Joe Thorn

View-Worthy: 7.16.14

Preview

Free to Be a Christian College, Female Modesty, Earnest Preaching, Biblical Theology/Identity/Discipleship.

Headliner

Denny Burk. Are Christian Colleges Free to Be Christian?

Are Christian colleges still free to be Christian in this country? You may think that an unserious question, but if you’ve been paying attention to recent events surrounding Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts, you know it’s a very pressing question indeed.

Deal of the Day

The Gospel and Personal Evangelism by Mark Dever $0.99

Book Review

Nate Larkin. Samson and the Pirate Monks. Reviewed by Tim Challies.

Links

Jani Ortlund. Modesty, Beauty, and Men. Why Should We Care? (True Woman)

We live in a day of exhibitionism, and summer exaggerates the desire for more skin to be shown. Yet, our appearance is one of the most powerful ways we have of sending a message about the condition of our hearts. Do we ever ask ourselves, “What message am I sending?” We hear exhortations to be modest in the way we dress. With different opinions swirling around about necklines and skirt length, how should we understand biblical modesty?

Joe Thorn. 4 Characteristics of Earnest Preaching. (Christward Collective)

I have always been drawn to those who can speak with creativity and with conviction. This was true before my conversion, and is especially true today. Since my conversion, I find myself hungering to hear the word preached. When it comes to preaching, there are two basic things that I want to hear from a preacher: the word of God andearnestness. If he doesn’t bring the word of God, he has nothing to say. If he isn’t earnest, I’m tempted to not believe him. As I evaluate my own preaching, and coach other preachers, I find that earnestness is one of the areas that needs the most attention. A man’s earnestness in preaching is often the hand that grips the hearer and brings him along side the preacher to the truth proclaimed.

Michael Lawrence. Biblical Theology, Identity, and Discipling. (9 Marks)

Identity matters. It matters in our culture, which is awash in identity politics and the unimpeachable claims that identity provides. And it matters among Christians. We call people to live up to and live out the reality of who they are in Christ: an alien and stranger, salt and light, a member of the body of Christ or bride of Christ, a temple of the Spirit, a new creation, and so on.  We encourage one another to put on the new self.

Edify

1 Timothy 2:9 “Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control.”

“Modesty is the lifeguard of chastity.” Thomas Fuller

View-Worthy: 7.11.14

Preview

Theology Proper & Moral Witness, Should Christians Take Vacation?, Pastor’s Kid Interview, Mystery & Contradiction.

Headliner

Derek Rishmawy. Recovering an Engaging Doctrine of God for the Church’s Moral Witness. (Canon and Culture)

Kevin Vanhoozer opines that while a number of theologians have gotten around to speaking of God himself, for the most part there’s a bit of a theological famine on the subject. “Theologies” of sex, art, dance, money, literature, and so forth abound, but God gets the short shrift (Remythologizing Theology: Divine Action, Passion, and Authorship, pg. xii). From where I’m sitting, the same thing could easily be said of the Evangelical pulpit–God gets plenty of mention, but usually it’s to suggest parishioners consider casting him in a (major!) supporting role within the drama of their own self-improvement.

If I may temporarily adopt the English penchant for understatement, I’d like to suggest that the contemporary loss of the doctrine of God is a bit of a problem, particularly for the Church’s public, moral witness.

Deal of the Day

Four Views on Moving Beyond the Bible to Theology (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology) $3.79

Book Review

Kelly Bean. How to Be a Christian Without Going to Church. Reviewed by Gavin Ortlund. (TGC)

Links

Joe Thorn. Should Christians Take Vacation. (Christianity.com)

Summer is here and I hope you are planning on taking a vacation. I have read several reports thatclaim Americans work more hours, take fewer vacations, and retire later, than those in any other industrialized country. And anecdotally I can see what the men and women in our church are doing. We are always working, and seldom resting. As a pastor I encourage the church to take vacation seriously, not because it is directly commanded in Scripture, but because it is a means by which we are prepared to do what God calls us to. To get the most out of your vacation three things must be known and embraced.

Brandon Smith. The Pastor’s Kid: An Interview w/Barnabas Piper. (GCD)

Barnabas Piper has written a book, The Pastor’s Kid: Finding Your Own Faith and Identity, hoping to use his experience to encourage PKs to trust in Christ and to seek community in the midst of public and private struggle. It is also an instructive book for those of us who want to love our pastor’s kid better.

