How would you respond to a statement like this one: “All religions basically believe the same thing”? It’s a common enough idea, so it’s worth asking how we might respond if someone brings it up in a conversation.
My suggestion? Start asking questions.
Does it make sense to believe in God? Author and pastor Tim Keller thinks so, and has written a book to explain why. I’m convinced it’s one his best efforts, as well as one of the best books I’ve ever read.
The book is called Making Sense of God, and it’s particularly helpful in challenging many widespread beliefs associated with modern secularism, including the idea that belief in God is based on non-rational faith, while non-belief simply makes sense of the facts. Following Dave’s excellent sermon from last Sunday, reading the book would be a great next step for anyone wishing to strengthen his or her own belief, or grow in the ability to engage contemporary challenges to truth and reasonableness of Christian belief.
By all means pick up a copy for yourself, but here are a few quotes to give you the flavor of the book:
Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, which means that love is in the air.
Or is it?
I ask the question because I’m convinced that love is one of the more widely defined–and misunderstood–concepts in our culture. And I’m far from the first person to point out that this time of year doesn’t always lend itself to the clearest thinking on the subject.
So when you get right down to it, what does it mean to love someone in God’s eyes?
What do the following things have in common? And what do they have to do with your life?:
- A near shipwreck.
- The beauty of an English day in mid-winter.
- The repetitive chant of a child from a neighboring house.
- A skin disease.
- A “hard boiled atheist’s” evaluation of the gospels.
- A modern piano composition.
- Facing charges for tax fraud.
- A mother reading her children bedtime stories.
Think about all the things that you find exciting or satisfying in your life. Some examples:
- Binging on that new Netflix series.
- Reading that book that’s so hard to put down.
- The appetizers at that favorite restaurant of yours.
- That girl/guy in your class/workplace you’re finding it hard to stop thinking about.
- Your favorite team’s next game.
- All the interesting things you’ve got going on in your job.
- An excellent report card (and maybe a scholarship that goes with it).
- Your kids: seeing them reach the next milestone, thinking about their future, and so on.
- That hobby that makes you so impatient for the weekend.
With all those things in mind, here’s a question: why is it so easy to be preoccupied with all these things, while it’s often so hard to pursue God? And for that matter, what can we do to fight against that?
Nobody who’s around The Crossing for long will confuse it with a perfect church. But over the last 16+ years, we’ve seen it grow from a couple of dozen people to regularly having over three thousand adults worship on a Sunday morning. And while that’s very encouraging, it also sparks a few important questions.
Why does a church grow? And what will help it continue to grow?
Ultimately, the answer to both questions is the sheer grace of God, and it’s exceedingly important to remember that fact. But I think it’s fair to say that God normally uses various ways to deliver that grace, and recent research offers some insight into at least one of them. And that particular way, it turns out, runs counter to what many observers might think.
Here’s my personal list of the top movies of 2016. But before I get to the list, a few quick caveats:
- There’s more than one reason for a film not to make my list. It doesn’t necessarily mean that I thought it was badly done, though that’s entirely possible. Some are fine, but fairly forgettable. Others I simply haven’t seen. Sometimes that’s by choice (due to lack of interest, subject matter, etc.). And sometimes it’s because I just haven’t had the chance to catch that particular movie yet (such as a few well-reviewed late year releases like La La Land, Loving, and Manchester by the Sea). I wish I had the opportunity to see more films close to their release than I do, but such is my stage of life.
- While I think all these films are worthwhile, it doesn’t mean I think they’re perfect or that I endorse everything about them. For example, a movie might have an engaging story and be well acted, but feature a worldview that’s muddled or otherwise problematic. But in the short descriptions I include below I’ve mostly focused on strengths rather than any shortcomings the films might have.
- Finally, just because I like a movie doesn’t mean that you will, or that everyone should see it. It’s always wise to do a little research into the subject matter and content before you choose to watch.
Without further ado then, in alphabetical order: