Friday’s Fantastic Five! 10.25

FridayFantasticFiveA Married Mom and Dad Really Do Matter: New Evidence from Canada – Mark Regnerus
Regnerus reports on a new academic study based on the Canadian census that suggests having a married mom and dad leads to the best educational outcomes for children. Children of same-sex households – with controls for other factors – do not fare as well.

5 Things You Don’t Have the Guts to Tell Your Students – Louis Betty
Betty takes aim at the realities of our present-day college system and how its rewards are not the same as they used to be. She shares 5 things the current generation must come to terms with as they prepare to face the realities of the world they now live in.

The War on Christians – John L. Allen, Jr.
Allen issues a wake up call that the global persecution of Christians is the unreported catastrophe of our time. 80% of all acts of religious persecution are directed at Christians and they are by far the most persecuted religious body on the planet.

The Art & Science of Humblebrag – Tim Challies
Tim exposes one of the more annoying and prevalent ills of social media – that humble posts/tweets/shares can be carefully crafted to boast.

8 Reasons Why Most Churches Don’t Break the 200 Attendance Mark – Carey Neiuwhof
The average Protestant church size in America is 89 people. 60% have less than 100 people. While many smaller churches desire and pray to reach more people they are unable to do so. Neiuwhof explores 8 reasons why this might be the case.

Is Disney World Heaven?

Castle4This question spurs a brief and comical battle in my heart. If you’ve never been, it might seem ignorant and senseless to ask. As a lover of Jesus, student of the Bible and one who has cashed in her hopes for eternity, I say, no, Disney World is not heaven. But. That’s where I honeymooned. That’s where we vacation. That’s where I ran my first half marathon. That’s where my dreams come true. Let me assure you, in an age where pleasure is paramount and pain is abundant, the question is appropriate.

Walt Disney World is pure, concentrated magic. Peerless ambience, entertainment and customer service consecrate this 25,000 acre paradise as the third most visited tourist attraction in the world. Guests can choose from 20 resort properties, ranging from economy to luxury, each boasting exceptional thematic detail. Manicured lawns, artisan menus, ornate pools, regal architecture and costumed employees work in tandem to transport you to the time, place and activity of each resort’s theme.

The four theme parks are more impressive still. Each is a contained world of impossible glory: fountains dance to music, characters confined to a page or screen are walking and waving, castles shadow your steps and every attraction is whimsical yet sophisticated and more incredible than the last. There are plant sculptures, streams of parades, exotic animals, brilliant sounds, countless shows, vibrant colors and a polished staff of thousands ready to perfect your day. Every girl a princess, every boy a pirate and every parent amazed.

Days are governed by play. Smiles are effortless. Your room becomes home. As you pack your mouse ears to leave, a sobering cloud settles over your soul: Disney World is not home. Bills, homework, repairs, conflicts, deadlines and the mundane grind of daily life await you.

To sidestep this Disney depression, some have abandoned their careers and cities to relocate their families to Orlando for immediate, unfettered access to the most magical place on earth. Herb Leibacher, founder and chief executive of World of Walt (an independent Walt Disney World information website) recently called for such testimonies; they came in droves.

“Many of the people in the story talked about the ‘Disney bubble,’ which is a term that talks about how things are magically perfect while on Disney property. That contrasts with the real world, where things are dirty, disorganized, messy, and sometimes dangerous.

“In a sense, some people long so much for the ‘Disney bubble’ experience that they want to have it all the time.”

One woman viewed her husband’s job loss as the perfect opportunity to move:

“The kids fell in love with Disney (what kid doesn’t!) and Ron saw how happy people seemed to be who worked there. When we got home to GA, I began talking to him in earnest about making the move, and finally he agreed. I have wanted to work at Disney since I first saw Walt Disney World in February of 1972. Ron began working at Dixie Landings as a third shift custodian in 1996. I began my career in Adventureland Merchandise…”

Leibacher revealed how some manage permanent residence on Disney’s property:

These folks stay at the [Disney] campgrounds for months at a time. Some stay all year long. In effect, they become permanent residents of the campgrounds by renting a parking spot day after day. They are often known as the folks who create extravagant Christmas and Halloween displays around their RVs.”

Moving isn’t odd. People relocate to new cities and states for different reasons every day; employment, education, family and cost of living are popular ones. There is a different dynamic at work in the flight to Orlando (50,000 people per year). Time in the Disney bubble reminds people real life is not as it should be. To Leibacher’s description of the real world, I would add disappointing, wearisome and downright sad. Many believe Tinker Bell’s wand contains sufficient pixie dust to wave away every ache. They are wrong.

Planet Earth provides no air tight escape from sin and its effects. There is no debate: Disney delivers an unparalleled vacation from life’s mediocrity. However, we must never convince ourselves that running to Walt’s arms is the permanent fix for a broken existence. Our fix is found only in Jesus, who has made a way for all to live with Him in the real heaven.

These three things distinguish Disney from heaven. First, heaven is a real place; Jesus called it paradise (Luke 23:43)! Disney is real insomuch as it exists, but visitors are called “Guests,” because there are no true citizens; the employees are called “Cast Members,” because it’s all a show. They turn out the lights and go home to the same challenging realities we do.

Second, heaven is eternal. Paul wrote in second Corinthians 5:1 “For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” Like the Summer Bay Resort, nine miles west of Disney World, swallowed by a sinkhole two weeks ago (a day before Leibacher published his article), every magnificent Disney structure will be swallowed, if not by a sinkhole, by time.

