Optional page text here. The Beast's Lair: August 2006

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

God. . .Our only Hope and our Greatest Threat.

I was moved by a sermon I heard recently in which the preacher described the conversations with some of his church membership after he delivered what was apparently a strong message of a call to notice and bring out the sin in our lives, and then to repent. As his church members were leaving the church, they were saying to the pastor, "great job, you had a lot of courage to preach that message." The pastor replied to his members, "I am actually a coward. It would take great courage not to preach the whole message of the Bible."

What he was saying is that those of us who claim Christ as Lord and hold true to His Word have a responsibility to that Word that should stir a certain amount of awe within us. We as obedient Christians do not live fearlessly. We dare not flaunt from one theme of the Bible to another, depending on our particular mood for the day and decide for ourselves to which parts we will remain obedient and which parts we will politely ignore. Even in the midst of a special call to service or ministry, surely we dare not take the risk of serving with a partially obedient heart. It is in that arena of behavior that we can view our only hope as our greatest threat.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Tiger Woods. . .Watching History

Tiger Woods could very well be the greatest athlete of all time. That is difficult to write being a die-hard Jack Nicklaus fan, but it is becoming easier every year to make the argument.

Tiger has won two major championships in a row, The British Open (now just called "The Open Championship) and the PGA Championship, not to mention 4 PGA events in a row, a feat that is near impossible. I just read that Woods finished at the top of the leaderboard in the first round of the Deutsche Bank Championship, meaning that Woods is gunning for his 5th straight win. If Woods can hold on to even half this pace throughout his career, we are witnessing history that will never be broken again.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Listen To The Beast

You can hear the introduction to my message yesterday morning from Luke chapter 2 by clicking the link below.

Click Here To Listen To Sermon Introduction.

(you can right-click and "save as" to your hard drive as well)

Friday, August 25, 2006

Funny Quote for the Day

Still laughing as I type from hearing this quote on VH1:

"The lead singer for Quite Riot looks like he should be the lead singer for a cover band of Quite Riot, but he is actually the lead singer for Quite Riot."

Update From Last Post

Upon further reading, I am pleased to have found this article written by Dr. Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where I am attending. He more clearly states what I was trying to say in my previous post, and I am thrilled to have read this from his pen.

". . .there is a tendency towards a debating personality for a confrontation on defending these points of doctrine. It is healthy when we talk theology, it is healthy when we go to God's word and submit ourselves to study God's word in order to find out what the Gospel is. It is not healthy to have persons who will drive across the state to debate Calvinism, when they would not drive across the street to share the Gospel. In so far as that is found, it is a heresy." (emphasis mine)

Word up.

Reformed Theology

The cover of the September 2006 Christianity Today displays what many consider to be a soon coming reformation due to the resurgence of reformed theology among the rising generation of American Christians. Plus, who wouldn't want a t-shirt that says Jonathan Edwards is my homeboy?

This is of particular interest to me because I am currently studying theology at a seminary that is considered by some to be a "reformed hotbed." The skepticism is in part due to the feeling that Southern Baptist leaders in the seminary, and across the SBC as a whole, are more focused on the conversion of men and women to Calvinism than they are winning them for Christ.

I suppose the question to keep oneself in check is simply this: What am I doing this for? I dare say that I will never preach the TULIP of Calvinism from the pulpit. I will, however, preach a salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. I want to be informed, and I want to know what I believe and why I believe it, even in my understanding of atonement and election. But, I don't want those things to be my first love, and I'm not interested in a reformation that does. I would never downplay the importance of a strong understanding of doctrine, but when we are more concerned with whether a brother or sister is a Calvinist or Aminianist than we are if they have placed their faith in Christ, then we have missed the mark. Let's debate the doctrine of election, we absolutely should, it is important. But let's not debate the Great Commission, let's just get to work doing it. "Go and make disciples of all nations."

Funny that Jesus didn't say go and make Calvinists. The fact is, the theology of both Aminianism and Calvinism agree that humans are sinful and need to place their faith in Jesus Christ.

So what about this reformation? I would agree that the true Gospel of Christ has been lost to an alarming number of Christian churches today, and that the priorities of the church are more culturally driven that Gospel driven. So a biblically driven reformation of the Gospel being proclaimed in the church and more people coming to a true understanding of Christ and His salvific work is needed.

