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Category: Culture

Remembering D-Day: “The eyes of the world are upon you”

On June 6, 1944, on five French beaches—Omaha, Utah, Gold, Sword, and Juno—the U.S. and other Allies launched the largest military operation in history. Their objective was to establish a beach head, liberate France from the Nazis, and ultimately move on to Berlin to defeat Adolf Hitler and win World War II. And they succeeded. Today, seventy-one years later, we honor the 3,000[i] Allied heroes who died in that “D-Day” offensive which turned the tide of history.

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Near the visitors’ center of the Omaha Beach Cemetery and Memorial, at Colleville-sur-Mer on the Normandy coast of France, there is a slab of pink granite with a time capsule, set to be opened on June 6, 2044—the 100th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. The plaque on the slab is emblazoned with the five-star seal of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander of the European theatre during that invasion and later the President of the United States.2005 Paris-England 913 read more

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Discussing race with grace

th0N86DEBTWriting or talking about race relations is something I strive to avoid. Great passion and real emotion surround the topic, and I’m deathly afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing, however unintentionally. I absolutely don’t want to “go there” – so I deliberately keep quiet.

This self-protective strategy of silence may cause some to think I’m apathetic or that I don’t care. That’s not true; I do care. But in my view, it’s far better to speak little and be wrongly labeled as apathetic, than to speak clumsily and somehow get wrongly labeled as racist. Because the latter charge, no matter how undeserved it may be, is a death sentence; all you have to do is throw that label at someone one time, even if it’s baseless, and it sticks for life. Their reputation never recovers. read more

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Facing down fear with faith

4f0115cde03fb27ee24be46deda8454fThe holidays are over, and the new year is here. Traditionally, the masses welcome it by drinking champagne, singing “Auld Lang Syne,” watching the ball drop in Times Square, and kissing or getting kissed by total strangers. There’s a sense of relief in having made it through the old year, and a sense of hope in anticipating the new one.

As for me—well, I am usually in bed by 9:00 p.m.

It’s the classic head-in-the-sand approach: if I can’t see something coming, it’s not really there.

While I absolutely love the Advent season, I always seem to face the new year with apprehension. What I am trying to understand is why. Actually, I am pretty sure I already know why, though I am reluctant to admit it: I think the reason is fear. And part of that fear is not having any choice, any control—because I don’t have any choice or control over the new year; I must go forward into the future, even if I’d rather not. read more

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New life in the zombie apocalypse, part 3: Abandoning self-sufficiency

Note: I love zombie apocalypse stories because they are a great metaphor for life crises. This blog series on the topic has four parts: 1) waking up in the crisis; 2) defining “alive”; 3) abandoning self-sufficiency; and 4) spiritual weapons and sustenance. All scriptures are NIV unless otherwise noted.

The Walking Dead, a zombie show based on a serialized graphic novel, is one of the most-watched shows on TV, while other zombie books and movies continue to sell like hotcakes.

Why is the zombie genre so popular?

I think one reason is the compelling question at the heart of it: In a zombie apocalypse, what would I do? Or more specifically, excluding the suicide option, what would I do to survive? read more

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New life in the zombie apocalypse, part 2: Defining “alive”

Note: I love zombie apocalypse stories because they are a great metaphor for life crises. This blog series on the topic has four parts: 1) waking up in the crisis; 2) defining “alive”; 3) abandoning self-sufficiency; and 4) spiritual weapons and sustenance. All scriptures are NIV unless otherwise noted.

As we continue our spiritual journey through the zombie apocalypse, let’s consider the zombies themselves. To me, the most intriguing aspect of zombies is the nature of their existence (I know, zombies don’t really exist – but it’s a metaphor, so hear me out).

