From the monthly archives: February 2016

We are pleased to present below all posts archived in 'February 2016'. If you still can't find what you are looking for, try using the search box.

Your Neighborhood Is a Parish


The unseasonably warm weather has awakened my neighbors from their winter hibernation. Kids cruise by on their bikes, dads take their toddlers on walks to the park and the smell of the grill awakens the atmosphere.

In other words, “neighboring season” comes early this year. Yes, March and April will probably bring some crazy spring blizzards, but as those trained in the art of neighboring, we should pay attention to the weather. Our neighbors already are.

To get your heart ready for loving your neighbors like Jesus, getting your legs in walking shape might be a good first step (pun intended). I’ll let Matt Canlis and the people of Methlick Parish in Scotland explain.

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These Reboots Are Made for Watching: 2015’s Best Films and Oscars Preview


I’m baaaaack!

Trevor only lets me on here to talk movies and this year he even cut down the scope of my top-movies-of-the-year post! But we’re going to make it count! If you don’t still hate me after watching my no. 1 movie of 2014, get ready for another 2,000 words about my favorite movies of 2015 (along with a few Oscars predictions).

Let’s quickly review my criteria. I’m not looking to go into full couch-potato mode when I view a film. I want to be moved to worship or to conviction. I want my soul stirred. I want to understand God, myself or our world better. I ask these questions when I rank films:

• With what truths of the Bible or the gospel did the film pierce me?
• What was the quality of the acting and the story?
• What was the experience of watching it? Did I feel what the characters were feeling?
• Were there memorable moments that particularly stirred my soul? (This is a lower priority because there might be a great moment in a bad film.)

One more issue. Films in this day and age continue to push on the biblical moral boundaries we try to uphold. It can be tricky to navigate. What films are worth watching? What films will cause me to stumble into lust? What amount of crude language is too much? These are not easy questions, but we must walk in our own convictions and respect each other’s convictions. We must also attempt to avoid walking into a film blindly without discernment. Do your research and read some reviews and warnings in advance.

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Goodbye, Mockingbird: Harper Lee, 1926-2016


Back in 2015, I read two amazing stories: One was about a lawyer who would later be classified as a hero for many generations of high schoolers (or at least the ones who read the book). The other was a story of how even the biggest heroes can fail.

The books, To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman, both by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Harper Lee, offered insight into an era I and many others will never experience outside the history books and stories like these.

To Kill A Mockingbird is a timeless classic about the Depression-era American South, where bigotry and racism prevail — as they still do to a degree in today's America. The book is set in Maycomb, Alabama, and it tells the story of Jem and Jean Louise “Scout” Finch, and their father, Atticus, an attorney who defends a black man accused of rape. For many literature buffs and book fans, Atticus Finch was the ultimate hero — he stood up for what was right even when seemingly everyone else opposed him. It also portrays Scout’s unique coming-of-age story and her encounters with the mysterious Radley family.

Harper Lee’s second published novel, Go Set a Watchman, is really an older, less-edited version of To Kill a Mockingbird. In it, Atticus Finch’s heroic portrayal is shattered. As an older, college-aged Scout struggles with the views her father kept from her, many fans of the classic shutter at the thought of a racist Atticus Finch, and some refuse to even read it.

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Jesus Told Me All Was Well: A Playlist for Volume 5 of Our Romans Series


Four weeks ago, we started Volume 5 of our sermon series on the book of Romans. These have been heavy weeks of working to make sense of one of the most challenging passages in all the Bible. And while this passage has been offensive, as Pastor Ritter predicted in the opening sermon of this volume, it has also been full of good news — wonderfully profound good news about the nature of our salvation and the glorious mercy and power of our Savior.

The title for Volume 5 hints at the tensions we’ve been wrestling through the last few weeks. Volume 5 in our anthology comes from a line in Mumford & Sons’ “Below My Feet.” The song’s structure is somewhat like the Psalms. It opens with cries of sorrow and confusion — the speaker is “lost” in a cold, unfriendly world who sleeps “the hours I can’t weep.”

He repeats the fact that he is lost before the first refrain brings some hope to the situation. Of course he is going to feel lost and alone when his sweat and blood “runs weak.” His prayer for Someone to keep the earth below his feet is a prayer for humility, for grounding, for something of substance outside his frail, limited existence. And only when he remembers that Jesus told him that all was well can he fully rest in the truth that “all must be well.”

So it is with us as we take our time through Romans 9-11. We don’t fully understand it; it scoffs at our sensibilities; it makes us ask big, uncomfortable questions; we may even feel a sense of loss or conflict.

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Q&A: The Certainty of Election, the Reliability of the Bible and the Nature of Hell and Heaven

Of the four questions from Sunday’s Q&A time, not a single one was about our quest, our favorite color or the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.

Be that as it may, the questions were still really good and poignant. To whit: How do I know if I am one of God’s elect? Did the writers of the Bible correctly hear from God? What does the Bible say about hell? Is there free will in heaven?

Solid stuff. Enjoy the answers below. Previous Q&A videos can be found here.

Looking ahead, there may be a brief pause in the post-service Q&A sessions, but that’s a for sure thing just yet. We’ll keep you posted. (You can still text your questions by texting to “QNA42” to 91011.) But on Sunday, March 6, the actual sermon portion of the service will be one giant Q&A session about Romans 9. If the last four sermons have sparked some thoughts, please speak up. You and your questions play a vital role in this discussion. So, to text us your Romans 9 questions, text “ROMES9” to 91011.

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