Monday, June 30, 2008

The Italian

First of all, this is a movie review, not a description of a hoagie. The Italian is not a gangster movie. It has very little to do with Italy or Italians. Its a Russian film. I like foreign films. I'm not so crazy about them as some people so please don't think I'm pretentious by saying, "I saw this Russian film..." I like good stories and this one looked like a really good story. By the way, has a funny post about white people, film festivals and film in general.

Focusing on life in a Russian orphanage, The Italian centers around one young boy named Vanya who's being processed for adoption by an Italian couple. Vanya begins to wonder about his real parents and longs to find them.

This film is comic and tragic, dramatic and lighthearted. It shows the rugged life and tight comradery of orphans - how they function as a (dysfunctional) family. This might be a good for anyone whose thought about adopting from overseas. If this sounds like an interesting movie, check out the trailer. By the way, I loved this movie.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

total 80s day

I love the 80s. I've said it before and am saying it again now. To demonstrate my fondness for the 80s, I came up with some slogans for the decade of excess:
The 80s - when women were real women and men dressed like women and it was somehow considered still masculine

The 80s
- when you and your boyfriend shared the same lip gloss (you could also replace 'lip gloss' with skin tight pants, frilly blouse, gauzy scarf, eyeshadow, etc)

The 80s - when people didn't know if Boy George was really a boy, but it didn't really matter since all the guys wore make-up, scarves, and frilly blouses

In celebration of the 1980s, I found this awesome video. If you don't love the 80s now, you will after you've seen this amazing 10 minute montage of some of the best music videos from the 80s:

And just for good measure, here's on of the best Rock 'n' roll songs of all time, "I Love Rock 'n' Roll", also from the 80s:

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

3 year old photographer

Ever wondered what a 3 year old would take pictures of? This guy decided to find out by giving his kid a camera. Check out

waiting for the trolley

I take public transportation to work some days. Today was one of those days. I usually take the bus, but today I rode the trolley. The SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority) workers are working on the trolley lines so the trolley schedule is a little off. So this morning I had to wait for about 20 minutes for a trolley to come. I really didn't mind the wait at all since the weather was beautiful - about 75 degrees and sunny with a light breeze.

When I first walked up to the station there were a bunch of SEPTA workers standing around. There were 2 guys doing a little digging, but the rest were just standing around. Over the next 20+ minutes I had the opportunity to see just how much (or little) these 10 - 12 guys did. When the trolley finally came there was one worker using a jackhammer to break up some concrete and the other 10 were standing by watching.

I'm not in the least irritated by this whole situation, but think its hysterically funny. Its even funnier when I think that these guys represent my tax dollars at work. I wonder if these workers ever feel bad about the amount of time they stand (or sit) around doing nothing? I can imagine they feel about as bad as the other municipal and state workers who stand around leaning on shovels waiting for their turns to dig.

Monday, June 23, 2008

church billboards

This is over on Matthew Paul Jones' blog (Jesus Needs New PR). This guy always has funny and ironic stuff to say about the way churches and Christians act. This post about church billboards is funny enough for me to recommend. Talk about cheesy and slightly irrelevant! Find it here.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Bishop N.T. Wright appearance on The Colbert Report

If you don't know N.T. Wright's name, Google him real quick. I've only gotten to know who he is in the past year or so.

Friday, June 20, 2008

did you ever know that you're my hero...

Jo and I went to a funeral today. An uncle of mine, my dad's youngest brother, lost his wife to cancer earlier this week. She'd be going through chemo and radiation and it seemed like she was doing okay. So her death was very unexpected. Sad, sad stuff for sure.

Something really funny happened as we were walking into the church building. The song, "Wind Beneath My Wings" was playing. Adelle turned to Jo and I and as serious as she could possibly be said, "That's Jesus' favorite song."

I personally hate the song. It makes me want to punch myself and then strangle myself. If there was a "Cheese Meter", that song would score the highest score possible. And I don't know what kind of music Jesus likes, but I would bet money that He doesn't like this song in the least. Or maybe He does like it. But His favorite? I doubt that.

The funeral itself was good. It was a Roman Catholic funeral, which I'd never been to before. I got tripped up a little by all the "sit, stand, kneel, say these words" stuff. I think the people around me could tell I didn't have a clue what was going on. I also dismissed myself before they took communion, mainly because I didn't want to try to fake it (act like I know how the RCs do it) but then I was afraid I'd go up front and do something really wrong.

