to fulfill that purpose. Peter and John were just ordinary men—no advanced degrees, no high position in society—but God was able to use them, (Acts 4:13-14) and He can use us too. I Corinthians 1:26-31 tells us that God uses ordinary people, the ones who have no advantages according to the world’s standards. He uses the foolish to shame the wise and the weak to shame the strong. (I Corinthians 1:27) Why does He choose to use the unqualified to do His work? So that we will know that all we have accomplished is through His power. So that we won’t have a reason to swell with pride. So that any boasting we do will be done in the Lord. So that all of the glory will go to God.

The Corinthians that Paul was writing to were pretty average people—not many were aristocrats, mighty warriors or brilliant scholars. (I Corinthians 1:26) We are pretty average too, but our God is not. If we are willing to answer His call, He can do incredible things through us.


Today's post, written by Meg Korpi and Rusty Wright, is a review of the movie Courageous. Sherwood Pictures presents films with a message, and their message always has the goal of making us better people. Do your best to see it if it comes to a theatre near you.
Courageous begins as a fast-paced police drama with plenty of heart-pounding action, and a spine-tingling surprise within the first three minutes. Good-natured banter and comic mishaps had us laughing, but the movie quickly reveals an introspective side that portends more than levity and brave guys in uniforms chasing bad guys in do-rags.

Indeed, Courageous tells a grounded, human story that focuses on the crucial role of fathers. It intertwines action, humor, pathos, male bonding, a couple of insightful women, and five complex main characters to portray ordinary men evolving into modern-day heroes who find the call to valor in their everyday lives.

A Different Kind of Courage
As peace officers commissioned “to serve and protect,” the protagonists are accustomed to facing danger. But when personal tragedy strikes, officer Adam Mitchell responds with a different kind of courage. Rather than bemoaning his fate, he exhibits the mettle to examine his adequacy as a father, confront his flaws, talk about them, and commit to change.

Adam Mitchell (Alex Kendrick) tries to connect with son Dylan (Rusty Martin, Jr.)
Adam Mitchell (Alex Kendrick) tries to connect with son Dylan (Rusty Martin, Jr.)

Most would probably say he’s a “good enough” father (he provides for his family and does all society expects), but Adam adopts a higher standard. He resolves to be involved in his son’s life and make an enduring positive impact. Determined to follow through, Adam formalizes his decision with a written Resolution. Then he has the guts to ask other men to hold him accountable. This is not your typical Hollywood hero.

Adam’s experience prompts his friends to join in adopting the Resolution. When life inevitably confronts them with difficult moral choices, they weigh their options and tempting advice like, “maybe it’s not wrong; maybe it just looks that way.” In retrospect, it turns out their apparent moral dilemmas weren’t dilemmas at all, just decisions that required courage.

A Different Kind of Movie
Courageous is the third cinematic release from Sherwood Pictures, the successful moviemaking arm of Sherwood Church in Albany, Georgia. Previous releases (also marketed by Sony-Provident Films) include Facing the Giants (2006) and Fireproof, 2008’s top-grossing independent film.

The movie and acting are surprisingly competent, with moments of brilliance. (We predict Robert Amaya’s Snake King scene will become a classic.) This is impressive, considering the film used scores of volunteer cast, crew, caterers, etc., with minimal professional talent. Two brothers—Sherwood pastors and NYT best-selling authors Alex and Stephen Kendrick—wrote the screenplay. Alex also directed and starred; Stephen produced. “We [were] all in this together,” noted Alex, “trying to make a movie that matters.”

Actor Ken Bevel, whose character survived a fatherless childhood, connected personally with his role. His own father was absent for 21 years: “That gap really hurt in a lot of areas.…There’s nothing like your father actually being there and teaching you.”

Nathan Hayes (Ken Bevel) suffers scars from his missing father.
Nathan Hayes (Ken Bevel) suffers scars from his missing father.

Courageous is a movie with a message. It educates, makes us think, and challenges norms. It strives to present life-changing truths that touch viewers’ hearts and motivate them to action. Thus, it shares purpose with such unlikely films as An Inconvenient Truth and Bowling for Columbine, while drawing on different values. It reverberates with the biblical admonition: “Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

Resources for Action
Courageous challenges viewers to examine their lives, and offers fodder for discussing values, parenting, self-improvement, responsibility to one another, etc. But the filmmakers go further by providing online resources to help motivated moviegoers pursue the film’s themes in their own lives.