Barnabas was kind enough to answer a few questions for GCD, and I hope it will encourage you to buy the book.

Douglas Wilson. Mystery and Contradiction.

The other day I said this about logic: “if it is a wooly-mindedness that is embraced on purpose, it is heresy. This is because denying the law of non-contradiction is the royal gateway to every heresy imaginable.” Given the incoherent nature of the days we live in, I thought it was neccessary to unpack this a bit.

The law of non-contradiction says — and you would think says uncontroversially — that A cannot be not A in the same way, and in the same respect. It is not violated when Smith is a boy and then later is not a boy. That is not a contradiction because he is first a boy and then not a boy at different times. It is no contradiction.

Edify

Romans 5:3 “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance.”

“Suffering so unbolts the door of the heart that the Word hath easier entrance.” Richard Baxter

 

View-Worthy: 6.16.14

Headliner

Jonathan Parnell. Would You Tackle the Gunman? (DG)

On Thursday, June 5, shortly after 3:30 in the afternoon, inside a building on the campus of Seattle Pacific University, a student named Jon Meis pepper-sprayed a stranger and tackled him to the floor.

An unknown gunman had opened fire in the building, and in a moment of complete chaos, as the gunman reloaded a shotgun that had already killed one person and wounded two others, Jon Meis stepped up to stop him. Without doubt, as many witnesses and authorities close to the scene have said, Meis’s heroic act saved several lives.

I was watching the story unfold, asking myself the same question that many of us have probably asked at some point throughout the wake of tragedies like this.Could I have stopped the shooter? If I found myself in a similar situation — and now we start imagining the scenario — if someone walked through that door armed to hurt people, which direction would I go? Would I be willing to risk my own life in an attempt to impede the attacker?

Deal of the Day

Risky Gospel by Owen Strachan $0.99

Book Review

Marvin Jones. Basil of Caesarea: His Life and Impact. Reviewed by Coleman Ford.

Links

Eugene Merrill. Jesus and Atonement in the Old Testament.

The word “atonement” occurs frequently in the Old Testament (OT) and represents a key concept of OT theology. Christians maintain that Jesus is the fulfillment of the OT, especially the human need for atonement from sins. But what is atonement, and what does Jesus have to do with it?

Joe Thorn. Wisdom I learned in Dad’s Pickup Truck. (Christianity.com)

As a boy I spent a lot of time in my dad’s truck— a mobile office/workshop that smelled of oil, metal, and Doublemint gum. He would take me with him to various jobs, and I went as his assistant. This usually meant I carried his tools and he installed water heaters or retiled bathrooms. But the truck. That’s where we talked in depth about life. I had a lot of questions and he had a lot of thoughts. In the truck was where I thought out loud with my dad and pondered his wisdom. In light of Father’s Day, I wanted to share four pieces of fatherly wisdom that he passed on to me.

Dan Darling. 5 Mistakes Parents Make. (Servants of Grace)

My wife and I are in the throes of parenting and are surrounded, in our church and among friends, with other couples in the throes of parenting. So my parenting radar is hot. I’m learning, growing and repenting every day as I ask the Lord to make me a faithful dad.

It’s often easier to learn how to be a better parent by observing and owning our mistakes. So as I’ve observed parenting (my own and others’) and tried to admit and learn from my mistakes, I’ve compiled a list of five tendencies Christian parents have. I hope it helps you think through your own parenting journey.

Edify

Psalm 25:9 “He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.”

“Humility is the ornament of angels and the deformity of devils.” William Jenkyn

View-Worthy: 5.8.14

Headliner

Carl Trueman. More Questions Than Answers On Protestant’s Future?

Anyone who claims to want to end world poverty or child abuse has seized the rhetorical high ground in a manner which makes any response beyond ‘Amen, so may it be!’ seem somewhat curmudgeonly. Thus, when Peter Leithart opened last week’s discussion on the future of Protestantism by lamenting ecclesiastical disunity and expressing a desire for a visibly united church, there was an audible murmur of support and appreciation from the audience. I knew immediately I would emerge over the course of the evening as the nay-sayer.

Deal of the Day

The Final Days of Jesus by Andreas Kostenberger and Justin Taylor

Book Review

Justin Holcomb. Know the Heretics. Reviewed by Aaron Armstrong.

Links

N T Wright at Lanier Theological Library. HT Charles Savelle.

