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Tim Tebow – A Reflection

I wrote this a couple years ago and for some reason never published it.

While I've come to appreciate and love Peyton Manning (I even have his jersey) it still isn't the same. Don't get me wrong, I love winning and I hope we win a Super Bowl with Manning but even if we do I don't know if it will surpass the emotion of that Tebow year.


As the news broke that the Denver Broncos were signing Peyton Manning I could not shake a feeling of sadness. Even as the whole process has played out for the past week a cloud has been forming and in a sensationalistic way seemed to announce impending doom. I know that sounds over the top but it was a feeling I had and a feeling I still have. I couldn't really explain it until now.

I've been a Bronco fan for most of my life. I grew up in the Denver metro area where the Broncos were revered. We had "Orange Sundays" where we would wear Bronco gear to church. We had Bronco days at my elementary school where we could where the team's colors instead of our normal dress code. In Jr High and High School because of a concern of gang violence our school district prohibited wearing clothing of any professional teams except for the Broncos. Sunday's in Denver revolved around the Broncos and the rest of the week was the build up to kickoff.

There are several moments in the Bronco's history that I can remember clearly. The earliest memory I have of the Broncos is watching the 1986 AFC Championship game which featured "The Drive." I don't remember a lot but I do remember thinking it must not be that much fun to be muddy and to have to kick a field goal with a bare foot in the cold. I remember going to my uncle's apartment to watch the Super Bowl that year and I remember that not everyone there was upset. I later found out how traitorous it was that my aunt and uncle were L.A. Raider fans living in Denver.

The most exciting moment without a doubt is when John Mobley knocked down Brett Favre's pass on fourth down to seal the Bronco's first Super Bowl victory. I was in my first year of college so I wasn't in Denver but rather at a friend's house in Creston Iowa. Thankfully my best friend from childhood was also there and we had to be careful jumping up and down because the ceilings in the basement were so low.

The next moment as a Bronco fan that I can remember being as close to exciting was not the Super Bowl victory the next year but rather a collection of moments when the Broncos and Tim Tebow played the Chicago Bears this past year. It was a string of miracle occurrences that just do not happen. From a onside kick, to a player running out of bounds, to a fumble in overtime topped off by two fifty plus yard field goals. Even though he didn't kick it, when that game winning field goal went through those uprights I was hooked on Tebow for life. Those moments would only be surpassed by the overtime touchdown pass against the Steelers where I would again find myself jumping up and down.

I think the reason I'm not as thrilled with the signing of Manning is because I was really looking forward to going through a career with a once in a lifetime player - a franchise player. I remember having a conversation with a friend this past year and we were rehashing all the highlights and improbable victories and the media attention and I said to him - "and he's all ours."

Tim Tebow was ours. He was a star. He was a phenom. He was a national story. He was a weekly trending topic on Twitter - and he was ours. I loved being able to cheer him on with my kids. I knew I could point them to a role model who was not just exciting to watch but was about more than football. I dreamed of the years down the road where my son and I with our Tebow jerseys on would sit down together and watch our quarterback win games.

And here lies the dichotomy between Tebow and Manning. For all of Manning's greatness and even if he brings multiple Super Bowls to Denver he will never truly be ours. There is a special kind of loyalty that fans give to certain players. This kind of loyalty isn't given very often and in today's age of free agency is rarer. You don't often see fans give away their hearts to players but you saw it happen with Elway. And amazingly in just this short time you saw it happen with Tim Tebow.

I gave my heart to Tebow and the Broncos ripped it out of my hands.

Halloween, Tradition and our New Neighbors

Here in Iowa we're a little weird and celebrate Halloween on the 30th of October in a tradition known as Beggar's Night. For whatever reason this year more articles, blogs and Facebook posts have been published on why or why not one should participate in this odd little Holiday. Now it's not my purpose to forcefully defend one view or the other but rather explain what I've chosen for my family and why we do it. But first a little background...

Tradition and Family

I grew up in Colorado and like most normal states celebrated Halloween on October 31st. From as far back as I can remember we had multiple traditions around the Fall and Halloween.

When the weather started to cool my mom would start to make things including chili and blubbery muffins and our costumes. Probably the best costume ever was a shark costume I wore that conveniently doubled as "Jonah in the whale" for church related activities though a close second was the "pirate" costume I made that consisted of jeans and a Raiders sweatshirt...

Closer to the actual holiday we would pick pumpkins from my dad's garden and carve them. This was the best because I got to use the "sharp" knives and I was always very responsible. In fact I would never stab my pumpkin repeatedly and throw pumpkin guts all over.