While it provides humorous and engaging entertainment, ultimately Courageous should be judged for its greater purpose—as a vehicle for long-lasting positive impact on society. Time will tell.

Opens across the US and Canada on September 30. Rated PG-13 for some violence and drug content. U.S. Theaters --- Canadian Theatres

Official Courageous websites:
Meg Korpi studies character development and ethical decision-making through the Character Research Institute in Northern California. She holds a PhD from, and formerly taught at, Stanford University.
Rusty Wright is an author and lecturer who has spoken on six continents. He holds Bachelor of Science (psychology) and Master of Theology degrees from Duke and Oxford universities, respectively.
Copyright © 2011 Meg Korpi and Rusty Wright

Have you ever heard the expression that the best way to make God laugh is to tell Him your plans? I have found in my life that many of the plans I have made have not really worked out as I thought they would. I’m not the only one.

The Apostle Paul had intended to persecute Christians, but his goal changed on the road to Damascus. (Acts 22:6-10) That was a sudden change of plan. Joseph’s brothers had intended to get rid of him by selling him to the Ishmaelites. They wanted to eliminate the competition for their father’s affection and having to listen to Joseph’s dream interpretations which I’m sure they found to be rather arrogant. (Genesis 37:5, Genesis 37:26-28) This change of plan took a little longer. It was many years later that the brothers became afraid of and then grateful to Joseph for saving their lives. The brothers had meant only harm for Joseph, but God had a plan to use their actions for good. (Genesis 45:5-8, Genesis 50:20)

I’ve known people who debate whether we truly have free will or whether our actions are predestined by an all-powerful, all-knowing God. I believe that we do have free will, but God also has a will, and He is sovereign; His plan will be accomplished. God gives us the opportunity to be a part of it, but we can choose whether we want to cooperate or not.

Proverbs 16:9 tells us that a person plans his course, but the Lord directs his steps. We have the privilege and the responsibility to make our own decisions, but God has a plan and a purpose for each one of us, (Jeremiah 29:11) and in time He will work circumstances out the way He chooses. If our plans are aligned with His, we might not be frustrated by unexpected changes quite as often. If we commit our ways to Him, seek His will through prayer and Bible study, our plans will succeed. (Proverbs 16:3)

Do you ever feel like nobody likes you? Or maybe you just feel like SOMEbody doesn’t like you? The fact is that we can’t all be liked by everyone all the time. I’ve told many young people that no matter who they are, some people will like them and some people won’t, so they might as well be themselves and know that their friendships are genuine. We all get to choose who we want to be friends with and who we want to be loyal to. Sometimes being friends with one group will mean that you can't be friends with another.

Jesus told the disciples something similar in John 15:18-19. He said that the world (meaning those who don’t belong to Christ) will hate them, because it hated Him first. The disciples should not be surprised that if they stood up for something that was contrary to what the people of the world believed, there would be hatred and persecution. Neither should we. If you profess to be a Christian, some people will hate you before they even get to know you. They may treat you badly or speak unfairly against you simply because you belong to Christ. In North America persecution is mild compared to what it is in some parts of the globe, but you still don’t have to look far to see it—people hurling insults, bullying, unfair stories in the press, acts of violence and vandalism.

We need to make a careful distinction though. Not all people who claim to be Christians behave in a way that resembles Christ. They judge and criticize and give their share of insults. Sometimes their behaviour is rude and obnoxious. Thus an unfavourable reaction might be more accurately labelled a result of provocation rather than persecution. This kind of behaviour is certainly not what Christ stood for. In II Corinthians 6:3, Paul instructs the people to be above reproach—to not do anything that can be criticized or cause offense. Throughout the Bible, and particularly in the passage just before this, Jesus commands His disciples to love. (John 15:12, John 15:17, John 15:10, Luke 6:27) This isn’t just a friendly suggestion; it’s a commandment. This is what it takes to be like Christ. Love even those who hate you.