We will still have our opportunity to debate and convince others of our particular brand of theology, but we serve the lost and needy world better when that becomes lower on our list of importance.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The World's Fair

I applaud Barry, over at the Inn of the Last Home, for doing his best to raise interest and awareness for a local monument and historical event that has seemed to been forgotten. Check his blog out and his 1982 World's Fair site.

Right To Die Taking A New Form

I recently read an article and commentary that defines in no uncertain terms the moral, ethical and spiritual tendencies of the current mainstream worldview. The article dealt with euthanasia, assisted suicide and mercy killing. I have heard the endless and ageless arguments for euthanasia, usually centered about a belief that a person has the "right to die."

Not particularly wanting to get into the debate over euthanasia, what has sparked my interest is the new reasoning supporting the act. On a television show called "Don't Get Me Started," Jenni Murray, an apparent controversial host on the BBC in London, has been quoted as saying that assisted suicide is illegal in Great Britain only because a "religious minority" demands it and that this minority grasps to outdated views of the value of human life and that children in some way have a moral obligation to care for their elderly parents.

The evidence of what happens when a worldview or culture loses the standard of a God of love is beginning to literally create a mindset that is losing any touch with what it really means to be human. Too much value on human life? No obligation for our parents?

So, with that in mind, the idea now is that due to the high medical costs that go into keeping the elderly alive, fed, comfortable, etc and the fact that elderly parents should not want to make their children take care of them, they not only have just a right, but an obligation to die.

This is sick. Can you imagine the elderly, most of which have probably contributed more in terms of work, labor and sweat than any of us will, being faced with this kind of philosophy that will inevitably bring about feelings of guilt that perhaps they need to die instead of making someone else, especially a child, be inconvenienced for a while? Once again, we are face to face with a worldview that has only one thing at the forefront of life - self. Most of life's questions these days are asked in reference to how much better our own lives can be served, how much more can we get out of something? Even in the church, the first thing we want to know is, what will I receive from this church? How will I be fed?

My problem is that I don't see much Biblical support for this kind of attitude. I see quite a bit about others. I see quite a bit about love. I see quite a bit about serving. Not too much about how we can rack up the personal pleasure and comfort. Thankfully, we serve a God who recognizes those who show concern for others. He recognizes those who love unselfishly. He recognizes those who serve. And in His recognition, we are provided, in God's timing and providence, with joy and satisfaction that could never be obtained through our own selfish efforts, even if our pesky elderly parents would just die and be gone.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Last Disney Vacation Entry

Well, this last entry has been about 3 weeks coming. I was really waiting on Rex to send me some pictures since he had the only camera on the trip, but he is busy, so I will give you the last post here without pictures.

Basically, to catch everyone up, Rex and I spent 7 full days in Orlando, FL and in that time hit every Disney and Universal park. That means we conquered Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Disney/MGM Studios, Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios. Not to mention finding the time to get in Laser Runner (with the world's largest maze), Grimm's Haunted House (still scaring people with one employee), Disney Quest, Typhoon Lagoon (water park) and Fish Bones. The trip was probably our best yet, save for the classic first time we ever went with a budget of $100.

It is a special thing to take these trips every year with my brother. First of all, I don't know too many brothers, if any, who in their 30's travel across the country from two very different cities to meet in one city for a week of theme park adventures. It is unique and special. Second, we just can't seem to get enough of Orlando. We love it. (granted, I think we might take a year off next year and do an amusement park tour across the country, hitting places we have never been like Cedar Pointe or something like that. ((although if we went to Cedar Pointe without taking my sister, she would probably never speak to us again. She is a park lover as much as us.))

Anyway, let me do a couple of my classic lists here.

First of all, my current, updated top 5 rides in Orlando. Let me explain. My top rides list is constantly changing, based on a million factors that I don't have time to go into. Also, this list is for all of Orlando, which means basically both Disney and Universal parks. That makes this list very difficult, if not impossible, to make. But, here is my best shot. From 5th to 1st.

5. Dinosaur. (Animal Kingdom) Put simply, this is the most underrated ride in Orlando, hands down. It's dark, scary, fast, jerky and has a terrifying ending. We rode it at least 5 times this trip, and it got better everytime.