Lecture by N.T. Wright from Lanier Theological Library on Vimeo.

Joe Thorn. 4 Ways to Find God’s Grace in Our Failures. (Christianity.com)

If you haven’t figured it out yet let me encourage you to see something that will greatly help you. Not all of your ideas are good. Some of them are bad. And God will often let you flail and fail out there for very good purposes. And when you fail do not lose the opportunity to find grace in the midst of it.

I believe this is especially important for pastors to understand. It’s one of the most important lessons I have learned in 16 years of pastoral ministry: failure is to be expected and learned from. I have misspoke, misstepped, and missed the mark in more ways than I can explain here. And failing hurts. Most of us of are afraid of it. Leaders in particular are afraid of failure since it’s always a bit more of a public spectacle.

I’m not talking about moral failure that disqualifies someone from the ministry, but ministerial failure. It may sometimes involve sin, but more often it’s poor judgment or simply the bad execution of an idea. And while we must always take ownership for our failures, we don’t have to be defeated by them. In fact, I have found that there is much grace to be found in failure if I will seek the Lord through it.

Mike Leake. A Thirst for Knowledge, A Thirst for Porn. (Servants of Grace)

Many young men are introduced to pornography out of curiosity. They simply want to know what those forbidden parts look like. And then that curiosity gets more pointed. They want to know what certain celebrities look like naked. It never satisfies.

It’s not only young men that I have been caught in this snare. It’s trapped many good and seemingly faithful men. They don’t begin on a quest to view porn for sexual pleasure. It’s a quest to view forbidden images for the sake of knowledge. 

Edify

Ephesians 1:5 “[He] predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.”

“Adoption gives us the privilege of sons, regeneration the nature of sons.” Stephen Charnock

 

7 Writing Lessons from Excellent Christian Bloggers

Last week we wrapped up our second series of Christian blogger interviews. In this round we interviewed Jason BruecknerChristina Fox, Dave JenkinsDavid MurrayBarnabas PiperMathew SimsJoe Thorn, and Jared Wilson. In our previous series we interviewed Stephen AltroggeAaron ArmstrongNate ClaiborneGloria FurmanMike Leake, and Trevin Wax. From each of these interviews I gleaned profitable lessons about writing.

Here are 7 lessons I have learned from excellent writers during these two series.

1. Good writing flows from the furnace of affliction and the product of exploration.

2. Writing energizes and serves as God’s creative outlet for people to express His image.

3. Writing is a source of therapy and an expression of increasing joy in God.

4. Writing is used by many to sharpen one self, internalize God’s truth, and think aloud.

5. Many writers write under compulsion. They cannot not write.

6. Many bloggers started blogging out of pragmatic purposes: sharing with family, updating friends. But then God launched their ministry into great purposes for His end.

7. Writers who simply write with no interest in tracking statistical blog traffic, write with least encumbrance.

Thank you to each blogger who accepted my interview invitation. I benefit from your ministry and so do so many others. Keep writing!

This series will return again this Summer. If you are a Christian blogger and you would like to be a part of this series, please contact me: jtcochran82 AT gmail DOT com.

 

View-Worthy: 4.1.14

Headliner

Joe Thorn. Antinomianism? An Interview with Mark Jones.

I am thankful for the renewed focus on “the gospel” in so many of our churches and ministries today. We are once again seeking to plumb the depths of the gospel to see all the ways the work of Christ is our hope and salvation. Yet in the midst of all things “gospel centered” there has been some online debate between popular preachers concerning the gospel and the Christian life. Many of us have continued to have this discussion on and offline ourselves. At stake in these conversations are the relationship between the law and the gospel, the use of the law in the life of the Christian, the relationship between justification and sanctification, and the nature of assurance, to name a few.

To date my favorite book on this is Mark Jones’ new work, Antinomianism: Reformed Theology’s Unwelcome Guest? 

Jones’ Antinomianism addresses these central issues by walking the reader through the seventeenth century antinomian debates and providing careful biblical and theological teaching that cuts through much of the fog that has developed in the online discussions. Mark was kind enough to answer a few questions about his book.

Deal of the Day

Mark Dever. 12 Challenges Churches Face. Crossway Impact Member Price ($1.99).

If you are not a Crossway Impact Member, you should definitely consider joining. This is a great program to be a part!