On Halloween night it was all about the candy and when it was all said and done me and my siblings would empty our haul on the kitchen table and compare. This usually ended up with my little brother and sister crying because they didn't get as much as me and mom putting all the candy into one big bowl.

As I think back my parents made this holiday about family and tradition. I have no memories about anything sinister, evil or weird. I only have memories about a time when my family came together to do a ton of fun things that ended up in me eatings massive amounts of candy. In short those are some of the best memories I have.

For that reason alone I wanted to pass it on to my kids in the hopes that they would also remember some very precious times as family.

We've carved fun pumpkins almost every year and we help our kids with their costumes. This year I made Mia's official id badge so she could be just like mom.

We also dump our candy out, compare and sometimes meticulously arrange it and mix it all together in a big bowl.

But as we've done all these things its always been about us coming together as a family.

New Opportunities

This year is a little different as we are in a brand new community, and from a conversation I had with a friend realized what a great opportunity it is to actually meet your neighbors.

In our culture with the rise of technology we don't often feel the need to step outside as much. Everything we could possibly want is offered to us within our homes so it takes some actual effort to get outside. And even if you do not many of your neighbors will have chosen to do the same at the same time. So the conversations you might have once had aren't happening as often. I saw this first hand up in our previous community where I barely knew some of our neighbors.

But on Halloween its different. Nearly every door in the community is open to strangers. Your whole neighbored is walking around and most everyone is in a good mood (well except the die hard Cardinals fan who was missing the World Series...). But the point is that there is not another night during the year where your neighborhood is more accessible to meet and talk to people as it is on Halloween.

So last night as I took my daughter out into our new neighborhood I introduced myself to as many people as possible.

It was incredible.

I met some very nice folks, had wonderful conversations with them, made connections with other people we had in common and in general felt a part of the community. As a pastor looking to love my neighbors I couldn't dream of a better opportunity.

So whatever your view on Halloween is and whatever your level of participation might be, I would encourage you to take the opportunity to get out and meet your neighbors. Be a blessing to your community. Show love to the kids that live around you and be a light in a world filled with darkness.

Unite - Remembering A Thief in the the Night

This past week a legendary Christian filmmaker, Russell S. Doughten Jr. passed away. He is most famous for his Thief in the Night series which portrayed the Rapture and subsequent events in the biblical chronology of the end times.

I personally only remember seeing bits and pieces of the films but several scenes (like the guillotine ones) stuck with me growing up.

 unite-poster-free

While the films used more of a "scare people to Jesus" tactic they were effective in getting the message out and have been viewed by millions of people.

I recently sat down at re-watched the first film with a couple friends. While we had a good time poking fun at the dated references and identifying local landmarks (including a few in Carlisle where I'm moving) we appreciated what the film was trying to do. The editing and cinematography was well done for the genre and helped to pave the way for the modern Christian film.

In memory of the film series I created a propaganda poster for the evil organization UNITE portrayed in the films as the vehicle the Anti-Christ uses to dominate the world.

Download a small version here for free.

Why The Bible on the History Channel Is So Popular

The History channel's mini-series The Bible has been immensely popular despite receiving generally poor reviews and has confounded the establishment as to why this is happening. I have a theory as to why the The Bible is so popular. People love hidden details and the use of "sanctified imagination."

I can't remember where I first heard the term "sanctified imagination", but growing up going to church I heard the stories of the Bible countless times and during many of those Sunday school lessons and sermons the teacher would give an educated guess as to some of the details left out of the stories. These imagined details were always tasty morsels of information because it seemed to give you an insiders point of view and it would often unlock the story as it let you see it in whole context as opposed to bits and pieces.

The Bible doesn't give us all the details. It doesn't tell us exactly what life was like on the ark for Noah and his family and doesn't tell us how God's angels interacted with the people of Sodom and Gomorra. So when someone else fills in these details it makes an already compelling story even better because who doesn't want to think that one of God's angels is a ninja?

When you have great stories re-told through cinema to our visual culture and you imagine in all the bits and pieces that are "missing" in the original text you have the formula for a great drama and ratings smash.

Like most things this can be good and bad and I believe we need to be careful when using "sanctified imagination."

Certainly there are details we can add into the Biblical accounts that we have learned from history and archeology. These are often insights into the culture which help us understand the author's intent thousands of years after the events happend. For example, when Paul is writing to the Philippian church about citizenship in heaven we can talk about how important Roman citizenship was and when we understand the importance of Roman citizenship to those people we understand God's grace in a deeper way when Paul says that his citizenship is in heaven.

