Broncos Valentine Box

For Valentine's Day my son needed a box to take home his cards and candy. Of course in the age of Pinterest just sending him with any old box just won't do. So with the Super Bowl victory fresh on our minds we re-created the Broncos football field.

Originally I tried to use green tissue paper to cover the box but that was a complete and utter failure.

Duct tape came to the rescue. Not only was using duct tape a lot easier it strengthened the box for the mountains of candy and love it would bring home.

Supplies Needed:

  • Orange and blue duct tape
  • One piece of green construction paper (for the field)
  • Black sharpie marker
  • Cake pop sticks (for the goal posts)
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick
  • Computer, printer and internet (for the graphics) or download the pdf containing all the graphics.
  1. We started by cutting the green construction paper to the shape of the top of the box and taping down the edges. FYI, the included endzone graphics are approx 6.5" wide. That would be the ideal width for your field.
  2. We then wrapped the entire box with blue and orange tape. The design is completely up to how you wrap the tape around the box.
  3. Print out the graphics from the included PDF or download from internet. If you're looking for a different team, google "[your team name] logo" and then "[your team name] end zone."
  4. Cut out all graphics and glue down end zones.
  5. Using a a ruler, mark and draw all the yard lines you want on the field.
  6. Glue down mid-field logo, first down line (yellow) and scrimmage line (blue).
  7. Wrap cake pop sticks or whatever you are using in colored tape.
  8. Admittedly this was a quick and dirty process, but tape together the cake pop sticks in the shape of goal posts.
  9. Tape goal posts to side of box. We needed to cut the bottom of the post so it wouldn't stick over the edge of the top of the box.
  10. Glue Super Bowl logo wherever you want because the champs are here!
  11. Enjoy the excitement with your child!

13 Hours The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi Review

13 Hours The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is a great film. In fact I’ll go so far as to say I liked it much more than Star Wars. What??!! Sacrilege you say!

Now I love Star Wars, but I walked out of the theater after seeing 13 Hours more satisfied, more emotionally impacted, and more mentally engaged than I have been in long time by a film. 

I thought it was an amazing depiction of modern warfare–some have said the best. It really reminded me a lot of Black Hawk Down (which I also loved). Being a war film there were a number of things I looked for and it checked most of my boxes for a good war movie including lots of guns, fighting, male ego, blood, heroism, and sacrifice. I thought they forced the family man angle a little too much so that it didn't feel quite as genuine, but it still had an emotional pull.

However, the biggest takeaway for me was that the film clearly depicts the competing philosophies that we have in foreign relations with the Middle East in general and predominantly Muslim culture in particular.

One ideology says that we can stop terrorism, violence, and dictators by being winsome, having a conversation and working with local rebels to bring in democracy. A simplified version thinks that we should all be able to rise above our differences and just get along.

The opposite ideology says that this way of thinking is the definition of futile. The worldview of Islamic culture does not allow for freedom and democracy. The worldview of Islam has no intention, or desire of getting along.

Whether its ISIS trying to bring in the Caliphate now or Iran playing the long game, this is a religion (Apocalyptic Islam) that does not want peace, hates liberty, and would destroy all infidels, and the entirety of the West if they could, yesterday.

The leaders of our country for the past several administrations have failed to recognize this and have had the goal to impart American values and democracy in the Middle East. And from the Iraq war to the fiasco in Libya, all have failed spectacularly.

Why is this film important? It proves in a very visceral way that this strategy is a failure. It didn’t work when Bush invaded Iraq to depose one dictator. It didn’t work when Obama and Clinton aided the Libyan rebels to depose another dictator. 

You had maybe one of the best Ambassadors in terms of getting to know the people and getting the locals to love him and talk with him as was shown in the outpouring after Chris Stevens death. Yet it still failed.

This film is also important because it shows the lengths our leaders will go to prove their point. It has been stated that Ambassador Chris Stevens sent over 600 requests for additional security to the State Department. Why weren’t these requests for additional security recognized? Because it would have forced them to concede their philosophy doesn’t work.

Additionally, after the attack America was led to believe that a YouTube video was responsible. The leadership wanted to prove the point that when differences are pointed out people get mad and kill each other. They also wanted to say that those who would point out differences are to blame, not the ones who try and work together.

This film blows all that up literally.

There is no way that those attacks were a spontaneous response. First the attacks happened on September 11th, a holy day now for any jihadist. There were well-coordinated waves of attacks in two different locations. The local police and security disappeared at just the right time, and mortars were used effectively, which require advance planning.