Book Review

Bart Ehrman. How Jesus Became God. Reviewed by Andreas Kostenberger. (TGC)

Links

David Burnette. Suggested Resources on Family Worship. (Radical)

In our recent interview with Matt Mason on family worship, we asked him for some resource recommendations. He gave us a boatload of good suggestions, so we decided to include those separately in the post below.

Here are some books Matt recommends for you and your family along with some brief descriptions…

Joe Carter. The Repristinator: A Review of Noah. (TGC)

The world’s oldest genre of fiction is the deluge apocalypse, a narrative in which a great flood is sent by a deity, or deities, to destroy civilization in an act of divine retribution. Throughout history there are reportedly more than 2,000 varieties of the genre, from the ancient Babylonian epic of Gilgamesh to the modern American farce of Evan Almighty, each loosely based on true account, the historical story of Noah recorded in the book of Genesis.

The latest addition to the genre is Darren Aronofsky’s art house blockbuster Noah.

Russ Pulliam. Seniors Addicted to Slots. (World)

A recent study by the Institute for American Values (IAV) outlines the tragedy: Casinos have become depressing senior citizen centers.

Edify

Proverbs 19:17 “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.”

“Stretch your purse to the utmost, and do all the good you can.” Richard  Baxter

009: Cochrans4Chicago Update

PRAYERCARD4 RGB

Zechariah 8:20-22 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: People shall yet come, even the inhabitants of many cities. The inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, ‘Let us go at once to entreat the favor of the Lord and to seek the Lord of hosts; I myself am going.’ Many people and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the Lord.”

Dear Friends,

God wondrously continues to provide for the Cochrans by His sovereign hand as we seek His glory and speak His gospel in Chicagoland.

I can attest to the amazing power of prayer to bless those who seek Him. One prayer that I have cried to God in the morning is opportunities to share the gospel with others. He does not cease to provide those opportunities. Would you join me in this prayer?

Since my last update, I got to share the gospel with George, the most ecstatic Wal-Mart greeter you’ll ever meet. When you walk through those doors, he beams the brightest smile and booms with the loudest voice, “Welcome! It’s a great day in Wal-Mart today.” He is a retired trucker, who rides his TriRod during the Winter and his Harley Chopper in the Summer. He’s a committed biker! But if you stop to talk to him, you’ll discover that he has knowledge of the Lord but pain from the Church, pain that has kept him from church since his childhood days in West Texas at a small Baptist Church that split over scandal.

I’ve developed a friendship with Lu (short for Lucifer). I know, right. We sit next to one another in Starbucks. He’s actually Greek Orthodox and jokes that he will come to me for confession this year. He is an IT and operations efficiency consultant for executives and lawyers. Once I discovered this, I shared with him Patrick Lencioni’s book, the Advantage, which is a wonderful resource on building healthy organizations. Pray that we will have more conversations that lead to gospel conversations.

Then there is Mike that I met at Arcedium, a St. Charles local coffee roaster and coffee shop. Mike is a carpenter and is very curious about spiritual matters. We’ve talked a number of times about God, the gospel, and the Church. I am praying that he will respond to the gospel soon. Pray with me too.

I met Joe and Jose when I took responsibility for organizing our recent A29 Chicago Suburb Lunch. They are both local business owners who recently started quick service businesses. As I listened to Joe and his wife share the affliction they’ve endured this last year in the process of starting their new business, my heart ached for them. Jose owns the business next door, he’s a young guy who wants to relocate to St. Charles from Schaumburg. He may have visited the first service of Redeemer Fellowship this past week. We did not see him because our family attended second service. He told me he was searching for a church with a 9 o’clock service that he could attend, since he opens his place at 11 a.m. on Sundays.

Finally, there is Allan. Allan is British and the father-in-law to one of our worship leaders at Redeemer. At a birthday party on Saturday, Allan and I talked for an hour. We talked about Anglicanism, the four major conflicts he served in as part of Her Majesty’s Royal Air Force, Nelson Mandela, Islam, and church planting. When he discovered I was starting a church, he asked, “How does one know they are to start a church?” With a softball sized gospel invitation like that, I couldn’t help but start with, “Well, in eighth grade God saved me from my sin…”

Ministry Update

In addition to coordinating Welcome, Offering, and Announcements and Leadership Lab for Redeemer Fellowship, I am now drafting weekly discussion sheets for Redeemer’s Community Groups. They are all sermon based. I write these discussion sheets during the sermon, and we e-mail a PDF to all our CG leaders directly after the service. I continue to facilitate discussions for our Community Group on Thursdays, though I am also trying to involve other men, as my plate is pretty full, and we have so many gifted and capable facilitators in our group.