But when we add in details and "imagine" up part of the story we run the risk of the imagined part capturing our attention more than the actual text. One example in particular stands out in my mind.

In John 8:1-11 religious leaders confront Jesus with a women who has been caught in adultery. They demand to know what Jesus thinks of this and if he will condemn her to death. Jesus doesn't say anything but instead stoops down and writes in the dirt. When he is finished he stands up and utters the famous phrase "let those of you without sin cast the first stone." And while the main message of the text is compassion and forgiveness that seemed to be lost on me because I remember the teacher telling us that he thought Jesus was writing down the sins those religious leaders had committed and that bit of information fascinated me. It fascinated me so much that all I could think of was that little detail and how cool it was that the teacher had brought that out.

So while I don't think using "sanctified imagination" is necessarily a bad thing as The Bible series has sparked many discussions in our family, we need to be careful to not add to Scripture in a way that draws our attention from it.

Longing For Redemption

I hate the reminders that we live in a cursed world and its devastating to know that mankind can not only be less than good but evil. The reality is that the world I live in is not okay. Its fallen and broken and whether I want to or not the signs are everywhere. I ignore them a lot because its more comfortable to do so. I don't like to think about it because it reminds me of how evil I can be.

This is a world that longs for redemption. The writer says as much in Psalm 42.

Psa. 42:4 My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be: I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration!

I can get so caught up in myself and my little world that I've created that I forget I'm not supposed to be here like this. This cursed world is not my home. I want to remember how it is supposed to be. In the middle of the chaos and anguish brought into our lives by evil men I need to meditate on the fact that this is why Jesus was born. His birth, death, and resurrection serve to bring ultimate hope.

While I can't put into words the emotions I have at this moment being that I'm a daddy to three precious kids, I want the cry of my heart even in its anger and questioning to rest on the hope that my Savior brings.

Titus 2:12-13 ...We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed.

Lord Jesus come quickly.

Where Was God in Aurora?

As a Colorado native the shooting in Aurora much like the Columbine shootings in 1999 have had a profound impact on me. Like most people I'm saddened, outraged and have many questions. In fact every time a horrible tragedy occurs whether its a mass shooting or natural disaster questions from believers and skeptics alike abound. One question I do not have however is the question of where God was when this tragedy unfolded.

The question of "where was God when..." is asked probably most frequently because our concept of God is of a being who dislikes tragedy and suffering and it doesn't seem to jive when tragic events occur.

I am writing from the perspective of a believer and Christian so my view is obviously different from that of a skeptic. I do think there are good answers and want to try and explain as simply as possible to bolster the faith of the believer and to try and answer the questions of the skeptic.

The Problem of Free Will

When someone asks the question "where was God when...?" typically behind the question is a frustration that God did not step in and prevent the tragedy from occurring. The source of the frustration is that God is supposed to be all-powerful and could prevent anything that he desired. So why didn't he?

First ask yourself this question. How much would you want God to intervene? Would you wish him to prevent all natural disasters? Would you want all murders stopped? Would you want all child-abuse to be eliminated? I think all of us would desire those things. But take it a step further. Would you want all lying to be stopped or to get fairly trivial would you want God to intervene so you never stubbed your toe?

The point is, where you draw the line for God's intervention in human affairs? At what point does God's intervention prevent us from having free will?

And that really is the point. Because God has chosen to give us free will he cannot by definition "make" us only choose to do good all the time. And because all humans have free will they have a choice to help their fellow man or harm their brother.

It all Seems So Pointless

The problem of suffering and evil in the world is undoubtably one of the hardest questions for the believer to answer but I do think there are some good answers.

Many skeptics have said that a good, all-knowing, all-powerful God would not allow pointless suffering in the world. Because there appears to be much pointless suffering they say God cannot exist.

Tim Keller in his book The Reason for God makes this point: "Tucked away within the assertion that the world is filled with pointless evil is a hidden premise, namely, that if evil appears pointless to me, then it must be pointless."

Of course what this assumes is that our minds should be able to plumb the depths of God's mind and understand every reason he has for what he does. Many people assume that if there are good reasons to allow suffering then they should be accessible to our minds but why should this be? Logically this doesn't hold up.

Also consider how hard times and suffering actually help people to get through life. Many people would admit that most of what they really needed for success in life came out of their experiences with pain and struggle. A lot of times in hindsight people will look back and see that suffering is exactly what they needed to help them in the future.

Keller says later: "...with time and perspective most of us can see good reasons for at least some of the tragedy and pain that occurs in life. Why couldn't it be possible from God's vantage point, there are good reasons for all of them?"

If you are mad because you believe God is all-knowing and powerful enough to stop suffering and hasn't, you have to realize that the same God is all-knowing and powerful enough to have reasons to allow it.

God Really Does Care

One of the reasons I am a Christian is because the Christian faith has answers and hope for suffering. Some people don't care about logic and philosophy and whether or not it all proves or disproves God exists. They are hurting. What I would say to that person is to understand that Jesus put himself on the hook for all of human suffering.

Before God created mankind and gave him free will he knew man would reject him and so Jesus volunteered to come to earth to suffer on our behalf. Not only did Jesus suffer the torture and execution of the cross but he suffered the breaking of the infinite relationship with his father which in my opinion is the greatest suffering anyone has or will go through.

Think of when you have lost a relationship. It hurts to be left by a friend or co-worker. The pain only intensifies if you suffer the loss of relationship with a family member. Now think of the infinite loving relationship Jesus had with his father. To lose that relationship, to have his father turn his back on him as the Bible says would have been more terrible than anyone could imagine. But he did it because he loved us.

So Where Was God in Aurora?

He was where he has always been. Colossians 1:17 says: And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. God was actively watching and holding this world together. Watching and working with pain as his creation hurts itself and others. Watching and working with love as he desires for his creation to love him back.

God was sovereignly allowing this event to happen not so that we might have the most happiness in life but so that people would ultimately be drawn to him. And when that happens the Bible gives us a promise in Revelation 21:4 that one day suffering will be no more and that every tear will be wiped away.

That is my hope.

Five Ways The Dark Knight Rises Stumbled

 dkr

While movie trilogies are fairly common its rare that all three movies are epic hits. In fact some might argue that there have only been 2 epic trilogies - the original Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings. More common is when either the first or the first two movies are epic and the third falls flat. In my life there have been three movie trilogies that I was really excited to see the end to. And when I say "excited" I mean stand in line for hours, pre-buy tickets excited.

  • The Matrix Revolutions (2003)
  • The Lord of the Rings Return of the King (2003)
  • The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

I absolutely hated the Matrix Revolutions and was severely disappointed - mainly because I wasn't smart enough to get the trilogy while Return of the King exceeded my expectations and is the gold standard when it comes to ending out a trilogy in my opinon.

As of now I feel like The Dark Knight Rises falls somewhere in the middle. All said I did really like the movie and it was very entertaining but it doesn't come close to being better than its predecessor The Dark Knight.

This could change as I've only seen it once and these are only my initial thoughts but here are five things that I think The Dark Knight Rises swung and missed on.

1. The pacing in the first act was glacial.

We're treated to a Bond like sequence out of the gate that blows away any action sequence in the previous two Batman movies but are left after that to suffer through was seemed like five or six Michael Caine monologues (and I really like Michael Caine monologues - it was one of the best moments in The Dark Knight).

2. I never connected emotionally with the city under siege.

We weren't really invested in the plight of the cops and we're never really shown how terrible the conditions must have been for ordinary folks. The resistance can for the most part walk around the street and observe the bomb truck unmolested. Really the only horror of the siege that was show was when the rich dude (who probably deserved to die anyway) was exiled onto the ice. And even that wasn't built up very much. And come on did nobody tell these guys how you walk on thin ice? You crawl and spread out your weight...

I guess if you really think about how much of a effect it would have on the world in general to have a city the size of New York under a nuclear siege - to try and convey exactly what that would mean is almost too big an undertaking. I thought this area of the plot fell flat.

3. I didn't understand why the regular people of the city were so fed up with the elite.

This is never explained and we were never able to emotionally invest in the plight (if there was one) of the common person being held under the boot of the elite. Selina Kyle has this great line that says "you're all gonna wonder how you ever thought you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us." When did this happen?

4. The death of Bane was cliched and really weak.

What do you do when your hero is about to die, you've already had an epic fight scene and you need a reason to get Catwomen back into the city? You have her come bursting in at the last movement guns a blazing and save the day by killing Bane just as he's about to kill our hero.

I really liked Bane as a bad guy. Tom Hardy brought so much presence even without seeing his mouth that he was believable as a terrorist. I even came around on his voice by the end of the movie. But a great villain deserves a great death and being shot by a gun by Selina Kyle just doesn't cut it.