Lastly, heaven has Jesus. Mickey is great, but he can’t save. Walt had a genius for making magic, but he is dead. Our Savior lives and only by Him and with Him can we receive salvation and paradise.

Leibacher’s article reveals humanity is hungry for heaven. Christians have the privilege and responsibility to reveal with our words and lives the existence of the true heaven. I am guilty of Disney infatuation; my earnest prayer is that my song for Immanuel dwarfs my song for Epcot. Nevertheless, I am forever assured of the truth in these lyrics– “On Christ the solid rock I stand/all other ground is sinking sand.”

-Emily

Friday’s Fantastic Five! 8.2

FridayFantasticFiveNo Squishy Love – Timothy George
The Presbyterian Church, USA rejects the hymn “In Christ Alone” because of its reference to God’s wrath. George examines how this revulsion of God’s wrath has a long tradition that ultimately destroys the love of God as described in the Bible.

Yes, Threats to Religious Liberty Happen Here – Ryan T. Anderson
Ryan Anderson, one of the most brilliant defenders of traditional marriage, takes a look at how the government’s acceptance of same-sex marriage is currently threatening religious liberty.

Who Am I to Judge? The Pope, the Press, and the Predicament – Al Mohler
If you just read headlines, you would think the Pope revolutionized Catholic teaching on sexuality. However a closer examination of his remarks in context reveals the opposite. The Pope, like evangelical Christians, is faced with the predicament of proclaiming biblical sexuality to a culture increasingly intolerant of it.

How to Keep Millennials in the Church? Let’s Keep Church Un-Cool – Brett McCracken
Brett responds to Rachel Held Evans’ CNN column about why the Millennial generation is leaving the church. He rejects her suggestion that the church should reflect the ideals of this generation and instead suggests she should boldly be what Christ has commanded.

The Texas Abortion Experiment – Ross Douthat
Will the new Texas abortion restrictions bring about oppression for women, especially in regards to their health and economic opportunity? Douthat examines other nations which have similar laws and sees a very different trend.

Friday’s Fantastic Five! 7.12

FridayFantasticFiveAtheism Has Failed: Only Religion Can Defeat the New Barbarians – Jonathan Sacks
This fantastic article from across the pond serves not only as a critique of atheism and secularism but as an affirmation of what religion has given to civilization and what its removal will mean in the long run.

Let’s Level the Playing Field – Carl Trueman
Carl Trueman applies his sharp commentary to California’s law to allow children to choose their own gender when it comes to bathrooms and sports. If gender truly is just a state of mind, who can argue with these clear implications?

The Deadly Myth of the Consenting Adult – John Zmirak
Our culture which exalts individualism at the expense of community has popularized the “consenting adult.” As long as the other person agrees, we are absolved of responsibility. But this heartless ethic dissolves the foundation on which society is built.

DOMA and the Rock – Rosaria Butterfield
This former atheist lesbian professor turned Christian pastor’s wife tells what its like being on the unpopular side of the homosexuality debate twice and how Christians should think moving forward.

Top 16 Worship Music Typos – Jon Acuff
For those who have ever giggled to themselves at the typos on the screen during worship, this is funny. For those of us who prepare worship lyrics every week for the video screen, this is awesomely hilarious!

Friday’s Fantastic Five! 7.5

FridayFantasticFiveHow Should Same-Sex Marriage Change the Church’s Witness – Russell Moore
Russell Moore analyzes what the shifting cultural consensus on marriage means for the churches existing in that culture. Rather than fearing the rulings of courts and legislatures, this is a chance for the church boldly proclaim a counter-culture Savior.

On Winning the Marriage Debate – Eric Teetsel
Teetsel shows why arguments for same-sex marriage have been more persuasive than arguments for traditional marriage even if the latter are actually better than the former. He then charts a course for how traditional marriage can win the debate.

America’s Epidemic of Psychiatric Over-Diagnosis – Jesse Singal
Psychiatry is an industry and being able to diagnose more dysfunctions and abnormalities means more profits and more people satisfied that their problems can be labeled and medicated. The definition of normal has narrowed and we are worse for it.

The Evolution of the Swimsuit – Jessica Rey
In this video, Jessica explores how we arrived at the modern day bikini and what it says about us and what it is doing to us. This fascinating (and g-rated) discussion shows why modesty needs to make a comeback.

The Astounding Faith of Aregash: A Story from Eithiopia
This incredible story of one’s woman’s determination to plant a church convicted me of my lack of passion to see the gospel spread among the people around me.

Friday’s Fantastic Five!

FridayFantasticFiveFriday, May 24

How Psychiatry Went Crazy – Carol Tavris
The Wall Street Journal reports on the release of the new DSM-5, the Bible of modern psychiatry. This article exposes many of the problems with the psychiatric industry and is a must read for those seeking and giving counsel and treatment.

What Our Words Tell Us – David Brooks
New York Times columnist David Brooks analyzes reports on a Google database of 5.2 million books published from 1500 to 2008. What he discovers about the words we use reveals huge cultural changes that may not be for the better.

China’s Brutal One-Child Policy – Ma Jian
China’s one-child policy has been around since 1979 and since then has caused incredible suffering and oppression. This short article exposes the true nature of the policy and is a must-read for Americans unfamiliar with what is happening.

IRS Morality: Defend Planned Parenthood, Deluge Adoptive Families with Audits – David French
Get ready to be outraged. If you are confused about what the IRS scandal in the news is all about, this article will bring it home. It is a terrible thing when the government uses its power to target and discourage some of the most selfless and sacrificial among us.

The Case for Man/Woman Marriage
A quick and easy two minute argument for why male/female marriage is important to society and should continue to be recognized as such.