But the message the priest brought was so right on. He preached the Gospel. He encouraged the congregation with some really great things. I don't agree with Roman Catholic theology and couldn't get on board with everything he was saying but overall, he was very faithful to the Good News.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Samson, Peter, and Paul

I saw the guy last night who I mentioned a few days ago - the friend who spent the past few days in Lakeland, FL at the big 'revival'. First of all, he came back healed. He has had 2 disks in his upper back that have been troubling him for some time. He often gets treatments and massages to relieve the pain. As of last night when I spoke with him, he said he'd not had any pain since he'd been prayed for in Lakeland. I don't doubt that he was healed, so I praise God for this healing.

He also came back very excited. Apparently there are about 10,000 people that gather every night for a 5:30 - midnight service. The days that he was there over 30 nationalities were represented. I didn't have time to ask him many questions, but that's the main info I got from him. He was really pumped up and is planning on going back soon and taking his family with him this time.

So as I think about this event and reflect on the things I learned about Todd Bentley, the guy leading this 'revival', I first think about whether God could actually be at work through this guy. And Samson comes to mind. Yes, Samson, the strong man from the Bible stories. There are not many people in Scripture who are less holy, less God-fearing, and less God-following than Samson (read Judges chapters 13-16 for the full story). Yet God did many amazing things through him. I also think of Paul's words to the Philippians about those near him who preached the Good News just so they could make life harder for Paul (Philippians 1:12-20). Whatever Todd Bentley really is and whatever is really in his heart, good things are happening. It seems like Jesus us being glorified. I say 'seems like' because I don't know what is actually happening in Lakeland. J. Lee Grady who visited Lakeland has this to say:
"The name of Jesus is being lifted up in the Lakeland revival, and three people came to the altar for salvation the night I attended. Larger numbers have come to the front of the auditorium to find Christ every night since then."

I also think of my friend's attitude when he came back. There was great excitement, a contagious excitement, about this event and what happened to him there. And there are tens of thousands of people from all over the world who are excited about Lakeland. The apostle Peter also got excited about an amazing event. When Jesus was transfigured before his eyes (as well as James and John's), Peter said, 'Hey Jesus, let's build 3 tabernacles, one for you and one each for Moses and Elijah.' Peter wanted to build a monument and celebrate this wonderful thing he'd seen. But Jesus told them not to even tell people what they saw until after He rose again. He just led them down off the mountain and got back to His Kingdom work. So I'm not against mountaintop experiences, but I'm against trying to live on the mountain when Jesus says its time to come down and do what He's called us to do.

Fruit is another thing I think about in relation to all this. From all that I've read about the 'Toronto Blessing', the long term fruit seems to be a lot of discord and division. The Brownsville revival (also in Florida) didn't necessarily produce a change in the world either. When I read about Brownsville people point to a lack of repentance or growth from the people who went there. I'm sure that good came out of both of those events, but these events make me wonder what the fruit of Lakeland will be. The true fruit won't be known for a while. Its so easy to get caught up in excitement, but its not easy to actually grow up in Christ. In 1 Corinthians, Paul addresses the issue of maturity. He specifically tells them that practice of and fascination with the gifts of the Spirit is not maturity. Love is maturity. Prophecy is maturity. I would argue that the theme of 1 Corinthians is "Grow Up!"

Here are 3 cautions offered in an article I referenced a few days ago from Charisma editor J. Lee Grady:
1. Beware of strange fire
2. Beware of strange manifestations
3. Beware of hype and exaggeration
The full article is so helpful in dealing with this topic. Find it here.

To wrap this all up, we have to be focused on God and let nothing take His place. Good things, even things ordained by God, can take His glory away, if we let them. And anything that takes glory from Him is an idol. May Psalm 73:25, 26 always echo in our hearts:
"Who have I in heaven but You?
and besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."

Monday, June 16, 2008


Good movie. I mean a really good movie. It was sad and beautiful and a great movie watching experience. I was a little skeptical about watching it since the 2 people who recommended it were women. Nothing against women, (I actually appreciate and love women, especially my dear wife) but they both described it as a love story. However since neither of their descriptions contained the the words, "Romantic Comedy", I was willing to give it a chance.

Jo and I watched it together, something that doesn't happen often these days. One reason for this is that it is hard to block out 1 1/2 - 2 hours of time when we can both sit down and watch a movie. Another reason is that our tastes in movies are vastly different. Typically neither of us wants to watch what the other is watching. But this was the rare exception where we were both willing to try. Bella ended up being a movie we both liked. Jo said it was sad, but seemed to enjoy it. I say 'seemed to' but it was hard to tell by her reaction.