Zombie-EvolutionZombies, in contrast to human survivors, are often described as the “living dead” – subhuman beings who seem to be alive, yet not alive. How can they exist in two incompatible states at once? Yet in a zombie story, they do. The story pulls us “outside the box” and hands us a paradox. It twists what we know. It forces us to consider the definition of life: What is life? What is living? And what does it mean to be truly alive? read more

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New life in the zombie apocalypse, part 1: Waking up in the crisis

Note: I love zombie apocalypse stories because they are a great metaphor for life crises. This blog series on the topic has four parts: 1) waking up in the crisis; 2) defining “alive”; 3) abandoning self-sufficiency; and 4) spiritual weapons and sustenance. All scriptures are NIV unless otherwise noted.

In the 2010 pilot episode of AMC TV’s “The Walking Dead,” Rick (the protagonist) awakens from a coma to find his city deserted except for a horrific new reality: flesh-eating zombies. He dodges them for awhile, trying unsuccessfully to find his wife and son, but the need for safety finally drives him to seek refuge in an abandoned military tank.

In the episode’s final shot, the camera points directly down from above to show several zombies climbing around on the tank, looking for a way in. Then the camera slowly pulls back, widening the scene to reveal hundreds more zombies shuffling toward the tank from all directions. read more

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Ice bucket justice

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August 2014 was a rough month.

Israel and Hamas exchanged missiles. The ebola death toll in Africa cracked four digits. ISIS slaughtered Iraqi Christians and started beheading journalists. Russia invaded Ukraine and claimed the video footage of their advancing tank columns came from a video game. A St. Louis suburb exploded in race riots, with some elected leaders promising more if the system doesn’t go their way.

And Americans responded by dumping ice water on their heads.14848289439_dfbc1f961f_z

It was difficult not to feel paralyzed by all of the insanity. Instead of dousing my head with ice water, I wanted to bury it in the sand like an ostrich. I was worried about all that was going on, and frustrated by my own smallness. What could I possibly do to affect even one of those headlines? read more

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Ahh…political! Relief from earthly politics

elephant-donkey-boxingAs my blog evolves, I often reflect on experiences in my life and how they relate to my overall life message.

One area I have consciously worked to avoid is politics. It’s not that I don’t have political opinions; I do. And sometimes I can get passionate about an issue. Sometimes I want to tear my hair out when I don’t agree with local or national politics in our country.

But politics can deeply divide people into pro vs. con, us vs. them, progressive vs. conservative, or—in Christian-speak—God’s prophet vs. Satan incarnate. I’m sad to think public discourse can be so polarizing, but unfortunately, divisiveness is a part of our fallen nature.

There was a time when I truly believed that the implementation of God’s kingdom on earth depended upon the victory of a particular party. Honest. If “my” candidate won, all was well in the world. If he or she lost…well, pass the Prozac. So, as a follower of Christ who sincerely desired God’s will for my nation, state, and town, my “kingdom work” revolved around leaving literature in screen doors and encouraging people to vote – which, especially if I believed in a particular cause or candidate, I did with conviction. (And I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that.) read more

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Spoiler alert: Noah survives the flood

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I know it’s been discussed to death, but I finally had a chance to see Darren Aronofsky’s movie “Noah.” I love the story of the Bible and I love epic movies, so I was looking forward to seeing this one.

On one hand, I enjoyed the bigness of the story. I’m a guy who enjoys good visual effects, so for me this movie was a fun – though very loose – interpretation of a familiar story. It was sort of “Genesis meets Lord of the Rings” – with giant stone people (Watchers) instead of Tolkien’s tree people (Ents). And it did agree with the Bible that the Creator sent the flood because of humanity’s great sins. read more

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Sticks and stones…

The Internet is buzzing about the latest rant against God from Bill Maher. Set off by the upcoming movie Noah, Maher calls God a ”psychotic mass murderer” who “drowns babies” and has “anger management issues” worse than Russell Crowe’s. Many Christians are shocked, offended, and even enraged by what he said, and everyone seems to be talking about it, so I thought I would offer my two cents as well.

Thought #1: Bill Maher is an atheist. What else would we Christians expect from an atheist? Atheists don’t believe what we believe. They mock what we hold sacred. They will blaspheme a God who, to their way of thinking, does not exist. We can’t possibly hold the expectation that they should treat us and our beliefs with respect. read more

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