5. The fake death of Batman.

If Batman dies my opinion of this movie skyrockets and moves this trilogy very close to the Lord of Rings. If Batman dies I don't write a mostly negative review. If Batman dies I don't care about nitpicks one through four. But he doesn't.

For all of Christopher Nolans talk about doing things different, and making this a darker grittier version of the Batman genre, and closing out the trilogy I really expected Batman to die.

One of the greatest lines in the movie is when Batman exclaims in his funny gruff voice that he hasn't given Gotham everything yet... implying his life. At the very least I wish Nolan would have let the movie goer decide and debate about whether or not he was dead.

You could have left in the part about the auto-pilot being fixed and you could have even had Alfred lifting up his head after he takes a drink in that little cafe but roll the credits there. Don't show Bruce Wayne's face. Let us debate. Keep it dark.

It also would have seemed to fit better with Christian Bale's portrayal of Bruce Wayne throughout the movie. He was tortured and upset that Batman had to take the fall for Two-Face and he seemed like he had so little to live for anyway. His redemption was the giving of his life - the ultimate sacrifice that would be remembered. It seemed cheap and too easy to give us a "happy" ending.

All that said I still really liked the movie. It was very entertaining, had great action, some really good lines, a good villain and for the most part a good story. Could it have been better? Yes. Will I buy it? No.

I give it four out of five stars.

Be Anxious For Nothing

 Be-Anxious-for-Nothing

I came across the "Keep Calm and Carry On" meme this morning and was immediately inspired. Several things struck a chord: I love learning about WW2, I'm a big fan of all things British and I love the idea to use beautiful art to convey a much needed message in a time of great turmoil. After listening to the backstory of the piece, Paul's letter to the Philippian church came to mind - specifically chapter four verse six where he instructs them to not worry or be anxious about anything but to pray about everything. As the poster was intended to only be used if the nation was under great duress I can't think of a better message of comfort then to Keep Calm (do not be anxious) and Carry On (carry your burdens to One who cares for you.)

 

Minimal TV Posters

I have several minimal poster projects I'm working on and this is culmination of my TV project. The big idea was to take a pivotal concept or memorable image in the series and create a piece of minimalist art that represented that moment. There might be more added to the project in the future but you might have noticed that every poster was done for a TV show that completed its series run. I plan to stick to that constraint so no Walking Dead...for now.

See if you can guess each show. There's a link below the image to a version with the names of the shows.

- View version with show titles -

The Help

A couple weeks ago I had the privilege to go with my wife on a date and see the movie The Help. I didn’t think it would be a privilege at the time and in my mind this would be one of those “take one for the team” movies. I couldn’t have been more wrong though. Now, I’ll admit I’m somewhat emotional when it comes to two things - movies done well and my kids. This was a very well done movie that had me laughing, tearing up (no gushing...) and angry.

While the movie is based on a fictional work, the subject matter is historical and based in fact. The story follows a Southern white women who finds injustice being done to black maids who work for white families and being an author she decides to write about their plight to try and help the situation.

I think the reason this movie stirred my emotions so much is because I am a lover of justice and when total injustice is done to any human being the natural reaction is that something needs to be done. The other reason it resonated so much with me is that these things didn’t happen 100 years ago in some foreign country but rather less then 50 years ago and only a few states away.

While I can’t imagine ever participating in something like that I was challenged that racism is a product of our pride which is rooted down deep in our hearts and manifests itself in various ways.

Its so important to realize that every person is made in the image of God, loved by God, and therefore has infinite value in His eyes. Knowing that I want to work to stamp out racism in all facets of life and to call others out when I see it or hear it.

This movie gets a 5 Star rating and is an "Own It" movie. ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

Why it gets 5 stars. Its very entertaining and moved me more emotionally that any movie I can remember in recent history and its a movie I want my kids to see for the historical context.

If you’re not familiar with my ratings they are as follows:

1 Star ⋆- Horrible - don’t see it, don’t speak of it, try not to even think about it. Movies with one star make me throw up in my mouth a little. Examples include: The Talented Mr Ripley

2 Stars ⋆ ⋆ - Blah. Skip it. There is no reason why you should see this movie unless the only thing left to do is watch paint dry. On second thought, that would probably be more interesting.

3 Stars ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ - Decent. Rent it or stream it.

4 Stars ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ - Very Good. See it in the theater if possible. Tell your friends about it. Post about it on Facebook. Gush a little.

5 Stars ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ - Excellent, Incredible, Three thumbs up. Own it. In todays world, I like most people don’t buy many movies any more. Its a rare occasion for me and only those movies that move me in a major way or are incredibly cool make the cut.