Book Review: I Will

cover64157-mediumChurch researcher and consultant Thom Rainer addresses a growing problem in many churches, mainline and non-denomotional alike. Church member burnout and declining membership.

Rainer begins his little book, I Will, with a short narrative about a divorced, single-mother of three, Heather. Heather joined a church to make a difference, yet she found herself in an unexpected place in her church. It was a place that left her feeling spiritually sick and after four years, she left the church.

It is reported that active church members, like Heather was, are those who attend church events or services at least three times a month. This stands in stark contrast to what was considered to be the norm: three times a week. A lot goes into this change, but for Rainer, it is not enough. He calls for a “church membership revolution.”

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The CW Takes on Book of Revelation

“And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.” (Revelation 9:1)

11139885_10153299602549078_1914182582_nThe CW is the network that has risen to give us such shows as Arrow, Flash, and Supernatural. Not to mention the surprise hits Jane the Virgin and iZombies, which are both finding their own niche. The CW adds to their programming a new science-fiction drama that draws from the book of Revelation – The Messengers.

Set under the white-hot sun of the New Mexico desert, scientist Vera Buckley (Shantel VanSanten, One Tree Hill) observes a fascinating, mysterious object plummet to the Earth. It’s explosion sends out a shock wave that stops Vera’s heart briefly, causing her coworker, Alan Harris, to panic.

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5 More VeggieTales in the House

This Friday, April 17th, brings five new episodes to VeggieTales in the House on Netflix.  These new episodes of the Emmy Award-nominate series include more of LarryBoy fighting the nefarious Motato and the first-ever appearance by a colorful creature called a buffalorange.

LarryBoy

© 2015 Big Idea Entertainment, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

 

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New Life is Coming

My father-in-law was in town a few weeks ago. We took him up to the Blue Ridge Parkway one day to explore the mountains and its trails. Spring has just started and the trees are still barren and dry leaves still litter the ground.

Yet, there were signs of spring.

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Reblog: Project Sundays

Kara is the Children’s Ministry Team leader at Peakland UMC, where we have been intentional about leading children to respond to the Gospel by serving others. One of the ways this is done is through Project Sundays every first Sunday during the Sunday school hour. Kara wrote for her blog about some of the projects that the children completed.

Here are Kara’s words:

On the first Sunday of each month, our preschoolers through second graders at church combine Sunday school classes  to work on a mission project. I jokingly call it ‘Sweatshop Sunday’ because we usually form an assembly line to get a lot accomplished in a little time. The kids love that Sunday for various reasons…the creativity, the ACTIVE-ity, the charity, the variety. The notion was an off-shoot of our VBS program last summer, wherein we didn’t do as many cutesy crafts to take home, but we focused more on whole group crafts to benefit greater causes (local pediatric ward, animal shelter, soup kitchen). We wanted to carry the message of mission on past the week-long blast of VBS, so we started Project Sunday the first week of each month. After we share a lesson from the Bible that goes with our project, we explain who we are going to help and how. We say a prayer for the people receiving our gifts, and then, we get to work!

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Book Review: The Adventures of Pajama Girl

61qpzJnpFsL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Author Sandra Hagee Parker has written her first book for children. An attorney living in San Antonio, Texas, Parker is the daughter of preacher John Hagee. Her book, The Adventures of Pajama Girl and the Coronation of the Cupcake Queen, draws inspiration from her own two daughters, Olivia and Elliana.

In the book, Ellie’s pajamas send her on various adventures when she goes to bed. On the night she wears her cupcake pajamas, she and her little sister are transported to a kingdom of cupcakes. They arrive in time for the coronation of the Cupcake Queen. But the coronation comes to a halt when sprinkles have gone missing. The sisters help find the missing sprinkles, and learn a lesson about being jealous.

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Answers to Nothing (2011)

large_onho6lqX4UAsMiQ9LdLhUJqyAKKAnswers to Nothing join films like Crash and Babel in the multiple-stories-that-interlock genre.  In this Crash-like (or lite) film, director and co-writer Matthew Leutwyler interweaves various lives in Los Angeles to tell a story of loneliness and brokenness.

Ryan (Dane Cook) is having an affair with rock singer Tara (Aja Volkman), all while trying to have a child with his wife Kate (Elizabeth Mitchell). By day, Ryan is a psychologist who is treating Allegra (Katie Hawk), the only African-American writer for a television show. Allegra meets Evan (Zach Gilford) while walking her dog, and they begin a relationship. Evan is the sound engineer for Tara’s band. In the meantime, Kate is a lawyer whose client Drew (Miranda Bailey) is fighting with her parents for custody of her ex-marathon-running, now-paralyzed brother Eric.

Kate is also friends with Officer Frankie (Julie Benz). Frankie is investigating a missing girl case. Frankie’s daughter is in Carter’s (Mark Kelly) class. Carter is a school teacher who rushes home to get on his computer and play an online fantasy video game. One of Carter’s neighbors is Jerry (Erik Palladino) who ritually gets ready each day by putting his police uniform on and walks his beat around his apartment.

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London Boulevard (2010)

affiche-London-Boulevard-2010-2London Boulevard is the directorial debut of William Monahan.  Monahan won an Oscar for his script for the film Departed, which would explain the similarities between the two films.  The cinematography drapes the London cityscape with blood, grime, and smeared lipstick.  At other times it is reminiscent of The Bodyguard—the protector and the protected falling in love.

Mitchel (Colin Farrell) has been in jail for three years for “grievous bodily harm.”  His buddy Billy (Ben Chaplin) picks him up and immediately begins coercing him into criminal work.  Mitchel tries to explain to him that he is never going back to jail.  Billy, however, doesn’t seem to care.  He continuously puts Mitchel is awkward situations where he has to defend himself.  Eventually, Billy will make it near impossible for Mitchel not to confront Gant (Ray Winstone), the gang boss.

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It’s Friday

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Guest Post: Good Friday Pondering

by Rev. Alan Combs

goodfri_11167c“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” These words come at the beginning of Psalm 22. Immediately, the biblical scholar-wannabe in me asks a biblical scholar-wannabe question. How much of Psalm 22 did Jesus mean? Psalm 22 forms two distinct parts. The first eighteen verses or so are full of pain, oppression, and despair. They feel very much like what Jesus might have had in mind while hanging on the cross, blood pouring from his nailed hands and feet, struggling to breathe.

But then Psalm 22 changes at verse twenty-five. “From you comes my praise in the great congregation,” the Psalmist declares. The Psalm shifts to a prayer of deliverance. Yes many “strong bulls of Bashan” (I want to start a band called “Strong Bulls of Bashan) surround the Psalmist (22.12), and yes “I can count all my bones,” (22.17) but at the end of the day “dominion belongs to the Lord,” (22.18) so much so, that “All who go down to the dust shall bow before the Lord, and I shall live for God” (22.28).

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