I believe that I will be preaching this Sunday in Woodstock at Doxa Fellowship, where Steve McCoy pastors. Please pray for me. I’m preaching on Zechariah 8:20-22. This passage is inspired by my reading of Jonathan Edward’s account of the Scottish prayer revival in 1740, where Scottish churches covenanted to a two year weekly “concert in prayer”. Edwards wrote An Humble Attempt to Promote Explicit Agreement And Visible Union of God’s People in Extraordinary Prayer, for the Revival of Religion and the Advancement of Christ’s Kingdom on Earth. Yes! This book was written when there was a silent “h” in humble and book titles were 10 percent the length of books. Good stuff.

It is almost Spring here. We have only received 10 or so inches of snow in March and have seen a couple days in the 40′s. For the most part the temperature hovers around the 10′s and 20′s. Kendall and the kids are doing fantastic. We had a busy weekend celebrating St. Patrick’s day with all our friends. St. Patrick’s day is a big deal up here, so there was much Irish soda bread, corn beef and cabbage, and shamrock shakes for many all over Chicagoland this past weekend.

PARTNERING UPDATE

I have an important elder meeting on Wednesday night. I will be sharing my vision and desire to start a church in Aurora. Now we are prayerfully walking down the path of whether this church will be an independent church plant or a campus of Redeemer Fellowship. Please pray for us as we journey through this process.

I finished editing my first book for Crossway and returned it to the editorial director last week. Pray that I find favor with him and that Crossway would invite me to edit a book or two a month for them. Meanwhile, I am reaching out to other publishers for similar opportunities. I still am finding favor with writing opportunities. Last week I had a guest post at the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, Develop a “Date Your Wife” Mindset, and a guest post at Christianity.com3 Ways to Drive Millennials Out of Your Church.If the Lord is stirring you to partner with us, you may do so through the North American Mission Board. As of right now, we have tracked that we have raised 1% of what we need from partners to continue on in ministry here. Our goal is $2000 per month from individual partners. God graciously provided a healthy federal refund, so we continue on faithfully for another month with His provision. I am in the process of making phone calls and writing letters to individuals. I reached out to 13 churches for partnership this past month through letters as well. Pray that the Lord will provide partners with both churches and individuals, so we may continue on in ministry.

All funding may be securely given through the North American Mission Board. Gifts may be given through Electronic Funds Transfer, or AutoPay with your Debit or Credit Card. To set up automatic giving on-line go to our NAMB Webpage, http://msc.kintera.org/cochranfamily2005.

If you wish to mail in an Electronic Funds Transfer request, you may do so. Fill out the form below and mail it to the address for NAMB below. When you fill out the form indicate my name JOEY COCHRAN and Account 10138 on the form.
EFT Request Form.

Here is a helpful document about giving online with the North American Mission Board.
Q&A Sheet for Partnering with NAMB Missionaries.

If you wish to send a monthly check, you may still do so. Please be sure to memo JOEY COCHRAN ACCT 10138 on your check.

Mail your check to:

NAMB
Attention: Accounting – MSC                       
PO Box 116543
Atlanta, Georgia 30368-6543

Sincerely,

The Cochran Family
cochranfamily2005@gmail.com

Joey Cochran
e: jc@redeemerfellowship.org
t: @joeycochran
w: www.jtcochran.com

Discover Christian Blogging: Joe Thorn

Series Introduction:

Christian Blogging is not only popular but it is also a profession. Blogs as a medium are a valuable resource to receive spiritual edification, news, popular commentary on current events through a Christian lens, and insight to finding valuable resources (books, music, et al.) at discounted prices. Blogs essentially are a wonderful learning environment accessed at a reader’s leisure.

Yet, many Christians are not aware of this valuable resource. Not only this but they are not familiar with who to follow on platforms such as Twitter or to subscribe to via e-mail or their RSS Reader like Feedly.

The purpose of this series is to identify and interview exceptional Christian Bloggers in order to introduce people to their blogging ministry. I hope you enjoy this series. We will continue it throughout February and March, so please stay tuned. You’re going to meet some markedly gifted people who have a passion to share God’s truth and God’s gospel through this unique digital platform.