4. Spaceship Earth. (Epcot) Ok, it's old, kind of weird and nothing to it. But I love it. Rex doesn't quite share my adoration for this ride, and was basically sleeping through it the second time we rode it, but man I love it. This is a ride I could stay on without getting off for a dozen times easy.

3. Tower of Terror. (MGM Studios) Everything about this ride is great. The preshow is amazing, the queue is awesome, and the ride itself is revolutionary. I get pretty freaked out everytime I am on this thing.

2. Haunted Mansion. (Magic Kingdom) I could write a book on this ride, so I will just say that atmosphere and detail makes this a classic for all time. Ride it 1,000 times and still not see half of what is there. The perfect dark ride. The last time we rode it, we were lucky enough to have the ride stop for a few moments while we were in front of the haunted dining hall scene (where there are tons of ghosts) It was great!

1. Spiderman. (Islands Of Adventure) If you have not ridden this ride, book a trip now to Universal Studios, Florida. It is the only ride where I have actually felt like I was in another dimension for a short time. It is an incredible experience, the 45 seconds of the ride is unlike anything I have ever experienced. This is #1 by a pretty good margin, and I never thought anything would ever take out The Haunted Mansion as #1.

Extreme honorable mentions goes to Jaws (Universal Studios) and Pirates of the Caribbean (Magic Kingdom). Rides that get the complete two thumbs down that everyone else seems to love is Test Track (Epcot) and Back to the Future (Universal Studios). Space Mountain (Magic Kingdom) used to be in that category, but shockingly we had a much more enjoyable experience on Space Mountain this trip.

The memories and experiences are way to numerous to list, so here a few of my favorite things from this trip in no particular order.

- Boma. This was the buffet style restaurant at Animal Kingdom Lodge that is probably the best food I have ever eaten.

- Animal Kingdom Lodge. It was great, and the savannah view room was very cool, you could actually see the animals right from our balcony.

- Riding The Haunted Mansion with Andi. It was her first time. Not sure if she really liked it, but it was special to me.

- Experiencing Expedition Everest for the first time. It is a fun ride. But not great. See previous post.

- Filming our little Film Noir. ** see note below **

- Experiencing the Carousel of Progress for the first time.

- Waiting for the Disney Shuttles. That was actually kind of fun, in some weird way.

- Deciding that Typhoon Lagoon actually stinks.

- Riding Jurassic Park individually back to back while the other filmed from near the splash zone.

- Trying to explain to Yvette why The Haunted Mansion and Skull Kingdom are classics.

- Did I mention Boma?

- Being in Grimm's Haunted House and hearing this weird burping sound. After asking Rex, "What just burped?" The one employee who was behind me said, "I did!"

- "4.56 cubic feet? YES!! Enough room for your cup? YES!! And. . .(wham)Same Day Delivery! Large inventory of appliances? YES!! Friendly customer service? YES!! And. . .(wham)Same Day Delivery!"

- Dang, these are nice binoculars.

- The Sci-Fi Dine In. This bad boy is getting dangerously close to Cap's Diner for my all time favorite theme park restaurant.

- Trying to go three days without melting the British Kit Kat I bought for Andi at Epcot.

- Illuminations at Epcot. Breath taking.

- Standing in front of Dr. Doom's fearfall and having on of two guys who were with us tell Rex, "sometimes my friend gets sick on this ride and throws up." Rex's response. . . "I hope so." The guy starting cracking up, and so did I.

- Video taping Rex and Spiderman shaking hands. Spidey asked Rex, "Do you still wear the underroos?"

- Riding Popeye's 4 times in a row without going back through the queue.. That ride just keeps getting better.

- Waiting 20 minutes to get our picture taken in front of Cinderella Castle.

Goodness, the list could go on and on.

One last thing. Rex and I filmed a little Film Noir adventure of our trip. I hope to have that edited and available for viewing in the next couple of weeks. It was a great trip!!!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Baptist Churches Not So Sure About Baptism

In the last couple of months, the Baptist world has been in debate, and at times, downright hostility concerning the re-thinking on the part of some Baptist churches of the requirement of baptism to precede church membership.