I would love for the people of the Middle East to experience individual freedoms and democracy but what so many fail to recognize is that freedom and the rights of the individual are largely a Christian construct.

Western Civilization and America in particular exist because of the foundations given to them by Christianity. Christianity championed the rights of free speech. Free speech didn’t just happen all by itself. The liberty of conscience exists because America’s founders (while not all professing Christians) had a Christian worldview and understood that the tenets of Christianity were very good for society at large.

Christianity espouses that everyone has been created in image of God and has value. Everyone has eternal dignity. If I believe my neighbor (and everyone else in the world) was created in the image of God than certain behaviors will follow. I want them to be free. I want them to speak freely; I want them to have liberty of conscience. These liberties didn’t just happen. They were established, protected, and guarded by Christian societies.

The film 13 Hours The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi shows that we will never effect change or control the ideologies in the Middle East until we understand the foundation that drives their actions.

I give it 4/5 stars.

Ted Cruz on Immigration [Infographic]

This infographic will help you understand quickly and easily where Senator Cruz stands on immigration and what his plan will be moving forward in his administration.

This is the third Ted Cruz infographic in a series. You can find the first two below:

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Can Ted Cruz Run For President? [Infographic]

The question of whether or not Senator Ted Cruz can run for president has been brought up and answered over the past several years. In fact all the way back in 2013 Senator Cruz released personal documents including his birth certificate to satiate those who would make the claim he is ineligible.

Sadly the "birthers" as they're known are muddying up the waters for regular people. This really should be somewhat of a "common-sense" law but some don't see it that way.

Regardless of what many of the "birthers" claim many legal minds on both sides of the aisle have weighed in, and the vast, vast majority say this is absolutely a non-issue. However, many of you (myself included) may not know exactly what the constitution says about this issue or what legal scholars have said. So, I've created a simple infographic you can learn from and share with others who may have questions.


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Who Is Ted Cruz [Infographic]

I have officially endorsed Ted Cruz for President. This is the first in a series of infographics I have created about Senator Cruz to inform people about his ambitions, vision and plans to restore American exceptionalism.

This infographic is all about getting to know who Senator Cruz is. Find out where he came from, his notable accomplishments, life milestones, and some fun, behind the scenes info.


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Film Review 2015

It's no secret that I like movies. Here is my annual list of films I thought were great, okay and ones you should never even think about seeing.

Note that not all of these came out in 2015, that's just when I happened to see them.

Also note that there is content in every single film I do not condone or endorse. Film is philosophy and the main delivery method of influence to our culture. While it can be entertaining, it is also educational and helps us engage the worldview of the culture at large while helping us to understand our own Christian worldview. So do your research and view with intentionality.

10. Nightcrawler

This is a film I never intended to see because it just didn’t look that interesting but it was recommended strongly by a friend. The acting, pace, and story were very good and compelling. From a worldview perspective we were reminded that evil and depravity are in the hearts of all men no matter who they are and where they come from.

9. Mad Max Fury Road

I’m not one that typically gets into the apocalyptic dystopian genre so there is one reason this film makes my top 10 list. The visuals. This has to be one of the visually visceral films I’ve ever seen. From start to finish the landscapes, vehicles, concepts, characters and everything else put on the screen were amazing to look at. The story was lame which normally is the death knell for any film but that just shows how good the visuals were.

8. Avengers Age of Ultron

I’m a sucker for just about any comic book movie, especially since my 7 year old is all about the Avengers. Its just fun. Funny parts, good action, good characters, redemption, sacrifice – all elements that make for a good movie.

7. Ex Machina

A late entry, but very striking because of the incredible acting by all the main characters and the Twilight Zone/Black Mirror twist. The worldview implications were very compelling in this film also. It was striking that the title omits the first word from the traditional phrase Deus Ex Machina, as a main theme of the film was omitting the supernatural specialness of humanity. This then begs the question, without God is there any difference between man and machine?

6. 30 for 30 Hillsborough

Nearly every entry in the 30 for 30 series by ESPN has been amazing, but this particular episode intersected a great documentary with my newfound soccer passion. As I’ve become more invested in the English Premier League, its teams and histories have become very interesting. Hillsborough tells the story of one of the darkest days not only in soccer history but in England as well. This day changed soccer forever in England. It is compelling and riveting throughout with tons of actual footage from the disaster at Hillsborough.