Obviously, for this series to be successful I need your help. Please share with others about this series. I’m just preaching to the choir if regular blog readers catch on to this series. Tell your friends about this series by word of mouth. Help them create a twitter account or have a feedly RSS reader account. And yes! Retweet. Like. Subscribe. Share. Help others discover this digital treasure trove of bloggers who serve the Church via this medium.

This is our second run of these posts. We did another series last summer that might catch your interest. Here is who we interviewed before with links: Stephen AltroggeAaron ArmstrongNate ClaiborneGloria FurmanMike LeakeTrevin WaxIf you are a blogger and would like to be a part of this series or a future one, please contact me by e-mail: jtcochran82 AT gmail DOT com.

These interviews will post each Tuesday during February and possibly March. We’ve already got an excellent lineup of bloggers who are participating in this series. Below is the post schedule.

Discovering Christian Bloggers Interview Schedule:

February 4 – Christina Fox (To Show Them Jesus)

February 11 – Jared Wilson (The Gospel-Driven Church)

February 18 – Mathew Sims (Grace for Sinners)

February 25 – Jason Brueckner (Brave Reviews)

March 4 – Joe Thorn (joethorn.net)

March 11 – Barnabas Piper (Barnabas’s Blog and the Blazing Center)

March 18 – Dave Jenkins (Servants of Grace)

March 25 – David Murray (Head, Heart, Hand)

Today’s Featured Blogger:

joethornJoe Thorn is the founding and Lead Pastor of Redeemer Fellowship in St. Charles, IL, and the author of Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself (Crossway/ReLit) and Experiencing the Trinity: The Grace of God for the People of God (Crossway, 2015). He was a contributor to The Story ESV Bible and The Mission of God Study Bible. Joe is a graduate of Moody Bible Inst (BA) and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (MDiv). He and his wife Jen have four children. He blogs at joethorn.net and at The Christward Collective.

Interview Questions:

1.     What is your website/blog url? What is the purpose of your blog? Who is your audience?

Joethorn.net.

The purpose of my blog is to flesh out and share the things on my heart regarding experiential theology and church life.

I have a diverse reach with my blog, but a specific audience that I reach is church leaders.

2.     How did your blogging ministry begin?

In 2005 I started a blog to think out loud and have on-line conversations about things that are important to me.

 3.     What is the most personally meaningful post that you have written and why? 

I don’t know that I have one, but an important one was when I started blogging about planting Redeemer Fellowship: http://www.joethorn.net/blog/2007/05/21/the-start-of-something-new.

Any of my writings on experimental Calvinism are also meaningful.

 4.     What is the most popular post that you have written? Why do you think it gained such extensive readership?

I don’t really know. I don’t pay attention to the statistics on my blog. I might guess that my most popular posts are when I explain what we do as a church. Others who are exploring what they are going to do find these posts helpful. A recent example of this is the post, “Why Do We Do That?

My post “6 Rules of Cultural Engagement” was widely read and shared.

 5.     What is your inspiration to write? Why are you inspired to write?

I’m inspired to write because of my need to think out loud. I’m moved to write because it is good for me personally, and it appears to be a help to others.

The Tension of “Everything is Awesome”

Saturday we hit up the Aurora Tinseltown matinee of the Lego Movie. You cannot beat $3 tickets.

We were initially apprehensive about this movie. Movies for children often have content we find questionable. We’ve become increasingly discerning over the years. We carefully read Plugged In’s review for this particular flick.

I don’t wish to get into all the details of this movie, nor do I wish to supply any spoilers. I will say that we walked away with two concerns.

First, we weren’t entirely comfortable with the progressive love interest development between the main character, Emmett and the female lead, Wyldstyle. Mainly in light of the fact that Wyldstyle was currently in a relationship with Batman.

Second, the movie employs a song to help set up the Lego world, which we later discover is one dimension in the greater expanse of the Lego universe. This particular Lego world is the city. Everyone in the city likes the same show, enjoys the same “one hit wonder” and goes through the same daily routine. It’s like Pleasantville meets Edward Scissor Hands in the Lego-verse.

This one hit wonder’s chorus is:

Everything is awesome, everything is cool when you’re part of a team

Everything is awesome, when you’re living out a dream

The song does its best to convey that everything in the world and about the world is awesome. It is the prototypical self-motivational song.