The issue deals with ecclesiology, that is, the nature, structure, constitution and function of the church. It is not a branch of theology to take lightly. As you know by now, I am still a believer in denominations and there is a high cost and responsibility that is associated with the uniting of ones self to a particular tradition, in this case, Baptist. Although the primacy of Scripture cannot be forgotten, there is woven into our tradition a historical understanding and identity to what it means to be Baptist. So, the underlying motive is what I think we should be looking for. In other words, why are these churches asking the question?

If it is because of a desire to be more tolerant, or an adaptation of the postmodern understanding that questions the exclusive claims of truth, or just simply wanting to align with the more commonly cultural movement of the day that may be more popular that the denominational differences, then I wouldn't have much respect for that kind of thinking.

But, if the process is the result of an earnest desire to wrestle and search Scripture, then we have another story.

Pastor Dennis Newkirk of Henderson Hills Baptist Church in Edmund, Oklahoma has been dealing with that exact issue. As far as I can tell, and I am of course not on the inside, this is a Godly pastor who is genuinely searching the Scriptures to answer the boldly asked question, "why are we doing it this way?" In that process, Pastor Newkirk reached out to Baptist leaders and pastors for help with that question. What he received was name calling and red hot press in the local and national Baptist publications for what they were pretty much calling heresy. Now I am not bad mouthing the Baptist press, perhaps that is their responsibility, I don't know. But I do know this. Anytime we have a fellow pastor who is trying his best to find what God's Word is really saying and how to best lead a congregation through that Word and asks for help deserves more than just ridicule and name calling.

After all, I wonder how many Baptist pastors out there, both in the small county church and the downtown city church, could confidently support the reasons we do what we do as Baptists with Scripture.

If we as conservative Christians react in this manner to even the thought of taking another honest look at Scripture, then we are guilty of wearing the flesh of fundamentalism that we get so commonly called by our friendly liberal brothers and sisters out there, and we deserve it.

Being conservative does not mean we don't listen to other ideas. Being conservative does not mean we refuse to make changes. Being conservative does not mean we should not ask the question why.

I disagree entirely with any Baptist church that would consider a removal of baptism as a prerequisite for church membership, but I am ready and able to support, pray and assist in any way I can the continued search for the application of Scripture in our lives and church.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Beast Reviews: High Tension

I have been rather behind on my horror movie viewing schedule, so since seminary classes started this week, I will finally have the time to catch back up. (humor intended there)

I had heard good things about High Tension and I was anxious to see it. Upon a browsing day at the local Best Buy, I found the special edition DVD for an amazing $3.99, so needless to say, I bought it.

What we have with High Tension is story that has been told a million times. Now, don't misunderstand me, I have no problem with a successful formula that is repeated time and again in horror, just so long as the film does a good job with the formula. In this particular movie, the formula goes something like this: friends drive to the middle of nowhere to get away, crazed lunatic shows up and starts wreaking havoc. I am beginning to think in recent horror that Tobe Hooper is becoming one of the most duplicated film makers of all time. I would say without question that in the last few decades of horror, the most copied filmmakers would be Carpenter, Romero and Hooper.

Anyway, a girl is trying her best to stay alive and rescue her friend from the clutches of the demented psycho killer, who enjoys using disgusting means to kill off his prey. This is pretty gruesome stuff, some of which is also pretty inventive. I was enjoying the film, understanding that this is nothing new, but still well done.

Then, the film takes a "shocking plot change." **SPOILER ALERT**

We find out that the demented psycho killer who the girl is trying to escape from is actually the girl herself! That's right, the girl is trying to escape from herself. She has been the one killing all these people the entire time. We discover that she has been telling the story to policemen, hospital doctors, or whomever, and has been making up this guy the entire time.

So in other words, the movie is the retelling of a story by the killer herself with an imaginary guy as the killer. The motive you ask? Love of course. She is in love with her best friend, but her friend doesn't want anything to do with a lesbian relationship. So, out of jealousy and anger, she kills everyone who gets in the way and blames it on this made up guy. I think they were trying to go for the psychologial angle, that the girl really thought this guy existed and that she really was trying to save her friend from him. Similar to Norman Bates really thinking that his mother was doing the killing. But, nobody really cares. The last 5 seconds of the film are good, I have to admit. It made me jump.

The film ends with kind of a "Secret Window" feel about it. I just didn't care for the Secret Window ending and I didn't care for this one. But that aside, the movie delivers some chilling moments, has a few "that was disgusting" moments and the atmosphere isn't bad. Not a movie I will watch time and again, but it was worth the viewing experience.