Sometimes Christians use terms that aren’t easily understood by people who didn’t grow up going to church. These days, it is often referred to as “Christianese”, but it is not a new concept at all. Nicodemus had the same problem when he spoke to Jesus in John 3:1-7.

After Jesus had spent the day with crowds of people at the temple, Nicodemus went to see him at night. Nicodemus wanted to ask Jesus some questions, apparently while there weren’t a lot of other people around to interrupt or make judgements. He wasn’t defensive or argumentative about what Jesus had to say, refusing to accept it because it was something he hadn’t heard before. Rather, he realized that Jesus was from God, and he wanted to understand and to do what was right.

Jesus knew what Nicodemus’ questions were before he asked them, so He got straight to the point. “Unless a person is born from above, He cannot see the kingdom of God.” That means that if you want to see the kingdom of God, this is how to do it, so we, like Nicodemus, had better understand what it means. In the King James and several other versions, “born from above” is translated as “born again”, and that is the Christianese term that has confused a lot of people, Nicodemus included.

So what does it mean to be born from above? Human beings are more than just bodies. We are made of flesh, and we are made of spirit. When we realize that our spirit needs to be connected to God’s Spirit, that we belong to the One who created us, and accept the fact that Jesus has provided for our salvation, we can be born from above. All it takes is to acknowledge that God sent his son Jesus to be a sacrifice for us, so that we wouldn’t have to pay the price for our own sins. We need to acknowledge that we do sin, and that we need God.

If you want to be born again, from above, pray this simple prayer.

Dear God, I realize that I need You. I believe that Jesus came to pay the penalty for my sins, so that I could have a relationship with You. I want that relationship, and I want to live in a way that pleases You. Please help me to understand what that really means and help me to do it. Amen.

If you aren’t ready yet, but you would really like to understand, you can pray for that too. God promises that if we look for Him, we will find Him. (Jeremiah 29:13, Deuteronomy 4:29, Proverbs 8:17) You can pray something as simple as:

Dear God, I really want to know the truth. Please help me to understand. Amen.

Then, be open for the answer. Be willing to read the Bible, and pray for understanding as you do. Be willing to talk to a pastor or someone you trust who has already walked down this path. If you really want to know the truth, you will pray that prayer, or a similar one, more than once. God will make Himself known to you if you seek Him with all your heart.


I realize that my last post was rather on the serious side. I also realize that in this life you need balance—not that we don’t need to deal with the serious stuff, but sometimes we need to have a little fun too. Studies have shown that laughter is good for your health. Just google “laughter is good for your health”, and you’ll see what I mean. This only confirms what the Bible tells us in Proverbs 17:22. A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. So, in an attempt to improve your health, I am going to share a couple of videos that I hope will cheer your heart.

The first one is especially for anyone who has ever wanted to become more fit.

The second is for anyone who is a mom or has a mom.

Back in May, when everyone was talking about Harold Camping’s predictions, I wrote a blog post saying that no one knows the day or the hour that the end will come. (May 20, 2011) At the time, we were talking about the end of the world and Judgement Day, but it is very likely that our end will come before then, and we can’t know the time or the hour of that either.

I have been thinking more than usual about death lately, because I seem to be exposed to it more than usual. There has been a death in my family, but there has also been death, near death and uncertainty all around me. In the spring, Al and Rita Chretien went missing. Rita thought that she was going to die, but was found after 7 weeks. Al still has not been found. Robert Porter was also trapped in his car on a deserted road, and was preparing to die. Unlike Rita, Robert was not able to move, had little water with him and was sitting in a hot car, unable to roll down the windows. He was rescued after three days, but three days is a long time to think about what you would like to do differently. Other people have not had that contemplation time. We have just passed the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Thousands of people had no more than a few minutes to think, many of them no time at all. A car crash could happen without warning. So could a heart attack, or cancer, or murder.

In Acts 1:7, Jesus told His disciples that they were not permitted to know the times that the Father has set by His own authority. Only God knows all the answers. The rest of us have to live by faith, and be as prepared as we can be for the Father’s schedule to unfold.

Today's post was written by Kenny Silva.