5. The Martian

I like space movies and any film that needs to retrieve Matt Damon has traditionally been very good. Even with the subtext of “science as god,” the film is fun, very funny and shows how good of an actor Matt Damon is. If you like space, Cast Away and MacGyver, you’ll love this movie.

4. American Sniper

I love war movies. I love true stories. I love sniper films. Fantastic acting and great directing by Clint Eastwood make this a must see.

3. Star Wars the Force Awakens

This might have been higher had I seen it more than once. It was a lot of fun and what an experience to take my 7 year old son to his first Star Wars film! His face when the opening chords of the main Star Wars theme hit was priceless! I got a little bored with all the omages to the old films it lacked the gritty subtext that has made so many of the recent superhero films great and I think they missed opportunities to tell a deeper story, but overall it was a ton of fun.

2. Edge of Tomorrow

The surprise of the year for me was the Tom Cruise film re-titled Live, Die, Repeat. The best description is Groundhog Day meets Starship Troopers. One of Cruise's best films in a long time, it had great action, great acting, a very fun story, and for anyone raised in the video game age a really cool plot device.

1. Inside Out

Pixar absolutely nailed it again. They understand human emotion and story better than any filmmakers right now. And we just happen to have an 11-year-old daughter going through very similar circumstances, so the emotion of the film was ratcheted up by about 100. But what a beautiful tale of family and growing up. From a Christian perspective I did wonder about the role of the Holy Spirit in all this and how the film would be different with that aspect as a part of the story.

Honorable Mentions

  • Making a Murderer – This is a multi-part documentary which is why I didn't include it, but wow. Must see.
  • Gone Girl – disturbing tale of human brokenness and today’s media voyeurism
  • John Wick – everyone loves a good revenge tale
  • Fury – Another true story war movie with great acting
  • Big Hero Six – Fun story and keeps the Pixar influence at Disney primary
  • Unbroken – Impossible to do justice to the book but a good effort nonetheless
  • Jurrasic World – Everyone has imagined, what if they actually got the park running & Chris Pratt is fantastic
  • Antman – Not the best comic book character, but still fun
  • Furious 7 – Good end to the franchise and respectable farewell to Paul Walker

Movies I haven't seen but might make next year's list

  • Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
  • The Hateful Eight
  • Creed
  • Spotlight
  • The Revenant
  • Sicario
  • The Gift

Movies I wish I could unsee

  • Kingsmen Secret Service
  • The Cobbler
  • Exodus Gods and Kings
  • Dumb and Dumber To
  • The Theory of Everything

7 Great Study Bibles

In this day and age we are fortunate to have over 2000 years of writings, interpretations and instruction from the Bible. We have had numerous wise men and women sit on councils, debate textual variances, make incredible archeological discoveries all to make our knowledge of the Bible more complete.

A lot of this study is put into the publication of "Study Bibles." 

Study Bibles are Bibles that are composed of a translation of text, notes on verses that help explain cultural idioms, meaning and more, background and cultural information, maps, charts, infographics, and much more.

The modern study Bible is an amazing collection of scholarship that we have available at our fingertips.

There are a number of study Bibles available and I'm asked every so often, which one should I recommend. To help answer that question Tim Challies and I created the infographic "7 Great Study Bibles." We hope this will be helpful in finding a good study Bible to use.

 Click for high resolution graphic.

Click for high resolution graphic.

Church Signage – The Map

This is the first post in a series that will discuss ideas, give tips and show what we are doing to help people navigate around our church.

One of the most important things for a guest or anyone in your church to help them navigate is a good map which shows where things are.

We've created three specific maps for our two services on Sunday and Wednesday night activities.

Our Wednesday night activities map is below.

I had three goals for our maps.

Keep it Simple 

Nobody needs to know exactly where the janitor closet is and no one cares where the Awana ball room is. We only needed key areas for orientation like the front doors, auditorium, and activity center.

I then added each relevant classroom. Not every room is on the map because not every room needs to be there. These are the major areas.

Keep it Clear

On the map itself there are no descriptions of what each class or room is. If needed you can put those in a key below. I also color coded each room for greater clarity. I could have just used the boxes with arrows but adding in color differentiated the rooms and gives a lot of visual contrast to point people in the right direction.

Make it Not Boring

Originally I had a blueprint layout of the building which wasn't very fun. Also not fun is listing each class next to a number. I found the visual key was to use the actual layout of the building and then throw in a fun graphical twist.

We use these in poster frames at key areas in the building, as handouts for new guests and on standing kiosks when a guest first enters the doors.

Poster maps on walls

Kiosk maps