Beast Paw Rating: 2 out of 4 Paws

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Beast Honors Bruno Kirby

Bruno Kirby (pictured on right above) has died at age 57 from complications due to leukemia.

Kirby was an incredibly talented actor who has starred in some of my favorite character roles throughout the years. Three classic Kirby moments come to mind immediately whenever I think of him:

1. In one of funniest scenes ever put on film, Bruno shines in "When Harry Met Sally" during the "Win, Lose Or Draw" segment. He is dead pan serious and trying his hardest to correctly answer what "Sally" is drawing on the paper. He repeatedly answers "Baby fish mouth! Baby fish mouth!" And then in the background you can hear him say, "draw something resembling anything." (which is a phrase I use quite often in daily conversation, although sometimes modified.) He really steals the scene.

2. Kirby had a very small role in the classic "Spinal Tap" as the limo driver that takes the band from the airport to the party. He has a small conversation with the band from the front seat about Frank Sinatra, and then the band rudely rolls up the dividing glass between them and the front, cutting off the conversation mid-sentence. Kirby let's Marty DiBergi in on a little secret, "I wouldn't never tell them this, but this is a fad."

3. Finally, Kirby delivers a hilarious line in the film "City Slickers." Billy Crystal is trying to explain to his friend how to program a VCR, and from behind you hear Kirby scream, "Shut Up! Shut Up! The cows can program a VCR by now!"

He will be missed.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Disney's Haunted Mansion News

I read today that rumors are abounding that Disney will do some construction in the near future to add a gift shop area where the ride exits.

I like to think, in my own warped mind, that I had something to do with this. During our last visit just a few weeks ago, I was prepared to dish out some serious cash on a Haunted Mansion t-shirt, key chains, hat, coffee mug, etc. To my surprise and bewilderment, the ride does not have a gift shop exit area. You know how this works, after most rides, you have to exit through a gift shop where products are themed after the ride you have just ridden. Almost every ride does this, except for the Haunted Mansion! This makes no sense because there are die hard Haunted Mansion fans, like me, out there. All they had was this lame little kiosk of merchandise that closed at like 3 in the afternoon. Weird.

I asked about 4 different people if there were any Haunted Mansion merchandise anywhere else in the park, and of course, there wasn't. So, three cheers to Disney for recognizing the problem and fixing it. If they actually do it.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Just A Great Day

Andi and I have just rolled back into town after a quick one day trip to Whitesburg, KY, which is in eastern KY. My uncle Burtis, one of the finest men I have ever known, finally accepted Christ as his personal Savior and was baptized today. I have been praying for Burtis all my life and this is a day long awaited.

It was nice for me and Andi to get away just by ourselves to eastern KY. That is where most of my extended family is and we were able to spend some quality time with them, although it was short. We have just ordered a a Pizza Hut thin and crispy (pineapple and chicken) pizza and are settling down to watch a Columbo episode before hitting the bed. Yep, cuddling with my wife while watching Columbo and eating pizza is pretty much as good as it gets.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Insomniac Pictures Remembered

The picture below, given to me by my friend and partner at the time Patrick Hamilton, is a beautiful reminder of Insomniac Pictures, the horror movie company we created. We filmed three movies, one of which was decent, and had a pretty good fouth film in production when things kind of just whithered away for various reasons.

In the picture below, we were filming just random acts with a candle and a hand held chicken-puppet for our opening sequence which would preceed every Insomniac Picture film. In case you can't recognize me, that is me on the right. This picture pretty much captures the mentality of our little movie company. We had a blast, and who knows, Insomniac Pictures may live again one day. Some day I may post one of our films for loyal readers of The Beast's Lair to enjoy.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Our New Home

Andi and I have been in the process of moving the last few days, sorry for the delay in posts. We are so thrilled with our new home, the pictures below really don't do it justice. Andi starts her new job tomorrow and I have orientation at seminary this Friday. Things are good.

The Living Room

The Bedroom

The Bathroom

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Just so you know

I got up at 4:00 am today, drove to Louisville for job interviews for both me and Andi, and just got back into town. I'm dead. I will post my last Disney vacation post tomorrow. Bed is calling.