My main concern with this song is when we convey that everything is awesome, nothing is really awesome, nor anyone. Awesome is a special word. It is a special designation given to one who is truly worthy of the ascription. When it comes right down to it, this term really only fits God. Only God deserves to be considered awesome.

Though initially I found this song frustrating. I had to contextualize the song to the irony that the movie portrayed. The glamorous, ordered, and plastic life in this particular Lego world is altogether artificial. The point of the song is to see through this deception. We are meant to be skeptical of the “everything is awesome” proposition. And so we are.

Also, when rightly viewed through a biblical lens. We see that everything is awesome. The awesome God who creates all things invested Himself in His creation. He made it all good. The intelligence and beauty of all creation points back to God. In that sense all of it we see and experience is awesome.

Last, the proposition that everything is awesome when you’re living out a dream provides the wrong premise upon which people build hope. People pursue happiness; they pursue dreams. But are these the God given pursuits for humanity. Are we supposed to follow our dreams? Or something else? Perhaps someone else?

My daughter said it best in the car today as we listened to this song again.

“Dad. I’m not supposed to follow my dreams. I’m supposed to follow God.”

I agreed with my daughter. Then I gave her an interesting twist to this logic.

I asked her, “What if following God is your dream? Then you could live out your dream because you are following God.”

She liked this perspective. I am also fond of this perspective.

Overall, I found the Lego Movie to be an appealing and lighthearted film for children to enjoy. Bearing in mind these two critiques, I think there are ways to reconcile these two dilemmas and have a hearty dialogue about many other elements of this movie.

Did you see this movie? What were you’re thoughts about it?

View-Worthy: 1.30.14

Headliner

Gloria Furman. Dear 6 a.m. Self. Gloria Furman has launched a new blog that will be replacing Domestic Kingdom. I recommend adding this blog to your reading list. Here’s an excerpt from a recent post:

Good morning! Yes, sleepyhead, it really is morning already. I know you feel like you just fell asleep and…Hey, wait! I know you’ve got things to do, but you need to hear this first. Hold onto your skateboard, McFly, because I’ve got a message for you from the future. Yes, the future. Here’s the message: Because of Jesus Christ you are going to be running headlong into God’s future grace all morning. All day. For the rest of your life. And six trillion years from now.

Deal of the Day

Amazing Grace by Eric Metaxas $3.99

Book Review

Alan P Stanley. Four Views on the Roles of Works at the Final Judgment. (TGC) Reviewed by David Schrock.

Links

J D Greear, Andy Davis and David Helm. Young Pastor, Here’s What I Wish I’d Known. (HT TGC)

Young Pastor, Here’s What I Wish I’d Known from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

Joe Thorn. Why Do We Do That?.

In our worship program (bulletin, Order of Service, Missional Framework for Gospel Centered Communal Experience… or whatever you like to call it) we not only include the complete liturgy, but also a section titled, “Why Do We Do That?” This is a couple paragraphs explaining a different aspect of our worship each week. With people coming from different Christian traditions, or no Christian background at all, we believe it’s important to explain why we do what we do on the Lord’s Day. We are still writing them, but here are the ones we use so far.

Zach Neilsen. How to Avoid a Cult of Personality. (TGC)

Only our admiration of Jesus could never be misplaced or excessive. So perhaps the best way to avoid a cult of personality in your ministry is to actively pursue creating a cult of personality for someone else, namely Jesus.

Sam Storms. Remembering S Lewis Johnson Jr. This is a deeply personal tribute from Sam Storms to S Lewis Johnson on the 10th anniversary of when Johnson entered glory.

Lewis Johnson was the epitome of a southern gentleman. Raised in South Carolina, he didn’t tolerate well social improprieties or the vulgar behavior or rude and discourteous ways of young men he encountered. Every time I sat down in his presence I was prepared for a loving rebuke, a gentle correction, and to this day I cherish every word he spoke and every exhortation he gave me.

Edify

Psalm 9.9 “The Lord is the stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.”

“As the image on the seal is stamped upon the wax, so the thoughts of the heart are printed upon the actions.” Stephen Charnock

“Maybe you can only survive so long on a self-help diet. Eventually you get pretty sick of yourself. A biblical understanding of God-big beyond description, active, perfectly holy-tasts much better than junk-food pop psychology.” Collin Hansen. Young, Restless, Reformed.