Anyways, like I said at the beginning, Bella was really good and definitely worth watching. I'm glad that I listened to those 2 ladies.

Danger Will Robinson!!

I have a friend who was telling me about a Lakeland, Florida 'outpouring' - a 'revival' to which tens of thousands of people are flocking from around the world. This friend decided to go down there to check it out for himself, so I decided to do a little research on what's going on.

The person at the forefront of this is a Canadian guy named Todd Bentley. He’s is scary, and not because of his appearance or any other superficial thing. He is quite literally deceiving people. He talks about kicking people in the face, banging their limbs around, punching them in the face, and drop kicking them in order to bring some kind of anointing for healing on them. And as if the violence of his methods weren’t enough, his teaching is not just heretical, but occultic. Here are some quotes from a teaching called “Open Heavens” posted on his ministry website (Fresh Fire Ministries):

Actually, we won’t experience the dimensions—what’s in heaven, the realm of visions and dreams and trances, the audible voice of God, revelations and visitations of the Lord, and angelic visitations, nor will we be aware of the ministry of angels—until the heavens are open.”

Trances? Angelic visitations? The ministry of angels? I have never read any encouragement in the Scriptures to seek these things! He says this in the context of Jesus being anointed by the Spirit at His baptism. Then he ties this to Revelation 4:1 and says this:

Just look at what John, the revelator, saw—a door standing open in heaven (Rev. 4:1a). Not a door standing open for John to only have a moment of revelation. But a door, I believe, that is standing, present tense, standing open, issuing an invitation of God’s Spirit even now, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this” (4:1b). Although the invitation to “come up here” was to one person; namely, John, I believe God is saying, “I’m now releasing in a greater corporate dimension, the experience of Revelation 4:1 (emphasis his).”

Notice how he says Although and then takes the verse out of context. Wow, talk about brazen heresy! The whole article is ridiculous and if it weren't such a serious error that is leading many people astray, I would just laugh about it. But this is seriously wrong and has an evil, purposefully deceptive feel to it.

Anyways, instead of detailing all my thoughts, here are some various perspectives on Todd’s ministry and this ‘outpouring’:
Charisma magazine’s editor Lee Grady writes after having visited one of the meetings:

This guy’s whole blog seems to have been taken over by articles on what’s going on in Lakeland:

The Assembly of God has issued a general statement on Revival:

Not related to this ‘outpouring’ but in reference to the “Toronto Blessing”, a former Toronto pastor opens up about the things that went on there:

I mentioned my friend who went down there to check it out for himself. I’ll see him Wednesday night and will get an eyewitness account of this event. If he says anything worthwhile, I’ll blog about it.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Adelle the soccer commentator

I was watching France play the Netherlands in the Euro 2008 tournament and she had some great comments on the game. She's 2, so this is what she came up with:
"They're running!"
"He can kick really good!"
"He fell down. He's okay!" (when somebody got bumped, fouled, or fell down)
"He's tough!" (after the guy got up)
"He loves him" (when the Netherlands scored and all the guys ran up and hugged the goal scorer)

France lost by the way. They lost 4 -1. I do support the French team and would love to see them go through to the next round, but it doesn't look good. To put this loss in perspective, the Dutch beat Italy (the reigning World Champs) a few days ago 3 - 0. France lost the 2006 World Cup final to Italy. Does that mean France is better than Italy since they actually scored on the Netherlands?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

pain all around me

Painful things that are happening around me to people I know. A few days ago, a guy I know lost his next to the youngest child (4 years old) when the child drowned in their backyard pool. The mom was there and turned around for a minute to take care of another child. Another friend's dad just found out he has Parkinson's disease. People in our families are ill, not just sick, but ill with serious illnesses. Someone we know has a mystery illness which has been misdiagnosed for 2 or 3 years now, and the doctors still aren't sure what's wrong with her. 2 college friends lost their dads in the past couple of months. Illness, loss, and pain.

Life is painful for everybody; no one is exempt from suffering, pain, and loss. I know that these things were never meant to exist, and that is a comfort to me. And yes, I think of the comfort that will come in the future, when all heaven breaks loose. But even more powerful and comforting is that fact that the Kingdom comes now. And it comes tomorrow. And then one day it will come in its fullness and all the enemies of mankind will lose their power forever. Let it come - today, tomorrow, and for ever.

