The Exodus generation and us

My wanderings through the ESV Audio Bible and the adult Sunday School class on the Book of Hebrews have brought me right through the experience of the Israelites in Egypt. A complaining, murmuring, disobedient generation. And when the 38 years of judgment had killed off the generation that refused to go into the land, and Moses was facing a new generation about to enter the land under Joshua, he was dismayed at their continued unbelief:

“But to this day the Lord has not given you a heart to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear” (Deut 29:4).

The Book of Hebrews sees the Israelite wanderings as a symbol of the professing Christian’s ability to finally reject what he claims to have accepted. The author of Hebrews asks us to not reject the heavenly good news like the Israelites mostly rejected the earthly good news that was offered to them.

But for those who have received Jesus Christ in a heartfelt way and desire to follow him, the disobedient and backward wilderness generation has an all too familiar ring. We continually abuse our privileges, murmur against God’s providence, fail to gratefully accept his provision, despise our leadership, dabble in false teachings and false gods, and other offenses. This is why God’s most beloved attribute is possibly his mercy, since only a merciful God could put up with the people he chose for himself.

Today I ran across George Herbert’s application of the wilderness experience to himself. It bemoans the experience of personal backsliding and rebellion, but rejoices in the full experience of mercy that we have now through the finished work of Christ. The poem is not on my Herbert web page yet, so here it is, adapted from another website:
The bunch of grapes

Joy, I did lock thee up: but some bad man
Hath let thee out again:
And now, me thinks, I am where I began
Sev’n years ago: one vogue and vein,
One air of thoughts usurps my brain
I did towards Canaan draw; but now I am
Brought back to the Red sea, the sea of shame.

For as the Jews of old by God’s command
Travell’d, and saw no town;
So now each Christian hath his journeys spann’d:
Their story pens and sets us down.
A single deed is small renown.
God’s works are wide, and let in future times;
His ancient justice overflows our crimes.

Then have we too our guardian fires and clouds;
Our Scripture-dew drops fast:
We have our sands and serpents, tents and shrouds;
Alas! our murmurings come not last.
But where’s the cluster? where’s the taste
Of mine inheritance? Lord, if I must borrow,
Let me as well take up their joy, as sorrow.

But can he want the grape, who hath the wine?
I have their fruit and more.
Blessed be God, who prosper’d Noah’s vine,
And made it bring forth grapes’ good store.
But much more him I must adore,
Who of the Law’s sour juice sweet wine did make,
Ev’n God himself, being pressed for my sake.

Movie countdown

Doh! Apparently Ioan Gruffudd was actually in Dallas on Wednesday, hosting an invitation-only showing of the movie. I guess I don’t know the right people. Don’t they know my blog is at the forefront of the promotion of this movie? And here I am in the Dallas area!

Kim at the pizza placeActually a movie was part of my Wednesday experience, as my young, beautiful bride and I took a couple of days off to go to a bed-n-breakfast in McKinney. We decided to see The Queen and though I can’t locate any friends or relatives who have actually seen it, I can see why it was nominated for best picture, best actress, best screenplay, best director, etc. This movie simply doesn’t have a boring minute in it. It is 97 minutes of fascinating character study between the oh-so-modern Blair administration and the Royal Family. Except for a tiny bit of language, it is basically a family friendly movie. Some of you go see it so we can have some discussion, alright?

Amazing Grace movie news

William WilberforceWe’re within three weeks of seeing this movie released, and things are starting to move. First, the movie web site has been updated completely, and now there are now two versions of the trailer and they are available in several download sizes and formats.

You can also see a completely different clip from the movie, not offered on the main movie page, if you go to the Amazing Grace Sunday web page and scroll down to the registration section. There you will find a clip called “Clapham Dinner” which gives a conversation between Wilberforce and Equiano and others who are trying to recruit Wilberforce to the anti-slavery movement.

The references on the Web are growing. World Magazine weighs in with an article by Marvin Olasky. The Baptist Press posts an article on their website. And an outfit called Everyday Gospel Magazine has an interview with Ken Wales, one of the producers of the movie (who is no stranger to high-quality entertainment — he was the main driver behind the Christy TV series).

Cal Thomas on the Amazing Grace movie

“Beautifully shot and beautifully performed” is Cal Thomas’s evaluation of this movie, which I am more and more excited about. It’s less than a month now!

Death’s defeat

Kim and I are reading Athanasius’s On The Incarnation for our reading group. Today I ran across this passage, in the chapter on the Resurrection. (The quote is taken from this link, if you want to read the whole book.) This attitude, assumed to be true by Athanasius of the weakest Christian, is so far from our American ways!

A very strong proof of this destruction of death and its conquest by the cross is supplied by a present fact, namely this. All the disciples of Christ despise death; they take the offensive against it and, instead of fearing it, by the sign of the cross and by faith in Christ trample on it as on something dead. Before the divine sojourn of the Savior, even the holiest of men were afraid of death, and mourned the dead as those who perish. But now that the Savior has raised His body, death is no longer terrible, but all those who believe in Christ tread it underfoot as nothing, and prefer to die rather than to deny their faith in Christ, knowing full well that when they die they do not perish, but live indeed, and become incorruptible through the resurrection. But that devil who of old wickedly exulted in death, now that the pains of death are loosed, he alone it is who remains truly dead. There is proof of this too; for men who, before they believe in Christ, think death horrible and are afraid of it, once they are converted despise it so completely that they go eagerly to meet it, and themselves become witnesses of the Savior’s resurrection from it. Even children hasten thus to die, and not men only, but women train themselves by bodily discipline to meet it. So weak has death become that even women, who used to be taken in by it, mock at it now as a dead thing robbed of all its strength. Death has become like a tyrant who has been completely conquered by the legitimate monarch; bound hand and foot the passers-by sneer at him, hitting him and abusing him, no longer afraid of his cruelty and rage, because of the king who has conquered him. So has death been conquered and branded for what it is by the Savior on the cross. It is bound hand and foot, all who are in Christ trample it as they pass and as witnesses to Him deride it, scoffing and saying, “O Death, where is thy victory? O Grave, where is thy sting?”

The new blog

Well, here we are, hosted on WordPress on my very own web server. This looks a little rough, but I will have complete control now (not Google), and this will also serve as a test bed for learning WordPress for use at my church.

Note that the way I have set it up, the first comment from each email address must be approved manually. Afterwards, your comments should post without manual approval.

High-res trailers of Amazing Grace

They are starting to appear. The best one I’ve seen so far is at IGN. I’ll update this post if better ones become available.

The Poster

I’ve been waiting for a high-definition trailer to be posted, but still there is only the low-quality Flash version that is on the Amazing Grace movie website. Still, here is a little piece of media for today: the movie poster. Very well done. Click on it for a large version!

Amazing Grace - the trailer is up

I’m waiting to see it in high quality, but for those who can’t wait, the trailer is up now at

It looks like there is to be a bit of anachronism here, with the American tune of “Amazing Grace” being played by bagpipes! Will these movie making types never tire of changing history? But perhaps that scene is really not in the movie?

Mount Hood and God

I have been praying for the family of an old Texas Tech school mate, Kelly James, who was identified today as being found at the top of Mt Hood. I admire the way Frank James, his brother, has handled this tragedy in public for the families. How different it has been from some of the antics of other families in trouble! God is a life-changing God, and he changes everything about our lives, even how we handle tragedy and death. I would like to have as much maturity as this family has shown.

A blog for the three families is at this site.