I’m writing today’s post because pride is the sin I struggle with the most. It lays heavy on my heart. Pride has caused me to stumble numerous times in my life and I fear it will do the same to each and every leader who succumbs to its subtle embrace…

Here’s what pride will tell you:

You’re right. They’re wrong.
You don’t need help.
You’re solely responsible for your own success.
Your better than everyone else.
Your life is more important than everyone else’s.
You don’t need to listen to anybody else.
You are the center of the universe.
Your intellect is superior to scripture.
Your wisdom is better than truth.
You are your own god.
Pride has told me each and every one of these lies at varyious points in my life.

Pride loves to feed us a batch of lies. It’s goal is to boost our fragile ego in a way that is completely illegitimate and false. Pride is the pretty little bow we put on our lives when we want to appear more “together” than we really are. It is the very sin that causes us to conceal our struggles, hide our shortcomings, and alienate friends.

I’m convinced that pride is one of the devil’s sneakiest tricks. It creeps up on us as a subtle sense of accomplishment. Next, we’re patting ourselves on the back after a job well done. Finally, we’re at cocktail parties bragging about the bagillion dollar deal we just put together. We’re on top of the world.

Here’s the problem:

God is supposed to be on top of the world. He IS the world. We accomplish nothing through our own efforts. When we allow pride to sneak in and steal the glory from God, we are essentially setting ourselves up as objects of worship. We become our own little deities. Who needs the one true God when you’ve got your own success to worship?

Flip the coin and imagine yourself with nothing. You just lost your job, your savings are gone, and the bank is about to foreclose on your home. You’ve got family and friends who would step in to help you at the drop of a hat, but you refuse to ask for help. Your pride just couldn’t take that hit…

That same selfish pride has kept you from the authentic community in which God has blessed each and every one of us to take part. It has told you that you need to put on a show; that you need to appear “better” or “more fortunate” than you really are. Your pride has lied to you. The enemy has lied to you.

As James 4:6 says, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ In James 4:10, James calls us to humble ourselves before the Lord, that He (God) may exalt us.

Today, I want to challenge each one of us to intentionally take a stand and go to battle against this enemy; to humble ourselves and descend. Praise God in your triumph. Trust him in your defeat. Cast your prideful crown before the throne.

Don’t let your foolish sense of pride continue to lie to you. Stand in truth and be free.

“For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” – Romans 11:36
You can visit Kenny's site at, and see his original post here.

We are only two days away from the 10th anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center in New York, known simply as 9/11. On that date, 2, 977 people died, beginning with the 87 people who were on board Flight 11 out of Boston, the first plane to hit the towers. One person who did not die that day was Steve Scheibner, the pilot originally scheduled to take that flight.

On September 10, 2011, the American Airlines computer showed one flight for the next day as unassigned—Flight 11 from Boston to Los Angeles. It listed only one pilot who was available to take that flight—Steve Scheibner. The procedure was that any available pilot could ask to take the flight, but there was only a 30 minute window of time, starting at 3:00 p.m. on September 10, when the request could be made. The most senior pilot would be given the flight. A telephone call would come from American Airlines to confirm, and once that happened, the pilot would not be changed. Steve Scheibner was penciled in to take that flight, but during the 30 minute window, Tom McGuinness called to ask if he could take it. Since he had seniority, the flight was given to Tom.

Tom McGuinness did not know that he would be giving his life for Steve Scheibner that day. When Christ gave his life for us, He knew, and He gave it willingly. Matthew 8:17 quotes Isaiah 53:5 when it says that He took our weaknesses and carried our diseases. This does not mean that we will not face illness, or that we will be healed from all of our illnesses here on earth, but it does mean that we will be healed of all our illnesses at the Second Coming of Christ. I Corinthians 15:26 tells us that death will be the last enemy to be eliminated. Revelation 21:4 tells us that when Christ returns, death and mourning and pain will no longer exist. Hallelujah! I’m looking forward to that day.

Because of Tom McGuinness, Steve Scheibner’s physical life was saved. Because of Christ, we can be saved for eternal life. You, however, have to make the choice to believe and accept the gift. (Acts 10:43, John 1:12, John 3:18, John 20:31)