Ozomatli live

Here's on of the greatest songs from one of the greatest albums of the past few years. Here's a video from a couple of years ago - Ozomatli live on Austin City Limits. Whether you like this or not, they're one of my favorites.

Friday, June 6, 2008

life is interesting

Life has been interesting since Evie was born. There are 2 ways to interpret this statement - interesting in a ways that are enjoyable and interesting in not so enjoyable ways. Evie is a doll and is a real joy to have in our family. Both Jo and I feel our family is more complete with her in it. And Adelle has taken the whole change amazingly well. But that's mainly because Jo and I prepared her the best we could (you could also say 'brainwashed' her) for Evie's arrival. And Jo and I have been enjoying each other. So from that side of life, things have been interesting in a good way.

But also since Evie has been born, so many other things have been springing up, just life things that can happen anytime, but things that we wished weren't all coming at the same time. Two examples are termites and our recently purchased used minivan.

Almost 2 weeks ago I found termites in our kitchen. The exterminators are coming out Monday to treat our house and that problem will be fixed (hopefully) soon. We'll probably have to replace the window that they've infested.

And also about 2 weeks ago we bought a used minivan to hold our family since our Saturn is just too small with 2 kids and car seats. It has gotten to where Adelle has to be folded in half to get her in the car. And we can forget actually taking anything with us if we go somewhere. Anyways, we bought a van and had it for about a week and a half and had driven it maybe 4 times when it started doing crazy stuff. We took it back to the dealer 2 days ago so they could fix it (its covered by a 90 warranty). They then called this morning saying it would be at least another day or 2 before its fixed, and it might even be next Monday or Tuesday. Praise God the van is under warranty so we don't have to pay to have it fixed and that the Saturn hadn't sold yet so we still have transportation. But its frustrating that we dropped all that money on a van only to not be able to drive it.

There are other things too that are going on which I won't bore you with, but these are 2 of the big ones. Anyways, life is interesting, in some really amazing ways and in some really ridiculous make-me-want-to-bang-my-head-against-the-wall kind of ways too.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

"the kingdom" short review

Short review: a good solid action flick. Definitely worth watching. Makes the latest Die Hard film look like something I made over Memorial Day weekend.

I'm such a sucker for Jennifer Garner (Alias rules!). And Jamie Foxx is a really good actor. And I have to mention Mr. Quintessential 80s Star (seen in the classic Teen Wolf Too) Jason Batemen who I thought was quite good in his role.

The Kingdom didn't really raise the same issues as George Clooney's film Syriana, but I couldn't help but think of it when I was watching this movie. I can't remember what I thought of, but I remember that something went through my mind.

A side note. Have you noticed that these days the bad guys these are Arab or Muslim? When I was a kid they were all Russian or Eastern European. Then it seems like the East Asians (Chinese and North Koreans) had a brief turns as bad guys (think of Jet Li in Lethal Weapon 4). Now anybody with olive skin and a mustache is a bad guy. If they have a full beard they are a double bad guy. Whoever the USA hates gets top billing as bad guys. I'm guessing that the Canadians will be the next group of baddies.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Ewan McGregor is awesome, Lost

I recently saw one of Ewan McGregor's earliest bits of acting, a Danny Boyle film called Shallow Grave. He is one of my favorite actors. He’s extremely versatile and plays a wide variety of characters. Here is a list of the movies I’ve seen him in that I love:

  • Trainspotting (another Danny Boyle film; one of the best things ever put on celluloid)
  • Moulin Rouge (the way the songs were placed in the film and intertwined still amazes me)
  • Black Hawk Down (also starring Orlando Bloom who was kind of a nobody until Lord of the Rings)
  • Down With Love (which I thought I’d hate but ended up loving)
  • Big Fish (an amazing Tim Burton film)
  • The Island (not my favorite movie; I thought it borrowed heavily from Logan’s Run, but it was still good)

And lest I forgot, he played Obi Wan Kenobi in a little series called Star Wars. Can he get any more awesome?

The Lost finale this past Thursday was awesome, I mean awesome in a true makes-you-want-to-throw-rocks-at-your-mama kind of way. Lost is the best. Its way better than Alias ever was. It makes most TV shows look like 3rd grade elementary school plays. Every other TV show should go cry in the corner because they're all so inferior to Lost. It even makes most feature films look like elementary school plays. The only thing I don't like about Lost is that I have to wait all summer to see the new episodes. Lost fans, check out this guy's blog: