Thursday, December 28, 2017

More Funny from John Crist

We have all been here. We may well have been here just a few days ago.

In this video, John Crist presents the 6 possible reactions to Christmas gifts.

Many more videos are available at John Crist's web site.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The Salvation of 'Napalm Girl'

This op-ed originally appeared in the "Houses of Worship" section of the Wall Street Journal, Friday, December 22, 2017. Kim Phuc Phan Thi is the author of "Fire Road: The Napalm Girl's Journey through the Horrors of War to Faith, Forgiveness, and Peace," from Tyndale Momentum, 2017.

"You may not recognize me now, but you almost certainly know who I am. My name is Kim Phuc, though you likely know me by another name. It is one I never asked for, a name I have spent a lifetime trying to escape: “Napalm Girl.”

You have probably seen my picture a thousand times. Yes, that picture. The image that made the world gasp. Some called it a turning point in the Vietnam War—a Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of me in 1972, age 9, running along a puddled roadway in front of an expressionless soldier. I was photographed with arms outstretched, naked and shrieking in pain and fear, with the dark contour of a napalm cloud billowing in the distance.

My own people had dropped bombs on Route 1 in an effort to cut off the trade routes for the Viet Cong rebels. I had not been targeted. I had simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Those bombs have caused me immeasurable pain over the course of my life. Forty-five years later I am still receiving treatment for the burns that cover my arms, back and neck. But even worse than the physical pain was the emotional and spiritual pain. For years I bore the crippling weight of anger, bitterness and resentment toward those who caused my suffering. Yet as I look back over a spiritual journey that has spanned more than three decades, I realize the same bombs that caused so much pain and suffering also brought me to a place of great healing. Those bombs led me to Jesus Christ.

My salvation experience occurred on Christmas Eve. It was 1982. I was attending a special worship service at a small church in Vietnam. The pastor, Ho Hieu Ha, delivered a message many Christians would find familiar: Christmas is not about the gifts we carefully wrap and place under a tree. Rather, it is about the gift of Jesus Christ, who was wrapped in human flesh and given to us by God. As the pastor spoke, I knew in my heart that something was shifting inside of me.

A decade removed from the defining tragedy of my life, I still desperately needed peace. I had so much hatred and bitterness in my heart. Yet I was ready for love and joy. I wanted to let go of my pain. I wanted to pursue life instead of holding fast to fantasies of death. When Pastor Ho finished speaking, I stood up, stepped out into the aisle, and made my way to the front of the sanctuary to say “yes” to Jesus Christ.

When I woke up that Christmas morning, I experienced my first-ever heartfelt celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. I know what it is like to experience terror, to feel despondent, to live in fear. I know how wearying and hopeless life can be sometimes. After years in the spiritual wilderness, I felt the kind of healing that can only come from God.

I had spent so much of my life running—first from the bombs and the war, then from communist Vietnam. I had always assumed that to flee was my only choice. Looking back, I understand the path I had been racing along led me straight to God. Today I live at ease. Yes, my circumstances can still be challenging. But my heart is 100% healed. 

My faith in Jesus Christ is what has enabled me to forgive those who had wronged me—no matter how severe those wrongs were. Faith also inspired me to pray for my enemies rather than curse them. It enabled me not only to tolerate those who had wronged me but to love them.

No matter what type of pain or sorrow you may be experiencing, as Christmas approaches, I encourage you not to give up. Hold fast to hope. It is hope that will see you through. This peace I have found can be yours as well. I pray that it finds you this Christmas."

Sunday, December 24, 2017

"My Kind of Santa"

A terrific essay about the historical St. Nicholas appears on the St. Nicholas Center website, by James Parker III. He is a professor at he Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Check it out.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

The Reformed Santa Claus

The Babylon Bee gets it. Again. Although the thought of Santa with a pipe and a goatee makes me shudder a bit. And I doubt he'd be a hit at shopping malls.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Crowdfunding Follow-Up: Imari Tones (#2)

The previous post included a link to the YouTube for a song from the Imari Tones' album "Revive the World." This was part of the package of CDs we received from the band's successful crowdfunding campaign. That campaign revolved around the concept album "Jesus Wind." From that album, about the history of the church in Japan, here is the song "Bushido."

Enjoy and rock on!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Crowdfunding Follow-Up: Imari Tones

A few months back, I posted info about a crowdfunding campaign for the Japanese heavy metal band Imari Tones. We received our CDs recently, and wanted to post some of the band's music, now that we've been able to listen to some.

In addition to the concept album Japanese religious history, we also received a prior album, Revive the World. Find below one of my favorites tracks from that album, "Ripping Through Hell."

Enjoy, and rock on!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

This One Could Happen

What makes satire work is when it has a ring of truth to it. And this one -- sadly -- has the ring of truth to it. Not that this IS happening.But it COULD happen. Great work, Babylon Bee.

VeggieTales Returns In Explosive Michael Bay Reboot

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Jolly Ol' St. Nick!

In honor of the feast day of that great heretic-puncher and orthodoxy-upholder, here is a classic meme about the man.

And just in case you wondered that it couldn't hurt that much to be punched by a theologian, what if that theologian had clear Klingon ancestry?

For more information about the saint behind the legend, check out the St. Nicholas Center.